On Thursday it was announced that Ashley Nadesan would be leaving Crawley to join fellow League Two side Gillingham. The departure comes as yet another blow for the Sussex side.
Nadesan had spent the last four seasons with Crawley, making 167 competitive appearances during that time. Over that period, the forward established himself as a vital cog in the Red Devils starting line-up and his departure is certainly a significant one.
The move may come as somewhat of a shock given the 28-year-old still had a year left on his contract, but given the current circumstances at the club it comes as no surprise that Nadesan wanted a move.
His new team, Gillingham, have very different aspirations for the forthcoming season than that of their League Two counterparts. Nadesan comes in as yet another shrewd, experienced signing for the Gills who will be expected to challenge right at the top of League Two this season. As for Crawley, this season seems to be purely about surviving in the Football League with times at the club looking exceptionally bleak. All nine of The Real EFL writers whose predictions were published for the forthcoming season, have predicted the Red Devils to succumb to relegation to the National League this season and these thoughts are echoed by many other EFL writers, pundits and fans.
With just eight days until their season opener against Bradford, Reds fans will certainly be nervous for what’s to come. A replacement for Nadesan will needed to be drafted in quickly to fill the huge position that he played in the squad. Nadesan brought plenty of qualities to Crawley, which they must act quickly to rectify and replace.
What Nadesan brought to Scott Lindsey’s side was something that cannot be found in many of the other players in the squad. Here’s what they’ll now be missing following his departure…
With 207 EFL appearances to his name, Nadesan was one of the most experienced players in the dressing room at the Broadfield Stadium, his departure leaving just three players at the club with over 200 appearances in the EFL. Those being Joel Lynch (430), Ben Gladwin (211) and Dom Telford (201), this is a major problem for Crawley currently and with very few experienced players in the dressing room it comes as no surprise to seem them as current favourites for relegation.
Having only just survived relegation last season, the Red Devils managed to get over the line thanks to the experience of their side. The majority of those experienced players, including Nadesan as well as a few up-and-coming stars have now left the club, leaving them in real trouble if they find themselves in another relegation scrap.
Nadesan would provide seven goals and six assists last season in League Two, and those contributions could’ve been the difference maker in Crawley’s survival last season. Although perhaps not always the most clinical finisher, the 28-year-old is very effective at holding up play as well as creating chances for his fellow teammates. In the 186 appearances that the forward has made in League Two for Crawley and Carlisle United, Nadesan has registered a total of 37 goals and 27 assists. That works out to be a goal contribution once every three matches, which is an impressive stat given the sides that he has played it. Bar Dom Telford, none of the other attacking options look like they’ll be able to step up to fill Nadesan’s shoes as a creative force.
Relationship with Telford
That brings me straight onto my next point, Telford and Nadesan knew each others game well and would appear together in the majority of games last year. Alongside Nadesan’s 13 goal contributions last season, Telford provided a further 15, with each player seemingly playing off of one another. Following Nadesan’s departure it is hard to see who will be the one to step-up and play alongside Telford and create these chances for him. The 26-year-old is very much the main man at the Broadfield Stadium, a good relationship with the striker will be pivotal to the club’s success next season.
Although it does tie-in with my point of experience, Crawley have also lost a significant leader in the dressing room. Having been with the club for four years, Nadesan would’ve known the club inside out, and was one of the club’s longest serving players. It is a common theme that there doesn’t seem to be many players who can step-up and fill this void that has been left following his departure. Almost every game Nadesan could be seen running for the entire match and he would become a fan favourite during his time with the Red Devils. Crawley fans currently have very little to cheer for, and the departure of one of their longest-serving players gives them even less to shout about.
There are a whole host of problems surrounding Crawley currently and the departure of Nadesan only adds to that long list. Gillingham will be getting a player who will run his heart out as well as someone who is able to chip in with a few goals and assists throughout the year. I suspect that with the addition of Nadesan they will at the very least be challenging for the play-offs and would come as no surprise to see them in the automatics next April. As for Crawley, as it stands, I cannot see them finishing anywhere other than rock bottom, the club need to act quickly to replace all of their outgoings, can and will they do that is another story. I’m just glad I’m not a Crawley fan currently…