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Palmer strikes before Belgians level in the last minute

28 July 2018

Club News


Palmer strikes before Belgians level in the last minute

28 July 2018

A goal on his home debut by Ollie Palmer looked to have secured a first win in pre-season for Reds before KSV Roeselare equalised in the last minute at the Broadfield Stadium on Saturday.

Harry Kewell’s men got better as the game wore on and were rewarded when Palmer produced a composed strike midway through the second half.

It was a welcome confidence boost at the end of what has been a testing pre-season for Crawley, but Abraw produced an equally impressive finish in the dying moments to make it 1-1.

Reds have never hosted opposition from continental Europe before and it soon became apparent that KSV, who play in Belgium’s second tier, would provide a different type of opposition to League Two sides.

Physically strong and technically adept, they were soon pushing Reds back although Glenn Morris wasn’t seriously tested until 30 minutes in when he made a double save at close range to deny Arthur Devos on both occasions.

Until then KSV’s main threat came from set pieces and long-range efforts, none of which extended Morris.

Reds lined up with Dannie Bulman and Josh Payne sitting in front of the back four, which included new captain Romain Vincelot, with Lewis Young and Josh Doherty providing the width.

But in the opening third at least KSV kept the ball a lot better although Reds eventually began to build some momentum. Dominic Poleon fired over from 15 yards when he perhaps had time to get a shot on target before Payne forced KSV keeper Wouter Biebauw into his first save on 37 minutes when he pushed out the midfielder’s curling effort from the left-hand side of the box.

The first half was littered with stoppages though and although the re-laid pitch looked superb it played quite slowly and both times found it tough at times to zip the ball around at pace.

Guy Dufour’s 30-yarder deflected off Mark Connolly onto roof of the net as the half ended with KSV probing in search of a breakthrough.

Reds began the second half brightly and when Poleon robbed Francois Kompany – brother of Vincent – in the 53rd minute Biebauw comfortably saved his near-post effort.

Six minutes later the keeper made another save to keep out Payne’s shot from distance before the midfielder made way for Mark Randall just past the hour mark with Reece Grego-Cox coming on for Filipe Morais.

And Grego-Cox made an immediate impact when he intercepted Biebauw’s poor clearance and his pass set up the opening goal on 66 minutes. It found Palmer in space 15 yards out and as the keeper came out the striker made no mistake with a right-foot shot.

Ashley Nathaniel George came on for Poleon with 15 minutes to go and the former Hendon striker immediately made an impression by out-manoeuvring two defenders before KSV cleared the danger.

It looked as if Reds had done enough but in the last minute Vincelot failed to make a routine clearance and substitute Abraw nipped in, lofting the ball over the helpless Morris to earn KSV a draw.

Attendance: 1481

Reds: Morris; Francomb, Vincelot, Connolly, Doherty; Bulman, Payne (Randal 61); Young, Morais (Grego-Cox 61); Poleon (Nathaniel George 75), Palmer. Unused subs: Mersin, McNerney, Galach, Camara.

Picture: Ollie Palmer is surrounded by KSV defenders. Photo by James Boardman (Telephoto Images)

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