Reds came from behind to seal a 2-1 win over Colchester United after a pulsating second-half display at The People’s Pension Stadium.
Trailing to Luke Prosser’s first-half header, Crawley turned it around in impressive style after the break with Reece Grego-Cox and Mason Bloomfield scoring their second goals of the season to seal a first League win in five. Crawley also struck the woodwork twice in a dominant display in the second 45 minutes.
Tarryn Allarakhia came in for his first League start against his former club in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Allarakhia operated on the right with Panutche Camara and Nathan Ferguson in the holding midfield roles.
A lengthening injury list included Ollie Palmer, Joe McNerney, George Francomb and Ashley Nadesan while David Sesay served a one-match ban for accumulating five bookings.
The pitch was in fantastic condition despite recent heavy rain but it has to be said that the fare served on it in the opening 30 minutes was distinctly average with neither keeper tested.
There were some bright spells from the hosts and Tom Eastman stuck out a leg to deflect Ferguson’s shot wide. At the other end Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu lifted a close-range effort over after Franck Nouble’s shot was deflected into his path.
So it was a surprise when the deadlock was broken on 34 minutes by the visitors when defender Prosser flicked a close-range and free header from Kwame Poku’s corner on the right past Glenn Morris.
Bookings for Josh Doherty and Ferguson only added to Reds’ frustration.
The second half started on a brighter note when Grego-Cox headed Ferguson’s corner wide before Reds broke and Lubala Grego-Cox forced Dean Gerken into his first save, low down to his left. The Colchester keeper then watched Doherty’s effort from an angle go wide and it was no surprise when Crawley’s increasing pressure was rewarded with a 53rd-minute equaliser as Grego-Cox drilled a powerful left-foot shot into the bottom right-hand corner from the right-hand angle of the box.
Reds now took control as they dominated possession and stretched the Colchester defence with Ashley Nathaniel-George nearly made a telling impact six minutes after coming off the bench in the 63rd minute. Cutting in from the left, his shot was superbly turned onto the post by Gerken.
Back came Colchester for the first time in the second half and Nouble’s goalbound shot was deflected before Reds went in front with a great goal in the 79th minute. Lewis Young picked out Bloomfield with a delightful cross from the right and the striker rose to powerfully head past Gerken.
There was a moment of alarm when Poku’s shot took two deflections before Morris grabbed it but Lubala was only denied a third in stoppage time by the woodwork after his rasping drive came back off the post.
A much better second half from Reds and ultimately a deserved win.
Reds: Morris; Young ©, Tunnicliffe, Dallison, Doherty; Ferguson, Camara; Allarakhia (Nathaniel-George 63), Grego-Cox (van Velzen 90), Lubala; Bloomfield. Unused subs: Luyambula, Sendles-White, Bulman, Galach, Boadu.
Attendance: 2636 (418 Crawley)
Pictured: Reece Grego-Cox smashes home the equaliser. Photo by James Boardman