By Ben Blackmore
Tony McMahon produced two moments of magic from free-kicks to give Sheffield United a 2-0 win at the Broadfield Stadium.
The Reds matched United in every department throughout the game but were powerless to prevent McMahon scoring from free-kicks in either half, to earn the Blades three points and take them top of League One.
Manager Richie Barker made one change from last Saturday’s win over Stevenage, Joe Walsh in for Claude Davis, who dropped to the bench, for the first ever meeting between the clubs.
Reds started the brighter of the two sides, Nicky Adams carried the ball from his own half but his cross went straight out for a goal kick.
The Blades grew in confidence and had the first clear-cut chance of the game in the 12th minute, but Joe Walsh superbly blocked Dave Kitson’s shot away for a corner.
And it was Walsh who was again on hand to deny the Blades, this time blocking a dangerous low cross into the box before being adjudged to had fouled Shaun Miller 25 yards out from goal.
It looked a harsh decision as Walsh seemed to get the ball but from the resulting free-kick Tony McMahon curled in a dipping effort that beat Paul Jones into the bottom right-hand corner.
The home side pushed for an equaliser early in the second half. Gary Alexander knocked the ball down for Mike Jones to strike but his 25-yard effort went just wide of the far post.
United looked to counter-attack and nearly doubled their advantage, Paul Jones saving well after Nick Blackman fired in a shot from 18 yards out.
Hope Akpan tried his best to find a way past the defence for the hosts but his half volley went straight at Long.
Despite Reds being on top it was United who doubled their advantage in the 71st minute. McMahon curled in another stunning free-kick, this time from 30 yards out that sailed straight into the top corner after another contentious decision as three players converged on the ball.
The Blades held on despite late Reds pressure and Crawley remain tenth in the League One standings.