A rare Lewis Young goal was not enough to avoid defeat as the Reds went down 2-1 to Oldham Athletic at a wintery Boundary Park.
Crawley started brightly and were good value for their half time lead, but a resurgent Oldham were quickly on level terms in the second 45 before scoring the eventual winner just short of the hour mark. The Reds had their chances, but ultimately left Greater Manchester licking their wounds.
Reds Boss Yems was forced into one change from the side that drew blank against Port Vale last weekend with Tarryn Allarakhia coming in to replace the injured Reece Grego-Cox whilst the hosts made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 to Swindon last time out.
The Reds started brightly with some good work from Ashley Nathaniel-George resulting in a cross that evaded the on rushing Ollie Palmer inside the first minute. The following ten minutes saw both teams attempt to get a foothold in the game, and it was the hosts with the first clear cut chance of the game. Azankpo was neatly played in behind the Crawley backline - he rounded Morris in the Reds goal, but had his effort blocked by the recovering Jordan Tunnicliffe. On the quarter of an hour mark, Reds were again put under pressure from the hosts with McCann scooping a ball over the top for Akpa-Akpro. With snow falling on the ball, the forward was unable to tuck home from all of 6 yards, but had his blushes spared with the linesman raising his flag for offside.
After this short spell of Latics pressure, the Reds began to grow into the game and looked dangerous out wide with Nathaniel-George & Bez Lubala both looking lively. However on the 18th minute the Reds took the lead from an unlikely source. Having played a neat one-two with Lubala out on the wide right, the galivanting Lewis Young burst towards the edge of the Oldham box before neatly side footing into the bottom left hand corner in off the Latics post. Having grabbed the advantage in Greater Manchester, the Reds continued to plug away looking for goal number two, however it was the hosts that came closer to equalising. In the 38th minute after a sliced clearance from McNerney had gifted the home side a corner, Azankpo was again unable to direct his acrobatic effort goal bound after a knockdown from veteran David Wheater. The Reds finished the half much like they started however, with Nathaniel-George blazing an effort just over the bar having dropped his shoulder to gain a yard on the left hand corner of the Oldham penalty area.
The hosts started the half lightning quick with successive corners and within 5 minutes of the second half were level. Smith floated in an inviting ball from the corner with David Wheater there to level for the hosts and get the game back on level terms. From then on in the hosts had the grit between their teeth, and had it not been for Morris being smart off his line, could have done further damage for the Reds, after Azankpo was slid through by MOTM Smith. However on the 57th min, the home pressure told. The ball broke to first half sub Wilson after a heavy challenge on Allarakhia went unpunished. The forward played in Maouche who was able to slip the ball past Morris and send the hosts in front. Straight from kick off, Reds went on the attack and after being played in by Nathaniel-George, Allarakhia was perhaps unlucky to see his effort clip the foot of the post. Head Coach John Yems made his first change of the afternoon on the 66th minute with Bloomfield replacing Allarakhia, and the Norwich loanee almost made an instant impact. Having received the ball off of Palmer, Bloomfield burst towards the Latics goal, shrugging off multiple challenges, but couldn’t keep his effort down. Reds kept plugging away looking for an equaliser and came close right at the death with Young cutting back to Lubala on the edge of the area. However the former Birmingham man couldn’t sort his feet and the chance went begging.
Crawley Town: Morris, Young, Doherty, McNerney, Palmer, Ferguson, Nathaniel-George (Camara 82’), Allarakhia (Bloomfield 59’), Tunnicliffe, Bulman©, Lubala
Attendance:2,737 (55 Crawley Town fans)
Pictured: Lewis Young celebrates having put the Reds 1-0 up (ProSportsImages)