Report: Blues 5 Crawley Town 1

The Carabao Cup first round tie was all but over by the break after Blues notched three goals in the space of 15 minutes.


Che Adams’ first hat-trick of his professional career capped a five-star show from Blues as they cruised past Crawley Town.

The Carabao Cup first round tie was all but over by the break after Blues notched three goals in the space of 15 minutes during the latter stages of the first-half, Adams with two and Davis opening his account for the season in impressive fashion.

Robert Tesche climbed off the bench at half-time to register the first goal of his career as a permanent member of the Blues squad, before Adams completed his treble. The visitors continued to battle away gamely and got a deserved consolation through Panutche Camara.   

Harry Redknapp made five changes to his side from the weekend, Tomasz Kuszczak, Paul Robinson, Stephen Gleeson, Maikel Kieftenbeld and David Cotterill all getting a chance to stake their claim.

Blues’ first sight of goal came on four minutes when the ball broke to Emilio Nsue just inside the area but the full-back’s shot was deflected wide of the target.

The hosts continued to make the early running and there was a shooting chance for Cotterill, but the winger couldn’t get a strong enough connection on Kieftenbeld’s left-wing cross, Glenn Morris easily gathering in the ball.

Morris was called into serious action on nine minutes, Adams twisting and turning 20 yards out and firing in a fierce shot that the Crawley keeper did well to palm around the post.

The opportunities kept on coming, on 18 minutes a fast break-away from the hosts saw Nsue set Adams free down the right and his intelligent early cross teed up Davis, who was playing in an unorthodox role behind front man Adams. Davis was only able to divert the ball over the bar with a looping effort as he stretched out a leg.

The visitors’ first opening came when Ayjan Tajbakhsh threaded a clever ball through the middle of the Blues defence which looked to have set up Dean Cox, but the midfielder opted to square the ball rather than shoot and the chance was gone.

Blues’ dominance finally got its just rewards on 28 minutes. A quickly-taken free-kick saw Adams and Davis play a one-two before the young striker took aim and arrowed a shot into the bottom corner past the helpless Morris.

Kuszczak’s first meaningful involvement in the game came on the half-hour mark when Dennon Lewis’ shot, following the midfielder’s weaving run, bounced towards him but the Pole safely smothered the effort.

Blues were inches away from doubling their lead with a gloriously crafted opening. Davis’ delightful chip over the top of the Crawley defence from the edge of the box dropped over the head of Adams who stuck out a hopeful toe, sending the ball spiralling over the head of Morris but the left-hand post came to Crawley’s rescue.

Davis was enjoying himself in his role giving him a license to roam. And that’s exactly what he did on 38 minutes to grab Blues’ second, picking the ball up 35 yards out, skipping past several challenges and crashing an unstoppable shot into the bottom right corner.

Two-nil became three before the half-time interval. Grounds nudged the ball towards goal from Cotterill’s right-wing corner and the ball deflected kindly into the path of Adams who couldn’t really miss from almost on the line.  

Redknapp shuffled his pack at the break with Tesche introduced in place of Davis and the German made an eye-catching impact, adding to Blues’ tally for the evening within four minutes of the restart.

Tesche met Cotterill’s right-wing cross with a thumping header that Morris got a hand to but couldn’t stop it from flying into the net.

Marc Roberts came close to opening his account for the Club with a far post header, which looked to have struck a Crawley arm but the strong appeals were waved away.

With Blues four goals to the good, Redknapp took the opportunity to give young defender Wes Harding his debut at right-back in place of Nsue.      

Adams claimed his right to the matchball on 66 minutes in great style, bursting away down the right before unleashing a fizzing drive past Morris.

The respective keepers then both earned their corn in the space of a minute, with Kuszczak beating away a vicious shot from Andre Blackman and then Morris parrying the ball away after Cotterill tried to curl the ball past him, having been put through by Maghoma.

To their credit Crawley didn’t give up, captain Matt Harrold hitting the side-netting with a shot from the right side of the area with 11 minutes left.

And Harry Kewell’s men gave their 133 travelling fans a consolation goal to cheer late on, substitute Camara hammering a shot past Kuszczak from the edge of the box.

It was a minor blip on a good evening for Blues, who gave valuable minutes on the pitch to players that needed it and got themselves into the scoring groove ahead of the weekend’s league visit of Bristol City to St. Andrew’s.   

Blues: Kuszczak; Nsue (Harding 59), Roberts, Robinson, Grounds; Cotterill, Kieftenbeld, Gleeson, Maghoma; Davis (Tesche h/t); Adams (Gardner 69).
Subs (not used): Stockdale, Donaldson, Ndoye, Morrison.
Goals: Adams (28, 42, 66), Davis (38), Tesche (49)      

Crawley: Morris; McNerney, Payne, Yorwerth, Blackman; Sanoh (Camara 71), Lewis, Tajbakhsh (Clifford 65), Djalo (Boldewijn 54) Cox; Harrold.
Subs (not used): Mersin, Young, Roberts, Lelan.
Goal: Camara (86)

Attendance: 7,814 (133 away fans)