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🔎 The Opposition: Crawley Town (H)

Jed Penberthy takes a look at City's midweek opponents

19 October 2020

Exeter City, now four unbeaten, will be looking to return to winning ways as they host Crawley Town on Tuesday evening.

So, here is all you need to know about our mid-week opposition…

  • Founded: 1896
  • Nicknames: The Reds; The Red Devils
  • Major Honours: Conference (2010/11)
  • Home Kit: ERREA Red shirts with white trim, red shorts, and red socks
  • Away Kit: ERREA Black and grey hooped shirts, black shorts, and black socks.
  • Form: WWDLW (9th in League 2)

A Brief History

Founded as Crawley Football Club in 1896, The Reds spent their formative years in the West Sussex League, before moving to the Mid-Sussex league in 1901. In the 1927/28 season, Crawley had one of their most successful pre-war seasons. The team topped the table until late April, when they lost 5-0 to their nearest rivals and finished runners-up, but they had won the Sussex Intermediate Cup in a 6-1 win over Hailsham.

The town itself has a huge residential, commercial, and industrial heritage. Crawley was a trade centre of ironworks for the Roman Army, as it sits comfortably between London and the south coast. Crawley’s most known however for its international access. Gatwick Airport sits just outside the town and has helped turn the area into one of the most important commuter towns in the country, if not the World.

In 1958 Crawley added the Town suffix to its football club and remained as an amateur side until 1962. Crawley would go on to play in the Sussex County league and Metropolitan League before turning Semi-pro and joining the Southern League. For most Crawley fans the year to be remembered was that of the 2010/11 season.

Town reached the 5th Round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, and the still non-league Red Devils got drawn away to a certain Premier League team with the same nickname. The fixture was played before a crowd of nearly 75,000 fans at Old Trafford: including over 9,000 visitors from Sussex. Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, and Michael Carrick were amongst those on show as the star-studded Manchester United team narrowly ran out 1-0 winners.

But even then, that achievement of Steve Evans’ side would be topped at the end of the season. The team finished the season with two records of 105 points and a 30-match unbeaten run, to gain Football League status for the first time in their history. This clearly wasn’t a one off as the very next season Crawley finished 3rd in League 2 to gain back-to-back promotions to the third tier. The stay lasted three seasons, but the incredible rise of Crawley in just the last 10 years must be admired. 

Last season Crawley ended League Two in 13th, their highest finish since relegation in 2015.

The Manager

John Yems

John Yems took control in December after the departure of Gabriele Coffi. This is his second spell at the Broadfield Stadium following a caretaker role 2006/07- after the sacking of John Hollins.

John Yems.JPG

 The 61-year-old had briefly, but successfully, been Paul Tisdale’s assistant manager at Exeter for the 2008/09 promotion season but left in July 2009, as he was unwilling to relocate permanently to Devon.

Scouting roles and minor coaching roles followed, before Yems was offered the Director of Operations job at Bournemouth in 2012 where he stayed for six years.

Crawley Town is his first permanent managerial position, and it has got off to an average start with 9 wins, 10 draws and 8 defeats, including the impressive 4-0 victory over Morcambe on Saturday- building on 3 wins in the last 5.

The Ground

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

Crawley Town.jpg

In 1997 Crawley’s Town Mead stadium was sold to developers forcing the club to relocate. Moving two miles across Crawley, the Broadfield Stadium was opened in what turns out to be a prime location for away supporters. The ground sits just off the M23 and within 1 mile of the nearest train station making it popular amongst travelling fans.

The stadium has had 2 sponsorship names since its opening (The Checkatrade Stadium and now the People’s Pension Stadium). Crawley’s record home attendance of 5,880 came in an FA Cup 3rd round fixture against Reading in 2013, made possible by the 2012 redevelopment of the East Stand.

One to Watch

Tom Nichols

This week’s ‘One to Watch’ is a man who needs no introduction for Exeter City fans. Tom Nichols returns to St James Park for the first time since his departure in 2016. ‘One of our own’, Nichols made 112 appearances for the Grecians scoring 38 goals.

Nichols is most known at City for his terrific sliding goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup in 2016. His work rate and goalscoring prowess earned his new challenge, with a £350,000 move to League One and Peterborough United.

A year later, Nichols was back in the Westcountry with Bristol Rovers, where he spent three seasons, -including an uneventful loan spell to Cheltenham- before being snapped up by Crawley as a free agent this summer.

Already in 2020/21, Nichols has been on the scoresheet twice, including netting his fiftieth league career goal in a 1-0 win over Scunthorpe last month.

Head to Head

Exeter City have only faced Crawley 13 times in all competitions, but goals have still been to good value. 30 in total averaging just over two a game.

Like Walsall on Saturday there has only been one 0-0 draw in that time- in the inaugural fixture back in 1971. The then Division 4 Exeter City side managed by Johnny Newman needed an FA Cup replay to get past Southern League Crawley.

  • Exeter Wins: 5
  • Draws: 5
  • Crawley Wins: 3

Recent Encounters

Exeter City 1-1 Crawley Town, 29 February 2020

Brennan Dickenson’s late strike cancelled out Nadesan’s first half effort, as both sides shared a point at a boggy SJP.

Crawley Town 0-1 Exeter City, 24 November 2019

Dean Moxey profited from a Randell Williams corner, as City took the spoils in Sussex.

Exeter City 1-3 Crawley Town, 19 April 2019

Good Friday didn’t live up to its name, when Ryan Bowman’s goal was sandwiched by Grego-Cox’s brace and Morais’ earlier finish, as Exeter slumped to a heavy defeat on a sunny afternoon at EX4.

And Finally…

When Crawley Town reached Round One of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, goalkeeper John Maggs played despite having suffered a broken bone in his hand. Maggs, the only experienced keeper on Crawley’s books at the time, helped the Red’s gain a 1-1 draw against Chelmsford.

How to Watch

Whilst we would love you to be there, showing your passionate support for the Grecians, you can get the next best thing by purchasing a match pass at the cost of just £10 in the UK. The stream includes the live BBC Radio Devon commentary, score overlay and replays.

By purchasing a match pass on the City website, you'll be providing much welcome income whilst games are played behind closed doors with around 80% of the price going directly to the Grecians.

To purchase a match pass please click here.

You can watch the match on your laptop by purchasing a match pass and logging on to the website homepage where the will be a 'Watch Now' button near the top of the page.

This season the EFL have created a new 'iFollow' app where you can watch on your phone or tablet! The old Exeter City app is being phased out, so if you have that please uninstall and download the app:

To purchase a match pass please click here.

  • For further details on iFollow, please click here
  • For a first time guide to iFollow, please click here

Season Ticket Holders

Season ticket holders get free access to the match, and will be emailed with their code and how to access this week.

Guide to iFollow

Not used the service before? Or getting stuck? Click here to view our first time guide.


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