Crawley Town picked up their first win of the season with an impressive display over Salford City on Tuesday night at the People’s Pension Stadium.
The visitors took an early lead through Ian Henderson who opened his account for the season with a header before the ten-minute mark.
Crawley pulled one back in the 38th minute through Ashley Nadesan who also opened his account for the season after finishing off a stellar Reds’ counterattack.
Having controlled the game, the Reds took the lead in the 74th minute as Jake Hessenthaler sent a cushioned header back across the face of goal and in off the far post.
Reds’ manager John Yems made two changes to the side that had narrowly lost out on Cup progression one week ago - Sam Ashford and Blondy Nna Noukeu replaced by Jack Powell and Glenn Morris respectively.
Salford came out of the blocks faster than their hosts and rewarded themselves with the lead early on as Henderson headed home Ibou Touray’s cross in the seventh minute.
This proved to be a much-needed wake-up call for the Reds and they began to edge their way into the game with Nadesan and Tyler Frost both forcing corners in the next ten minutes but neither resulted in any danger for Ammies ‘keeper Tom King.
It was Frost who first put King in danger on the night. The tricky left-winger showed his trickery coming off the left flank after receiving Hessenthaler’s pass and almost sent a third of the visiting team to the medical room as he weaved in and out of four Ammies players during a 20-yard run. However, he couldn’t reap the rewards as his shot was agonisingly blocked by Nadesan and rolled out of play.
The game preceded with neither side having more joy than the other until the 38th minute when Crawley levelled the score. It looked as though the visitor’s lead was to be doubled just moments before but for two stunning point-blank saves from Morris. The ball was then cleared, and Town countered at lighting speed with George Francomb rushing down the right-hand side and drilling in a low cross to Nadesan who swept the ball home.
The Reds nearly nicked a first-half lead when Frost latched onto the ball between the right-hand corners of the six-yard box and the penalty area, but he couldn’t keep his shot down and the sides went in level at halftime.
Crawley came soaring out of the gates for the second half and almost took the lead twice in the first ten minutes of the final period. Tom Dallison found himself with space to cut inside and fired a fierce shot that seemed to have nestled in the top left-hand corner but had unfortunately settled on the wrong side of the net, fooling most of the stadium.
Next, it was the turn of Frost, who sent a looping header across the face of goal and narrowly past King’s left-hand post, but the Reds were getting closer.
And get closer they did. Hessenthaler did well to lose his marker at the back post and Francomb put in a pinpoint cross which the midfielder headed back across the face of goal and in off the far post to send the stadium wild under the lights.
The last 15 minutes of the match passed in an unnaturally calm fashion as Salford failed to trouble the Reds – an unusual feeling for a League Two team with a one-goal lead – and Crawley saw out the result for their first points of the season.
Attention now turns to Forest Green Rovers away on Saturday 21st August as the Reds look to make it back-to-back wins.
REDS XI: Morris, Francomb (C), Craig, Dallison, Powell, Nadesan (Davies 84'), Frost (Appiah 62’), Francillette, Ferry (Tilley 90'), Payne, Hessenthaler
UNUSED SUBS: Nna Noukeu, Davies, Gallacher, Tilley, Al-Hussaini, Khaleel