Reds began pre-season with a 4-2 defeat to a strong Fulham side at the Premier League newcomers’ Motspur Park training ground on Saturday.
Ollie Palmer gave Reds a ninth-minute lead and a squad containing several trialists acquitted themselves well. It was 1-1 at the break and Harry Kewell made 11 alterations for the second period. Fulham, too, rang the changes and went 4-1 ahead before a well-taken effort by trialist Reece Grego-Cox earned Crawley their second goal of an encouraging performance.
On a sweltering afternoon the early pace was predictably slow but it was Reds who went ahead in the ninth minute.
Mark Randall’s pass was perfect for Palmer to beat the offside trap and finish well as home keeper Marek Rodak came out to narrow the angle.
Palmer looked lively in the first half, Randall kept the ball well and Panutche Camara was a threat down the right as Reds settled into the game.
But a Fulham side containing a sprinkling of players who won the Championship play-off final in May hit back in the 23rd minute when Stefan Johansen’s pass found Kait in space and he gave Glenn Morris no chance.
Even after conceding the equaliser Reds continued to look tidy in possession and a threat in the final third with Palmer’s free kick, after Camara was fouled 20 yards out, pushed away by Rodak.
But Fulham stepped things up towards the end of the half and Morris made three good saves in the space of five minutes to deny Kait twice and Abou Kamara.
After both teams rang the changes it was the hosts who took the lead on 51 minutes when Floyd Ayite whipped a lovely free-kick from 20 yards over the wall and into the top left-hand corner, giving Yusuf Mersin no chance.
Fulham extended their lead just before the hour-mark. Tom Cairney’s left-wing corner was met with a powerful header from Marcelo Djalo, which flew inside the left-hand post.
It was 4-1 in the 72nd minute when Reds’ offside appeals fell on deaf ears and Neeskens Kabano gave Mersin no chance from 10 yards, but the visitors went up the other end from the re-start and a deft chip into the top corner by Grego-Cox made it 4-2.
Fulham keeper Taye Ashby-Hammond then made a fine double save to deny Brian Galach and then Thomas Verheydt in the closing stages on what was a productive afternoon for Crawley.
First half team: Glenn Morris; George Francomb, Mark Connolly, Matt Young (trialist), Josh Doherty; Panutche Camara, Mark Randall, Rob Milsom (trialist), Tope Obadeyi (trialist); Ollie Palmer, Dominic Poleon.
Second half team: Yusuf Mersin; Matt Young, Jamie Turley (trialist), Joe McNerney, Brian Galach; Dannie Bulman, Josh Payne; Ashley Nathaniel George, Kyel Reid (trialist); Thomas Verheydt, Reece Grego-Cox (trialist).
Pictured: Ollie Palmer scores his first goal for Reds in the friendly against Fulham. Photo by James Boardman
Tope Obadeyi – Much travelled 30-year-old winger who has played in Scotland, Spain and for eight English clubs. Was at Oldham last season.
Matt Young – Defender, aged, 24, who was a regular for Woking in the National League last season. After spells with Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Carlisle he has spent the last three years in non-league.
Kyel Reid – 30-year-old wide man who started his career at West Ham and has played for ten clubs since then. Has been at Coventry for the last two years and had a loan spell with Colchester last season.
Jamie Turley – Defender, aged 28, who played under Assistant Head Coach Warren Feeney at Newport County. Spent last season on loan with National League play-off finalists Boreham Wood.
Rob Milsom – Former Fulham midfielder who had three years at Notts County before being released at the end of last season. The 24-year-old has also played for Southend United, Brentford, Bury and Aberdeen.
Reece Grego-Cox – Republic of Ireland youth international striker who played in the Championship for QPR during four seasons at Loftus Road. Released in January, he finished the season at Woking.