Crawley Town held to draw by Burgess Hill Town in friendly
Crawley Town couldn’t continue their winning ways in pre-season as they were held to a 1-1 draw by an impressive and physical Burgess Hill Town side in an evenly-matched game on Tuesday evening.
Jake Hessenthaler’s first half finish was cancelled out by a late Burgess Hill goal as Crawley struggled to get up to tempo.
The first half saw two trialists start in defence, with another leading the line up front, as well as a start for Rafiq Khaleel in midfield.
Burgess Hill started strongly as they looked to press high and win the ball back from Crawley’s midfield. This worked well early on as a Burgess Hill defender found himself unmarked from a free kick and headed just wide.
At the other end, Sam Matthews and Ashley Nadesan linked up well as Nadesan found his chipped effort role the wrong side of the post.
Once again Matthews found the freedom to cut inside but found his tame effort roll into the gloves of the keeper.
Midway through the first half Crawley started to find their stride, with space down the right-hand side. Matthews found himself in one-on-ones with the keeper twice in a matter of minutes but he took too long and found both of his efforts smothered excellently by the Burgess Hill keeper.
Tyler Frost was having joy down the left-hand side as he rouletted neatly round his man before floating a ball into the box, however, the triallist forward headed just over.
This consistent pressure paid off as Hessenthaler pressed high and won the ball back from a Burgess Hill goal-kick before rounding the keeper and passing into an empty net.
Both trialist defenders had a good display. They dealt well with balls over the top and commanded the line with strong headers.
Burgess Hill fought back late in the first half with strong tackles in the midfield and looked to break at every opportunity. However, Crawley defended solidly and found themselves ahead at the break.
The second half saw Crawley make eleven changes including a second trialist up front.
The high-speed end-to-end football of the first half however, was replaced with a scruffy and physical second, and both teams struggled to get the ball down and play.
Crawley struggled not only to match Burgess Hill’s physical approach but also found their ball playing wanting as they failed to maintain possession for any period of time.
Tom Nichols was the shining light in Crawley’s attack as he looked to give and go quickly. This was shown in the 57th minute as he broke between the lines and his deflected pass fell into the path of Zaid Al-Hussaini who mistimed his chip which fell wide.
Both teems looked rushed with the ball trying to quickly make attacks rather than consolidate possession. Crawley looked rather static in the second half with little movement against a solid and well drilled Burgess Hill defence.
Late on in the game Burgess Hill looked to gain control of the game as they moved the ball side to side well and won several corners.
This pressure paid off as a ball was played over Tony Craig. Glenn Morris came to collect and looked to get two hands on the ball before he was clattered by the Burgess Hill striker.
Morris dropped the ball into the stride of the striker who swiftly finished. The referee saw nothing wrong with this challenge and Burgess Hill found themselves level.
It appeared as though it took this goal for Crawley to start playing and up the intensity. Al-Hussaini beat his man well and played a fine ball into the box before George Francomb fired the ball towards the back top corner.
However, the keeper dived spectacularly before batting the ball away with a strong hand.
He was once again forced into a spectacular save as Al Hussaini’s cross was shanked goalward forcing the keeper to acrobatically tip the ball over.
The Reds now travel to Three Bridges on Friday evening before playing at Horsham on Saturday in their fourth and fifth pre-season games.
First Half XI: Jones, Davies, Trialist, Trialist, Dallison, Matthews, Khaleel, Hessenthaler, Frost, Trialist, Nadesan
Second XI: Morris, Francomb, Adebowale, Craig, Gallacher, Al-Hussaini, Payne, Powell, Tilley, Trialist, Nichols