Reds keep play-off bid alive
By Ben Blackmore
Reds kept their play-off challenge alive by completing an excellent week with a deserved win over the Sky Blues.
Billy Clarke rifled home his 14th goal of the season with a left-footed shot that deflected past Joe Murphy after a good free-kick routine early on.
Connor Essam sealed the win for Reds with his first goal for the club on the hour when he headed home an Nicky Adams corner.
It means Reds stay 11th but they are just four points off sixth place with three games to go and have a game in hand on some of the teams above them.
Richie Barker made only one change from the side that pulled off the famous victory at Bramall Lane on Tuesday. Paul Hayes was rewarded after scoring in the 2-0 win with a start as he replaced Jamie Proctor up front.
The game started with rain pouring down at the Broadfield and both ‘keepers had to be aware of the conditions as they pulled off early saves.
The first chance fell to Reds when Hayes found himself through after a good defence-splitting pass by Sergio Torres and the striker unselfishly squared to Clarke but Coventry keeper Joe Murphy pulled off a great save to deny him what looked like being the opener.
His opposite number Paul Jones then had to be alert in order to push out Carl Baker’s difficult free kick that had bounced just in front of him.
Reds were awarded a free kick in a similar position at the other end and took full advantage to open the scoring.
With 15 minutes played, Adams stood over the ball and his lay-off to CLARKE was smashed into the net by the striker with a left-foot shot that took a deflection on its way past Murphy.
The goal seemed to settle Reds and Hayes and Clarke nearly combined to create another chance but Clarke couldn’t connect with a volley at the back post.
Coventry skipper Baker had the visitors’ best chance of the first 45 with a shot that deflected off Sadler and forced a good save from Jones just before the half-time whistle.
Reds started the brighter of the two sides in the second half. Clarke advanced well down the left, carrying the ball into the box but he couldn’t find a red shirt with his ball into the box.
Crawley needed a second goal to settle any nerves and on the hour they doubled their lead.
Adams delivered a corner into the box and ESSAM stooped low to header home his first goal of the season.
Coventry offered little resistance with the second goal seemingly killing off any chance of a comeback. John Fleck did have the visitors’ best chance in the second period but his free-kick was over the crossbar.
By the end most fans were concerned more that referee Lewis might abandon the game as conditions worsened but with the ball still running true he got the match completed and Reds head to Oldham next week mounting a late run for the play-offs.