Crawley Town succumbed to a second successive home defeat, losing 5-3 to Cheltenham Town on a crazy amd controversial afternoon at the Checkatrade Stadium.
Eight goals was the highest aggregate in a Crawley Town League game and at least Reds kept going. At 5-1 down just after half-time they might have folded completely, but instead scored twice and had other oppprtunities to score.
Harry Kewell made two changes to the side that lost to Wycombe Wanderers on Wednesday, with Josh Yorwerth and Mark Randall coming in for Mark Connolly and Josh Payne
Crawley made a bright start to the game, but an early free-kick was fired just over the bar by Karlan Ahearne-Grant. Cheltenham then began to show some assertiveness and got a sixth-minute reward when Harry Pell regained possession after Reds gave the ball away and drove forward unchallenged before curling in from nearly 25 yards.
Ahearne-Grant had the chance to level minutes later but spurned the opportunity just inside the area. The visitors then made it 2-0 although there was plenty of controversy surrounding the goal.
Mohamed Eisa seemed to have handled the ball on the touchline but neither the assistant or referee spotted it and Eisa ran through on goal and was fouled by Josh Yorwerth in the box. Pell stepped up to take the penalty and saw it saved by Glenn Morris but he reacted quickest to tuck away the rebound.
Reds were rocked after conceding two goals in the first 12 minutes and struggled for any cohesion in their play in the opening third of the game.
Cheltenham had opportunities to put the game out of sight but a heavy touch from Kevin Dawson saw his chance snuffed out by Glenn Morris. The Robins wouldn’t be denied however. This time, In the 36th minute, after more poor defending, Pell turned provider for an onrushing Eisa who rounded Morris and calmly tucked the ball away to make it 3-0.
Crawley finished the half strongly but two shots from Jimmy Smith and Mark Randall were both saved by Scott Flinders.
Reds needed a quick response in the second half but instead found themselves 4-0 down in the 47th minute. It was too easy for Eisa to control a long ball in a gaping hole in the home defence and round Morris to score his second from a tight angle.
Crawley however, managed to capitalise on a lapse of concentration from Cheltenham when a brilliant cross from Randall was brought under control by Ahearne-Grant who managed to wriggle his way past a defender before squirming the ball home under Flinders to make it 4-1 in the 50th minute. It was the loanee's eighth goal in nine games and makes him joint-top leading goalscorer in the League with Jimmy Smith.
But any hopes of a comeback ended three minutes later the visitors made it 5-1 when a corner was headed home unchallenged by Will Boyle. Eisa then had the chance to complete his hat-trick but his curled effort could only rattle the post.
Reds rallied in the closing stages and pulled two goals back.
Camara netted for the second successive game when he headed in Ahearne-Grant's right-wing cross in the 73rd minutes.
Reds got yet another goal back five minutes from time when Camara’s bouncing shot could only be parried away by Flinders into the path of Lewis Young who slotted under the keeper for his first League goal at the Checkatrade.
In a crazy finale McNerney and Young came desperately close to scoring and although Reds finished on top, and 'won' the second half 3-2 they had left themselves with too much to do.
Crawley Town: Glenn Morris; Lewis Young, Joe McNerney, Josh Yorwerth (Tajbakhsh 67), Cedric Evina (Roberts 61); Enzio Boldewijn, Jimmy Smith, Dannie Bulman, Mark Randall, Karlan Ahearne-Grant; Panutche Camara
Subs not used: Yusuf Mersin (GK), Moussa Sanoh, Josh Payne, Josh Lelan, Kaby Djalo
Picture: Lewis Young celebrates after scoring his first League goal at home. Photo by James Boardman