Yeovil Town 1 Crawley Town 2 - Randall and Verheydt win it against nine men after drone stops play for ten minutes
If the rest of our games in 2018 are as eventful as the first one there will be few complaints after a dramatic afternoon at Huish Park ended with Reds sealing their third win in four Christmas fixtures thanks to an 87th-minute goal from substitute Thomas Verheydt.
The Dutchman headed in Jimmy Smith’s cross to end the dogged resistance of a home side who played for most of the second half with nine men after Connor Smith and Omar Sowunmi were both sent off.
Mark Randall had equalised Sam Surridge’s early goal for the hosts at a venue where Reds have never previously won in the League.
Harry Kewell threw on three-attack minded players in an effort to make their numerical advantage count but with ten minutes to go referee Brett Huxtable took both teams off the pitch - because a drone was circling overhead.
The incident was eventually dealt with after a ten-minute delay, which had given the stretched home side a much-needed breather. But Crawley weren’t to be denied and Verheydt’s second goal of the season lifted his side up to 16th in the table – ten points off the play-offs and 13 above the bottom two.
Harry Kewell had made two changes to the side that had beaten Stevenage on Saturday with Cedric Evina returning at left-back and Jimmy Smith, after serving a three-match ban, coming in for the suspended Josh Payne.
Both sides were playing their fourth game in nine days but Yeovil, having last played on Friday, had the benefit of an extra day’s rest leading into the contest and it showed in the way they took the game to the visitors early on.
Sam Surridge and Jake Gray both had early chances before their pressure paid off in the 18th minute when Surridge finished well after Reds failed to clear a cross from Southampton loanee Olo Olomola.
But the complexion of the contest changed when Smith, who’d already been booked for a foul, was shown a second yellow and sent off for a bad challenge on Josh Yorwerth.
Reds had a route back into the contest and they levelled just before the break when Randall, who has come close to scoring several times in recent weeks, latched onto Jordan Roberts’ cross to volley home his first goal for the club with expert precision.
Mr Huxtable's chances of winning a popularity contest in west Somerset diminished even further just before the break when he showed Sowumni a straight red for a challenge on Roberts as the winger bore down on goal. The hosts claimed it wasn’t a clear goalscoring opportunity but he had to go and Yeovil were down to nine men for the second half.
Kewell reverted to a back three and the closing stages resembled a game of attack v defence as Reds probed and pushed and Yeovil funnelled eight men behind the ball at the first sign of danger.
Enzio Boldewijn and Roberts were off target but for all their possession Crawley struggled to create clear-cut chances and when a drone started buzzing overhead and Mr Huxtable took the teams off in the 80th minute, Crawley were probably just as glad to regroup and listen to their manager plead for patience.
The winner was a simple enough goal though. Smith knocked the ball into the six-yard box from the right-hand corner of the box and Verheydt rose between two defenders to guide a simple header inside the right-hand post. The striker certainly hadn’t needed to leap as high as the drone to score.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Crawley at the moment without a late intervention from Glenn Morris who made a superb save down to his right to keep out Tom James’ volley, after he had been found by ex-Red Ryan Dickson.
Ibrahim Meite should have put some gloss on the score-ine late on but missed horribly when he only had the keeper to beat from Randall’s unselfish pass.
No matter. Reds have now won five of their last eight games and can look forward to a few days rest before returning to action on January 13 at home to Barnet.
Reds: Morris; Young, Connolly, Lelan (Meite 38), Yorwerth (Verheydt 73), Evina (Sannoh 61), Bulman, Randall, Young, Smith, Boldewijn, Roberts. Unused subs: Mersin, Clifford,
Attendance: 2635 (92 away)
Booked: Morris, Randall, Young, Roberts