Isaac Hutchinson’s second-half strike was enough to separate the two sides in a tightly contested Sky Bet League Two battle at The People’s Pension Stadium earlier this afternoon.
Manager John Yems made two changes from the side’s victory over Newport on Friday - with Isaac Hutchinson and Sam Matthews coming in for Kwesi Appiah and Jack Payne, who sustained injuries in Wales three days ago, with timescales unknown.
The visitors started the game with real intent, and leading goalscorer George Miller thought he had put his side ahead. The youngster found himself with the ball at his feet inside the penalty area after a quick counter-attack from the visitors. Miller cooly slotted past Morris but was greeted with the raised arm of the linesman, who was flagging for offside.
Crawley began to create chances after a good spell of possession and arguably should have taken the lead through Ashley Nadesan. Joel Lynch picked out Will Ferry with a brilliant pass to set the winger free on the left wing. The Southampton loanee took a touch and attempted to pick out Nadesan in the box but saw his cross fly past the striker's foot.
Sam Matthews returned to the side this afternoon and was denied a penalty shout by referee Peter Wright ten minutes before half-time. Matthews controlled the ball well inside the box with his back to goal and appeared to be bundled over by a Walsall defender. Wright was quick to wave away the protests.
The half-time whistle soon came to end a fairly dry half of football at The People’s Pension Stadium. Glenn Morris and Carl Rushworth both had very little to do in the first period.
Ten minutes into the second-half, Lynch strided back to make a vital interception with a sliding leg inside the Crawley box after Miller skipped past Francillette and aimed for Osadebe in the middle.
The ball in from the consequent corner took a deflection into the path of Sam Perry who struck the post before Morris could recover the ball.
Crawley broke the deadlock in the 69th minute through a low driven effort from outside the area by Hutchinson, who leathered past Rushworth with precision and power after some tricky footwork by Nichols in the build-up.
Jake Hessenthaler was called upon to make a dramatic goal line clearance eight minutes later when Walsall played a clever quick free-kick which caught out the Crawley defence as substitute Devante Rodney rounded Morris before his shot was met by the athletically stretched leg of Hessenthaler.
The home side then raced up the other end with venomous pace as Nadesan curled a ball across to Nichols who was able to cut inside and spin a low effort into the arms of Rushworth.
After a foul on Marshall was not given close to the Walsall area, Osadebe raced forward with electric pace working the ball neatly towards Devante Rodney who blazed over the bar from close range, a massive chance squandered.
The visitors went mightily close once more just moments later when Osadebe’s corner was played short and quickly towards Earing who bent an effort onto the crossbar before the ball bounced over and out for a goal-kick.
As four minutes of added time were indicated, John Yems made his final change of the affair, bringing on the returning Tony Craig for Ashley Nadesan.
The Red Devils saw out what was their third consecutive home 1-0 win, and their fifth win in six league games. A fantastic run under new ownership.
Reds XI: Morris; Lynch, Tunnicliffe, Francillette, Ferry, Hessenthaler, Hutchinson, Tilley (Davies 75’), Matthews (Marshall 64’), Nichols, Nadesan (Craig 90+1’).
Attendance: 2258 (264 away)