A relatively young Reds side recorded an impressive victory over East Grinstead on Saturday afternoon as they ran out 3-0 victors. First-half goals from Sam Ashford and Davide Rodari gave Crawley a healthy lead heading into the break, and after a handful of changes in the second half, the Reds sealed the deal with a goal from a trialist in the 90th minute.
The Reds dominated from the word go, and it took only ten minutes to find the opening goal. Sam Ashford made his return to the starting XI after suffering an injury whilst on loan at Woking in the National League last season and was therefore understandably delighted when he gave the Reds the lead. Davide Rodari provided an unorthodox assist as he smashed a headed effort onto the crossbar following a Reds corner which gave Ashford the chance to turn the ball into the back of the net with an improvised flick of the boot.
Crawley fielded a number of trialists throughout the 90 minutes, and it was almost one of them that gave Crawley a second goal only minutes after they had scored the first. The trialist in question brilliantly took down a cross-field pass and began charging towards the East Grinstead goal. He easily drifted past his marker and fired a shot at goal, which required a smart stop from the hosts’ goalkeeper.
Rodari was causing Grinstead all sorts of issues, and it was inevitable that the striker was going to score his second pre-season goal. A young trialist provided a brilliant assist with a low sweeping cross which found Rodari, who had the simple task of placing the ball into the bottom corner.
Ashford and Rodari were forming quite the partnership in Crawley’s attack, Ashford holding the ball up well to allow Rodari to make space with his electric pace. The pair almost came up with a third goal on the stroke of half-time, but the Grinstead goalkeeper made a stellar save to deny a low driven effort from Rodari.
Lee Bradbury and Lewis Young made plenty of changes in the second half, Mustafa Hussein and Szymon Kowalczyk entered the fray alongside several trialists.
The East Grinstead goalkeeper continued to impress and was forced to make a very strong save from close range to deny Hussein his first Crawley goal. The young attacker was able to find space inside the penalty area and fire a shot towards goal, which was saved by the outstretched leg of the Grinstead goalkeeper.
More substitutions followed for both sides as the hosts opted for a change in between the sticks. The new Grinstead goalkeeper was immediately called into action as Crawley were awarded a penalty. Rodari was continuing to cause a threat, and with only twenty minutes of the fixture to go, was fouled inside the penalty area. The striker opted to take the spot-kick himself and despite hitting his effort with real power, he saw his attempt saved incredibly well by the home side’s goalkeeper.
New signing Jack Payne captained the side for the first time since joining from Eastleigh in the summer. The midfielder was also on hand to provide the final assist with a pin-point cross from a free-kick. Payne delivered a ball wide on the left flank, which cleared the entire Grinstead backline, a Crawley trialist was waiting at the back post and cushioned a delightful effort into the top corner to round off an impressive Reds performance.
REDS XI: Noukeu, Trialist, Adebowale, Trialist, Trialist, Payne, Khaleel, Trialist, Trialist, Rodari, Ashford.