Crawley Town played their opening pre-season friendly in front of over 800 fans at a packed Green Elephants Stadium last night.
They beat Ryman League Division One South champions Burgess Hill Town 4-0 and fielded several trialists.
Two goals in each half sealed the result but more importantly manager Mark Yates was able to watch nine trialists in action and see his new signings gel well with the rest of the squad.
The Reds boss fielded two completely changed teams in each half and all the players looked well up for the game which was played with a good level of intensity.
Goals by former Stevenage and Arsenal player Roarie Deacon in the first 20 seconds, new signing Shamir Fenelon and two in the second half by Izale McLeod sealed victory.
Although the League 2 side dominated, Hillians did not look out of their depth and managed to create scoring chances.
Deacon impressed in the first half and gave Crawley the lead while some people were still taking to their seats with a well taken goal, putting away from Jimmy Smith’s header over the Hill defence.
Deacon had the ball in the net soon after after Conor Henderson’s corner was only half-cleared but the effort was ruled off-side.
Hill’s Scott Kirkwood’s low shot was caught by trialist keeper Callum Preston, who played last season on loan for AFC Telford and Wales under-19s and is a product of Birmingham City’s academy.
He played for most of the match and did everything he needed to do before being replaced by AFC Wimbledon under-21s player Billy Bishop for the last 15 minutes.
Jimmy Smith thundered a 35-yard half volley over the bar and ex-Brighton and Swindon striker George Barker, who looked lively throughout, saw a shot tipped over the bar by Hill keeper Matt Morrish, who was named Man of the Match.
Hill new signing Chris Smith shot wide after George Branford had beaten Lewis Young to set up the chance.
Morrish did well to block a shot by Fenelon who looked quick upfront.
Smith set up first half captain Sonny Bradley for a glancing header which was only narrowly wide.
Crawley’s big central defensive pairing of new signing Jon Ashton and Sonny Bradley looked commanding alongside former Dover, Ebbsfleet and Sutton United player Chris Sessegnon and ex-AFC Wimbledon player David Fitzpatrick.
In the second half Crawley changed all 11 players 10 of whom were at half-time while Hill made nine changes at intervals.
The ponytailed new signing Luke Rooney impressed with his energy and industry in the second half and delivered the ball which led to Izale McLeod scoring in the bottom tight corner four minutes after the restart.
Matt Harrold partnered McLeod up front and he headed an effort for Rooney to volley narrowly over the bar.
For Hill, new signing Johnson went close when he headed a cross from the left over the crossbar.
McLeod netted Crawley’s fouth goal on 75 minutes when ex-Wolves U21s Ben O’Hanlon lofted a high ball from midfield to Harrold who ran into the area and crossed a ball which Reds’ topscorer from last year to put away.
Crawley Town: (1st half) Callum Preston, Christopher Sessegnon, Jon Ashton, Sonny Bradley (capt), David Fitzpatrick, Conor Henderson, Lewis Young, Jimmy Smith, George Barker, Roarie Deacon, Shamir Fenelon
(2nd half) Callum Preston (Billy Bishop), Alex Brister, Joe McNerney, Francis Boateng, Ben O’Hanlon, Simon Walton (capt), Ryan Richefond, Luke Rooney, Gwion Edwards, Matt Harrold, Izale McLeod.
Burgess Hill Town: (1st half) Matt Morrish, Graham Martin, Sam Fisk, Dan Pearce, Andy Pearson, Toby Pointing, Scott Kirkwood, George Branford, Chris Smith, Josh Jones, Callum Saunders
(2nd half subs) Phil Johnson, Darren Budd, Lee Harding, Tommy Fraser, Dan Perry, Alex Mallins, Luke Donaldson, Paul Armstrong, Matt Smith.
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