Crawley narrowly lost out to Exeter City at St James Park this evening. Timothee Dieng scored a brace for the Grecians before Kwesi Appiah pulled one back on the stroke of half-time. It was a resilient performance from the Reds, who just couldn’t do enough to find an equaliser.
Despite playing with a majorly makeshift team, Crawley opened proceedings well and began to play some nice football in the opening minutes. The front three of Tom Nichols, Ashley Nadesan and Kwesi Appiah almost carved out an opening in the tenth minute, but the final pass from Nichols carried a little too much weight.
Exeter themselves also looked to pose a threat in the early stages as Matt Jay forced a good save from Glenn Morris. A ball was whipped into the Crawley penalty area as Jay’s close-range effort was smartly tipped over the bar by Morris.
Crawley continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack, and Nadesan almost put his side ahead as he was able to round Cameron Dawson. Sadly for the Reds, Nadesan ran out of room and could only skew an effort into the side netting.
This proved costly for the Reds as just moments later, Exeter had the ball in the back of the net. A set-piece was only half-cleared by the Crawley defence, and the ball fell kindly to Timothee Dieng, who was lurking by the penalty spot. The midfielder took a touch before stroking the ball into the bottom left corner.
Then came a moment of confusion. Dieng floated a dipping ball into the Crawley penalty area, which looked to be routine for Morris, but then came Offrande Zanzala. The striker bundled into Morris, and as a result, the ball fell into the net. The linesman on the far side flagged for a foul and then seemed to reverse his decision once the referee pointed to the half-way line. The two conferred on the far side and gave the goal.
The only consolation for Crawley was that Kwesi Appiah managed to pull a goal back on the stroke of half-time. Just like Exeter’s opening goal, a set-piece was only half-cleared, and Appiah was on hand to stroke home and half the deficit as the sides headed in for the break.
Crawley came out for the second half with a real menace about them, clearly feeling hard done by in the first half. Exeter still looked dangerous, and Crawley needed to remain vigilant.
Nadesan had another brilliant chance to get his name on the scoresheet and level things for Crawley. Appiah beat his marker in the air and sent Nadesan through with a header. The striker attempted a lob but was disappointed to see his effort land on the roof of the net.
In truth, the second half hadn’t really offered anything for either side as the clock ticked over to 80 minutes. Nadesan’s chance was the only notable one as the game entered its final ten minutes.
Exeter survived a late onslaught from Crawley to hold on to all three points, which may prove vital in their chase for promotion.
REDS XI: Morris, Hessenthaler, Francillette, Francomb, Tsaroulla, Payne, Powell, Tilley, Nichols, Nadesan, Appiah
Attendance: 4020 (60 away)