An inspired team performance earned Crawley their fifth win in six games against promotion-hopefuls Accrington.
Here are five things we learnt from the excellent display.
Superb form continues
With five wins in their last six games, Crawley have made an incredible rise to prominence.
Having been sitting as low as 21st in November following a 4-0 drumming at Wycombe, Harry Kewell’s side have lost just three times in just over two months since then and now sit in a very respectable 12th - five points short off the play-offs.
With just four wins from their first 18 league games, eight wins in their last 12 shows just how far they have come. The current team personifies confidence and self-belief.
This weekend’s win over Accrington comes as their second victory against top four teams in a week after a late Josh Payne penalty gave the Reds a 2-1 win at second placed Notts County on Tuesday night, underlining their credentials as one of the best in the league.
There is growing optimism that a push for the play-offs isn’t out of the question.
Kewell sticking to philosophy reaps rewards
Throughout the season, Harry Kewell has stuck to an attacking philosophy and it is reaping its rewards. Even after a tough start to life at the Checkatrade Stadium, in which the Reds won just four of their opening 19 games, Kewell has always got his side playing in a positive way.
They’ve been solid at the back all season but regularly suffered from bad luck in front of goal which had a detrimental impact on results. Football is a results- driven business so the regular good performances meant nothing without the points to show for it.
Many fans were calling for the manager’s sacking come November, but he has surely won them over now with yet another win and virtuoso attacking display.
Players buying into Kewell’s methods
In their post-match interviews, Kewell and Glenn Morris both put the upturn in form down to the fact that everyone knows what is expected of them and they have adapted to the manager’s preferred style of play.
Kewell has repeatedly stressed all season that it takes time to evolve and adapt after a new manager comes in and fans are now starting to see significant progress. The players evidently have trust in each other’s ability and there is a real sense of togetherness in the squad.
This team spirit and run of form has instilled new found belief and confidence around the whole club and if they can keep it up, there is no limit to what Crawley can achieve this season.
Enzio stars again
This is the third consecutive time Enzio Boldewijn has featured in my ‘Five things we’ve learnt’ and it may sound repetitive but it’s impossible to leave him out. The Dutchman was terrific yet again, posing a constant threat throughout. He opened the scoring with his seventh goal this season- sixth in the last seven games, and was influential in his side’s second with a powerful run and cross.
With a lack of a top scorer being a recurring problem in the opening few months, following the exit of the prolific James Collins, the Reds struggled to pick up points in games in which they deserved to win based on possession and chances created. Boldewijn’s constant effort has been ever present throughout the season, but the addition of goals to his game are what is making the difference at the moment. With Enzio overtaking Jordan Roberts and Jimmy Smith to become this season’s top scorer, Kewell no longer has to rely on just one or two players to find the vital goals.
In almost identical fashion to December’s reverse fixture, Crawley dominated the first half and took control of the game. After taking a 3-0 lead at the Wham Stadium, the Reds allowed Stanley back into the game, conceding twice either side of half time and had Glenn Morris to thank for not throwing away the three points.
Likewise this time around, they went into the break with a two-goal lead but a bizarre own goal by Jimmy Smith 10 minutes into the second half gave the visitors hope. Yet again Glenn Morris was the hero, with another man-of-the-match display to keep the score at 2-1. It should come as a lesson to Crawley to kill the game off in the first half when they are on top, to avoid the nerves which result from an unlikely second half fightback. However, credit must go to the way in which the Reds responded after conceding. They could have been disheartened and possibly more reserved in their approach for the rest of the game, but instead they showed no fear and thoroughly deserved to hold on for victory.
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