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Crawley boss Kevin Betsy knew a win was coming after successive league defeats

Kevin Betsy was pleased with Crawley’s win (David Davies/PA)
Kevin Betsy was pleased with Crawley’s win (David Davies/PA)

Kevin Betsy thought Crawley were worthy winners after a late goal from striker Tom Nichols gave his side a 1-0 Carabao Cup victory over League One opponents Bristol Rovers.

Nichols raced through to send his old club out of the competition at the first round stage for the third season in a row, stroking the ball beyond goalkeeper James Belshaw after his initial shot had been blocked.

Former Arsenal Under-23s boss Betsy had seen his new side lose both their opening league games 1-0 but insisted there had been “no panic” in the lead up to this game.

“We made a lot of changes tonight (six) and Rovers showed us a lot of respect,” Betsy said.

“I’m really happy with the group, it takes time to gel but there is a really good team spirit.”

Betsy, 44, is transforming the way Crawley play with a stronger emphasis on keeping possession, and he has no doubt they can pose a big threat in the final third.

He added: “There has been no panic as we know the level of the group. We knew the threat our front players have and we need to get the ball to them.”

Rovers boss Joey Barton felt Crawley benefitted from a handball that was not spotted by referee David Rock in the build-up to Nichols’ goal.

Barton said: “You expect the referee to pick up on it. It was a massive advantage with use of the arm.”

He stressed that Rovers had respected the competition by only making one change, but added that the league is “our priority”.

He added: “We didn’t make a host of changes but we need to improve – we were a bit wasteful.

“We didn’t make the most of the opportunities we had but now it’s back to the bread and butter and we’ll be better after dusting ourselves off.”

Barton, who is aiming to bring in “six or seven” new players before the transfer window closes, is hopeful some business will be done “by the end of the week”.