Deacon, Fenelon and McLeod (2) on target in 4-0 friendly win
The Mark Yates’ era got off to a winning start as Reds enjoyed a comfortable 4-0 win over Ryman League Burgess Hill at the Green Elephants Stadium.
Roarie Deacon, one of ten trialists as Crawley fielded a separate XI in each half, scored after just 20 seconds. Shamir Fenelon added a second and in the second half last season’s top scorer Izale McLeod netted twice in what was an excellent first workout for Reds.
The visitors got off to a dream start with a goal after just 20 seconds. Jimmy Smith’s header forward found DEACON on the edge of the six-yard box and he gave home keeper Michael Morrish no chance with his powerfully-struck half volley.
The goal gave Reds the confidence to take control. Smith intercepted Morrish’s goal kick just outside the centre circle and the midfielder’s lob bounced just over the unattended net. Morrish turned a low drive from George Barker around the post and then made another decent save from the former Brighton striker.
Reds doubled their lead in the 18th minute. The visitors pressed the ball in midfield to regain possession and Smith’s pass found FENELON who drilled a low shot past Morrish.
Reds played with a real intensity in the first 30 minutes and although the tempo dropped a little thereafter with fewer chances Fenelon was denied a second ten minutes before half-time by a combination of Morrish and defender Andy Pearson.
For the hosts, Scott Kirkwood forced Callum Preston into an early save and strilker Chris Smith wasn’t far away with a volley on the turn five minutes before the break.
Lewis Young and Sonny Bradley had further opportunities before the break when a completely different XI warmed up for the second half.
Reds took just four minutes to add a third goal. Luke Rooney did well to find a yard of space on the right and his pass released Izale McLEOD who controlled the ball before hitting it with his right foot into the bottom corner.
Rooney became increasingly influential as the game wore on but chances at either end were much less frequent than they had been in the first half although Smith got across his marker to send a looping header just over in the 69th minute.
Reds made it 4-0 two minutes later when McLEOD scored a second, tapping home from close range after Matt Harrold had beaten the offside trap and squared it unselfishly to his team-mate.
Billy Bishop, a goalkeeper who left AFC Wimbledon at the end of last season, replaced Preston for the last 15 minutes while among a raft of home substitutes was an appearance at right-back for former Crawley player Paul Armstrong.
McLeod was only denied a hat-trick in the closing stages by an acrobatic save from Morrish, who turned his shot onto the crossbar and over.
The sizeable Crawley contingent in a crowd of 863 will have been impressed with the work-rate and intensity of their side, although a much tougher test awaits on Saturday when Championship side Fulham visit the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
Reds (1st half): Preston, Sessegnon, Ashton, Bradley, Fitzpatrick; Henderson, Young, Smith, Fenelon; Barker, Deacon.
Reds (2nd half): Preston (sub: Bishop 75), Brister, McNerney, Boateng, O’Hanlon; Walton, Edwards, Richefond, Rooney; McLeod, Harrold.
Referee: John Pike (Hurstpierpoint)
Check back soon for Mark Yates' reaction and a gallery of images from Wednesday night's game