First-half goals sentence Reds to only their second defeat in ten games
Reds slipped to 11th in the Sky Bet EFL 2 table after they went down 2-0 in a hard-fought contest with Forest Green Rovers at the New Lawn.
First-half goals from Reuben Reid and Christian Doidge did the damage as the hosts chalked up a fifth successive home win and Harry Kewell’s side slipped to only their second defeat in the last ten games. The other eight have been victories and Reds will be looking to bounce back next Saturday at home to promotion-chasing Wycombe.
Kewell made one change from last week’s win against Lincoln, the injured Thomas Verheydt being replaced by Jordan Roberts as the Reds lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Both sides started brightly and Crawley’s main threat was Enzio Boldewijn. The Dutchman got the better of his marker, Haydn Hollis, twice in the opening 10 minutes.
But it was the home side who struck first when Dale Bennett crossed from the right for striker Reid to head in from close range in the 10th minute.
Crawley responded well with Jimmy Smith turning brilliantly in the middle of the park before laying off to Lewis Young for a run at the Forest Green defence, but the right-back had to slow down the attack as Rovers got men back and the move fizzled out.
Morris made a save from Doidge before the Red Devils had their best opportunity of the game after 20 minutes when Karlan Ahearne-Grant managed to brilliantly hook a through ball to Jimmy Smith, but the midfielder’s volley was smothered by goalkeeper Bradley Collins.
In the 27th minute, and against the run of play, Forest Green doubled their lead when Dayle Grubb managed to maraud his way down the left before picking out a low cross for Doidge to turn into the net.
As Crawley searched for a goal to get them back into the game, Forest Green could have grabbed a third when Grubb broke away once again, only for his pass to be too strong for Doidge. Ahearne-Grant looked like Crawley’s biggest threat, but it was Smith who came closest to getting that elusive goal back before the break when his curled effort was deflected just past the post.
Crawley started the second half with real purpose while Forest Green looked to counter and protect their lead.
Doidge lashed a shot over before the hosts nearly lit the game up with a moment of magic when Grubb had hit a curler while falling over on the edge of the box, but the ball hit the left-hand post before Reds hacked it clear.
Josh Yorwerth then made an excellent defensive block to deny Reid and although Reds continued to work hard to try and get back into the game they created few clear-cut chances. Sub Aryan Tajbakhsh lifted a shot over from a good position late on but it turned out to be a frustrating afternoon for the visitors, who struggled to hit the heights they have shown in recent games.
Reds: Glenn Morris; Lewis Young, Mark Connolly, Josh Yorwerth, Josh Doherty (sub: Tajbakhsh, 62); Josh Payne; Karlan Ahearne-Grant, Jimmy Smith, Mark Randall (sub: Evina 45), Enzio Boldewijn; Jordan Roberts.
Unused subs: Yusuf Mersin (GK), Joe McNerney, Cedric Evina (Randall, 45), Dannie Bulman, Josh Lelan, Moussa Sanoh
Attendance: 2346 (243 Crawley fans)
Pictured: Enzio Boldewijn puts pressure on the home defence. Photo by James Boardman, of Telephoto Images