McLeod and O'Connor on target in 2-1 success
Goals from Izale McLeod and Emmett O’Connor earned Reds a deserved win in their latest pre-season test at Kingfield on Wednesday night.
McLeod converted a 34th-minute penalty for a strong line-up before O’Connor scored his first goal for the club 20 minutes from time. Substitute Guiseppe Sole pulled one back from the spot near the end but Crawley held on.
It was back to something approaching full strength for Reds with only the injured Matt Harrold and Bradley Isaacs missing from the squad on a warm evening at Kingfield. Josh Simpson lined up on the right of midfield and the bench included four trialists.
After a scrappy start Reds should have gone in front on 11 minutes but McLeod scuffed his shot after a neat exchange with Gavin Tomlin.
Simpson then hit the bar but was ruled offside before Brian Jensen made an excellent reflex save to push away Joey Jones’ header following a cross deep on the right by John Nutter.
As the game warmed up Reds broke down their left and Gwion Edwards’ powerful drive was turned over by home keeper Aaron Howe.
The home side were testing Reds’ defensive resolve at this stage of a contest which had come to life after a slow start and Josh Payne was next to test the visitors with a low drive which Jensen had covered.
Reds broke the deadlock on 34 minutes when McLeod was brought down by Nutter just inside the box and he got up to drive the resultant penalty down the middle.
McLeod nearly added a second a few moments later but Howe pushed away his powerful header.
Woking defender Joe McNerney was fortunate to escape punishment when he brought down Tomlin just outside the box and Howe plunged to his right to push away Conor Henderson’s free kick.
Crawley had stepped up the pace and McLeod got away again into the box and it needed two defenders to prevent him from getting his shot away.
But they were fortunate not to be pegged back on the stroke of half-time when Keiron Murtagh was found in space at the far post but he screwed his shot horribly wide.
Reds made their first changes five minutes into the second half when wide men O’Connor and Lewis Young came on, replacing Conor Henderson and Edwards in midfield.
On 65 minutes trialist Anthony Stewart and Sonny Bradley replaced Joe Walsh and Dean Leacock.
Neither side had threatened by that point in the second half as the usual raft of changes by both sides seemed to affect the pattern of play. A big and physical Woking side were giving Reds a good test and the visitors continued to do their most effective work on the counter-attack through pace in wide areas and up front.
They doubled their lead with 20 minutes to go after a terrific goalmouth scramble in which Tomlin, who created the chance with a great run down the left, and McLeod both had shots blocked before O’Connor swept home the loose ball for his first goal in Crawley colours.
Four minutes later O’Connor broke down the right and produced a terrific cross which McLeod controlled before his shot was smothered by Howe.
Woking pulled a goal back with six minutes left when Rendall rolled home a penalty after Bradley had brought down Sole in the corner of the penalty area.
Reds then made three more changes with trialists Craig Robson, Charles Banya and Harrold Odamettey replacing Ryan Dickson, Tomlin and Simpson respectively and there was a further alteration near the end when Jensen was replaced between the sticks by Raphael Spiegel.
Reds: Jensen (Spiegel 82), Oyebanjo (Bawling 75), Leacock (Stewart 65), Walsh (Bradley 65), Dickson (Robson 80); Simpson (Odamattey 80), Henderson (O’Connor 51), Smith, Edwards (Young 51); McLeod, Tomlin (Banya 82).
Attendance: 437 (44 Crawley fans)