Connolly strikes as Reds rise to fifth
Mark Connolly scored his first goal of the season – and first for Reds since December 2013 – to settle a hard-fought encounter against Blackpool and help Crawley climb to fifth place in the Sky Bet EFL 2 table.
The defender beat Blackpool goalkeeper Dean Lyness in the 69th minute with a close-range header after Billy Clifford’s corner had been flicked on by Joe McNerney.
Although Glenn Morris made two good saves – one in each half – from Danny Philliskirk and Armand Gnanduillet, Reds had the better opportunities with Adi Yussuf, twice, and James Collins both going close as Crawley fought hard to pick up three deserved points.
Dermot Drummy named the same starting XI that drew 1-1 with Colchester United but there was one change on the bench, as Mitchell Beeney replaced Yusuf Mersin as the goalkeeper in reserve.
The home side started the brighter, and it took just two minutes for the Reds to create the first chance of the game.
Clifford found himself with time and space on the edge of the area, but he could only drag his shot wide of Lyness’s left-hand post.
He shot wide again five minutes later when he picked up the ball in space – the ball flew harmlessly over Lyness’ goal this time.
Blackpool’s first chance of the game fell to Danny Philliskirk at the far post, but his effort was well held by Morris.
Yussuf’s flicked header kept Lyness busy once more as the game ebbed and flowed in the early stages.
The next opening of the contest came for the home side, as the teams continued to trade opportunities. Jimmy Smith’s cross from the right was wonderfully weighted to meet the arriving Enzio Boldewijn in the centre, but the Dutchman’s header flew wide.
The visitors were forced into a change when captain Andy Taylor was withdrawn for Colin Daniel with blood pouring from his nose – and the substitute’s driven cross evaded everyone in the centre soon after his introduction which was a let off for the home defence.
Andre Blackman did really well to track back and block a Brad Potts cross from a dangerous position on the half hour mark as Gary Bowyer’s men began to get into the contest.
Five minutes before the break Collins was agonisingly close to putting the home side ahead.
A flowing move involving Young, Clifford and Yussuf’s dummy ended in the striker being presented with an opening in the area – but he curled his effort narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
The last action of the half saw Yussuf again go close, this time heading Kaby Djalo’s cross from the left wide as the two teams went in level at the interval.
Connolly picked up a yellow card early in the second half for a foul on Kyle Vassell five minutes after the restart as the half struggled to come to life.
The best chance of the game for the hosts followed shortly afterwards when Yussuf set Boldewijn in on goal. The winger raced clear of the visiting defence and into the area – only to see Lyness block his shot as he spread himself well.
Dermot Drummy then made his first change of the game approaching the hour-mark as Yussuf was replaced by Jason Banton on the right-hand side.
Bowyer responded by making one of his own – Jamille Matt came on for the lively Vassell in a straight swap in attack for the Seasiders.
It was shortly followed by Bright Osayi-Samuel replacing Philliskirk as the Tangerines made their final change.
Morris was called into action on 66 minutes when he flew away to his right superbly to parry away Gnanduillet’s curling effort after the striker had worked himself space cleverly on the edge of the area.
But it was the Reds who were soon ahead after CONNOLLY grabbed his first goal in a Crawley shirt since returning to the club for a second spell.
Clifford’s corner was flicked on at the near post by McNerney, and Connolly beat Lyness to the ball at the far post to bundle it home and hand the home side the advantage.
Thereafter Crawley had to withstand some heavy late pressure from their opponents – much in the same way as Tuesday evening – but a combination of Glenn Morris and the home defence kept the lead intact and restricted Blackpool to relatively few opportunities.
Collins then produced a spectacular chip on from the right-hand side of the area, but the ball sailed just wide of Lyness’s back post and the Reds advantage remained at just one goal.
That’s how the game finished after five minutes of stoppage time as Reds made it four game unbeaten.
Man of the Match: Jimmy Smith – chosen by Match Sponsors KRL