Championship side win 3-1 despite third goal in two from McLeod
Izale McLeod scored his third pre-season goal but it wasn’t enough to prevent Reds from suffering a 3-1 defeat to Championship side Fulham.
A crowd of 2215 saw McLeod equalise Tom Cairney’s early goal but Jazz Richards restored Fulham’s lead just before the break.
There were a raft of substitutions on both sides in the second half which inevitably disrupted the flow of the game but Fulham keeper Andy Lonergan made an excellent save to prevent striker Roarie Deacon, one of ten trialists on view for Crawley, from equalising before Liam Donnelly made it 3-1 in injury time.
Manager Mark Yates again named a squad of 22 players. Bobson Bawling got his first run-out after missing the midweek win at Burgess Hill and among the trialists was former Southend striker Lee Barnard.
Fulham were first to impress with striker Matt Smith and Cairney both looping headers onto the top of the bar inside the first six minutes.
The woodwork was rattled again in the ninth minute, but this time at the other end. Deacon let fly from just inside the box and his effort crashed against the underside of the bar. The rebound fell to McLeod but he headed wide.
Fulham went ahead on 15 minutes. Callum Preston parried Smith’s close-range header but Sonny Bradley’s scuffed clearance of the loose ball fell to Cairney who picked his spot from 12 yards.
But the lead didn’t last long. Three minutes later Simon Walton’s pass picked out McLeod’s run and when he was bundled over by Richards the referee pointed to the penalty spot and McLeod duly converted for his third pre-season goal.
Walton nearly produced another telling assist when his pass found the lively Gwion Edwards and the Welshman cut inside but saw his shot was blocked.
Trialist Preston produced another good save just before the break to keep out Jamie O’Hara’s shot but Fulham went back in front after 44 minutes when Richards raced clear in the inside left channel and gave Preston no chance with a rising shot into the roof of the net.
There was no let up in the tempo in the second half as both sides carved out good chances.
Cauley Woodrow fired over from six yards after he had been set up by fellow Fulham substitute Ben Pringle before Preston produced another excellent save to keep out McCormack’s header. Reds then broke forward and Lonergan in the Cottagers’ goal spread himself well to block Deacon’s shot.
Reds made a raft of changes on 65 minutes with only three of the starting XI remaining on the pitch – Jimmy Smith, Joe McNerney and Preston.
One of the replacements, Lewis Young, nearly got on the end of Lee Barnard’s pass then Fulham sub Adam Taggart was on the end of a sweeping move only to side-foot wide of the left-hand post.
Fulham got their thrid goal in stoppage time when Reds failed to clear a corner and Liam Donnelly stroked the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
As had been the case at Burgess Hill on Wednesday there were lots of positives for Yates and his staff, with Reds now focussing on Wednesday’s friendly against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
Reds: Preston, O’Hanlon (Fitzpatrick 45), McNerney (Sessegnon 80), Bradley (Ashton 59), Bawling (Boateng 65), Walton (Fenelon 65), Rooney (Young 65), Smith (Brister 80), Edwards (Barker 65), Deacon (Barnard 65), McLeod (Harrold 65)
Attendance: 2215 (917 Fulham)
Izale McLeod equalises from the spot in the first half for Reds