Five things we learned from Crawley's 2-0 win over Morecambe
With Gabriele Cioffi taking charge for the first time, Crawley put in an assured and comfortable performance to see off Morcambe this afternoon. Here are five things we learned.
Promising signs from new look Reds
With this win making it three from the last four in the league for Crawley (four from five if you include the Checkatrade victory over Tottenham U21s), you couldn't be blamed for being very optimistic about the new-look Reds. With a new manager and seven of the new signings on show today, they most certainly did not disappoint with a very comfortable and assured victory.
Morecambe never looked like getting back into the game after two quickfire second half goals effectively killed the match as a contest. Fans will be hoping that the new boss has already brought in a winning formula which brings them the consistency that they lacked under Harry Kewell.
One thing we never saw Kewell do, or very many other managers for that matter, is run onto the pitch to celebrate a goal. Gabriele Cioffi had only just finished celebrating Crawley's opener after a fine solo goal from Ashley Nathaniel-George seven minutes into the second half, when Panutche Camara nicked the ball of a Morcambe defender and expertly rounded the keeper to make it 2-0 three minuets later.
To say Cioffi was happy is an understatement.
In show of passion not to dissimilar to his compatriot and former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, the Italian sprinted onto the pitch and was met by the open arms of the jubilant Camara, before going on to hug at least three more players. He was then greeted with a yellow card on his return to the sidelines. Crawley fans would have loved to see that kind of passion although, as the telling off from the ref would have made him realise, the people in charge don't appreciate it quite as much.
Attacking mindset here to stay but a new syle has been instilled
Having been a centre-back in his playing days, it may have been expected that Gabriele Cioffi would bring a defensive mentality to Crawley. However, if his first game in charge is anything to go by, this is far from the truth.
Crawley were quick off the blocks, putting the struggling visitors under all kinds of pressure, and were unlucky not to be celebrating an opener after just after just five minutes.
They did, however, ease off and allowed Morcambe into it, with the two sides playing out an even first half.
Although, the Reds came out all guns blazing in the second half, looking extremely dangerous going forward, with reaped its rewards with two quick fire goals within 10 minutes after the break.
Some of the free flowing moves reflected the playing style of the recently departed Harry Kewell, but there was a slight difference. With fans getting used to seeing the Reds regularly play out from the back under Kewell, which saw the defence and goalkeeper see a lot of the ball, they may now have to adjust to watching a new system. Cioffi clearly set up to build attacks from the midfield, with the players wasting no time at all in getting the ball forward. With such a solid defence to fall back on, when the opposition counter, this could be a very smart move from the new boss,
Attacking options in abundance
Crawley's main achilles heel last season was a lack of goals. Without a prolific striker they struggled to turn possession and good performances into goals and results on a consistent basis. Even with dangerous wide men, goals were few and far between with midfielder Jimmy Smith up there as one of the top scorers. The rest of the top three was made up by Kalan Ahearne-Grant and Enzio Boldewijn, who are both no longer at the club, so bringing in more attackers was a must this summer.
The club did not disappointment bringing in the likes of prolific Ollie Palmer, Dominic Poleon, Ashley Nathaniel-George, Felipe Morais, who along with Panuthce Camara, caused the Morecambe back line all kinds of problems in the second half and gave only a taster of what's to come.
The importance of goals coming from all over the pitch can't be stressed enough, and it says a lot that the two scorers were wingers. That is very encoryuaging for the players and fans alike, who know they have don't just have to rely on Palmer up top.
N'gala looks the part
Despite a strong and consistent back line giving Crawley freedom to attack last season they were often made to pay for sloppy errors when in charge of games.
Complacency sometimes took over, with Josh Yorwerth in particular often guilty of taking too many touches at the back, playing himself and Crawley into trouble.
The same couldn't really be said for no nonsense defender Mark Connolly, but with the addition of the experienced Bondz N'gala, Crawley now have the type of back line that very few attackers would like to come up against.
As a seasoned professional, with vast Football League experience having played for Portsmouth, Plymouth Argyle and Yeovil Town, N'gala seems an astute addition to Crawley's new look side.
Having made his first start in the away win at Lincoln, the centre-back followed a solid performance up with a goal and a superb man of the match display in the win against Tottenham U21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
In a quiet first half against Morecambe on Saturday, N'gala snuffed out virtually every attack by the visitors, putting his head to everything that came his way and was as stand out performer in an excellent defensive performance, well worthy of their consecutive clean sheet.