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A short recap on yesterday evening's pre-season opener against East Grinstead Town.

12 July 2023

Crawley Town Football Club began their 2023/24 pre-season campaign with a victory at East Grinstead Town yesterday evening at the OHOB Community Stadium. A long-distance strike from Nick Tsaroulla and a last-minute goal from Florian Kastrati ensured a winning start to pre-season for Scott Lindsey's side.

Lindsey picked two squads for this fixture, one for the first half and one for the second. The team featured in the first half included all four of the Red Devils' new signings. Harry Forster proved to be a handful for the East Grinstead defence, as the winger continuously broke through the back-line and made some very attacking runs towards goal.

In truth, Crawley should have been at least two or three goals clear at the half-time break. The level scoreline was largely down to the East Grinstead goalkeeper, who made several fantastic saves to deny Lindsey's side on numerous occasions. The pick of the bunch denied Ashley Nadesan a rare headed goal from point-blank range. A lovely floated cross from Forster found the Crawley striker, who powered his effort at goal, but somehow the Grinstead goalkeeper got across and beat the effort onto the post.

Crawley's defence had very little to do, and goalkeeper Corey Addai made only a few touches of the ball. A highlight of the first half was seeing Tobi Omole back out on the pitch after ten months. The defender suffered a horrific knee injury away at Rochdale in August 2022 and hadn't featured for Crawley since.

Kellan Gordon and Dom Telford both came close to opening the scoring towards the end of the first half, but there was nothing to separate the two sides at half-time.

Crawley's first-half XI: Corey Addai, Harry Ransom, Joy Mukena, Tobi Omole, Trialist, Liam Kelly, Harry Forster, Kellan Gordon, Dom Telford, Ashley Nadesan, Danilo Orsi

The second half saw eleven changes made and more trialists featured. East Grinstead made very few changes throughout the match, meaning Crawley always had the upper hand with fitness. Despite more trialists being fielded in the second half, popular names such as Rafiq Khaleel, Joel Lynch and Nick Tsaroulla all featured.

It was the latter who gave Crawley the lead in the 66th minute with a trademark left-footed strike into the bottom corner from range. You just knew Tsaroulla was going to have a pop at goal as soon as he received the ball from around 20 yards out, and the young full-back found the corner of the net brilliantly to put Crawley ahead. It was always going to take a decent strike to beat the Grinstead goalkeeper, who had continued his impressive form in the early stages of the second half.

Almost instantly, the hosts responded with a goal of their own. A lovely dinked finish was lifted over the head of Roshan Greensall in the Crawley goal to bring the tie level.

More Crawley pressure followed, and more chances were created. Jed Brown lifted an effort over the crossbar, and Tsaroulla had another long-range effort palmed away to safety before Florian Kastrati found the back of the net in the last minute of play. Kastrati found himself with the ball at his feet inside the area and took a few touches inside before blasting the ball into the back of the net to give Crawley a win in their opening pre-season fixture.

Crawley's second-half XI: Roshan Greensall, Jayden Davis, Joel Lynch, Trialist, Florian Kastrati, Trialist, Rafiq Khaleel, Nick Tsraoulla, Jed Brown, Trialist, Trialist

Click here to listen to Scott Lindsey's thoughts on the match.

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