The Reds return to home soil tomorrow afternoon to take on Darrell Clarke’s Port Vale who beat us 2-0 in Stoke on the opening day of the season. Vale have hit form as of late with two consecutive wins heading into tomorrow’s clash.
After a run of four league games unbeaten, the Reds have failed to win in their last two after a draw against Walsall and an away defeat to in-form Barrow.
Walsall certainly tested the Reds in West Sussex, making it difficult to break down their defence and create goal scoring opportunities. The Reds worked hard and eventually were rewarded with a penalty in the 97th minute as a leaping Jordan Tunnicliffe was brought down in the area. Tom Nichols smashed home from the spot to earn us a point.
We then made the long trip up to Barrow who were bang in form ahead of kick-off. The Bluebirds opened the scoring through Tom Davies who headed in from close range after a testing cross from the corner flag was met well.
Crawley equalised through George Francomb who finished calmly after Tom Nichols brought down a fantastic through-ball from Joe McNerney before sliding it across to the alert skipper to tap in. Again Barrow went ahead after Tony Craig conceded a penalty which Scott Quigley converted.
Jack Powell headed in a precise Jordan Maguire-Drew cross late on to give the Reds what we thought was the equaliser but once again a set-piece was converted in the last few moments of the game as Scott Quigley was at the far post to get some contact on the corner-kick, handing the three points to the home side.
Tomorrow’s opponents sit in 19th position, ten points behind the Reds who have played two less games. After winning only once in twelve league games, the Valiants have found some temporary form, winning twice in a row in the lead up to tomorrow’s fixture.
The Valiants defeated play-off hopefuls Newport County at Vale Park ten days ago with goals coming from Tom Conlon and Devante Rodney.
Rodney also converted against Colchester United at The Colchester Community Stadium last Saturday, scoring in the first-half before retaining the one-goal lead until the final whistle was blown.
Since the first fixture of the 2011/12 League Two season, the sides have met on 12 occasions, all in league competition. Of these fixtures, the Reds have achieved 3 victories, 2 of which coming from Vale Park, but tomorrow’s visitors have won the majority of ties, claiming 7 wins from 12 over the years, both home and away.
In the reverse fixture on the opening day of the 2020/21 season, we travelled to Staffordshire to take on Port Vale who were one of the promotion favourites. Crawley contested well throughout
but it was Vale who were the more clinical of the two sides. Mark Cullen, who hasn’t converted a league goal since, scored a brace with goals in both halves.
Our last win against Port Vale came at the back end of the 2017/18 season, where a late Nathan Smith own-goal saw Crawley snatch all three points in a 1-2 win following a first-half Josh Payne penalty. Current Reds Glenn Morris, Lewis Young and Dannie Bulman all started on that day, in a game that also saw the likes of Karlan Ahearne-Grant, Enzio Boldewijn and Josh Yorwerth feature from the off.
Reds supporters will remember the threat of Vale winger, Devante Rodney, after our defeat on the opening day of the season. The 22-year-old has scored 11 league goals this season, assisting three. Known for his pace and trickery out wide, which he displayed so much against the Reds, Rodney will be supported by the likes of David Worrall and Theo Robinson who both started against Colchester last time out, recording four efforts on target against Colchester’s one.
EFL veteran Leon Legge looks set to captain the Valiants at the heart of defence, and goalkeeper Scott Brown will surely be the man in between the sticks, after not missing a single league game in his last three campaigns whilst at Port Vale and Wycombe Wanderers, also starting every league game so far this season.
Reece Grego-Cox and Tom Dallison remain unavailable. Jordan Tunnicliffe and Tyler Frost are also out. Henry Burnett, Sam Matthews and Davide Rodari are doubts. Jake Hesketh has suffered a long-term injury and will be absent.
HOW THEY BET*
Crawley Town 6/5
Port Vale 2/1
*Odds correct with EFL partners Sky Bet at the time of writing. Please gamble responsibly. COVERAGE
You can watch the match live on iFollow from 2:50 with commentary from Gary Smith and Tony Vessey.
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