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Boxing Day defeat for the Red Devils.

26 December 2022

Crawley slipped to their second successive league defeat this afternoon against Sutton United. It was 0-0 at the interval, but second-half goals from Joe Kizzi and Rob Milsom sealed the defeat for the Red Devils. A goal from Aramide Oteh wasn’t enough for Etherington’s side, who fall to 20th in the league table.

It was a very slow start to the match at the Broadfield Stadium. The first fifteen minutes had offered very little as neither side had registered a shot on goal. The majority of possession in the opening period had been in the midfield as the two teams looked to create an opening. Jack Powell had given Crawley a brief glimmer of hope after he intercepted a clearance from U’s goalkeeper Jack Rose. Fortunately for the visitors, Rose had plenty of time to sweep the ball away on his second attempt.

Crawley has a real threat in Tom Fellows this afternoon, as the West Brom loanee had a serious pace advantage over his marker and former Red Rob Milsom. Fellows almost caught the Sutton back line napping as he was able to dart across the pitch to intercept a rouge Reds clearance. Powell picked up the loose pieces and found Dom Telford, who delivered a cross to the far post, which the returning George Francomb almost got on the end of.

Sutton’s defence was big and strong, and with thirty minutes gone, they had dealt with everything that Crawley had thrown their way. Powell had sent a few very inviting crosses into the visitors’ penalty area, but there was always a Sutton man ready to clear the danger.

Sutton themselves had made chances. Josh Neufville had originally been named on the bench this afternoon, but an injury to Donavan Wilson in the warm-up meant the youngster was put in to replace the stricken man. It was Neufville that had created Sutton’s best chance of the first half. A neat touch gave the striker space, but he failed to hit the target with the resulting effort.

The start of the second half was much livelier than the first. Both sides had made chances within the opening five minutes. Sutton had a shot fly past the post after a good interchange inside the Crawley penalty area, and the Reds had a dangerous ball from Powell cut out before it could reach Telford.

With an hour gone, Sutton took the lead. Ellery Balcombe made an excellent save from an acrobatic effort in the Crawley penalty following a corner, but Joe Kizzi was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net to give the away side the lead.

Matty Etherington introduced James Balagizi and Aramide Oteh to add some much-needed pace to Crawley’s attack. Mazeed Ogungbo and Tom Fellows made way.

Crawley had a chance to create an instant response as Tsaroulla won a free-kick in a dangerous area. Powell snuck an effort under the Sutton wall, which looked like it would creep all the way in. Rose scrambled down to his left to collect the effort.

Things went from bad to worse for Crawley as Sutton were awarded a penalty in the 68th minute. A loose clearance wasn’t dealt with by Crawley, which resulted in Omar Bugiel picking up the ball only a few yards from goal. The Sutton striker took one touch before he was tripped over, and referee Neil Hair immediately pointed to the spot. Milsom converted the spot-kick to give his side a two-goal lead.

Aramide Oteh pulled a goal back for the Reds in the depths of extra time, but it wasn’t enough for Crawley, who left the Broadfield Stadium empty-handed.

REDS XI: Balcombe, Francomb, Craig, Francillette, Tsaroulla, Powell, Hessenthaler, Wells (Mason 71’), Fellows (Balagizi 61’), Ogungbo (Oteh 61’), Telford 

Attendance: 2926 (404 away)

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