Crawley Town hosted Irish outfit Maximum Performance Academy in a behind closed doors friendly yesterday at our Horsham training base. With no game scheduled this weekend, John Yems took the opportunity to get some more minutes into his side, introducing many younger players such as Mustafa Hussein and Szymon Kowalczyk.
Alex Battle opened the scoring on the 10 minute mark, after a loose ball fell to his feet on the edge of the box after some tricky play by Amrit Bansal-McNulty. Battle found the top corner of the net to give Crawley the early lead.
Minutes later, Sam Matthews fired a shot just over the bar from 20 yards out, after some great play down the right from Reece Grego-Cox.
The visitors had a shot that sailed over the bar after a cleverly worked corner in the 30th minute, which didn’t trouble Blondy Nna Noukeu in the Crawley Goal. Crawley were in control for the majority of the first half, as they kept possession well and had little to deal with from the opposition.
The hosts found themselves on the back foot at the end of the first half, as a trialist made a last-gasp vital block from a shot across goal to put the ball out for a corner. Blondy was then tested by an effort on the edge of the area, which he claimed into his grasp down the middle of the goal.
The Crawley shot-stopper was again called into action in the 40th minute, after an opposing player ran with the ball down the left channel, forcing Blondy to stretch out and make the save. From the corner, Blondy made an impressive double stop after a flurry of shots in the box.
As the second half started, Blondy was called into action right from the off, as he palmed away an effort from distance and caught the headed rebound. In the 55th minute, Mark Marshall forced a save from the opposing goalkeeper, as he cut inside and hit a powerful strike down to the goalkeeper's bottom right, who got down and saved well.
On the hour mark there was a moment to remember for the returning Grego-Cox, as he scored his first goal since his return to the side. Alex Battle won back possession for the hosts and set up the Irishman, who curled the ball into the top corner of the net and wheeled away in celebration with Joel Lynch.
Battle made it three straight after the restart, Grego-Cox pressed the opposition to win the ball back, which Alex calmly took as he slotted the ball into the right hand corner. On the hour mark, Grego-Cox once again fought hard for the ball and drove through the middle of the park on a storming run, as he set-up a trialist who fired past the goalkeeper to make it 4-0.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Bansal-McNulty cut inside with a slick stepover as he saw his stinging effort cannon off the right post. Crawley really started to show their class in the final 10 minutes of the game, with some snappy movement in possession.
The 80th minute saw Lynch play a great pass into Amrit, who yet again drove with the ball deep into the opposition’s half to tee up Battle, whose shot was unfortunately blocked.
Crawley rounded up the game perfectly in what was the final action, as in the 90th minute, Bansal-McNulty’s great performance ended with the goal he deserved. Marshall ran deep into the opposition's half and passed to a trialist, who played a clever one-two with Battle. The forward gave the ball back to Amrit, as he slotted the ball into the right hand corner of the net in what was the pick of the bunch from a great Crawley display.
Reds XI: Nna Noukeu; Kowalczyk, Lynch, Trialist, Hussein; Marshall, Matthews (Trialist), Bansal-McNulty, Grego-Cox (Khaleel); Battle, Rodari (Trialist).