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Match Previews

🔎 The Opposition: Crawley Town

Lowdown on the Red Devils

14 March 2022

Match Previews

🔎 The Opposition: Crawley Town

Lowdown on the Red Devils

14 March 2022

After Saturday’s stalemate with Salford, attention turns to Tuesday night and Crawley Town.

Here’s a chance to re-familiarise with the Red Devils.

  • Founded: 1896
  • Nicknames: The Reds; The Red Devils
  • Major Honours: Conference (2010/11)
  • Home Kit: ERREA Red shirts with white singular stripe, red shorts, and red socks
  • Away Kit: ERREA Light blue shirt with darker blue singular stripe, light blue shorts and socks
  • Form: WDDLL (13th in League Two)


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. 


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.

Crawley 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.

The Ground

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

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.

Crawley Stadium social.jpg

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.

Tom Nichols.jpg

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 last summer and he scored against City in February’s fixture.

Now leading the line for the Red Devils, Nichols eight goals and four assists to his name this term and has also captained his side against Bradford this year.  

Head to Head

There’s only been one nil-niller since the first meeting between the sides back in 1971, but the honours are pretty even In regard to results. There have been 36 goals in 16 games between the sides.

Exeter City Wins: 7

Draws: 5

Crawley Town Wins: 4

Recent encounters

Crawley Town 1 Exeter City 3 | Sky Bet League Two | People’s Pensions Stadium | October 19, 2021

City came from behind through a wonderous strike from Matt Jay, Nigel Atangana's header and Sam Nombe's poachers finish.  

Crawley Town 2 Exeter City 0 | Sky Bet League Two | People’s Pension Stadium | February 27, 2021

Crawley ended Exeter’s five game unbeaten run through Tom Nichols’ penalty and Ashley Nadesan’s late effort

Exeter City 2 Crawley Town 1 | Sky Bet League Two | St James Park | October 20, 2020

Ryan Bowman’s fortuitous late goal settled the score at SJP. Jake Taylor's emphatic equaliser cancelled out Max Watter’s first half strike.

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.

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