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Club News

🔎 The Opposition: Crawley Town (H)

Joe Glanville takes an in-depth look at Good Friday's opponents

16 April 2019

Exeter City breezed past Port Vale last weekend with a 2-0 win to boost their play-off prospects and consolidate their grip on 7th place, by moving four points clear of Carlisle United just below them.

Next up they face Crawley Town at St James Park, with the visitors arriving off the back of a much-needed 1-0 win at struggling Yeovil Town. The victory providing respite for a side that had lost four games in a row.

Here’s your complete lowdown on Crawley…

  • Founded: 1896
  • Nickname: The Red Devils
  • Honours: Conference champions: 2010/11. Southern League champions: 2003/04 & 2004/05

Crawley may have a lengthy history that eclipses well over the 100-year mark, but they are relatively young in terms of their existence as a professional club.

The Reds were founded in 1896, playing their formative years in the West Sussex and Mid Sussex Leagues and it was not until 1959 that Crawley tasted their first piece of silverware, with the Metropolitan League Cup.

Just three years later and the Reds had achieved professional status and joined the Southern League the following year. Crawley would come to feel right at home here, with a promotion in 1969 and then another in 1984, yet a title still alluded them.

In 1992, the Reds enjoyed a hefty pay-day after reaching the third round of the FA Cup (their best ever cup run) with neighbours Brighton and Hove Albion lying in wait. The big away day at the Goldstone Ground ending with the visitors on the receiving end of a 5-0 drubbing though.

The 1999 arrival of new owner John Duly heralded a new era of success for the Reds with the club winning two Southern League titles and two Southern League cups in the space of six years.

The good days kept on rolling, as Crawley won the Conference in 2011 and reached the Football League for the first time ever and then went one better by gaining promotion from League Two the following season.

The manager

Gabriele Cioffi

After taking the managerial reins at Crawley back in September, Gabriele Cioffi has slowly, but surely guided the club to safety after slipping precariously towards the relegation zone towards the end of the season.

A former Italian defender with vast experience and pedigree in the Italian game, Cioffi’s decision to take up the position at the Reds represents his first foray into a managerial position in England.

The 43-year-old amassed over 400 appearances during his playing days, primarily spent in Serie B and Serie. The more illustrious of Italian clubs included Torino, Ascoli and AlbinoLeffe.

Post-retirement, Cioffi went on to coach far and wide with Australia’s Adelaide United, United Arab Emirates’ Al Jazira and even as part of Gianfranco Zola’s coaching team at Birmingham City.

The ground

  • Name: The People’s Pension Stadium
  • Capacity: 6,134
  • Year opened: 1997
  • Address: Winfield Way, Broadfield, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 9RX

The People’s Pension Stadium – most commonly known as Broadfield Stadium – opened in 1997 with the club adopting a new stadium name for sponsorship reasons late last year.

Prior to Crawley’s 22-year-old ground was Town Mead which had housed the side since 1949, but the ground was sold for redevelopment 48 years later. The Reds’ first game at the new ground was a friendly against the Grecians opponents last week, Port Vale.

The Broadfield Stadium is owned by Crawley Borough Council and also hosts Brighton’s Womens team as of 2018.

One to watch

Ollie Palmer

Former Lincoln City and Luton Town frontman Ollie Palmer comfortably leads the goalscoring charts for Crawley this season with 16 goals in all competitions – and 10 clear of his nearest rival, Filipe Morais.

The towering striker joined from Lincoln last summer after a solitary season at the Imps that resulted in an EFL Trophy triumph and on a personal level, being named in the EFL Trophy Team of the Tournament.

Recent form guide

It is not harsh to suggest the Reds’ recent form has been nothing short of woeful since mid-March. In their last six, they have won four points from a possible 18, as they creep precariously closer to the drop door.

The first of their most recent six fixtures was a 0-0 draw at home to promotion hopefuls Mansfield Town, but the next four heralded 0 points, with the Reds suffering a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Crewe Alexandra before being dismissed 3-0 by Lincoln.

A further two defeats followed, before Morais scored the only goal of the game in a six-point encounter against Yeovil last weekend.

2017/18 season in review

  • Position: 14th, League Two
  • Top goalscorer: Enzio Boldewijn & Jimmy Smith - 10
  • Average attendance: 2,268

Contrastingly, Crawley’s season last year has been in complete reverse to this one. The Reds started the season abysmally by losing their opening three league games, leaving the bottom of the table, before gradually picking up form.

Two wins lifted the Reds, but they then transpired to lose four of their following six by the end of September and slip down to 20th. Add to that a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Birmingham and Crawley were bereft of form.

The end of the year brought indifferent form, but at least the Reds were starting to bridge a gap between themselves and the bottom. January and February were booming months, as the club won seven from ten and moved up to 11th.

From there onwards, Crawley won just one league game, but still managed a respectable 14th placed finish.

Most recent meetings

Crawley Town 1-1 Exeter City (Sky Bet League Two – October 23, 2018)

Second half substitute Lee Holmes rescued a late point for the Grecians at the Broadfield Stadium after Morais had given the hosts the lead around the hour mark.

As a result, Exeter dropped to third and Crawley down to third, with the Reds rueing a missed opportunity to move into the play-off zone.

Exeter City 2-2 Crawley Town (Sky Bet League Two – April 21, 2018)

A topsy-turvy, four-goal encounter saw Exeter fail to take advantage of promotion rivals’ defeat, as the Grecians stayed fourth, instead of moving into the automatic promotion spots.

Boldewijn had given the hosts the lead, but deadly marksman Jayden Stockley brought the Grecians level just before half time. Stockley then added a second in the second half, with Exeter on course for all three points, before Josh Yorwerth brought his side level in the 68th minute.

Crawley Town 3-1 Exeter City (Sky Bet League Two – November 21, 2017)

The Grecians suffered a shock 3-1 defeat to Crawley, after Dean Moxey had broken the deadlock early in the first half.

Josh Payne then drew the sides level after dispatching from the spot, before Jordan Roberts struck on the hour mark and then sealed the win with nine minutes of regular time remaining.

Ticket news

Tickets are on sale at advance prices until 5pm in person and midnight online, on Thursday, April 18.

You can book online via Mobile, tablet or desktop by visiting: tickets.ecfc.co.uk or by calling: 01392 411 243 or by visiting the club shop/reception at St James Park.


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