Reds suffered their first defeat in four as a much-changed team went down to holders Portsmouth in the group stage opener in the Leasing.com Trophy at Fratton Park.
Brett Pitman, a thorn in our side before, got the decisive goal in the 71st minute. Reds have home games against Norwich u-21s and Oxford United to come later in the competition so all is not lost in terms of our participation in the competition.
Gabriele Cioffi made ten changes to the side which beat Cheltenham on Saturday with only Tom Dallison surviving and he was replaced at the break by Jordan Tunnicliffe. Jamie Sendles-White and Jack Powell made their Crawley debuts and there was a first start of the season for Tarryn Allarakhia in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
After five minutes Crawley found some rhythm when Powell and Ashley Nadesan combined well on the right before Josh Payne was picked out instinctively. His volley was on target and required a stretching save from Alex Bass. Minutes later Allarakhia won the ball in the centre circle driving forward and beating Portsmouth midfielders for pace before eventually finding Mason Bloomfield who had an effort tipped wide by the outstretched glove of Bass.
The Reds quickly grew into the half playing with the ball in and around the Portsmouth penalty area, showing some excellent attacking intent through the likes of Ashley Nathaniel-George and Allarakhia, with both men having efforts deflected and blocked midway through the first-half.
Michael Luyambula made an acrobatic stop minutes before the break when Gareth Evans picked out John Marquis whose effort was brilliantly palmed away.
It was a slow start to the second-half as the tempo of the game seemed to dip after the break. But Nadesan grew into the game, testing Brandon Haunstrup for pace before finding substitute Nathan Ferguson on the edge of the box who had a tame effort blocked
Luyambula was again called into action once more to display his athleticism, flying high to turn away a headed effort by Ellis Harrison from close range. Magnificent reactions.
Pompey came even closer moments later as yet another looping ball from the left flank found the head of Marquis whose effort was brilliantly deflected from in front of his own goal by Sendles-White.
But it was the resultant corner that proved costly for the Reds as a sweet deflection directed the ball into the path of substitute Pitman who fired on the half-volley into the back of the net to give the hosts the lead.
Reds huffed and puffed in the closing stages but Portsmouth manageds the closing stages well to pick up three points.
Crawley Town: Luyambula; Young ©, Dallison (Tunnicliffe 46’), Sendles-White, Francomb; Payne, Powell (Ferguson 57’), Allarakhia (Galach 80'); Nadesan, Nathaniel-George, Bloomfield. Unused subs: Morris, Doherty, Camara, Forrest.
Attendance: 3746 (96 Crawley).
Pictured: Michael Luyambula punches clear. Pic: Steve Lawrence, Telephoto Images