The Opposition View - Crawley Town
1) You are bordering around the play off places in League One at the moment, did you expect to be doing this well?
No I didn't, at the start of the season I expected to see us sit around mid-table throughout the season. I feel we have a good enough squad to stay comfortably away from relegation, but to be pushing the play-off positions is fantastic. We had a brilliant start to the season, but through November and December hit a bad bit of form. Can we finish in the play-offs? I dont think we will this year, but then again what Stevenage fan would have thought they would last season!
2) Steve Evans would have certainly divided opinion among Crawley fans, what is your opinion of him and his move to Rotherham?
You are spot on, he really did divide opinion at The Broadfield Stadium, some fans were disappointed when he left for Rotherham whilst others were close to rejoicing. I was not a fan of Steve Evans, he did well to help us move out of non-league but it is well documented we had a decent financial backing that season. I along with many other fans did not like Steve Evans' antics on the touchline, he often received bans/fines from The FA and I felt it showed the club in a bad light and really did stir up negative publicity for us. I remember being pleased when the news broke that he was leaving us for Rotherham United with only 6 games of the season to go. It was a good move for him as well, he was moving to a club with a brand new stadium, and a very hefty transfer budget. Just before Steve Evans left we were on a poor run of form and I believe had he stayed with us, we would still be a League 2 side. I thank Steve Evans for helping get Crawley to where we are now, but its good for adventure to continue without him.
3) Onto the now, Richie Barker is currently at the helm and he is doing a decent job isn`t he?
Yes he is! We are currently only one point off a play-off position, in The FA Cup 3rd round, and made League Cup's 3rd round as well. This is all with a squad that he pretty much inherited, he only took over a week or so before the season started. Sean O'Driscoll had already signed numerous players in his short stint with us, so it left Richie Barker little time and money to bring in players that he wants. It is very strange to have a manager who is not very animated on the touchline after having Steve Evans in charge, but that is not a bad thing.
Richie Barker seems to like his teams playing the ball on the floor, with quick and sharp passing, it seems to be working well. Im looking forward to seeing who he manages to sign in this current transfer window.
4) What are your strengths and weaknesses as a team that you have noticed over the past couple of games?
Our biggest strength is the quality of players that we possess in our midfield. I am convinced that most of our midfield players would walk in to any League One side, and a couple could comfortably play in The Championship. The midfield is not scared to get forward, and has contributed to a decent number of our goals this season.
Another strength would be as mentioned earlier, our style of play and the tempo which we play at. We do like keeping possession and working a goalscoring opportunity rather than hitting it long.
Our weakness is our forward line, we have struggled ever since Matt Tubbs and Tyrone Barnett left this time last year for AFC Bournemouth and Peterborough United respectively. Our main striker, Gary Alexander is currently on a 20 game barren run in the league. I think it is extremely important that we manage to sign 1 or 2 proven goalscorers in this transfer window.
5) What players should we be looking out for ahead of Saturday`s game?
The main two are Nicky Adams and Billy Clarke.
Nicky Adams is a right winger, however he is comfortable playing anywhere across the midfield in an attacking role. He is a pacey winger, with two quick feet and is not scared to run at defenders. On his day I think he is good enough to give most defenders a real run for their money.
Billy Clarke is a fantastic player little player, he has a decent level of pace, a fantastic first touch and plenty of skills in his locker. Clarke is predominantly a left footed player, and has a fearsome shot on him. He has scored some extremely important goals.
6) If you could take any Reading player to Crawley, who would it be and why?
Adam Le Fondre. As I mentioned earlier, Crawley are really struggling for a proven goalscorer this season, and that is certainly what Le Fondre is, especially in his lower league days. I remember his name cropping up week in, week out during his days with Rochdale and Rotherham. Sadly, I think we may need to set our sights lower down for that proven goalscorer.
7) Steve Coppell is a legend among the Royals faithful, what sort of influence do you think he has had at Crawley, if any?
I think he had a huge influence in the last few games last season. He came in when the club was rocking after Steve Evans sudden departure, and there were also rumours of dressing room unrest in Evans' final weeks in charge. Once Steve Coppell came in everything seemed to settle down and he assisted our caretaker manager (Craig Brewster) who has never managed in English football before. Coppell is our director of football, and I do not know how much involvement he has now Richie Barker is manager, but it can never be a bad thing to have someone with his reputation around the place. I'm sure it is great for a young manager like Richie Barker to have someone of Coppell's experience to turn to for advice, and I'm sure it will be the same with the players.
8) Prediction for the game?
It is a tough one, and I think it depends on the line-up Reading FC play, and their mentality. If Reading think they can just turn up and it'll be a stroll to the 4th round they are very much mistaken. Crawley Town will show commitment, passion and no fear from the first whistle to the last. We pushed Swansea close in the League Cup this season and lost 3-2 to a 90th minute goal. I'm going to say Crawley Town 2-1 Reading FC, I fancy The FA Cup to work its magic again.