Crawley endure an afternoon to forget at Huish Park
Reds suffered a fourth successive away defeat in EFL2 on a hugely disappointing afternoon at Huish Park.
The optimism engendered by last week’s excellent win and performance Grimsby had disappeared within 40 minutes as the home side raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Tom Eaves, Ryan Hedges and Otis Khan.
Any hopes of a glorious fightback were over within seven minutes of the re-start when Khan scored his second while substitute Francois Zoko’s volley to make it 5-0 and condemn Reds to their heaviest defeat since the home setback by the same score against Doncaster in February 2015.
And it said much about the visitors’ performance that man of the match was probably goalkeeper Glenn Morris, who made some fine stops including a world-class save to deny Eaves in the first half.
It didn’t help Head Coach Dermot Drummy that he had to make two enforced changes to the side which beat Grimsby as Lewis Young and Josh Yorwerth served one-match bans for accumulating five bookings. Aryan Tajbakhsh, at right back, and Alex Davey came in while Sanchez Watt was included in a League squad for the first time since Reds clinched promotion to League One at Accrington in May 2012, when the striker was on loan from Arsenal.
Huish Park has never been a happy hunting ground for Crawley and it didn’t take long for the 79 travelling fans to get the sense that their latest sojourn down the A303 was going to be another painful experience.
Yeovil played like a side unbeaten in 11 – soon to be 12 – from the start. Reds were never allowed to settle into any rhythm and in Eaves the hosts had a very effective target man to play off. Before play Yeovil had only scored 19 League goals in 19 games but by the end of the afternoon, and thanks in part to some generous defending, they had handsomely improved on that statistic.
The former Bolton striker once scored an Easter Monday hat-trick against Crawley for Shrewsbury in 2013 and it took him just 16 minutes to break the deadlock, with an instinctive close-range finish. Khan had cut into space on the left but his low drive looked to be curling wide of the post until Eaves adroitly back-heeled it past the helpless Glenn Morris from six yards.
On the road in recent weeks Reds have often been their own worst enemies and dilatory defending cost them a second goal in the 29th minute. Khan’s diagonal ball from the left was flicked on by Eaves, as Davey went to ground trying to challenge for the ball. Blackman was then left exposed by Hedges who reacted quickest to the loose ball and slammed it past Morris.
The Crawley keeper produced a stupendous reaction save ten minutes later to keep out Eaves’ header. Even then it was a miracle that Yeovil didn’t score again as Eaves hit the underside of the bar with a half-volley and Kevin Dawson blasted the loose ball over the bar when he ought to have least got it on target.
But it was a short-lived reprieve for the harassed visitors’ defence, who were once again cut open down their left-hand side. Hedges had too much space to find Khan with a cut-back and Khan’s powerful finish flashed past Morris to make it 3-0 three minutes before the break. Game over.
Reds had offered little at the other end in the first half. Jordan Roberts looked their brightest attacking spark, firing over after a good move involving Billy Clifford and Adi Yussuf and lifting a free kick wide but the only moment of alarm in the home defence in the first 45 minutes came when Liam Shephard’s clearance cannoned off a team-mate and rolled just wide of the post.
To make matters worse, Josh Payne, Davey and Tasjbakhsh were all booked and within three minutes of the re-start they were joined in referee Breakspear’s little black book by Mark Connolly and Adi Yussuf.
Yussuf had been penalised for a foul 25 yards out and Khan nearly profited, curling a free kick a yard of the left-hand post with Morris beaten.
But it wasn’t long before Yeovil were celebrating a fourth goal on 52 minutes. Bobson Bawling - a half-time replacement for Tajbakhsh – was caught in no man’s land and Hedges raced into empty space inside the box. Morris produced another instinctive save to keep out his shot but had no chance when Khan swept the loose ball into the bottom corner.
With Enzio Boldewijn having come on for Blackman at the break, Reds made their final change when Henderson replaced Roberts in the 62nd minute but it was a case of damage limitation now and Yeovil struck again in the 74th minute to make it 5-0. Khan lofted a ball inside Henderson on the left and Zoko, who had only just come on for Eaves, beat Morris with a volley from about ten yards.
Yeovil captain Ryan Dickson was booked for a hefty late challenge on Collins but that would have mattered little to the former Crawley player. His side are in the top six while Reds have to regroup fast before facing Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena on Wednesday in the second round of the Checkatrade Trophy.
Tom Eaves celebrates after putting Yeovil in front after 16 minutes