- Set pieces the order of the night in scrappy contest.
- Reds surrender lead after Mark Connolly opened the scoring.
- Substitute Josh Payne inches from equalising with post-rattling free-kick.
Newport County AFC overturned Mark Connolly's opener to take all three points at the Checkatrade Stadium on Tuesday evening as they prevailed 2-1 winners in West Sussex.
Connolly drew first blood as the centre half looped a header over Joe Day with 30 minutes gone, before Mickey Demetriou scored almost identical headers either side of the break to give County the victory.
Josh Payne struck the post from a free kick in the second half as Crawley searched for an equaliser, but the visitors held firm in a game of long balls and dogged defensive work.
Head Coach Harry Kewell made no changes from the side that won late at Barnet on Saturday, thanks to Jimmy Smith's late winnner.
Similarly with the line up, the formation too stayed the same as Kewell opted for a back three, supported on either side with wing backs in the form of Lewis Young and Cedric Evina.
Smith and Aryan Tajbakhsh held down the centre of the park to allow the attacking trio of Enzio Boldewijn, Jordan Roberts and Ibrahim Meite to interchange in the final third.
Josh Payne's introduction with just under 30 minutes to go, saw the Reds revert to a 4-3-3, with Josh Lelan moving to right back following Young's omission.
Set pieces and scrappage
The first half in particular offered little in the way of fluid football, with the physical visitors very keen to turn the game into a dogged battle.
The Reds looked the most threatening going forward, and despite attempting to play their passing game, proved a threat from dead balls.
This showed on the half hour mark after Crawley were yet to find a way through via Kewell's favoured free flowing football, when they took the lead via a set piece.
Boldewijn angled a free kick in from deep that was latched onto by Connolly at the back stick, with the Irishman guiding a perfectly weighted looping header over the County keeper.
The hosts lead only lasted nine minutes, with Newport demonstrating set piece prowess of their own as Demtriou towered above the rest from a corner, to nod home from inside the six-yard box.
The same man gave his side the lead shortly after the restart, heading home in almost identical fashion, again from a corner.
Storm before the break
The Exiles seemed galvanised by their leveller, and put the Reds under a dosage of pressure in the remaining minutes of the first half.
Robbie Wilmott almost scored a goal of the season contender when he volleyed from distance on the turn and clipped Glenn Morris' upright.
Sean Rigg had a chance of his own moments later, as he rode challenges from Josh Yorwerth and Connolly to set up a one-on-one with Morris, but put his shot over the bar.
Search for the second
After taking the lead County seemed comfortable, and consequently Kewell endeavoured to change things up.
Payne's introduction on 62 minutes saw a change of system to 4-3-3, and the midfielder almost proved himself to be a super sub.
Set pieces again proved significant as the former Eastleigh man whipped a superb free kick goalwrds from 25-yards, but his effort could only crash off the post.
With 20 minutes remaining and an equaliser proving elusive, Kewell took another roll of the dice as he brought on Panutche Camara in place of Meite.
Newport had been happy to play long all evening, and the Reds late direct efforts seem to play into their hands.
Yorwerth had the best and last chance in stoppage time, after the Welshman had gone forward and got on the end of Smith's cross, but his header was marginally wide.
Reds XI: Morris, Yorwerth, Lelan, Connolly, Young (Payne, 62), Evina, Smith, Tajbakhsh (Randall, 80), Boldewijn, Roberts, Meite (Camara, 71).
Unused subs: Morris, Doherty, Bulman, Sanoh.
Attendance: 1,455 (75 away)