Evans has helped transform Crawley into Blue Square Premier champions
By Laurie Fitzgerald
It may only be the beginning of April, but this weekend saw the first promotion in English football clinched this season.
Crawley Town have been the best team in the Blue Square Premier, and they confirmed their superiority by clinching the title when they triumphed 3-0 at Tamworth on Saturday.
The victory was their 28th win of the campaign, and with just three defeats to their name they sit 14 points clear of nearest rivals AFC Wimbledon, despite still having five games left to play.
Many non-league fans feel that it has been an unfair battle with Crawley this season due to the financial strength that they’ve had available to them.
Having cleared their debts during the summer, the club gave manager Steve Evans the necessary resources to take the club into the Football League.
But as we’ve seen before in football on many occasions, money doesn’t guarantee success. Evans deserves a lot of credit with spending wisely on shaping a squad capable of challenging for promotion.
The likes of Sergio Torres, Michel Kuipers, Craig McAllister, Pablo Mills and Scott Neilson were amongst those who joined and help play a big part in what has been a historic season for the Red Devils.
However, it was fitting that the three points that wrapped up promotion were largely helped from the finishing of one of those summer recruits; star striker Matt Tubbs.
A brace against Tamworth gave him goals 34 & 35 of an outstanding season, and his regular supply of goals have given them the platform to launch a sustained push for the title.
Despite what has been a relentless march to League Two football next campaign, Evans and the squad deserve praise for ensuring that they focused on what was always their main priority.
A heroic run in the FA Cup saw them finally beaten away at Manchester United, but only after a spirited display in a 1-0 loss played in front of 9,000 of their own supporters at the Theatre of Dreams.
While their dreams in the world’s most famous cup competition ended that day, Evans did not let that famous run distract them from getting back to the league and taking advantage of the games in hand they had on their rivals.
Since their cup exit, they’ve gone unbeaten in 13 league matches, winning ten of them and making it impossible for the likes of Wimbledon and Luton Town to keep up with them.
Now they’ve achieved league football for the first time in their history, the question remains of how far Crawley Town can go in the next few years. There’s no doubt that stabilising themselves as a League Two side will be the aim next year.
But while their budget is bigger than any other non-league side, they also have more money available to them than most sides in the fourth tier of English football.
Having come so far in the past 12 months, Crawley fans will believe that anything is possible.
So what do you think? Are Crawley Town capable of pushing on next season in League Two? Will there be similar resources available to them this summer compared to 12 months ago? Let us know your thoughts.