Crawley Town concluded their pre-season friendly campaign with a 3-2 defeat against a Chelsea XI at the Checkatrade.com Stadium this afternoon.
The Reds led 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Josh Simpson and Izale McLeod and looked to be well in control, before the visitors netted two goals in the space of two second-half minutes, and then hit the winner four minutes from time.
Substitute Ola Aina pulled a goal back, before Charlie Colkett netted directly from a free kick moments later.
A horrible error from Crawley replacement goalkeeper Raphael Spiegel then gifted Chelsea a winner as he let Charly Musonda’s effort slip through his hands.
Reds were also hit by an injury to striker Gavin Tomlin, who limped off in the second half.
Trialists Harold Odametey, Anthony Stewart and Charles Banya were all on the bench for the Reds, while John Gregory had a new face, 21-year-old American midfielder Austin Dias amongst the substitutes.
Crawley started the better and could have been ahead in the third minute, but for a good stop from Chelsea goalkeeper Bradley Collins.
Gwion Edwards blocked a clearance and Tomlin poked through a clever ball to put McLeod through, who should have opened the scoring from 12 yards.
Brian Jensen’s gloves were warmed in the ninth minute as Patrick Bamford fired an effort from just outside the area after a mazy run.
A minute later, the tricky Bamford twisted and turned to create himself space to send a curling effort just wide of the left-hand post from 25 yards, as Chelsea grabbed a hold on the game.
Some good defending then saw Chelsea’s Kasey Palmer track back to thwart a deep cross to Tomlin and clear the danger, while at the other end Jensen held onto a drive from George Saville on 20 minutes.
Jensen then produced another sharp stop after Palmer poked through Bamford in the 24th minute, before, at the other end, Edwards’ cross was volleyed just wide by Luke Young.
Jimmy Smith almost had the opener on the half-hour mark as his rasping effort crept just wide of the post with Collins at full stretch.
Simpson, however, did give the hosts the lead in the 34th minute as he pounced to fire home the loose ball after Dean Leacock headed a deep Ryan Dickson cross back into the danger area.
McLeod doubled the lead on 44 minutes as he latched onto a forward header and showed great strength to hold of his man and coolly slot home across Collins.
Crawley made two changes at the break with Jensen replaced by Spiegel and Conor Henderson on for Josh Simpson.
Emmett O’Connor was soon introduced while Tomlin had to be replaced by Banya after picking up a knock.
Things became slightly fragmented in the second half with both sides ringing the changes.
New-man Dias also got a run out for the last 20 minutes as he slotted into the middle of the park.
Chelsea almost pulled a goal back on 70 minutes as a mistake gifted possession away to Colkett, who slid in Bamford to the right of the area, but his curling effort came back off the inside of the post.
The visitors then struck two goals in as many minutes as Aina netted from a Jon Harley free kick, before Colkett netted directly from a set piece out from wide right moments later.
They then took the lead four minutes from time as a long-range effort from Musonda was palmed into the back of the net by Spiegel, when it looked a routine stop.
At the other end, Banya’s close-range effort was beaten away by Collins.
CRAWLEY: Jensen; Oyebanjo, Dickson, Leacock, Edwards, Smith, McLeod, Simpson, Walsh, Young, Tomlin. Subs: Spielgel, Henderson (Jensen, Simpson 45), O’Connor (McLeod 47), Banya (Tomlin 52), Bradley, Stewart (Leacock, Walsh 59), Rose, Bawling (Oyebanjo, Smith 61), Dias, Essam (Young, Edwards 68), Adametey (Dickson 77). Richeford.
CHELSEA: Collins; Kane, Brady, Davey, Dabo, McEachran, Perica, Houghton, Bamford, Saville, Palmer. Subs: Kiwomya, Colkett (Perica, Houghton 45), Aina (Kane 56), Musonda, Mitchell (Saville, McEachran 61), Harley, Rodriguez (Davey, Palmer 71), Granger. Attd: 1,508.