Clarke wins it for Reds
Crawley completed their first double of the season with a 1-0 victory against Leyton Orient at the Matchroom Stadium on Saturday.
Billy Clarke’s fine curling strike on the 11th minute turned out to be the winning goal and, courtesy of Joe Walsh’s man-of-the match performance in defence, the Reds travelled back to Sussex with all three points and moved up to 12th in the table.
Reds lined-up with just one change, Mike Jones coming in for the injured Josh Simpson who limped out of Monday’s game against Doncaster.
The game got off to a slow start, both teams cancelling each other out at the early stages before Clarke's moment of brilliance broke the deadlock.
After 11 minutes Clarke picked the ball up just inside the right-hand side of the area before cutting back onto his left foot and curling an unstoppable shot past Jamie Jones into the top left-hand corner. Clarke’s 12th of the season was, it's fair to say, also a contender for goal of the season.
The visitors weren’t content with just the one goal cushion and went in search of another. Nicky Adams delivered a teasing cross into the box that was met by the head of Mike Jones whose effort hit the crossbar and went behind for a goal-kick.
Orient responded with good pressure of their own. Ex-Red Charlie MacDonald forced a good save out of Paul Jones following a crisp half-volley before Leon McSweeney tried his luck from fully 50 yards but his effort narrowly cleared the crossbar.
The visitors soaked up pressure well at the end of the first half and had a good chance to double their advantage after the half-time break. Adams started a counter-attack in the Orient half and chose to shoot from 20 yards but his effort went over the bar.
Reds looked in control but needed a second goal to settle any nerves. Matt Sparrow tried his best to find a shooting opportunity after good play in midfield but the home side defended well.
Dean Cox had Orient’s first chance of the second period when he lined-up a free-kick from 25 yards that narrowly deflected wide of the Crawley goal before the ex-Brighton winger had a shot from six yards superbly blocked by Joe Walsh when the equaliser looked likely.
Crawley soaked up pressure from Orient and were grateful David Mooney headed wide after a cross from Scott Cuthbert.
Shortly after Mooney’s chance, Walsh was once again on hand to deny another former Crawley player Shaun Batt a shooting chance with a fine block before Jones saved well from blank point range following a header by Cuthbert.
The Reds survived late pressure, Walsh and Connolly superbly putting their bodies on the line before the full-time whistle sounded much to the delight of the 527 travelling fans, who gave their team fantastic support throughout.
A fantastic effort from all, and that win gives Crawley a first away win since Boxing Day.