Crawley Town v Newport County
Reds moved into the top half of the table after claiming a third win in four League 2 games on an incident-packed afternoon at the Checkatrade Stadium.
Goals from James Collins – his 12th of the season – Josh Yorwerth and Jimmy Smith earned Crawley a 3-1 win against bottom of the table County, who had a staggering nine players booked by referee Nick Kinseley.
Four Reds – Andre Blackman, Mark Connolly, Enzio Boldewijn and Jordan Roberts were also cautioned while the visitors also missed a stoppage-time penalty when Josh Sheehan’s effort struck the underside of the bar.
It was end to end stuff throughout with both teams trading attacking blows like a couple of heavyweights. At times, Newport played some decent football but for a lot more of the contest Reds impressed with some approach work that was at times top class and had a crowd of 2,022 applauding their appreciation.
An early goal after three minutes was the perfect start. Lewis Young’s cross-field ball was collected by Billy Clifford and his left-wing cross was right onto the head of Collins, who made no mistake from close range.
By the half-hour mark Mr Kinseley had already booked five players and there were a couple of heated exchanges involving several players as tempers threatened to boil over and the visitors' rugged approach incurred the wrath of the home faithful.
Newport levelled on 33 minutes. Reds failed to clear their lines and Josh Labadie let fly from the edge of the box. His shot took a big deflection off Yorwerth which wrong-footed Glenn Morris and made it 1-1.
On the balance of play it was slightly harsh on Crawley but Dermot Drummy’s side stuck to their task and continued to try and open up Newport with passing football.
Morris came to their rescue a minute into the second half when he kept out a shot from substitute Rhys Healey and within two minutes Crawley were back in front. Smith swung over a free kick from the right and Yorwerth attacked the ball at the far post and planted a powerful header past Joe Day to make it 2-1.
Roberts was the creator of the third goal in the 52nd minute. Newport never really cleared his left-wing cross and Smith was able to take a touch just inside the box before firing a volley through a ruck of players and inside the post. He celebrated in front of his parents, lifting his shirt to reveal a tribute to his grandfather Jim, who had passed away earlier in the week.
At one stage in the second half three County players were booked inside seven minutes and Crawley had two chances to extend their lead. Blackman made a great surge forward from left back but the finish was lacking then in the 77th minute Roberts somehow scooped his volley wide of an open goal after Day had done well to parry Clifford’s shot.
The action was unrelenting and Morris earned his corn in the 80th minute with a fingertip save to push Sheehan’s drive onto the bar.
Newport had the chance to reduce the arrears in stoppage time when Healey was brought down in the box. But on an afternoon of terrific entertainment it was perhaps not surprising that Sheehan’s penalty hit the underside of the bar and he was penalised when he mistakenly tried to force the loose ball home instead of leaving it for an opponent.
Reds: Morris; Young, Blackman, Connolly, Yorwerth; Boldewijn (sub: Bawling 80), Smith, Payne, Roberts (Yussuf 86); Clifford (Djalo 90), Collins. Unused subs: Beeney, Davey, McNerney, Djalo.
Man of the match (chosen by Matt Cowdrey and Chestnut Tree House Hospice): Josh Yorwerth
Attendance: 2022 (168 Newport)