FOWLER DE­BUT DE­LIGHTS DEAN

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Rod Gil­mour

CRAW­LEY in­terim boss Dean Saun­ders ad­mits he can’t wait to see what a fully-fit Lee Fowler can do af­ter the mid­fielder en­joyed a de­but to re­mem­ber as the hosts jumped two places off the bot­tom.

Fowler only ar­rived at the club on Thurs­day on loan from Non-League Nuneaton, but came on as a late sub­sti­tute and volleyed bril­liantly to se­cure Saun­ders’ first win in charge and Craw­ley’s first three points since Oc­to­ber – a win­less run stretch­ing 16 games.

An­thony Wordsworth, in his de­but home game, had struck from close range in the firsthalf be­fore Paul Hunt­ing­ton’s header lev­elled.

An en­ter­tain­ing sec­ond-half then saw a bar­rage of chances for both sides be­fore Fowler struck with three min­utes re­main­ing.

“He isn’t any­where near fit yet but he’s come on and shown his class,” Saun­ders said of 31-year-old Fowler. “He’s more tal­ented than any­one in this league but he’s just wasted it a bit.

“I want to put him on the straight and nar­row and I’ve never seen him score a vol­ley like that. In the past he’s made the game look easy. I said to him that he should be play­ing in the Cham­pi­onship.

“We de­served the win and we played them at the right time as they were less con­fi­dent in front of goal.

“I was re­ally pleased how pro­fes­sional we were in the last five min­utes and hope­fully the three points will lift the place.”

Against the run of play, Craw­ley scored first in the 18th minute when David Buchanan lost the ball on the right. Lewis Young broke free and crossed low as Wordsworth bun­dled in from close range af­ter an ini­tial save by Sam Johnstone.

But Pre­ston’s cre­ative en­deav­our was re­warded be­fore the hour when Hunt­ing­ton’s run went un­no­ticed af­ter a Paul Gal­lagher cor­ner and he eas­ily headed home for his sixth goal of the sea­son.

The hosts’ best chances all came with 15 min­utes left. First, Calum Woods clat­tered into Ryan Dick­son on the edge of the box, with Jimmy Smith’s re­sult­ing free-kick ex­cel­lently tipped over by Johnstone.

Five min­utes later Lanre Oye­banjo saw his rasp­ing drive flick the cross bar, while Izale McLeod had two clear chances.

Craw­ley’s win­ner was richly de­served. Fowler, un­marked on the edge of the box, ri­fled in an un­stop­pable right-footed vol­ley high into the net from a cor­ner, leav­ing Pre­ston manager Simon Grayson to rue a fifth league game with­out a win.

“We dom­i­nated most of the game and pos­ses­sion where it mat­tered, but we can’t buy a goal apart from set pieces at the mo­ment,” he said.

“We didn’t do enough in the fi­nal third and then we con­ceded a sloppy late goal. We have to go back and do the ba­sics right.

“We were hard to beat at the start of the sea­son and we were ruth­less in the 18-yard box.

“At the mo­ment we are switch­ing off. There’s not a great deal wrong with the team right now but we have to be more clin­i­cal.”

PIC­TURES: Michael Hulf

DREAM DE­BUT: Lee Fowler cel­e­brates his win­ner Inset: The mid­fielder fires home

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