McCartan goal sends Reds to 1-0 defeat at Accrington Stanley
Reds were unable to prevent League 2’s in-form team Accrington Stanley from extending their unbeaten run to 15 games with a narrow Easter Monday win at the Wham Stadium.
Shay McCartan netted the only goal two minutes into the second half and the hosts protected their advantage tigerishly, with Josh Payne’s 25-yarder, which was parried by Marek Rodak, the closest Crawley came to an equaliser.
The visitors had plenty of the ball and were neat and tidy in possession but it was another tight game – and there have been a few of them in recent weeks – in which Reds were unable to turn decent possession into something tangible. Accrington protected their lead well.
The visitors had made a decent start as they took the game to Stanley in the early stages. James Collins, back after suspension, dragged an early effort wide after a clearance had come off defender Omar Beckles then Kaby Djalo sprung forward after winning possession to find Dean Cox who cut inside but side-footed wide.
The hosts then had a decent spell with Glenn Morris making three saves in as many minutes, all of them routine, from two efforts by Billy Kee and an ambitious 35-yard free kick by Stanley’s set-piece specialist McCartan.
Both sides’ attempts to play passing football was inhibited by a poor pitch and then a couple of mistakes by the visitors gifted Accrington a couple of chances.
McCartan burst through to find Sean McConville in space but he volleyed wide with only Morris to beat. Kaby then gave the ball away and Matty Pearson’s pass put Key in but Morris stood up and blocked his effort.
Just before the break Stanley defender Mark Hughes was booked for handling a thunderous effort from Payne, but the midfielder’s free kick from a central position 20 yards out clipped a defender.
It had been a decent first period for Crawley but within two minutes of the re-start they found themselves behind. Kee threaded a pass forward and as Crawley appealed for offside McCartan clipped the ball over Morris and into an empty net. Morris was hurt by McCartan’s trailing boot and needed lengthy treatment before he was able to continue with a heavily bandaged bonce.
Joe McNerney was booked for bringing down McCartan, who failed to keep his free kick on target, before Reds made a double change with Jordan Roberts and Billy Clifford replacing Dean Cox and Kaby Djalo with 62 minutes played.
Stanley were content to soak up what pressure Reds could mount and try to spring forward on the break in search of a clinching second as the game entered its final 15 minutes.
It nearly came in the 79th minute when McCartan’s curler from the left-hand edge of the box hit the far post before being scrambled to safety.
Stanley keeper Rodak was then called into action for the first time in the second half when he parried Payne’s 25-yarder into the path of Collins, who skied the loose ball over the bar. Reds huffed and puffed in the closing stages but were unable to create another clear-cut chance.
Reds: Morris; Young, McNerney, Connolly, Blackman; Boldewijn, Payne, Djalo (Clifford 62), Cox (Roberts 62); Smith (Murphy 82); Collins. Unused subs: Mersin, Garnett, Lelan, Bawling.
Attendance: 1652 (55 Crawley)