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Club News

FOCUS ON CRAWLEY

18 December 2013

A look at tonight's opponents

Looking to earn the right to match up with Championship team Birmingham City, Bristol Rovers travel to League One Crawley Town tonight, having drawn with the Reds 0-0 ten days ago.

Whilst Rovers faced a trip to Morecambe on Saturday, the Sussex team entertained Morecambe’s near neighbours Preston North End.

Crawley’s new Boss John Gregory experimented with a 3-5-2 formation but reverted to 4-4-2 after his side conceded two easy goals. Preston took the lead on 9 minutes from a Scott Laird corner kick which was headed home by Paul Huntington.

The Lancashire team doubled their lead on 16 minutes when a John Welsh pass found Josh Brownhill, whose neat finish hit the back of the net.

Gregory responded by taking off James Hurst and bringing on Andy Drury into midfield as three became four in defence.

Walsh pulled a goal back after 65 minutes on the rebound after Mark Connolly had struck Nicky Adams’ free-kick on to the post. The second goal eventually came in the 90th minute with a well-taken back post header from Gary Alexander from an Adams’ corner. 

Speaking after the excitement of his first home game Gregory said, "Obviously I made a mistake on how we started off with the shape and the formation. I thought we were capable of playing that way, but it wasn't going to plan. 

"We weren't very comfortable on what I was asking them to do, so I decided to change it and obviously 4-4-2 worked for us. The players were totally committed in everything they did and it was nice to give the fans something to shout about. 

"The pressure we had, I thought we might go on and win it and the players have set the standard and I expect that every week."

Prior to the game at the Mem Rovers and Crawley had met just twice in competitive football back in 2011/12 season when the rampant reds steamrollered Rovers 4-1 at Broadfield and earned a 0-0 draw in the return game at the Mem.

Crawley defender Mat Sadler aired his views on life under their new Manager. He said: "We are under no illusions how we need to be to stay in the team under the new manager.

"We need to go out with performances full of grit and determination, along with that bit of quality which hopefully we will continue to show. 

"He is trying to give us that push and that spark that had maybe gone missing in the last couple of weeks. As soon as he came in he made us all aware of exactly what he expects and wants from us." 

"The emphasis was on possibly being a bit more of a threat in more threatening areas and maybe not playing too much football in our own half where we are not going to hurt teams," Sadler said. 

"We'll try and play football in areas where we are going to hurt teams and then when we are out of possession trying to win the ball back in areas where we are going to hurt teams. 

"Going forward that will carry on being the philosophy and that will carry on being the way we try to play, with the basis of all that underpinned by a real strong worth ethic and a real togetherness." 

Speaking about his team after the draw at the Mem, Gregory said, "It is hard trying to transfer all your thoughts and ideas. I often use the quote 'Teach someone a hundred things and they will forget 99 of them'.

"There are loads of things I would like to work on but just haven't got the time. I don't want to fill the players' heads with too many new things so I have tried to keep it as simple as possible. There is still a lot of work to be done and we will get on the training ground and make sure we keep improving."

Gregory is now being assisted by new first team coach Guy Whittingham. Gregory brought him out of the Army in 1989 when he was in charge of Portsmouth and Whittingham embarked on a career which saw him score 156 goals in more than 400 games between 1988-2001.

Whittingham expressed his pleasure at the appointment, “I’m delighted to be here working at such an ambitious and progressive football club. One of the attractions was working with the Gaffer again. I guess I owe my professional career to him because he paid £450 to buy me out of the Army all those years ago.

“A lot has happened since then but I was keen to come in and work with John again. Obviously I have had my own experience of management so I know what it’s like but it’s great to be here. I know a few of the lads and I watched the Bristol Rovers game last Saturday so I know that we have a very talented squad."

Written by Gerry Prewett.

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