Just like Brazil, fortress Broadfield and confidence: Six things we learned from the MK Dons victory

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It’s been quite the start to the League Two season for Crawley Town.

Impressive performances against Bradford City, Salford City and MK Dons sees them in third place in League Two after three games. Having been away for the first two weeks of the season, I had only watched highlights on youtube and twitter.

From what I saw, I was impressed. But there is nothing like watching a team in the flesh to get a real understanding of what they are about.

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On Tuesday night, I attended my first game of the season to see the Reds take on previously unbeaten MK Dons at the Broadfield Stadium. Goals from Nick Tsaroulla and Danilo Orsi gave Scott Lindsey’s men a 2-1 win.

Here are six things I learned from a memorable night the Broadfield.

Just like watching Brazil

When Danilo Orsi scored what proved to be the winner against MK Dons, a fan stood up in front of the press box and said ‘It’s like watching Brazil, the have got the wrong coloured shirts on!’. Yes it was hyperbolic but in some moments he wasn’t far off. Orsi even joked they were playing like Barcelona in his post-match interview. Both Orsi’s and Tsaroulla’s goals were great team efforts with intricate passing, a final filler pass and devastating finishes. Crawley are a team playing with confidence and Lindsey has them playing some quality football. This may be hyperbolic too, but on Tuesday some of the football was the best I have ever seen at the Broadfield Stadium. Impressive and long may it continue.

Crawley Town boss Scott Lindsey celebrates in front of the fans after the MK Dons win at the Broadfield Stadium. Picture: Eva GilbertCrawley Town boss Scott Lindsey celebrates in front of the fans after the MK Dons win at the Broadfield Stadium. Picture: Eva Gilbert
Crawley Town boss Scott Lindsey celebrates in front of the fans after the MK Dons win at the Broadfield Stadium. Picture: Eva Gilbert

Fortress Broadfield

Ever since he arrived at the club, Scott Lindsey has talked about making the Broadfield Stadium a fortress. With the style of play and the ever-increasing home fans, it really is happening. Since the gaffer’s arrival, he has only lost one game. And this season it’s six points from six. Noone is going to enjoy coming here – and that includes table toppers Gillingham on Saturday.

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Kelly is key

One player who really impressed me on Tuesday night was Liam Kelly. The 27-year-old covered every blade of grass in a non-stop performance. He always wants to ball and is there to break up an opposition attack or to start a Reds one. His passing was exemplary as well – including a killer ball to set up Tsaroulla for the first goal. Talking to the MK Dons reporter for our sister title the MK Citizen at half time, he said the Dons’ success in the first two games was down to the midfield, but in the first 45 minutes they were non-existent – and that was mainly due to Kelly’s display. A class act.

Consistency makes a difference

One question I had for a few people in the press box on Tuesday was ‘when was the last time Crawley Town put out the same starting XI for three consecutive league games?’. Noone knew the answer. Over the past couple of seasons Crawley seem to have been plagued with injuries. But this season so far, Lindsey has been able to pick a settled side who are performing and clearly have a real understanding of what everyone’s role is on the park. This has helped Lindsey achieve what he wanted to with the team and the style of play. With Kellan Gordon limping off on Tuesday, it looks like we could be seeing our first change to the starting line-up in the league this season on Saturday – but with Lindsey in charge, we know he will make the right replacement.

Substitutes playing a vital part

When Kellen Gordon limped off on Tuesday, Lindsey could have brought on another defender to sure things up. But no, he brought on Adam Campbell. He made an instant impact and was causing the MK Dons midfield and defense all kinds of problems and twice could have scored. Lindsey then brought on Klaidi Lolos to play on the right, moving Campbell more central. Lolos showed glimpses of what is to come with some lovely touches and, in one particular moment, the way he can glide past people. Raf Khaleel also came on and showed what he can do looking so comfortable on the ball and helping Reds see the game out. Lindsey said afterwards: “That’s what they are there for and what they are paid to do. When they do come on they should make a difference and I thought they did.” They absolutely did and with new rules regarding added time, higher threshold on tackles and lower threshold on dissent, substitutes will play an important part as the season plays out.

Fans still vocal about WAGMI

The brilliant start to the season has not taken any focus away from some of the fans’ feelings about owners WAGMI United. Even when Crawley were on top against MK Dons, a section of the crowd behind the goal put their focus on letting everyone know how they feel about the US owners. Co-owner and co-chairman Preston Johnson was singled out with his own chant. No matter how well Crawley do this season, I am sure it will not change what some fans think about their time as owners of the club. On social media, I have seen some fans – and our columnist Steve Leake agrees - saying enough is enough and it’s time to focus on the team and get off their backs. Only time will tell if that happens. From a personal point of view it would just be nice to go to a game of football at the Broadfield Stadium when I don’t hear a section of fans being negative and using foul language and personally abusing someone.