Goalkeeper back in action as Crawley lose 1-0 to Eastbourne Borough
Brian Jensen made his return to action as Reds went down 1-0 to Eastbourne Borough in Tuesday night’s friendly at Priory Lane.
The big Dane hadn’t played since January 10 after injuring his hand in the 2-2 draw against MK Dons in Sky Bet League One.
He came through unscathed while there was 90 minutes of game time for several players including Joe Walsh, who is in the middle of a three-match League suspension, Jimmy Smith, Bobson Bawling and Dean Morgan.
Nathaniel Pinney’s controversial free-kick settled a competitive game that Crawley didn’t really deserve to lose but in a strong finish they failed to find an equaliser with Blair Anderson blazing their best chance over the bar with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Reds fielded a trialist in midfield and Cecil Gee, who was part of the under-18 set-up last season, partnered Walsh in central defence.
Jensen was called into action early on when he turned over a left-wing cross from Pinney that took a deflection off a defender and might have dropped in under the bar but for the Dane’s intervention.
At the other end Borough keeper Lewis Carey had to be at full stretch to tip over a drive from Bradley Isaacs from 22 yards. Isaacs partnered Jimmy Smith as the defensive midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation for Crawley with Morgan the lone front-man.
Although Morgan used his strength well on occasions and Reds played some decent football on a sticky surface they struggled to create too much although Emmet O’Connor had two efforts at goal, both of which sailed over.
Borough had the benefit of the slope and a strong breeze at their backs in the first half and towards the end of it they came close to scoring.
The dangerous Pinney cut inside Bobson Bawling on their left to drill a low shot which Jensen parried.
Pinney had another sight of goal on the stroke of half-time and this time Gee got across to block his effort.
Borough took the lead in controversial circumstances six minutes after the break. Gee conceded a free-kick 22 yards out for a foot-up challenge and while Crawley were organising their defensive wall Pinney stepped up, presumably with permission of the referee Tim Robinson, and drove the ball into an empty past a distinctly non-plussed Jensen.
The home side nearly doubled their lead two minutes later when midfielder Simon Johnson’s swerving shot from distance struck the right-hand post with Jensen beaten.
Reds should have equalised midway through the half. Morgan’s pass sent Anderson clear in the inside left channel but with just Carey to beat the midfielder skied his effort disappointingly over the bar.
Three minutes later Reds broke quickly well again but this time Isaacs couldn’t keep his shot from close range on target then Morgan’s header lacked the power to trouble Carey as the visitors stepped up the pressure.
Reds were on top by now and Carey made a solid save with 12 minutes to go to keep out Smith’s powerful shot from 25 yards before the midfielder’s clip into the box was glanced wide with his head by Morgan.
Pinney was denied by Jensen in the 87th minute when Borough broke and the Conference South side held on at the end of a competitive 90 minutes for both sides.
Reds: Jensen; Bawling, Walsh, Gee, Richefond; Isaacs, Smith; Anderson, O’Connor, Trialist; Morgan.