Crawley Town bounced back from opening day disappointment to record their first win of the season against a flat Salford City side.
Goals in each half from Bez Lubala and Nathan Ferguson secured all three points for the Red Devils.
Story of the match
Crawley started the brighter of the two sides, and Tom Dallison twice hit the bar in the opening 30 minutes. Chris Neal in the Salford goal was tested by Reece Grego-Cox before Crawley were gifted a golden opportunity to break the deadlock just after the half-hour mark.
The Ammies failed to get a free-kick away and Carl Piergianni tripped Jordan Tunnicliffe as he broke into the penalty area, giving referee Graham Salisbury little choice but to point to the spot.
Lubala, who opened his Crawley account last week at Carlisle, sent Neal the wrong way to put the Reds ahead.
Crawley continued to dominate in the second period, and just 10 minutes into the half Ollie Palmer teed up Ferguson who lashed a left-footed effort past Neal from 25 yards out.
Salford’s best opportunity came through an unforced error, when Richie Towell latched onto a loose touch from David Sesay and ran clean through on goal, only to steer his effort wide of the far post.
The Ammies’ last chance came late on as Piergianni forced a full-length diving save from Glenn Morris from a Towell free-kick, but in truth, Crawley were good value for their win and had chances through Filipe Morais and Panutche Camara to stretch the lead further.
A three or four-goal margin would not have flattered the Sussex side.
Takeaways from the match
Crawley show their potential
Crawley underperformed last season with the squad at their disposal, and head coach Gabriel Cioffi has been left frustrated by a series of nearly-there performances.
Today’s performance, against a well-fancied Salford side, was the best of his reign so far.
Replicating it every week will be the challenge, and Cioffi still has his doubters, but there is also a feeling that this kind of performance has been coming for Crawley. It will take a while to bring some fans round, but this must be a benchmark for Crawley to realise their potential this season.
Salford brought back down to earth
After a dream start to life as a league club last week, Salford have been handed a reminder that it won’t all be plain sailing as they were largely played off the park by Crawley.
They will also need to take their chances better- Richie Towell’s one-on-one miss summed up their performance and they were never getting back into the game after that.
They had a couple of decent spells of possession, but were passive and only forced Glenn Morris into one save; Crawley never looked under too much pressure.
Youth is the way for Crawley
Despite having the EFL’s oldest player in 40-year-old Dannie Bulman, Cioffi has placed his faith in a largely youthful squad, and it paid off today.
Norwich loanee, Mason Bloomfield was impressive before coming off with an injury, and the two goalscorers are young players being given a first crack at league football.
Just three of Crawley’s starting 11 were over the age of 24, making the performance even more impressive. Crawley’s owners have stated their plan is to find cheap young players and sell them on and based on this performance a few of them might have bumped their value up.
Man of the match:
Nathan Ferguson (Crawley). The midfielder was quite simply superb, taking up good positions in the number 10 role and capping off his performance with a fantastic strike. The midfielder was a constant problem for Salford, dropping deep to pick up possession and linking up with the wingers well. More performances like that and Crawley may face a battle to keep the former Dulwich Hamlet man.