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League One

Crawley Town manager John Gregory rues lack of 'spark'

26 March 2014

Crawley Town boss John Gregory was frustrated that his side lacked a cutting edge following their 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United.

With both clubs vying for a play-off spot, Conor Coady's double gave the visitors a vital victory that sees Nigel Clough's side move to within seven points of sixth-placed Peterborough.

Despite the result, Gregory felt the Blades were fortunate to leave with three points.

"There was an incredible effort from my boys again and we finished strongly like we always do, and the result flattered Sheffield somewhat," he said.

"I'm a bit disappointed in the last third of the pitch really, everything before that and our approach play was excellent.

"I can't fault anyone on the effort or enthusiasm that they put into it but we just lacked that little bit of spark somewhere - certainly in the last third of the pitch - and their goalkeeper has made some brilliant saves.

"We kept the ball really well and dominated possession and at half-time we had to warm Paul Jones up because he was so cold, having been relatively inactive in the first half."

Crawley went into the game on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Oldham - only their second loss in 11 matches - and Gregory has experienced back-to-back losses for the first time since taking over the reins at the Red Devils.

But Gregory is hoping to put the defeat behind them, starting with a visit to play-off chasing Preston on Saturday.

"I'll have to pick my boys up and get ready to go to Preston," he added.

"We face an incredible next five matches to be honest, four of them are away from home, which is unbelievable really.

"We're suffering because of the bad weather we had in January and we've got four away matches out of the next five which is going to be exceptionally difficult. But we seem to do things the hard way."

United side went into the clash on the back of a 2-0 defeat against League One leaders Wolves and Blades boss Clough was pleased with the reaction of his players.

"It's imperative to put the weekend loss behind us. That's why I was disappointed about the way we started because leading up to the first goal we couldn't put two passes together," he said.

"Back to winning ways and confidence levels go high again and we can put Saturday behind us and we can look forward to next 10-11 games.

"It's brilliant to get over the 50-point mark and we're only seven points off sixth-place now with a game in hand - it's a great position to be in.

"We're closer to the play-offs than the bottom four which is very important. Even looking ahead if we don't make it this year, we have to come to places like Crawley and get results like we did at Gillingham, Colchester and MK Dons."

United defender Harry Maguire was booked late in the second half and will be banned for the next two matches, but Clough believes it could be a blessing in disguise with the club set to visit Wembley next month in their FA Cup semi-final tie with Hull.

"We've lost Harry now for a few games which maybe isn't a bad thing," he added.

"We didn't want him going into the games before the semi-final worried about the booking so we'll have to find a centre-half for Saturday and Tuesday."

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