Stevenage 0 Crawley Town 1Reds dug deep to claim their first away win since October in Sky Bet League Two at the Lamex Stadium on Saturday.
Mark Yates had rung the changes with five alterations to the team beaten at home by Mansfield last Saturday.
Paul Jones made his return in goal at the start of his loan spell and there were recalls for Jon Ashton, Chris Atkinson, Roarie Deacon and Gavin Tomlin in a 3-5-2 with Bobson Bawling and Deacon in the wing-back roles and Gwion Edwards partnering Matt Harrold up front.
With Lee Barnard ruled out because of a sore neck, Reds could only name five substitutes.
The hosts, under the caretaker management of Darren Sarll, also made five alternations to the team beaten 2-1 at York last time out. Ex-Reds’ loanee Keith Keane was on the bench.
Neither side came into the contest in any great form. Reds had won just one of their previous six and the hosts were winless in eight and for the first 44 minutes that collective lack of confidence was evident in front of goal.
Neither team was helped by a strong, blustery wind but at times the ball was treated like a hot potato as both teams struggled to create anything clear-cut.
minute after he’d been found by Bawling but his shot was straight at the Stevenage keeper.thEdwards did test Jamie Jones in the 16
minute for their first effort on goal. Tom Pett found Pat Hoban 25 yards out and the midfielder hit a first-time shot with his right foot which Jones tipped over at full stretch.thThe hosts had to wait until the 39
, who slid in at the far post to score from close range.HarroldThen, totally out of keeping with what had gone on before, Reds went in front with s well-worked goal. Tomlin’s pass found Deacon in space and he attacked the box before picking out
It was a precious advantage, given that Stevenage had the elements behind them in the second half, and Reds nearly scored again two minutes after the break when Edwards and Josh Yorwerth were inches from getting a decisive touch to Tomlin’s free kick from the left.
Not surprisingly, given the conditions, Stevenage tried to get the ball forward as much as possible but the visitors, effectively playing five at the back to try and cope with the bombardment, stood firm.
minute though. A free kick fell nicely for him 15 yards out but his right-foot shot flashed a yard wide of the post.thPett should have equalised in the 70
minute for a foul on substitute Offranda Zanzala.thReferee Gavin Ward tried to get the game flowing but a succession of free kicks did not help improve the quality of the spectacle and Ward eventually reached for his yellow card to book Yorwerth in the 75
minute when Charlie Lee met Parrett’s corner at the near post and the Reds’ keeper instinctively parried the ball behind.thPaul Jones had had little to do but he produced great reflexes in the 79
Stevenage skipper Ronnie Henry forced Jones into action at the start of stoppage time when the keeper got down smartly to block his low drive. Deacon cleared when Pett tried to latch onto the loose ball amid half-hearted appeals for a penalty.
That was it from the hosts and at the end the magnificently vocal away fans gave their raucous approval to a committed performance from their side.