Crawley Town remain winless in pre-season as they fell to a 2-0 loss against League One side Charlton Athletic at East Grinstead’s East Court.
Four new faces started for the Reds as George Francomb, Romain Vincelot, Ollie Palmer, and Reece Grego-Cox hoped to stake a claim for a starting place against Cheltenham in their first League Two game of the season.
Charlton took the lead in the eighth minute as Addicks forward Joe Aribo leapt highest from a corner to head past Glenn Morris.
The Red Devils hit back almost immediately as a deep cross from Lewis Young found trialist Andy Driver, who has made 143 appearances for Hearts in the Scottish Premiership and is a former England under-21s international.
But the winger made a poor connection with his right foot and the shot was taken in by Dillon Phillips in the Charlton goal.
Midway through the first half, Reds had a chance to equalise from the penalty spot.
Neat build-up play led to Palmer being dragged down in the box but the subsequent penalty from skipper Josh Payne was expertly pushed away by Phillips.
Throughout the first half Francomb hustled and harried the Addicks players and made several good runs that unfortunately weren’t spotted by his team-mates.
Palmer held the ball up well and was instrumental in their link up play and he was rewarded for his clever work when he won the penalty.
Vincelot was composed and assured at right back and made an excellent block to keep out Charlton’s Lyle Taylor.
Grego-Cox drifted in and out of the game but struggled with the physicality of the two Addicks centre halves.
Wholesale changes were made by Harry Kewell in the second half, with only Palmer surviving and the lack of cohesion showed.
On the hour Filipe Morais came on to make his Crawley bow as he replaced the tiring Palmer but mere moments after this change a stray pass by Dannie Bulman back to Yusuf Mersin was picked up by former Crawley Town loanee Karlan Ahearne-Grant for the Addicks who calmly slotted past the Red Devils’ keeper.
On the 70th minute trialist Andrew Wright jinked past two Addicks defenders before finding fellow trialist David Sessay but his cross was charged down.
With nine minutes to go Morais found Dominic Poleon with a superb ball but his attempt was smartly saved by Phillips to deny him.
Mersin was forced into action as good work from Charlton saw a quick pot shot taken but the Crawley ‘keeper was first to it.
The game ended 2-0 to Charlton but Crawley more than held their own against a side a division above them.
The new boys Morais and Poleon combined well, and it was Morais who shone in the second half as his vision put Crawley on the front foot.
The Red Devils’ final pre-season fixture will see them come up against Belgian First Division B side KSV Roeselare at home on Saturday, July 28.
Crawley First Half: Morris, Francomb, McNerney, Vincelot, Doherty, L. Young, Trialist (Milsom), Payne, Trialist (Driver), Palmer, Reece-Cox Payne, Trialist (Driver), Palmer, Reece-Cox
Crawley Second Half: Mersin, Trialist (M.Young), Trialist (Turley), Connolly, Trialist (Sessay), Trialist (Whelpdale), Bulman, Randall, Trialist (Wright), Poleon, Palmer (Morais 60’)