- Reds go close twice in first half
- Carlisle take lead early after the interval
- Visitors have two players dismissed
- Yorwerth also sees red in stoppage time
Referee Kevin Johnson was the busiest man on the pitch on Saturday afternoon, with three players sent off as the Reds slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Carlisle United.
Crawley had gone close twice in the first half through Jordan Roberts and Jimmy Smith, who were both found at the backpost by Enzio Boldewijn on seperate ocassions.
However Carlisle took the lead shortly after the break through a Hallam Hope header.
Richie Bennett saw red in the 74th minute for the visitors just 13 minutes after coming on which allowed a late Crawley surge, but United held firm for all three points.
There were also two further dismisals in the dying embers of the game, with Josh Yorwerth and Tom Parkes clashing from a home corner and being shown red, resulting in a flare up from both sets of players.
There were two changes to the side that hosted Newport County AFC in midweek, with Aryan Tajbakhsh and Ibrahim Meite dropping to the bench to make way for Dannie Bulman and Josh Payne.
With a clear back three in Mark Connolly, Josh Yorwerth, Josh Lelan, Head Coach Harry Kewell seemed to set his side out to interchange between a 3-5-2 when attacking and a 5-3-2 when defending. Cedric Evina and Lewis Young provided width and slotted in the defensive flanks, with Bulman, Payne and Jimmy Smith operating in the centre of the park. Leaving Jordan Roberts and Enzio Boldewijn to lead the line. Following Carlisle's goal, Harry Kewell reverted to a flat back four as he brought on Ibrahim Meite for Lelan, before a back three with no wing backs after Bennett's dismisal; with Panutche Camara on for Evina.
In a first half where chances were few and far between, Crawley's brightest spark was undoubtedly Boldewijn. Based on the opening 15 minutes, you could tell both sides had fallen to defeat on Tuesday as they looked to find their feet in the opening stages. The Reds rode a spell of pressure, at times causing their own problems with some sloppy passes in defence, notably allowing Hope a sniff at goal, but Glenn Morris got out well to stifle him. The hosts first chance came just past the 20 minute mark, when Boldewijn and Young exchanged smartly down the right side, before the former whipped in a perfect ball to the backpost to strike partner Roberts, whose effort was saved well down to his right by Jack Bonham. Seven minutes later and the Dutchman was causing United issues again, this time driving at Danny Grainger before finding an almost identical ball, the only difference being the man on the end of it, as Smith was denied his fifth goal of the season thanks to a good save.
Second half stutter...
Just as there was a literal stutter to the restart with the referee wanting kick off taken again, the was one for the Reds too. Five minutes in ex-Red Nicky Adams' deep cross found Hope at the same back post Crawley had twice been denied at, allowing the frontman to head home. An immediate response was lacking from the hosts, with the Cumbrians pressing the issue in search of a second.
Red in favour of Red...
Kewell's men were given a helping hand for the final 15 minutes, when United substitute Bennett was issued a justified straight red card for an elbow on Yorwerth. Kewell immediately introduced Camara for Evina after the dismisal, having already brought Meite on for Lelan 15 minutes before to give his side more attacking potency as they searched for an equaliser. The Reds probed for a goal but United camped in their box as expected and repelled everything Crawley threw at them. There was also late drama in the final minutes of stoppage time, when Yorwerth and Parkes were involved in a flare up following a Reds corner and were subsequently both sent off, causing a tense and heated end to the game.
Reds XI: Morris, Young, Connolly, Yorwerth, Lelan (Meite, 61), Evina (Camara, 77), Bulman (Sanoh, 87), Smith, Payne, Boldewijn, Roberts.
Unused subs: Mersin, Doherty, Tajbakhsh, Randall.
Attendance: 2,021 (356 away).