The Reds are back on the road but this time for a much shorter trip to Essex where we will take on relegation strugglers, Southend United, who we drew with at The People’s Pension Stadium in the reverse fixture earlier this season, as Ashley Nadesan’s goal was cancelled out by a good strike from Nathan Ralph.
Saturday’s opponents have had a troublesome 2020/21 season, sitting in 23rd position after a total of 40 league games. Southend sit five points below Essex rivals Colchester, and will need to make up the point difference with only six games to go.
After a surprising upturn in form in late 2020, the Shrimpers have proven to struggle again, especially in the goalscoring department, scoring only 24 times in 40 games, less than half of Crawley’s goal tally of 49, which was recorded with one less game played.
Scoring three times and recording only one win in their last 10 fixtures, it looks unlikely that the Essex side will remain an EFL side for next season, with relegation rivals Grimsby Town breathing down their necks in bottom spot, with a game in hand and only a two point deficit.
Southend did well to earn a point in their last fixture however, travelling to Morecambe and taking the lead through Timothee Dieng. Cole Stockton, who shone in Morecambe’s victory against the Reds in early March, was the scorer of the equalising goal in the second-half.
The Reds have struggled for points in recent games, after a fantastic win treble in early March over Tranmere Rovers, Salford City and Mansfield Town.
In our last game we lost out 1-4 to Keith Curle’s Oldham Athletic, who won in impressive fashion with star performances from Conor McAleny and Dylan Bahamboula, who both made consequent appearances in the Sky Bet League Two Team of the Week.
Earlier this season, in only our fourth fixture of the league campaign, struggling Southend United traveled down to West Sussex after achieving only a point from their opening three games.
Reds broke the deadlock after 20 minutes when Jake Hessenthaler pulled back a cheeky quick free-kick into the path of an on-rushing Ashley Nadesan who neatly curled in. Reds added more pressure but could not double their lead as Southend’s Nathan Ralph met the cross of Terrell Egbri in the final minutes of the game to equalise with a neat volley.
In the competitive clash between the two sides previous to our 1-1 draw earlier this season, in the 2018/19 season’s Emirates FA Cup, Crawley turned around a two goal deficit with an Ollie Palmer brace to take the second-leg tie to extra time. However, in a crazy thirty minutes of football, the Shrimpers scored four times, sailing into the next round with a 6-2 AET victory.
In the first leg of the cup tie, after travelling to Roots Hall, Crawley clinched a 1-1 draw after a late Southend own-goal, but Crawley’s last victory over Saturday’s opposition came in 2011, where Reds ran out 3-0 victors in an August League Two clash.
Reds fans will recognise two of Southend’s squad members who are eligible to play on Saturday. Ex-Crawley midfielders Nathan Ferguson and Ashley Nathaniel-George have both impressed for the Shrimpers since their moves earlier in the season and are likely to start against the Reds.
Ferguson made an immediate impression on his debut against Port Vale, where he scored a long-range screamer after coming on as a half-time substitute in a 5-1 defeat. Nathan then scored yet another outrageous long-range strike in a 1-3 away win at promotion hopefuls, Forest Green, in late February. The Shrimpers have won once in ten since the impressive victory in Gloucestershire.
That victory came two weeks ago when Southend travelled to Harrogate Town. Ashley Nathaniel-George was the late scorer to hand them a vital three points, scoring his second goal in a blue shirt so far this season, appearing 29 times in league competition.
A star performer for Southend against the Reds last year was Ugandan full-back, Elvis Bwomono. After returning from international duty not long ago, the 22-year-old played 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Morecambe in Lancashire, providing the assist for Timothee Dieng in the first-half.
Reece Grego-Cox and Tom Dallison remain unavailable. Tyler Frost, Mark Wright and George Francomb are all doubts. Davide Rodari trained with the group today after his time out.
HOW THEY BET*
Southend United 2/1
Crawley Town 11/8
*Odds correct with EFL partners Sky Bet at the time of writing. Please gamble responsibly.
You can watch the match live on iFollow from 2:50 with commentary from Gary Smith and Ken Blackmore.
You can purchase a match pass for £10 by clicking here.