Crawley picked up their first three points of the season this evening with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Stockport County. James Tilley gave Crawley the lead in the 5th minute, but that was cancelled out in the 17th minute by Oliver Crankshaw. Crawley’s lead was restored by Dom Telford before the half-time break, but Stockport once again drew level after Chris Hussey scored an excellent free-kick. Nick Tsaroulla produced yet another moment of magic as he scored a thunderous effort to give Crawley all three points under the lights at the Broadfield Stadium.
The visitors started brightly, and James Brown forced a decent save from Corey Addai in the second minute. The Stockport winger beat Nick Tsaorulla and curled an effort towards goal, which Addai beat away well. Addai was forced into another save moments later as he smothered Olly Crankshaw’s effort from close range.
Despite the visitor's bright start, it was Crawley who took the lead. James Balagizi expertly intercepted a Stockport man on half-way, which allowed the Reds to mount a swift counter-attack. Balagizi played the ball to James Tilley, who lined up a shot from distance. The shot appeared to take a considerable deflection which wrong-footed Vit Jaros in the Stockport goal as the ball flew into the back of the net.
Crawley’s lead didn’t last long, as in the 15th minute, Crankshaw slotted the ball under Addai to level the score. Crankshaw was played through on goal with a deft ball from Antoni Sarcevic, which allowed Crankshaw to cooly slot under Addai. Many of Crawley’s defence, coaching staff and fans were unhappy that the offside flag was not raised. The assistant on the nearside was adamant in his decision.
Dom Telford had a brilliant chance to restore Crawley’s lead but failed to beat Jaros from close range. Tsaroulla found Telford with an excellent lofted pass, which Telford controlled with a touch of real quality. The striker had next to no time to get a shot away and failed to test the Stockport goalkeeper.
This wasn’t to matter as Telford did restore Crawley’s lead in the 35th minute. The goal came from a series of errors from the Stockport defence. A short goal kick was played to a Stockport defender, who looked to pass further up the pitch. The ball was returned back to the defender, but Tom Nichols swooped in and was able to find Telford in the area. The striker carefully lifted the ball over Jaros with a neat finish that nestled into the opposite corner.
Crawley looked to extend their slim lead in the second half, but in the 52nd minute, Stockport drew the game level. Chris Hussey stood over a free-kick 25-yards from goal and curled a perfect effort over the Crawley wall and into the back of the net.
The little over 2000 fans that were inside the Broadfield Stadium this evening were being treated to an absolute classic under the floodlights. Only minutes after Hussey had drawn the game level, Tsaroulla scored to make it 3-2. It was a great move from Betsy’s Reds, who turned defence into attack within seconds. A lovely free-flowing move resulted in Nichols switching the ball to Tsaroulla, who lined up a rocket with his weaker right foot that had Jaros well beaten.
Crawley were then denied what appeared, at first sight, to be a clear penalty. Nichols received the ball inside the box, took a touch away from his man, and appeared to be tripped in the process. Nichols and the Crawley faithful behind the goal were adamant that there was a foul to be given. Neil Hair waved away all protests.
Crawley were really huffing and puffing all over the pitch in the final ten minutes plus stoppage. Another injury blow was dealt as Jake Hessenthaler, who had been having a solid match, was forced off with a knock in the 81st minute.
Crawley’s resilience paid off as they saw out the remainder of the match to claim their first three points of the 2022/23 Sky Bet League Two campaign.
REDS XI: Addai, Fellows, Francillette, Ransom, Craig, Tsaroulla (Johnson 76’), Hessenthaler (Mazeed 81’), Balagizi, Tilley (Powell 64’), Telford (Nadesan 76’), Nichols
Attendance: 2187 (376 away)