Reds come from behind
Reds made it back to back home wins for the first time since March after a terrific comeback success over Luton at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
The hosts trailed to Cameron McGeehan’s header at the break and struggled to get any momentum in the first half.
But there was a dramatic improvement after the interval. Rhys Murphy buried a close-range header on 66 minutes to level and it was no surprise when Matt Harrold won the game with a superb low finish nine minutes from time. For both forwards it was their first goal at home.
The fightback was enjoyed by a crowd of 3,335 and will give the players great heart as they contemplate two long trips next week to Morecambe and Hartlepool.
Reds made two changes to the side that beat Leyton Orient. Goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan came in for his debut in goal after signing for the club on Friday and there was a recall in central defence for Josh Yorwerth.
Luton arrived having scored more away goals (15) than any side this season in the League and they began to get on top after a scrappy, error-ridden first 15 minutes by both sides.
Former Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith let fly from 25 yards and Flahavan was happy to see his effort go over the top by a yard. That was on 17 minutes and by then Reds had created little.
Gwion Edwards looked their best attacking outlet and six minutes later his cross found Murphy whose flick across goal wasn’t far away. Edwards then met Simon Walton’s drilled corner and his inviting flick flew just wide of the far post.
Mackail-Smith was allowed to turn in the box on the half-hour and shot over from eight yards but on 31 minutes Luton were in front.
Sean Long’s deep cross was headed back across goal by McGEEHAN and the ball was probably over the line despite Sonny Bradley’s attempt to head it out.
Reds once again found themselves behind after a sluggish start but the skipper nearly made amends four minutes before the break. He beat his marker to head Roarie Deacon’s deep cross down to Edwards but he dragged his shot wide of the upright from a good position.
At least Reds had begun to ask a few more questions of the Luton defence as the first half came to an end but it had still been a frustrating 45 minutes for the home fans which was nearly made worse just before the break when McGeehan’s long-range volley skidded wide of the post with Flahavan struggling to his right.
Manager Mark Yates had clearly got into his players at the break and Crawley began the second half playing with a much higher tempo.
Yorwerth was frustrated to see his far-post header from Mitch Hancox’s corner go wide and when Jimmy Smith flicked on another Hancox set piece it appeared to be handled by defender Luke Wilkinson but penalty appeals to both referee and his assistant fell on deaf ears.
Reds deservedly levelled on 66 minutes as their more purposeful approach finally paid off. Wilkinson’s clearing header found Edwards in space and his measured cross to the far post was met with an emphatic header by MURPHY who gave Mark Tyler no chance from close range.
Talk about a mood-changer. Reds now had the upper hand and Luke Rooney, who replaced Deacon just after the equaliser, saw his volley from the edge of the box blocked with Smith hammering the loose ball over the bar.
Reds were winning far more second balls and imposing themselves all over the pitch and with nine minutes left they went in front. Flahavan’s clearance was nudged back by Murphy and HARROLD took a touch before drilling a low right-foot shot inside the left-hand post from the edge of the box.
Tyler then saved well from Rooney, who had been a big influence on the revival, as Reds looked to kill the game off.
In truth Luton offered little in the closing stages which Reds negotiated with reasonable comfort to seal back to back victories.