The Reds claimed a brilliant three points on the road at Rochdale this afternoon. A first-half strike from Kwesi Appiah was enough to earn Crawley a deserved victory.
Crawley made a fast start to the fixture and almost immediately won a corner after good work from Kwesi Appiah, who was making his first start in league action for the Reds. The corner was cleared to the edge of the box where Jack Payne flashed a volley just wide of the target.
The hosts responded immediately and forced a brilliant save from Glenn Morris. Conor Grant was fortunate to have the ball land at his feet inside the penalty area shaped up for a shot at goal. Morris was alert and made a brilliant save with an outstretched hand.
After some early pressure from the home side, Crawley started to mount some attacks of their own and took the lead in the 13th minute. Nick Tsaroulla made a brilliant interception inside the Dale penalty area, allowing the full-back to slide the ball across the box into the path of Kwesi Appiah, who stroked the ball home.
Rochdale were now on the search for an equaliser, and they came very close to getting one in the 20th minute. Liam Kelly flashed an effort just wide from the edge of the box after a good piece of play from Abraham Odoh on the wing.
Shortly after, Jake Hessenthaler was denied his fourth goal of the season and Crawley’s second of the match, as Joel Coleman made a brilliant save to deny the midfielder. A clever dummy from George Francomb gave Hessenthaler plenty of time to line up a shot at goal. Coleman was quick-witted to beat away the effort that looked destined for the top corner.
Glenn Morris then produced a world-class save to deny Dale an equaliser. The Reds were caught off guard in midfield, which allowed Rochdale to mount a three on one counter-attack. Jake Beesley broke away with the ball before squaring to Odoh, the winger looked destined to score, but an outstretched leg from Morris diverted the ball away from goal.
Both sides made a very strong start to the second half. Crawley, in search of the second goal, were winning the majority of the physical battles on the pitch, but Rochdale were looking dangerous on the counter.
It really was end to end action at The Crown Oil Arena, and it seemed only a matter of time before there would be a second goal. Payne almost found just that on the hour mark as his strike from 25-yards rattled the Dale crossbar.
Substitute Mark Marshall then got a bite at the cherry as Tom Nichols controlled the ball brilliantly before poking the ball through to Marshall. The midfielder, however, failed to hit the target and sent his effort way over the bar.
Crawley boy Danny Cashman, who is on loan to Rochdale from Coventry, looked to make a real impact when he was introduced in the second half. The pacey winger won his side a free kick in a very dangerous position with less than ten minutes to go. Kelly stood over the ball but sent his effort way over the bar.
The Reds were strong, determined and simply brilliant to see out the remainder of the game and claim all three points on the road. Sutton are next at The People’s Pension Stadium.
Reds XI: Morris; Francomb ©, Craig, Dallison, Tsaroulla; Payne, Hessenthaler, Powell, Bansal-McNulty (Marshall 60’); Appiah (Ashford 81’), Nichols.