An impressive Crawley side were knocked out of the Carabao Cup this evening at the hands of League One side Exeter City. Manager Scott Lindsey made nine changes from the side that faced Bradford City on Saturday. The Reds led the game at the half-time break courtesy of a goal from Klaidi Lolos, but the Grecians fought back in the second half to progress to round two.
It was a cagey start to the first half, as neither side made any threatening attacks for the first ten minutes. The home side looked firmly comfortable, but to give them credit, Crawley’s defence dealt with everything that got thrown at them in the first half. Harry Ransom and Liam Kelly were the only members of Crawley’s starting XI that also started against Bradford on Saturday.
Crawley continued to soak up pressure from the home side but also looked lively on the counter-attack. Crawley’s first shot of the game came from Aaron Henry, as the Charlton loanee saw an effort be deflected over the bar.
It was from the resulting corner that Crawley took the lead. A deep ball was sent into the box, which allowed Ransom to peel away at the back post. The Crawley skipper nodded the ball back across the face of goal into the path of Klaidi Lolos, who smashed the ball into the back of the net.
Exeter wasted no time in trying to find an equaliser, and had it not been for two alert saves from Luca Ashby-Hammond, the home side probably would have been level at the break. On the first occasion, Ashby-Hammond tipped a header onto the crossbar before making an even better save on the stroke of half-time. Dion Rankine was neatly slipped through on goal and had only Ashby-Hammond to beat. The Fulham loanee stretched his leg to its full extent and diverted the ball out for a corner.
Exeter arguably had a better chance to take the lead in the 38th minute. Sam Nombe rounded Ashby-Hammond and slid the ball to James Scott, who had virtually the whole goal to aim for. Somehow, Scott found the crossbar and the score remained in Crawley’s favour at the break.
In fairness to the home side, they came flying out the blocks in the second half, and Luca Ashby-Hammond was forced to continue his good form early in the second half. The shot-stopper made an alert double save from a corner within the first three minutes of the restart.
Crawley were still creating chances and playing some tidy football. The Reds almost doubled their lead when Ronan Darcy had an opportunity from the edge of the box, but the midfielder saw his shot trickle past the post.
Unfortunately, Crawley’s defence was eventually broken in the 73rd minute. Kyle Taylor calmly converted the ball into the back of the net after the Grecian was found with a neat cutback inside the Crawley penalty area.
Naturally, the goal swung the momentum into Exeter’s favour, and the home side found a winner in the 84th minute. James Scott peeled away from his marker at the back post to head home an inviting ball to break the hearts of the 84 travelling fans.
Crawley are back in Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday as they travel to Salford City.
REDS XI: Ashby-Hammond, Khaleel, Mukena, Ransom (Johnson 62’), Omole, Lolos, Kelly (Darcy 45’), Henry, Grant, Fish (Kastrati 96’)