Mason Bloomfield scored his first goal for Reds but they went down 2-1 to Portsmouth in our final warm-up game ahead of start of the Sky Bet League 2 season.
Gareth Evans and Tom Naylor netted either side of the break for the visitors but after struggling to create much in the first half Reds offered more of an attacking threat and substitute Bloomfield hammered the ball home from 20 yards in the 78th minute. The hosts pressed for an equaliser but it wouldn’t come despite a much better second-half display.
Lewis Young, Joe McNerney and Bez Lubala all rested minor knocks ahead of the League opener next Saturday but otherwise it was a strong line-up for the hosts, who had to switch to their white away kit at short notice because the referee ruled that our red would clash with Pompey’s purple strip.
The hosts created the first chance when a nicely worked corner by Ashley Nathaniel-George found George Francomb in space and his header had to be cleared away by Anton Walkes.
Pompey were soon into their stride though. Paul Downing met a free kick but headed just over before they took an 18th-minute lead. Naylor found Marcus Harness on the left with a fine through ball and Harness’ cross was headed past Glenn Morris and in off the underside of the bar by Evans.
It was a deserved lead and Pompey nearly doubled it when Naylor’s shot was cleared off the line by Francomb. Ronan Curtis then side-footed wide unmarked on the edge of the box.
Although Reds enjoyed decent spells of possession in the first half they lacked a cutting edge. Craig MacGillivray saved a long-range header from Ollie Palmer but it was a rare moment of unease for the visitors.
Portsmouth doubled their lead in the 49th minute. Reds failed to clear a corner on the right and when Ellis Harrison’s ball fell to Naylor 12 yards out his shot beat Morris with the aid of a deflection which wrong-footed the Reds’ keeper.
Nathan Ferguson replaced Dannie Bulman a few minutes later and the midfielder forced MacGillivray into his first serious action when the keeper pushed a low drive from outside the box away from danger.
For a few minutes Reds were in control but it needed a goal-line clearance by David Sesay in the 56th minute to prevent Ellis Harrison’s angled shot from going in after he had beaten Morris.
At least there was more urgency to Crawley’s attacking play and Palmer did well to get above two defenders to meet Filipe Morais’s left-wing cross but his header dropped wide of the near post. The same pair combined again on 63 minutes to create Reds best chance so far but MacGillivray pushed out Palmer’s close-range header after Morais had found him from the left.
Ferguson was next to go close as Reds enjoyed their best spell of the game but he headed wide at the far post after another testing cross from Morais.
The goal the hosts deserved came with 12 minutes left when Mason Bloomfield, who had replaced Panutche Camara, smashed a right-foot shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner.
The home side looked for a leveller but Portsmouth held firm.
Reds: Morris; Sesay, Tunnicliffe, Dallison, Doherty; Bulman (Ferguson 50), Camara (Bloomfield 66); Morais, Francomb, Nathaniel-George (Grego-Cox 60); Palmer (Galach 80).
Picture: Mason Bloomfield opens his account for Reds with this smashing strike. Photo by James Boardman