Are Crawley Town ready for the new season? - Geoff Thornton

Glenn Morris punches clear against Portsmouth. Picture by Joe Pepler
Glenn Morris punches clear against Portsmouth. Picture by Joe Pepler

Are Crawley Town ready for the new season which kicks off on Saturday?

I certainly don’t know following their narrow 2-1 defeat by Portsmouth in their final pre-season friendly. Four consecutive defeats may suggest otherwise but three of them (all by a single goal) came against clubs playing in higher divisions.

Everybody agrees that how the team played in those matches is more important than the actual results but, having seen the Reds play, I am none the wiser. We’ve seen some encouraging signs and others that suggest there are still shortcomings that have not been rectified.

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Perhaps the real value of these matches is game time for individuals. Whether we are at a level to be truly competitive in League Two will only become apparent when we have half a dozen games under our belt.

If asked I reckon every supporter would pick a different team so maybe I should have a go at that. What I think will not affect Gabriele Cioffi’s choices but you do get a much better overall view of the game from the stands than is possible from the dugout.

Glenn Morris should start but at least Michael Luyambula looks competent if a change of keeper is required. Three or four at the back is a question but three central defenders like Joe McNerney, Tom Dallison and newcomer Jordan Tunnicliffe should ease our defensive concerns.

He might officially be the oldest player in the top five divisions but for me Dannie Bulman is playing better than ever. What’s more he is bringing the best out of George Francomb who spent last season playing in defence rather than his preferred central midfield role.

Panutche Camara is looking more mature whilst his former club mate at Dulwich Hamlet, Nathan Ferguson, looks really capable of making an impact in League Two. Out wide Reece Grego-Cox mixes craft and pace with a steely determination. He will quickly become a marked man if he maintains his current form.

Mason Bloomfield scored a stunning goal against Portsmouth that ought to earn him a start against Carlisle United. He excites the supporters many of whom seem to have turned against Ollie Palmer for a perceived lack of effort. The manager’s selection dilemma would surely be eased by playing two front men as he presumably will when Ashley Nadesan is fit.

Central defender George Forrest has been signed and the back room staff numbers have increased by three in our upwardly mobile club. But the rumour mill has been active suggesting that three players may be shortly be loaned out to other clubs.

I just wish we could run a reserve team so that most of the squad could play on a regular basis. Eleven starters plus three possible substitutes is no good when the very minimum for a squad is two players for every position.