Crawley Town 1 Port Vale 3: Harry Kewell’s reign begins with home defeat

Crawley Town FC v Port Vale FC. Vale celebrate their 2nd. 05-08-17 Pic Steve Robards  SR1717768 SUS-170508-171223001
Crawley Town FC v Port Vale FC. Vale celebrate their 2nd. 05-08-17 Pic Steve Robards SR1717768 SUS-170508-171223001

Crawley Town suffered a 3-1 home defeat against Port Vale in their opening game of the season.

The Valiants went 2-0 ahead by half-time through an early ninth minute goal by Michael Tonge which was deflected in from a free-kick.

Crawley Town FC v Port Vale FC. Goal. Enzio Boldewijn. 05-08-17 Pic Steve Robards; SR1717853 SUS-170508-172213001

Crawley Town FC v Port Vale FC. Goal. Enzio Boldewijn. 05-08-17 Pic Steve Robards; SR1717853 SUS-170508-172213001

Tonge then set-up their second with another free-kick which was headed in unopposed by Antony Kay.

A great goal by Dutch winger Enzio Boldewijn brought Crawley back into the game nine minutes into the second half with a fine run in to the area and strike.

However after a period of exciting play mainly by Boldewijn, the visitors killed the game off with a third goal in the 83rd minute headed in by substitute Dan Turner.

Head coach Harry Kewell named Dannie Bulman as his captain for his first competitive since taking charge.

Crawley Town FC v Port Vale FC 05-08-17 Pic Steve Robards  SR1717804 SUS-170508-172042001

Crawley Town FC v Port Vale FC 05-08-17 Pic Steve Robards SR1717804 SUS-170508-172042001

He handed debuts to three other new signings: Cedric Evina, Mark Randall and Thomas Verheydt, while Bulman made his first appearance in his third spell at the club.

Evina is on loan from Doncaster Rovers, midfielder Bulman rejoined Reds from League 1 club AFC Wimbledon, Randall, another midfielder, joined Crawley from Newport County, while striker Verheydt comes from Dutch football where he played for MVV Maastrict.

Port Vale manager Michael Brown handed debuts to seven new signings: Robert Lainton, Lawrie Wilson, Antony Kay, Marcus Harness, Cristian Montano, Gavin Dunning and Michael Tonge, while Tom Pope made his second-spell debut.

Port Vale had first sight of goal when Tonge lifted a shot over the bar from 25 yards.

But a few minutes later he was on target from a free-kick which took a big deflection on on the way to flying to Glenn Morris’ right.

Mark Randall nearly put Reds on level terms with an effort from the right which went very close.

Bulman went close with a shot following good work by Lewis Young.

Port Vale added their seocnd goal through a well-taken header by Kay who beat the Crawley defender to a ball lifted in from a free-kick by Tonge.

Reds had three chances in a row but failed to make their keeper make a save - Randall volleyed over the bar, Mark Connolly saw a shot saved but was offisde, before Josh Yorwerth lifted a ball overv the bar following an exchange with Verheydt.

The visitors went close again five minutes before half-time when Marcus Harness crossed from the right to find Cristian Montano who headed narrowly wide.

Port Vale made a change at half-time, bringing on Dan Turner in place of Montano at left-wing.

Crawley were quickest out of the blocks in the second half and soon pulled a goal back when Boldewijn produced an excellent individual effort, cut in from the left and scored.

The Dutchman went close moments later with a drive over the bar.

Kewell made two substitutions in the second half, firslty repacing Josh Yorwerth with Josh Payne and then bringing on Dean Cox for Jordan Roberts.

Boldewijn twice went close again berfore mysteriously being substituted as Kewell made his third change, bringing on Dennon Lewis for his Crawley debut with 15 minutes to go.

Port Vale scored the winner with seven minutes to go when Harness crossed from the right and turner headed in from close-range.

REDS: Morris, Young, Lelan, Connolly, Evina, Bulman (capt), Yorwerth (Payne 54), Randall, Boldewijn (Lewis 75), Verheydt, Roberts (Cox 65).

Subs: Mersin, Blackman, Harrold, Djalo

PORT VALE: Lainton, Wilson, Kay, Harness, Pugh, Pope, Montano (Turner 46), N.Smith, De Freitas, Gunning, Tonge (Reeves 65)

Subs: Davis, Hornby, Forrester, Reeves, Pyke, Whitfield (Whitfield 84)

REFEREE: Charles Breakspear

ATTENDANCE: 2,270 (432 away)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Enzio Boldewijn