Slick Saddlers cruise to easy victory
Reds remain deep in relegation trouble after a second away defeat in the space of four days.
Walsall were good value for their 5-0 win at the Banks’s Stadium as Jordy Hiwula scored a goal in each half and Kieron Morris was also on target, two of the goals coming in the space of as many minutes midway through the second half to scupper any thoughts that Reds might get back into the game.
An own goal by Lanre Oyebanjo with eight minutes to go put the seal on a disappointing night for Interim Manager Dean Saunders and his team and Walsall rubbed salt into the wounds in stoppage time when substitute Jordan Cook made it 5-0.
Reds created little and looked weary and Walsall goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell was seldom tested on a chastening night for Crawley who will need to regroup quickly ahead of Saturday’s big game at home to fellow strugglers Notts County.
Saunders made one change to the team beaten by Scunthorpe on Saturday with Anthony Wordsworth replacing the injured Marvin Elliott after completing a two-match ban.
Top scorer Izale McLeod got an early shot away which was comfortably held by Richard O’Donnell in the Saddlers’ goal as the visitors made a purposeful start.
But it turned out to be our only effort on target in the first 45 minutes as the home side took control.
They initially responded with a fiercely struck shot by Kieron Morris which Brian Jensen beat away before Sonny Bradley got in the way of Romain Sawyer’s effort after he found space in the box.
The home side continued to threaten and they deservedly took the lead in the 16th minute. Kieron Morris slipped a pass between Sonny Bradley and Kelly Youga and Jordan Hiwula raced into space before slipping the ball past Brian Jensen as the keeper came out to narrow the angle.
They threatened again in their next attack when Youga had to clear over his own bar after Romain Sawyer had exploited space on Reds’ left to pull the ball back and when the corner fell to right-back Ben Purkiss he drilled a shot from 30 yards which was not far wide of Jensen’s right-hand post.
Cain was next to try his luck from the edge of the box and Jensen did well to push away his swerving shot as Walsall, patient in possession and inventive in and around the Reds’ box, continued to dominate.
Reds had offered little in the first period and were fortunate to get to the break only a goal down.
Saunders brought on Gwion Edwards for Dickson at the break and switched to 4-4-2 and it although there was certainly more urgency from Reds at the start of the second half Jensen made the first save when he pushed away Morris’ curling shot from the edge of the box.
The game had already got stretched with both sides showing the effects of a long season. Little had been seen thus far of Saddlers’ top scorer Tom Bradshaw but he stung Jensen’s palms again with an angled drive.
Walsall put the game to bed with two goals in three minutes midway through the half.
Hiwula got his second on 66 minutes, curling a right-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area beyond Jensen.
The keeper had no chance with that goal and he was left helpless again two minutes later when Morris collected possession 20 yards out and smashed a right-foot drive that went in off the underside of the bar.
Fowler was booked for a foul on Bradshaw before Jimmy Smith was introduced for Lee Fowler, Mathias Pogba having come on earlier for Dean Morgan.
Reds kept going but a miserable night was summed up with eight minutes to go. Left-back Andy Butler let fly from 25 yards and his shot took a huge deflection off Lanre Oyebanjo and flew into the net with Jensen helpless.
It got worse in the final minute when Cook produced a composed finish rounded off a dismal night for the visitors.