Boldewijn and Randall on target as Reds make it five wins out of six
Reds made it five wins from their last six League 2 games with a hard-fought success over Accrington Stanley on a wet and windy afternoon at the Checkatrade.
Enzio Boldewijn and Mark Randall established a 2-0 lead for Reds in the opening 33 minutes before Stanley, who had won their previous four games, got back into the game through Jimmy Smith’s bizarre own goal in the second half.
The first period had been full of chances with Josh Payne hitting the bar and Glenn Morris producing another man of the match display for Reds. There was less goalmouth action in the second half but four days after beating second-placed Notts County resurrgent Reds claimed another big scalp.
Harry Kewell made one change to the side which won 2-1 at second-placed Notts County on Tuesday with Randall replacing Dannie Bulman, who dropped to the bench.
After Payne and Sean McConville had squandered early free kicks from promising positions the visitors were twice denied by Morris, who stood firm to block Jordan Clark’s shot and then, after another good move by Stanley, he kept out McConville’s angled effort.
But Reds broke the deadlock in the 15th minute with a rare header by Boldewijn. The creator was Mark Connolly, whose cross from wide on the right was headed on by the Dutchman from 15 yards out and the ball flew into the top corner.
Top scorer Billy Kee threatened a response from the visitors when he beat Josh Lelan to Jordan Clark’s cross but headed a yard wide.
Reds then stepped up a gear. Boldewijn broke clear on the half-hour only to be denied by Arron Chapman’s outstretched left leg. The Dutchman then found Payne in space 20 yards out and the midfielder’s volley struck the top of the bar.
But Crawley, who were playing some excellent passing football, were not to be denied and doubled their lead in the 33rd minute. Boldewijn was the creator this time, fizzing a low ball across the face of goal from the left which was turned over the line by Randall.
Stanley continued to threaten and had two more sights of goal before the end of an entertaining first half, Morris pushing away Kayden Jackson’s effort before he tipped a rising drive from McConville over the bar.
The visitors had probably deserved a goal but when they did get on the scoresheet in the 57th minute it came through a bizarre own goal. Connolly did superbly to dispossess McConville on the edge of the six-yard box but but then Josh Payne’s clearance cannoned off the back of Smith and flew into the top left-hand corner.
The visitors had their tails up and McConville was denied by a combination of Yorwerth and Morris when he seemed certain to equalise.
From looking comfortable with a two-goal lead Reds were now under pressure and Morris dived full length to his right to save McConville’s drive as Stanley sought an equaliser.
But Crawley utilised their pace on the counter and one raid ended with Lewis Young fizzing away a shot that Chapman pushed out before Accrington cleared their lines. Connolly then met Randall’s inswinging free kick but couldn’t keep his header down before Morris plunged full-length to his right to make a terrific save from Kee’s header – a save that the Bruce Winfield Stand greeted with a chorus of “England’s No.1!”
After five minutes of stoppage time the home fans could celebrate another three points.
Reds: Morris; Lelan, Connolly, Yorwerth, Doherty; Young, Payne (Bulman 78), Smith, Randall (Tajbakhsh 90), Boldewijn; Verheydt. Unused subs: Mersin, McNerney, Evina, Sanoh, Camara.
Attendance: 2153 (72 Accrington)
Pictured: Reds mob Enzio Boldewijn after he put Reds in front. Photo: James Boardman