Crawley Town fans have their say on best goal, favourite player and how they will get on in League One

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What a season.

When Crawley Town kicked off against Bradford City at 3pm on August 5, 2023, no-one could have imagined the scenes come 3pm on Sunday, May 19 at Wembley.

There were tears of joy and celebrations the club had never seen.

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And now we have had a few days to let it all sink in, we asked some Crawley fans about the season and what they are expecting in League One next season.

Ronan Darcy celebrates his goal against MK Dons in the first leg of the play-off semi-final | Picture: Eva GilbertRonan Darcy celebrates his goal against MK Dons in the first leg of the play-off semi-final | Picture: Eva Gilbert
Ronan Darcy celebrates his goal against MK Dons in the first leg of the play-off semi-final | Picture: Eva Gilbert

We asked Carol Bates, Sam Jordan, Andy Salmon, Thomas Frances, Peter Bellamy, Steve Herbert, Nick Hilton, Reuben Watt and Daniel Maguire for their thoughts.

Not including Wembley, your favourite moment of the season

Carol: I think Bradford away, for me, epitomised our resilience and togetherness as a team. To come from 2-1 down very late in the game to win 4-2 was incredible, not to mention it being right in front of us!

Corey Addai has been a fans' favourite this season | Picture: Eva GilbertCorey Addai has been a fans' favourite this season | Picture: Eva Gilbert
Corey Addai has been a fans' favourite this season | Picture: Eva Gilbert

Sam: Outside of the play-offs it has to be Bradford away for me. 2-1 down with 5 minutes to go and going on to win 4-2 in front of 16,000 Bradford fans was incredible.

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Andy: AFC Wimbledon away… with the number of fans that went, the goals itself and the limbs that followed.

Thomas: For me, the performance away at Newport was a real moment in realising that we were watching a very good side capable of promotion.

Daniel: In a season of so many highs it is hard to single out a moment, so I am going to say the fans. The atmosphere created at every game has been special and the team has always had a 12th man. Also considering the rising costs – the fans that have travelled up and down the country are heroes in my eyes!

Peter: I was away for our last game of the season against Grimsby and while I was able to watch it on iFollow I had one eye on the other games around us too, knowing the play-off spot was out of our hands. So while I knew we were winning it was a relief that Barrow slipped up and we snuck into 7th. With Crewe equalising at Colchester late on it was a sliding doors moment that saw us play MK Dons in the play-off semi-finals rather than Doncaster.

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Steve: AFC Wimbledon away – to win at our local rivals again and with a late Orsi goal was the stuff of dreams.

Nick: Beating Bradford with two goals in added time to win 4-2 in front of over 16,000 fans was memorable, especially after the team recovered from being 2-1 down with just over 10 minutes of normal time remaining. Playing Bradford at that lovely stadium always seems to bring the best out of Crawley but that was something special.

Reuben: I think going to Sutton – despite, disappointly, not winning, it was great to see so many Crawley fans there. Lolos’ goal also became quite key in the battle for a play-off spot

Key result/performance of of the season

Carol: That was Mansfield away coming off the back of a good 4-0 performance at Newport. Nobody expected us to be 4-0 up not long into the second half and everybody sat up and took notice as Mansfield were second at the time. Although we had losses after that, I personally thought that was a performance which showed nearer the end of the season that we still had what it took to stay in the play-off places.

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Sam: Top 3 for me; Winning 4-0 at Newport on Easter Monday was when it sank in we could actually make the play-offs. Lolos’ late goal at Sutton to give us a chance of grabbing 7th spot on the last day. Ransom’s header at Accrington to give us back to back away wins at a pivotal time of the season.

Andy: Grimsby away, after being two down to come back and win showed this team would not give up.

Thomas: Similarly to Newport, the team followed that up with a 1-4 win at Mansfield when everybody expected us to drop points against a team certain to be promoted. What a week!

Daniel: Without doubt our away form has been key to our success this season, therefore you cannot look away from the Newport and Mansfield results in April. However I would say our 6-0 drubbing in August would've been the result that made us more resilient so I will go for that.

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Peter: We may not have known it at the time but the 4-2 win at Bradford in January may well have been the difference between us or them making the play-offs, given they finished the season only a point behind us in 9th. From being 2-1 behind after 85 minutes to then score three was an incredible turnaround.

Steve: The first leg 3-0 win and semi-final performance against MK Dons. It killed the tie.

Nick: The added-time equaliser at Sutton in the penultimate game of the season. It had been a poor second half performance against a team fighting to stay in the league just as all other results began to go against us. Yet without that goal, reaching the play-offs and then achieve promotion, would not have happened.

Favourite goal

Carol: Has to be the Lolos goal at Harrogate. Watching the throw-in from Wright, then Darcy sending it over for Lolos to produce that magic touch, control it and shoot first time with his left foot was just exquisite to watch. Had to watch that quite a few times afterwards too. Lolos can just produce something special out of such a tight space and I hope we can hold on to him.

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Sam: At the time of Ronan Darcy’s goal in the first play-off leg at home to MK, I felt that secured our spot at Wembley so even though it was a deflected cross it meant the most to me.

Andy: Lolos v Harrogate, the flick and turn and finish gave another key away win.

Thomas: Orsi away at Wimbledon. The celebration. The moment. The win.

Daniel: Without doubt Orsi's second goal at MK! The quality of the pass and movement was incredible and something that most premier league teams would be proud of producing.

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Peter: It has to be Klaidi Lolos at Harrogate. I didn’t make as many away games as I may have in previous seasons but to witness the quick throw, pass, flick and shot will live long in my memory.

Steve: Orsi’s last minute winning goal away at Grimsby Town – his former club. To come from 2-0 down away to win 3-2 was unreal.

Nick: The 96th minute winner to beat Grimsby 3-2 in September was special. It was not only because it clinched our first away win of the season after being 2-0 down and showed great teamwork before Orsi's finish, it was the way Lolos kept the ball alive in the penalty area when he seemed to have reached a dead end, before he passed to Aaron Henry who whipped a dangerous ball into the box.

The ball seemed to stick to Lolos like glue. I realised then what a special player Klaidi was!

Favourite/best player

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Carol: That's like asking if you have a favourite child! This group each have their own special qualities but I've loved watching how Corey has grown to be the keeper he is now, under the coaching of Steve Hale. It's been fantastic to see how far he has come and I'd be very surprised if he isn't snapped up by a big club, although I'd be pretty gutted if we lost him!

Sam: We have many to choose from but my favourite is Dion Conroy. He is so calm on the ball and not only is he a top defender he is also where most of our attacking play starts from.

Andy: Liam Kelly… his vision, passing and way he keeps going is outstanding. Capped with three man of the match performances in the play-off semi-finals and final.

Thomas: Corey Addai faced a lot of criticism taking over from Glenn Morris. He’s worked hard to dispel them critics and ended up being one of our cult heroes of the season. He has everything to play in a higher level consistently.

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Daniel: I think a lot of Crawley fans were apprehensive about a vast number of the players bought in from non-league and we have all been pleasantly surprised with how they have individually performed but also how they have embraced the team work ethic installed by Scott.

Out of all the 'rough diamonds' Jay Williams is the one that has impressed me most. Jay has been crucial to our success and his role in breaking up play before giving the ball to more creative players has been outstanding. He is not perfect but has been a crucial cog in our system and without him we would not be where we are today.

Peter: It would be easy to pick Danilo Orsi, so why not?! I sponsored him as soon as he signed, and he has gone on to prove people that he can score the goals if given the service. Some players perform better under different managers and in different styles. Playing regularly and our style of play has seen Danilo rewarded with 25 goals.

Steve: Liam Kelly, his influence on the midfield is irreplaceable.

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Nick: It is difficult to pick out anyone in particular but Klaidi Lolos is my favourite and sometimes most frustrating player of the season for me. You could always expect the unexpected from Lolos and because of this uncertainty and his undoubted talent , he seemed to have the upper hand on defenders and ended up scoring some cracking goals to earn the team some vital points, particularly during the run in . He even to managed to score with a header in an early EFL Trophy tie against Charlton.

Are Crawley ready for League One?

Carol: I think we can compete with many clubs in League One on the pitch but we do need more investment not only for the playing budget but also the infrastructure. It's clear that the small amount of staff that are running the off-the-field operation needs to be increased as, as much as they work extremely hard, they can't do everything. Now is the time to cash in on the feelgood factor and promotion with regard to sponsorship and other avenues etc. and yet we still haven't announced a CEO after two years or had a Commercial Manager for the past six months or so. From the outside, we may have got away with it this season due to Scott Lindsey's leadership and what he's achieved but we have to look at the business model of bringing in much more revenue to compete in League One.

Sam: I think with our style of play we will surprise a few teams and they won’t be able to cope. Three out of the four promoted teams from League 2 last season finished in the top 14 so why can’t we?

Andy: With our style of play, definitely yes. Need to hold on to Scott and get player contracts renewed.

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Thomas: I think we are. A few experienced additions, who fit into the club on the pitch, but equally strengthen the group off the pitch, could see us have another good season.

Daniel: Recruitment in the summer needs to ensure we maintain the harmony within the group and we must keep the vultures away from Scott. On paper we will be seen as favourites to go down (which will suit us) but we suddenly find ourselves playing at some big pitches/stadiums which will suit our style of play. IF Scott stays and gets support from the owners, a mid-table finish is achievable.

Peter: At this moment in time, you’d probably have to say no. But then the season doesn’t start until August. The success of the recruitment last summer surprised everyone and with a number of players out of contract it’ll be interesting to see what the recruitment philosophy is this window. We managed three seasons in League 1 before. I hope we last more than one this time too. I said to someone recently who was mocking us as certainties to come back down that I’d rather have the promotion and spend a season in League 1 over staying in League 2 for another season.

Steve: Yes they are if they keep the current squad together. Other than the top six or seven teams the standard in League One isn’t to dissimilar to League Two.

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Nick: As last season showed, if Scott Lindsey and at least some of the squad stay, anything could happen, and their style of play may suit the higher division - finishing 20th would be a marvellous achievement. However, it is possible the on field success has papered over the cracks of some the issues the club faces off field. If the owners want to steer the club into calmer waters they need to look at the commercial opportunities that promotion may provide including naming rights for the stadium and bringing in an established shirt sponsor.

Reuben: As long as we keep the main group of players from this season, yes I think so. Keeping Scott Lindsey will also be key.

Who would you like to Crawley sign?

Carol: I would like Scott Lindsey's contract renewed, increased and signed immediately – and then he can sign who he wants as he's the mastermind!

Sam: I think the priority is keeping this squad together and then adding to it. Having plucked several great players from non-league it would be good to continue that and if you are an up and coming non-league player you will be looking at last season’s success knowing that Crawley is the place to be to make a name for yourself in the EFL.

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Andy: Dan Kemp, just released by MK Dons. Spent the first half of season at Swindon with incredible performances, recalled by MK in January and still won Swindon Player of the Year award.

Thomas: I’d like another striker as an option, another centre midfielder and possibly another creative option to play in the role behind the striker. More importantly though, let’s get the players who’ve done so well this season, signed to a new contract.

Daniel: A lot depends on the transfer strategy direction they take. Last summer I wanted Liam Kelly and Abraham Odoh from Rochdale, so Odoh would've been a perfect choice but he has just signed for Peterborough. From a non-league perspective George Saunders from Hornchurch would offer us pace down the right wing. But from L2 players I would love to see Hakeeb Adelakun and maybe Isaac Hutchinson return to the club.

Peter: There’s no doubting a number of players will be able to make the step up but a few experienced heads of a higher level would come in useful to guide the younger ones through what will be a tough season. If there are players available to improve the squad, great.

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Some of those who got us to this position may feel they should be given an opportunity. Unfortunately sentiment doesn’t win you games of football.

Steve: Defensively we had problems at times last season, so certainly an area I would look to strengthen would be a solid centre half.

Nick: I know the manager likes to play a certain way, regardless of whether the team wins or loses but a more direct physical player who can add something different when Plan B is required would be good. I think a player like Hakeeb Adelakun would fit that particular bill.

Reuben: Laurence Maguire. He was great on loan for us this season and will be a great addition to go into League One.

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