A first half strike from Jack Payne was enough to give the Reds all three points on a warm Saturday afternoon in Essex. Payne swept home his first of the season after brilliant work from Will Ferry on the wing.
The first chance of the game fell to the Reds courtesy of good work from Jack Powell on the edge of the opponent’s penalty area. Powell was quick to intercept a loose pass but failed to test Shamal George in the Colchester goal.
The hosts immediately fired back as Alan Judge forced a smart save from Glenn Morris at the near post. Frank Nouble played a neat backheel into the path of Judge, who struck an effort at goal first time. Morris was well-positioned to beat past his post. Brendan Wiredu hooked an effort just over Morris’ bar just moments later as a Colchester corner was only half-cleared by Crawley.
Despite a flurry of dangerous attacks from Colchester, it was the Reds that took the lead after 23 minutes. A brilliant challenge from Will Ferry gave the young winger plenty of space wide on the right-hand side. Ferry played a precise cutback to the edge of the penalty area where Jack Payne was lying in wait as the midfielder beautifully stroked home his first Reds goal.
Fresh from his goal-scoring antics against Carlisle, Nick Tsaroulla fancied having a go from range and came very close to doubling Crawley’s lead with ten minutes to go in the first half. Joel Lynch then came to Crawley’s rescue at the other end with a fantastic block to deny Freddie Sears.
Crawley survived another flurry of Colchester attacks at the end of the first half as John Yems’ side remained ahead at the interval.
Will Ferry was having a fine game for the Reds, causing the U’s defence issues every time he got the ball. Ferry’s good work was rewarded with a chance at goal, but the winger slashed his effort wide of the post.
Nick Tsaroulla then produced a brilliant piece of defending with a heroic block inside the penalty area. A very neat move from Colchester resulted in Freddie Sears receiving the ball in plenty of space, somehow Tsaroulla lunged forward and got a vital touch on the effort to divert it past the post.
Substitute Ashley Nadesan then found himself one-on-one with George, the striker's last touch was a tad too heavy allowing the U’s goalkeeper to smother the effort.
Ferry continued to cause issues and came agonisingly close to giving Crawley a two-goal cushion. After cutting in on his weaker right foot, Ferry hit a sweet effort towards goal which flew just past the post.
The Reds were then denied what appeared to be a clear penalty as Ferry looked to have been tripped inside the box. The referee had no interest in Crawley’s protests and waved play on.
Crawley showed fantastic determination in the final five minutes to hold on and claim all three points on the road. John Yems’ side return to action on Tuesday night as Harrogate Town visit The People’s Pension Stadium.
REDS XI: Morris, Francomb, Dallison, Lynch, Tsaroulla, Ferry, Payne, Hessenthaler, Powell, Ashford (Nadesan 46’), Nichols (Appiah 84’)
Attendance: 2640 (173 away)