The Reds are back on home soil tomorrow as we host promotion hopefuls, Salford City, who sit in ninth place in the Sky Bet League Two table in the lead up to tomorrow’s 7pm kick-off at The People’s Pension Stadium, four months after the reverse away fixture at The Peninsula Stadium in a game we drew 1-1 in a solid showing up north as George Francomb clinched a second-half equaliser after Ex-Manchester United striker, James Wilson, opened the scoring with a well-taken effort.
Six days ago we made the long midweek trip to Morecambe, who are also aiming for promotion to League One after a solid season so far under Derek Adams. Both sides played with high energy and intensity from the off, with the scoreline at 1-1 after only 13 minutes, as Ashley Nadesan was alert to equalise after following up on Jordan Maguire-Drew’s curling effort which was deflected into an area that Ashley was alert to pounce into to poke into the back of the net.
The Shrimps ran away with it in the second-half however and looked a real strong outfit, as Carlos Mendes Gomes scored his tenth and eleventh goals of the season as the scoreline ended 3-1, as Morecambe have risen to fourth in the table.
Next up was the trip to in-form Tranmere Rovers who have shot up the league ever since the appointment of Manager, Keith Hill. James Vaughan was kept out with an injury but experienced forward David Nugent, who is on loan from Preston North End, was there to replace him in the starting lineup.
The Reds played brilliantly from start to finish, in all aspects of the pitch, with the likes of Joe McNerney and Jordan Tunnicliffe again shining in defence and standing strong to limit the chances of the hosts. David Nugent went agonisingly close in the earlier stages but Tranmere struggled for opportunities from then on, with Crawley playing the better football.
The link-up between Tom Nichols, Ashley Nadesan and Jake Hesketh was looking very sharp as a beautiful combination built up ahead of the winning goal which was taken intelligently by Nichols. It was the skipper George Francomb who played a ball across to Tom who whilst on the spin, back-heeled the ball past Davies and into the net.
Tomorrow’s opposition have had a mixed start since the turn of the year, losing four, drawing five and winning on four occasions, dropping out of the play-offs and into ninth spot. In their last game on the road, Salford were held to a goalless draw by Southend United, as ex-Reds Nathan Ferguson and Ashley Nathaniel-George starred.
Since then tomorrow’s visitors have picked up four points from their last two which came against Port Vale and Scunthorpe United. The Iron picked up a healthy point on Saturday as Abo Eisa’s penalty levelled the scoring after defender Tom Clarke gave Salford the lead.
Since Salford were promoted into League Two, the Reds haven’t lost any of our three meetings so far. In their last visit to The People’s Pension Stadium, goals from Bez Lubala and Nathan Ferguson saw us win 2-0 in a rampant performance in front of the Crawley fans that could have been won by 5 or 6 goals with the chances created.
Since then we have traveled to The Peninsula Stadium twice to observe two tightly contested draws. The first ending goalless last season and the other finishing 1-1 in October of this season, as Paul Scholes took charge for the home side. George Francomb was alert to pounce on a loose ball to give us an equaliser in the second-half, as we picked up a deserved draw in a game where the likes of Sam Matthews and Jake Hesketh impressed from midfield.
Salford City have a squad filled with experienced EFL players. Ian Henderson, who played behind James Wilson in a supporting role last time out against Crawley, looks likely to lead the line tomorrow. Henderson has scored at least eleven league goals every single season consecutively since 2013/14, when he played for Rochdale. He has scored 11 times in 32 league games this season.
Robbie Gotts and Richie Towell played either side of Henderson in their last game against Scunthorpe, but Salford have other attacking options that include Ashley Hunter, Bruno Andrade, Brandon Asante and Emmanuel Dieseruvwe.
Di’Shon Bernard, who is on loan from Manchester United, has impressed in defence so far this season. The 20-year-old has also popped up with two league goals and will likely partner Jordan Turnbull, who had three seasons at Northampton before his move in the summer, and Tom Clarke, who was at Championship outfit Preston North End last season, where he played for seven seasons.
Reece Grego-Cox, Sam Matthews, Tom Dallison and Tony Craig remain unavailable. Henry Burnett is back training with the main group.
HOW THEY BET*
Crawley Town 11/5
Salford City 23/20
*Odds correct with EFL partners Sky Bet at the time of writing. Please gamble responsibly.
You can watch the match live on iFollow from 6:50 with commentary from Gary Smith and Tony Vessey.
You can purchase a match pass for £10 by clicking here.