It was a cagey start to the fixture with neither side maintaining possession in the opening exchanges. The O’s made the first real opening of the game as Lee Angol and Danny Johnson combined well inside the box but Archie Davies was on hand to clear for the Reds.
Archie Davies retained his position at right-back and the young fullback made a flying start on the right flank. Sam Matthews clipped a delightful ball over to Archie who poked past his man and was subsequently tripped, leading to a freekick in a perilous position for Crawley.
Sam Matthews stood over the set-piece and just as he did against Bradford City on Tuesday evening he whipped the ball in with real conviction, the ball brushed off the head of Josh Coulson and flew past Lawrence Vigouroux in the O’s net to put the Reds one up.
Leyton Orient looked to respond immediately as the host’s almost found an equaliser following a corner. Jobi McAnuff fizzed the ball into the box and out of a sea of heads it was a red shirt that got their first, Tom Nichols was on hand to clear off of the line to keep Crawley ahead.
The Reds almost found themselves two the good ten minutes before the interval, Tarryn Allarakhia returned to the side as the winger manoeuvred into some space inside the O’s penalty area before cutting the ball back across the face of goal. The ball slid across the goalmouth with neither a Crawley nor Leyton Orient player in sight.
Leyton Orient levelled the scoring two minutes before the break as a helpless Tom Dallison turned into his own net. Brophy fizzed the ball across the face of goal which ran all the way to the back post where McAnuff lied in wait. The Jamaican fired the ball back into the area as Tom Dallison had almost no time to react at the front post and unfortunately turned the ball past Glenn Morris.
The host’s came out flying in the second half and almost took the lead inside the opening two minutes. Brophy neatly chopped the ball inside the area and drilled the ball across goal, Johnson looked destined to tap into an empty net but went to ground under the pressure of Allarakhia. Strong claims for a penalty were waved away as the Reds cleared the ball away.
Brophy was involved again shortly after, this time finding a way past Archie Davies before firing at goal. Glenn Morris did excellently to get a fingertip on the ball to divert the ball away from goal as it went out of play for a corner, skimming the crossbar on its way.
Sam Matthews did brilliantly to chip past his man and start a quick counter-attack for the Reds in the 60th minute. Max Watters looked the obvious target but the pass came a second too late as Watters was forced wide.
The O’s then had two penalty shouts denied as Brophy continued to create space on the left flank. Scott Oldham having none of the protests profusely waving away on both occasions. Glenn Morris was then forced to sweep away for a corner as Craig Clay entered the box.
Ashley Nadesan was then floored in the penalty area at the other end, again Scott Oldham waved away the protest despite this looking the clearest shout of them all. Nadesan did brilliantly to head over Vigouroux before being floored by an Orient defender.
Tom Nichols then sent an effort crashing off of the crossbar, the striker found himself in plenty of space on the edge of the penalty area where he curled a glorious effort towards call which clipped the bottom of the crossbar and bounced out, so unlucky for Crawley.
The Reds kept on pushing and eventually got their goal to put them ahead and it came from that man Max Watters. Nadesan the architect beat his man for pace after being sent down the right flank and with his first touch curled the ball across to Watters, the striker took a touch before poking past Vigouroux to put the Reds 2-1 up.
Max then had the chance to settle the affair after being set through one on one but his second touch was a little heavy which allowed Vigouroux to smother the danger.
Crawley held on to claim a superb away win for only the second time this season on the road in the league as Max Watters secured the perfect Christmas present for any Crawley fan, three points on the road.
Merry Christmas Reds, see you on Boxing Day!
Reds XI: Morris; Davies (Sesay 57’), Tunnicliffe, Craig, Dallison; Powell, Hessenthaler, Allarakhia (Bulman 72’), Matthews (Nadesan 65’), Nichols, Watters.