Charlton Athletic vs Crawley Town
Crawley are through to the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy after goals from Adi Yussuf and James Collins either side of half-time sealed a second win out of two in Southern Group E at the Valley.
Yussuf scored his third in four games a minute before the break and Collins bagged his sixth of the season five minutes after coming on at half-time.
Reds have already beaten Colchester in the competition so qualification is assured even before their visit to St Mary’s to face Southampton at the beginning of November.
Reds made six changes to Saturday’s winning team against Blackpool as Dermot Drummy carried out his plan to give game time to some of his squad in Crawley’s first competitive meeting with Charlton.
In came Mitchell Beeney, the day after his 21st birthday, Alex Davey, Chris Arthur, Bobson Bawling, Aryan Tajbakhsh and Jason Banton while a strong bench included five-goal James Collins and skipper Jimmy Smith. Lewis Young captained the side.
Reds played some neat and tidy stuff in the early stages without creating much and gradually the home side, whose attack was led by ex-Reds loanee Nicky Ajose, began to create chances, although Beeney didn’t have a serious save to make in the first half.
Instead, he watched Lee Holmes’ left-foot effort, a volley by Andrew Crofts and Roger Johnson’s close-range header all go over the bar.
There was an opening for Crawley in the 29th minute when Banton won the ball off Ezra Konsi but couldn’t pick out Yussuf with his pass. Ajose side-footed over shortly afterwards after good work by Crofts but a minute before the break Reds took the lead.
Yussuf dispossessed left-back Morgan Fox and cut into the box before beating keeper Dillon Phillips with a powerful shot for his third goal in four games.
Jimmy Smith replaced Kaby Djalo at the break and within two minutes of the re-start goalscorer Yussuf hurt his hamstring and Collins came on.
The sub made an immediate impact when he doubled Crawley’s lead five minutes into the second half. Bobson Bawling made the goal with burst down the right and although his cross was slightly behind Collins, the striker managed to get enough power on his shot and beat Phillips, who clawed the ball back out but only after it had crossed the line.
Phillips then made a terrible attempt at taking a high ball and Smith’s low shot was deflected wide of goal by a Charlton defender as Reds looked for a third goal to kill the tie.
The home side made a double change on the hour with Crofts and Fox replaced by Karlan Ahearne-Grant and Joe Aribo but although Charlton continued to enjoy good spells of possession they were struggling to test Beeney, even when Ajose won a free kick in a central position 22 yards out which he hammered straight into the defensive wall.
Reds were a threat on the break and Banton created a decent opening for Smith in the 70th minute but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot on target from the edge of the box.
The visitors needed the bravery of Arthur to keep their goal intact with 12 minutes to go when the left-back superbly blocked Ahearne-Grant’s right-foot drive from 10 yards as Charlton looked for a way back into the tie.
Reds made their final change in the 82nd minute when defender Danny Pappoe came on to make his debut with Mark Connolly going off.
Charlton had the chance to pull a goal back with two minutes to go when Banton’s push on Brandon Hanlan was spotted by referee James Linington, who awarded a penalty. It looked a tad harsh but justice was done when Beeney plunged to his left to push out Lee Novak’s spot kick.
Alex Davey, who’d had a terrific game in the centre of defence, then blocked successive Novak shots before Beeney denied Joe Aribo. But there was no way through for the hosts and a few moments later Reds and the 182 fans in a crowd of 1,186 could celebrate an excellent performance and result to match.