Final pre-season test ends in hard-fought goalless draw
Reds finished their pre-season friendlies with a hard-fought goalless draw on their first visit to Aldershot’s EBB Stadium for nearly five years.
Yusuf Mersin was the busier of the two goalkeepers but it was Crawley who created the best chances with James Collins, Enzio Boldewijn and Mark Connolly all missing clear-cut opportunities. Defensively, Reds looked solid. Aldershot won a number of corners and put a lot of balls into the visitors box so a second clean sheet in pre-season would have been welcomed by Head Coach Dermot Drummy.
Jason Banton, Jordan Roberts, Matt Harrold and Addison Garnett were all missing because of either illness or injury. Josh Yorwerth played in the holding midfield role with Bobson Bawling, who netted twice at Lewes in Tuesday’s 3-1 warm-up win, getting a start behind Collins.
Aldershot were the livelier side in the opening 25 minutes with Yusuf Mersin forced into action to save from Liam Bellamy and Matt McClure. At the other end, opposite number Jake Cole also made a comfortable stop from Josh Payne’s 25-yard free kick after Yorwerth was brought down 25 yards out.
Connolly was booked for bringing down ex-Red Shamir Fenelon just inside his own half but as the first half wore on Reds began to threaten and they had two great chances to break the deadlock.
Jimmy Smith’s left-wing corner on 33 minutes picked out Collins at the far post, but the striker fired his close-range shot wide of the upright.
Seven minutes later Reds went even closer. Andre Blackman did well on the left and his cross found Boldewijn unmarked, but the Dutchman fired over from point-blank range with the goal gaping.
And Reds were nearly punished for their profligacy in stoppage time when Joe McNerney produced an athletic goal-line clearance to stop Bernard Mensah’s goalbound right-foot effort as the first 45 minutes ended goalless.
Crawley made three changes at the break with Billy Clifford, Chris Arthur and Aryan Tajbakhsh all coming on.
minute at the end of a sweeping counter-attack but the defender’s right-foot shot was well wide of goal.thAldershot again started the better of the two sides and full back Anthony Straker had a great chance in the 58
Smith became the second Red to be booked after bringing down ex-Reds’ striker Scott Rendell before Mersin made another comfortable save, this time from defender Will Evans’ header.
The visitors gradually began to threaten again. Smith’s free kick was headed narrowly wide by McNerney via a deflection and from the corner Connolly was left with a free header eight yards out which he frustratingly failed to get on target.
Connolly then did some good work at the other end to block McClure’s shot before Reds brought on trialist Daniel Pappoe and Alper Tursun with ten minutes to go but proceedings fizzled out with both teams happy to share the spoils and begin their preparations for the serious stuff, which for Reds means next Saturday’s League 2 opener against Wycombe at the Checkatrade Stadium.
: Mersin, Young, Connolly, McNerney (sub: Pappoe 80), Blackman (Tursun 80), Yorwerth (Clifford 45), Smith, Payne (Arthur 45), Boldewijn, Collins, Bawling (Tajbakhsh 45).Reds