Clarke and Tubbs strike to sink Wolves
Reds produced their best result of the season as they sunk leaders Wolves thanks to first-half goals from Billy Clarke and Matt Tubbs.
Wolves had gone in front through James Henry but Reds responded with two goals in four minutes and although Wolves had their chances in the second half, Paul Jones made some excellent saves while Reds came close to scoring a third goal of their own in front of a superb atmosphere.
John Gregory named the same side that had beaten Colchester 1-0 on Saturday and his line-up included Mark Connolly, who started his career at Molineux and captained Wolves’ reserves.
Reds made a very positive start and Tubbs found Josh Simpson in the second minute but the ball bobbled as the skipper shot and his effort went well wide of Carl Ikeme’s right-hand post.
Simpson was involved again two minutes later when Tubbs collected Kyle McFadzean’s pass in space and rounded Ikeme before pulling the ball back but Simpson’s low drive from ten yards was blocked by a defender.
Wolves threatened for the first time when Nouha Dicko beat the offside trap but Joe Walsh eventually cleared his low cross.
It was a rare threat from the visitors but they took the lead in the 25th minute after a rare misjudgement by Paul Jones. There seemed little danger when HENRY picked up possession 25 yards and let fly but the flight of the ball seemed to surprise the Reds’ keeper and the shot deflected off his feet and flew into the top corner.
But Reds were level within two minutes. Simpson broke through some hesitant defending to tee up Tubbs and although his shot was blocked, the ball fell to CLARKE on the right-hand side of the six-yard box and he hammered it into the far corner. It was only the second goal Wolves have conceded from open play in 11 games.
It got better for Reds on 32 minutes. After more hesitant defending TUBBS was put through by Andy Drury's pass and as Ikeme came out of his goal the striker chipped the ball over the keeper and into the empty net for the seventh goal of his loan spell.
It prompted a change in system by Wolves with ex-Reds’ loanee Leon Clarke replacing Michael Jacobs as Wolves went 4-4-2 and adopted a more direct approach and they threatened again when Jones grabbed Kevin McDonald’s shot at the second attempt with Dicko waiting to pounce.
Jones was at as best on 40 minutes when Clarke beat the offside trap from Sam Rickett’s pass but the Reds’ No.1 stood up to push his shot away and Henry fired the loose ball over from 12 yards.
Jones made another excellent save five minutes after the break when he pushed Henry’s well-struck effort around the post as the game continued to be played at a terrific tempo.
Reds were still causing Wolves plenty of problems at the other end and their work-rate all over the pitch as they protected their lead was unstinting with Simpson doing an excellent job in front of the back four to keep Wolves' playmaker Kevin McDonald quiet.
The boss made his first change on 68 minutes when Tubbs was replaced by Jamie Proctor and two minutes later Jones pulled off another good save to keep out a thunderous hit from distance by Sako, who was trying to beat the keeper at his near post.
Simpson was inches away from a third Crawley goal with 14 minutes to go when he tried a clever back-heel from Proctor’s cross that rolled just past the far post with Ikeme struggling.
It was pulsating stuff and Proctor wasn’t far away when he headed Clarke’s cross from a well-worked corner routine just wide.
With ten minutes left Reds seemed to have settled for what they had with Clarke funnelling back into midfield, leaving Proctor on his own up front working hard to harass the Wolves' defence.
Henry was booked for his second bad challenge in the space of 60 seconds and as the minutes ticked down the Crawley fans increased the volume one last time on a night when the home support had been outstanding.
Hearts were in mouths in stoppage time when Clarke turned and shot but Jones made the save and the referee had already blown for a free kick.
Moments later the final whistle blew and the home fans rose as one to salute a magnificent performance by their side and arguably our best result as a League club.