Crawley Town started their campaign with a 1-0 defeat away at newly relegated Hartlepool, succumbing to an 88th minute goal. Their second match, at home to Harrogate, was postponed. Harrogate, after a number of positive Covid tests, have had to rearrange 3 of their fixtures. But Crawley moved to winning ways ahead of their visit to Nailsworth with a 2-1 home victory over Salford City. The pace of Crawley’s number 10, Ashley Nadesan caused Salford problems all evening and it was his 38th minute goal that drew Crawley level. Crawley captain George Francomb was the other Crawley star of the game – Francomb’s balls into the box led to both their goals.
Crawley finished last season firmly mid-table, in 12th place, 12 points behind Rovers. But the Sussex side restricted Rovers to just 1 point in the 2 fixtures last season, winning 2-1 at The New Lawn followed by a goalless draw at The People’s Pension Stadium.
Crawley’s manager, John Yems, has got something of an eye for footballing talent. They discovered a star striker in the first half of last season in Max Watters. Watters scoring form in League 2 was only outdone by Cambridge’s Paul Mullin. This form prompted Cardiff City to pay £1 million for him in the January 2021 transfer window. However, they have an able replacement in their current number 9, Tom Nicholls. Nicholls stepped into the gap left by Watters departure and thrived. Rovers fans may remember Nicholls. His 2 goals at The New Lawn last season meant Crawley left Gloucestershire with all 3 points. Nicholls scored in the 16th and 79th minutes, either side of a Jake Young goal on 50 minutes.
Tom Nicholls scored 2 goals against Rovers last season.
A curious bit of Crawley news last season was the signing of ex-TOWIE star Mark Wright. 33 year old Wright played 9 games for Crawley in the 2006/07 season ion the National League and scored once but had always wanted to play for a club at EFL level, apparently. Wright made a couple of appearances but was released at the end of last season. His brother Josh Wright plays as a midfielder for Crawley.
Like FGR, Crawley are relative new-comers to the EFL. They achieved promotion to League 2 for the first time in 2011. They achieved promotion in their first season in League 2 and spent 3 seasons in League 1 before dropping back to League 2 in 2015.
Crawley have been ringing the managerial changes in recent years. Steve Evans (now the Gillingham manager) was in charge for 5 years until 2012. After this Crawley had 10 managers in 8 years (including Dean Saunders and Harry Kewell). Current boss, John Yems, has been their manager for around a couple of years.
Rovers’ record against Crawley in the last few seasons has been fairly good – 4 wins and 3 draws and 1 loss in their eight encounters.