Kevin Betsy’s Reds will play their eleventh league game of the season this Saturday against third-placed Stevenage, managed by ex-Crawley manager Steve Evans. Crawley head into the game in 22nd position and will hope to pick up an important three points to move up the league table.
THE MANAGER - Steve Evans
Every Crawley fan will know of tomorrow’s opposition’s boss Steve Evans, who led the club to a historic double promotion from the conference into League One. The Scotsman has managed many clubs since his departure in 2012; Rotherham, Leeds United, Mansfield Town, Peterborough United and Gillingham before joining Stevenage in March of this year, where he has enjoyed successes so far under his reign.
It is argued that Evans’ appointment last season saved Stevenage from relegation, and he continued that form into the 22/23 campaign as Stevenage sit in third in the league table with 22 points from 10 games, despite only a +3 goal difference. Boro have recorded seven league wins by a one-goal margin this season.
Evans made a tally of summer signings ahead of this campaign, bringing in experience in the likes of Michael Bostwick, Danny Rose, Carl Piergianni and ex-Red Jordan Roberts as well as exciting talents such as Kane Smith and Taye Ashby-Hammond.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Luke Norris - striker
Familiar face Luke Norris is more than likely to lead the attack for Stevenage on Saturday afternoon. The striker is familiar to many as he has a prolific scoring record against the Reds. Norris scored a winner for Boro in January’s 2-1 defeat and also netted twice in our dramatic 3-3 draw the season previous. The striker also found himself on the scoresheet for Colchester United in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup in 2019, equalising for the U’s after Crawley Town legend Dannie Bulman opened the scoring with a 25-yard thunderbolt. The 28-year-old is a product of the Brentford academy, and since his departure in 2014, Norris has played for Gillingham, Swindon, Colchester and Stevenage.
Last season, Norris scored 13 goals in a poor campaign for Stevenage, and many would say without his scoring form the club would have faced relegation. This season has been completely different under Steve Evans, with Boro sitting pretty in third, however with 10 starts, Norris has only managed one league goal, not even registering an assist.
Jordan Roberts - midfielder
Ex-Crawley man Jordan Roberts could start for Evans’ Stevenage on Saturday, after making a good impression following his move from Motherwell in Scotland in the summer.
After departing Crawley in 2018, Roberts has played for many clubs: Ipswich, Lincoln, Gillingham, Hearts, Motherwell and now closer to home at Stevenage.
Roberts has scored one goal this season in ten appearances under Steve Evans, but has been used in every league match this campaign so far. The 28-year-old scored nine league goals across two seasons for Crawley, but has found goalscoring more difficult since his departure, only netting six times in league competition since 2018.
Alex Gilbey - midfielder
Gilbey joined Evans’ Boro before deadline day in September on loan from League One Charlton, a signing that caught the eyes of many across England’s fourth division.
The experienced 27-year-old midfielder has had a brilliant league career so far, beginning at Colchester in 2012 at 17 years old. Gilbey spent four seasons in Essex playing 110 league games before making a move to Wigan Athletic.
After two seasons the midfielder joined MK Dons where he played 92 league games over three seasons, scoring 11 goals too. In 2020 he joined Charlton Athletic where he played 60 league games across two seasons before his surprise move to Stevenage, notably appearing in 37 league fixtures in League One only last season before a change of manager saw him take a loan spell.
Since his signing, Gilbey has started every game under Evans, recording four wins and one loss so far, also scoring one goal which came against Newport County in a 1-0 home victory at LAMEX Stadium.
HEAD TO HEAD
Crawley have won five of the last 18 games against Saturday afternoon’s visiting team since December of 2012.
Last season, The Reds came up against Boro twice within the space of three weeks due to a rearranged Boxing Day fixture that was postponed due to COVID-19. In mid-January, Stevenage were 2-1 victors at the Lamex Stadium after a first-half opener from former Exeter City captain Jake Taylor gave the home side the lead before Tom Nichols equalised on the stroke of half-time with a beautiful effort from the edge of the area. Luke Norris continued his goalscoring form against Crawley to secure all three points for Stevenage in the 72nd minute.
Two-and-a-half weeks later, Crawley hosted a Stevenage side then led by Paul Tisdale at Broadfield Stadium, and this time the scoreline ended level after Tom Nichols netted twice within 46 minutes. Substitute Arthur Read pulled one back impressively on 80 minutes, before defender Scott Cuthbert scored a heart-breaking equaliser after 92 minutes had struck, to continue our poor record against the Hertfordshire side.
When the two sides met in May 2021, in what was the penultimate game of the 2020/21 season, a six-goal thriller was played out behind closed doors. Crawley came from behind on three occasions to snatch a point. Luke Norris opened the scoring with a penalty, but skipper George Francomb equalised just three minutes later. There were four goals in a dramatic last fifteen minutes. Norris notched his second of the game in the 75th minute before Terence Vancooten headed into his own net in the 79th minute. Arthur Read put the home side back ahead in the 81st minute, but Jack Powell was on hand to level the tie with a glorious effort from 25-yards.
The game will be available to listen to with an audio pass for UK supporters on our iFollow service from 2:55pm with live commentary from BBC Sussex & Surrey Sport's Gary Smith and summariser Ken Blackmore.
The game is available to watch live for £10 for non-UK supporters with an iFollow match pass.
There will also be coverage across our social media channels throughout the game. @crawleytown on Twitter, Crawley Town FC on Facebook and officialcrawleytownfc on Instagram followed by a post-match match report and reaction from Kevin Betsy and a player.
Manager Kevin Betsy confirmed that defender Tobi Omole will be out with a long-term injury. Joel Lynch, Dion Conroy, George Francomb and Teddy Jenks are all edging closer to returns soon.
HOW THEY BET*
*Odds correct at time of writing from league betting partners Sky Bet. Please gamble responsibly.