Goals from Max Watters and Ashley Nadesan sealed a huge second-round victory over rivals AFC Wimbledon to put us in the hat for round three.
Crawley started the brighter of the two sides as they looked to utilise Max Watters strength. Watters was played neatly down the wing in the opening two minutes but was adjudged to have used too much of his strength as the referee called a foul against the striker.
Former Red Ollie Palmer started up front for the Dons and looked to pose a threat to Crawley in the opening exchanges. A delightful ball was played into the box from the right flank, Palmer arrived on the scene first but could not direct his header goalwards and was pulled up for a foul on Jordan Tunnicliffe.
The first shot on goal came from the Reds after good work from Nicholas Tsaroulla. The young Cypriot who was making his first start for Crawley did brilliantly to beat his man and deliver into the box. The ball was only half-cleared by the Dons defence as the ball fell to Jack Powell on the edge of the area, Jack’s shot lacked power and was eventually hoofed away by Wimbledon.
The Dons almost took the lead shortly after as Jack Powell almost diverted into his own net as he attempted to block the cross. The resulting corner was cleared by the Reds, but Wimbledon won the ball straight back as a Dons man delivered a delightful ball into the packed Crawley penalty area where Joe Piggot was unmarked and thumped a header beyond Glenn Morris to give the hosts the lead.
The Reds fought straight back and found an equaliser less than ten minutes later. Jack Powell held the ball with great composure on the edge of the host’s penalty area as he patiently waited for the run of Ashley Nadesan. Nadesan found himself one on one with the goalkeeper as he completed a trademark chip over the helpless Trueman to level the tie. A fantastic Reds goal.
Crawley started to pepper the Wimbledon area with Nadesan continuing to look sharp this time playing in Max Watters but the ball just spun beyond the reach of the striker and rolled back into the possession of the Dons.
The Reds continued to control the half but neither side made any threatening chances in the closing stages of an entertaining half of football at the newly built Plough Lane.
Crawley came flying out of the blocks in the second half and took the lead very early on through Max Watters. Jake Hessenthaler delivered a dangerous ball into the Wimbledon area as Nadesan came flying in attempting to win the header the ball bounced free in the area where Max Watters was on hand to thump into an empty net and give Crawley the lead.
The Dons looked to respond instantly as first-half goalscorer Joe Pigott unleashed a fierce strike on the edge of the penalty area which required Glenn Morris to make a fantastic save at full stretch to keep Crawley ahead.
The host’s continued to put pressure on the Crawley defence but on numerous occasions, the three Centre backs Tom Dallison, Tony Craig and Jordan Tunnicliffe rose highest or got to the ball first in a 50/50 duel. Wimbledon forced another strong challenge from the defence as Ryan Logman muscled his way past Tsaroulla and drilled a cross into the box which a mixture of Glenn Morris and Tom Dallison dealt with to clear for a corner.
The Dons then won a free kick 3 yards outside the Reds penalty area giving the host’s a great chance to equalise. Pigott and Seddon stood over the set-piece and it was Pigott that struck it but the effort was wayward and sailed over the bar.
The host’s looked to be taking a firm grip on the fixture as they continued to make chances. Longman and Piggot linked up well in the Crawley box and if it wasn’t for the last-ditch tackle of Tony Craig, Longman may have levelled the scoring.
Crawley earned a rare chance to double their lead as the ball again fell to Max Watters in the area. The ball fell awkwardly at the feet of the striker as Max looked to strike the ball on the volley but he miscued his effort as the Dons cleared to safety.
The closing stages were fiercely contested with the host’s desperate to find an equaliser Joe Pigott found himself free on the edge of the penalty but wasted his effort as it trickled past Glenn Morris. The Reds defence doing all they could to stop the persistent Dons.
Crawley held on to claim a fantastic victory in the second round of the FA Cup and secure a spot in the hat for round three.
Reds XI: Morris; Sesay, Tunnicliffe, Craig, Dallison, Tsaroulla (Frost 76’); Hessenthaler, Bulman, Powell; Watters (Ashford 88’), Nadesan.