Crawley lost out to Carlisle United this afternoon at Brunton Park. Kristian Dennis’ 5th-minute goal was enough to secure victory for the Cumbrians on the opening day of the season.
The hosts started well in an electric Brunton Park that was almost filled to the rafters. Ellery Balcombe was forced into a very decent save in the third minute from point-blank range on his Crawley debut.
Unfortunately for Crawley, Carlisle took the lead just moments later. The ball was played into the Crawley penalty area, and after a series of deflections, the ball fell kindly to Kristian Dennis, who poked past Balcombe to give his side an early lead.
Carlisle continued to look like the better side in the match as Crawley were slowly building up momentum as the clock ticked over to 25 minutes. Balcombe made a couple of decent stops after Carlisle’s opener, and in a rare moment of attacking promise for Crawley, James Tilley forced Tomas Holy into a very good save to tip a low effort around the post.
Dom Telford followed up with an effort from the edge of the area, which was just too high to find the target. Tilley was looking like Crawley’s creative spark as it was his darting run down the flank which set up the chance.
Telford again went close before the half-time break. On this occasion, a lovely passage of play was conducted by Jack Powell on the edge of the box, which allowed Telford to pull away from his man and receive the ball. The striker's eventual effort was fired wide.
The half-time whistle ended Crawley’s chance of snatching an equaliser before half-time, but the Reds would have walked down the tunnel feeling a lot more confident than they had been in the opening 25 minutes.
Goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe was forced off at the break due to an injury. Corey Addai came on to replace the shot-stopper, who’d had a very decent game. Jake Hessenthaler also entered the field as he replaced Jack Powell.
The Reds had a much brighter start to the second half and looked to take control of possession in the early stages. However, a free kick was conceded in a very dangerous position for the home side in the 55th minute. Jordan Gibson stood over the set-piece but failed to hit the target.
Corey Addai then made a brilliant save to deny Gibson from close range. The midfielder skipped through the Reds’ backline and steered an effort towards goal, which Addai beat away from point-blank range.
Addai followed suit of Balcombe by making some very impressive saves to keep the Reds in the game. Teddy Jenks and Kwesi Appiah were introduced before the 80th minute to try and energise the Crawley attack.
The Reds failed to conjure up another attack and succumbed to a 1-0 defeat on the opening day of the Sky Bet League Two season.
REDS XI: Balcombe (Addai 45’), Conroy, Francomb (Adebowale 87’), Tilley, Powell (Hessenthaler 45’), Nichols, Nadesan, Omole (Appiah 76’), Telford, Balagizi (Jenks 69’) , Johnson
Attendance: 6403 (166 away)