Hednesford 1, Crawley Town 2
Crawley produced a gritty performance as they beat non-league side Hednesford Town 2-1 in the First Round of the FA Cup at a packed Keys Park.
Reds took the lead in the 61st minute through Darren Campion’s own goal after he turned a low cross into the box by Nicky Adams past his own goalkeeper.
The hosts responded well and levelled the scores when Elliott Durrell stepped up to tuck home a penalty following Mat Sadler’s foul on Jamie Osborne.
Richie Barker introduced Emile Sinclair into the fray shortly afterwards and the striker netted the winner just three minutes later, heading home from a corner to ensure Reds were in the draw for the Second Round.
Reds made three changes from Tuesday’s defeat at Bristol City with Mark Connolly, Andy Drury and Dannie Bulman coming in for Kyle McFadzean, Emile Sinclair and the cup-tied Kyle Bennett.
The Conference North leaders started the better of the two sides, testing Crawley’s defence with a couple of early set-pieces that were adequately dealt with.
Reds settled after a nervy opening and had the best chance of the opening stages when Adams’s left-wing cross into the box was met by an onrushing Josh Simpson but his effort on the volley struck the left-hand post.
There was little to separate the sides in an even first 45 minutes and had Osborne kept his composure on the edge of the box after an opening in the Crawley defence, the hosts might have been ahead.
Into the second half and Durrell’s free-kick into the Crawley penalty area presented a free header for Ben Bailey but his effort was straight at Paul Jones.
The Crawley stopper then had to make a save at full stretch to keep out Osborne’s dipping effort that was destined for the net.
Crawley settled and took the lead through an own goal in the 61st minute.
Simpson played a ball out wide for Adams, who beat a defender to drill in a low cross that was turned in by defender CAMPION under pressure from the lurking Jamie Proctor.
Andy Drury nearly doubled Crawley’s advantage a few minutes later but his curling left-footed effort was just over the crossbar.
The hosts pressed hard for an equaliser throwing plenty of men forward and their perseverance paid off.
Osborne beat Sadler on the right hand side and when he advanced into the box Sadler bought the winger down.
DURRELL kept his composure for his and Hednesford’s big moment to level the scores in the 76th minute with his 20th goal of the season.
Crawley responded quickly to create a good chance to get back in front, James Hurst laying the ball back for Mike Jones to hit but the midfielder’s effort went over the bar.
Richie responded by bringing on both Sinclair and Gary Alexander and the manager’s decision paid off quickly as SINCLAIR put Reds back ahead.
The substitute climbed highest to nod home an Adams corner to send the travelling fans behind the goal jubilant.
As the hosts once again pressed for a leveller, they left gaps at the back which Drury nearly capitalised on but his effort from 12-yards out was saved by Crane before Alexander fired wide in the last minute.
Reds survived a late onslaught on their goal, which included a fine tackle by Hurst to deny Bailey, to ensure that Reds go into the hat for the second round.