Walton penalty seals fourth win in five
Reds made it four wins from their last five games after a late Simon Walton penalty sealed a hard-fought 1-0 home win over managerless York.
It looked like being a frustrating afternoon for Mark Yates’ men with York keeper Scott Flinders producing two superb second-half saves to deny Shamir Fenelon.
But with five minutes to go skipper Sonny Bradley was brought down by Eddie Nolan and Walton scored his third goal of the season from the spot as Reds recorded three successive home wins for the first time since October 2012.
Boss Mark Yates named the same side and bench that had beaten Hartlepool while the visitors included ex-Crawley forward Emile Sinclair as they sought to end a nine-match winless run.
The hosts had a half-chance in the first minute when Rhys Murphy met Mitch Hancox’s deep cross but his glancing went wide.
Both teams looked lively in the early stages. Vadaine Oliver had a great chance in the second minute but diverted Sinclair’s tempting cross wide then Jimmy Smith had to make an important defensive header over his own bar as Bryn Morris threatened.
Reds used a training ground move on 13 minutes and almost broke through. Walton’s corner was dummied by Gwion Edwards and met sweetly 15 yards out by Matt Harrold. His shot was blocked and the follow-up effort flew wide.
York didn’t look like a side short on confidence after a poor run. Daryl Flahavan blocked a well-struck effort from James Berrett and Morris should have done a lot better on 27 minutes when Oliver’s pass sent him clear but he dragged his shot wide.
Four minutes later Flahavan showed good reflexes to keep out Oliver’s volley at the near post after he’d made good connection with a corner.
Reds finally began to exert some control towards the end of the first half. Hancox lifted a free kick from the right-hand edge of the box just over then Harrold’s flick set up Jimmy Smith for a half volley, but goalkeeper Scott Flinders got behind the ball to save.
There was more urgency to the home side’s play after the break. Murphy elected to shoot on 50 minutes after getting on the end of Walton’s free kick and wasn’t far away from finding the far corner, although Harrold and Smith were both unmarked.
Four minutes later York keeper Flinders made a superb save to keep out Fenelon’s volley from ten yards after Smith had nodded Edwards’ cross back into his path.
There was a flare-up when Josh Yorwerth was challenged by Femi Itesanmi which needed referee Charles Breakpear to calm down before Oliver missed another great chance on 62 minutes when he was allowed a free header from Marvin McCoy’s cross but directed it over from close range.
With 20 minutes to go it was hard to see who was going to break the deadlock. There had been no lack of endeavour from either team but the quality had been missing in the final third.
Murphy still looked Crawley’s best bet. He cut inside on 76 minutes and his curling effort landed on the roof of the net and with nine minute left his pass put Fenelon in space but Flinders spread himself to make a crucial block.
But there was nothing the keeper could do when Reds finally broke through in the 86th minute. Hancox’s corner was headed down by Harrold into the path of Sonny Bradley and as the captain tried to turn he was brought down by Nolan. The referee pointed to the spot and WALTON made no mistake from the spot, sending Flinders the wrong way.
They had done it the hard way but Reds claimed three points which keeps them moving up the table.