Crawley’s three-game unbeaten run came to an end this afternoon as Mansfield rode out as 2-0 winners at the One Call Stadium. Jamie Murphy volleyed home for the Stags in the first half to give the home side a one-nil advantage at half-time. Crawley were reduced to ten men in the second half as James Tilley was shown a second yellow card in the 69th minute. Lucas Atkins added Mansfield’s second minutes later to secure all three points for Nigel Clough’s team.
Crawley started the game on the front foot and held the majority of possession in the opening exchanges. James Tilley was supporting Tom Nichols in the striker position as the Reds opted for a 3-5-2 formation.
Despite Crawley’s early pressure, Mansfield almost took the lead in the ninth minute, courtesy of Lucas Atkins. The Stags mounted a rapid counter-attack, which allowed Atkins to burst through on the right. The striker cut inside of Joel Lynch and fired an effort at goal, which required a strong save from Glenn Morris.
The game had now swung firmly in Mansfield’s favour, and the hosts took the lead in the 25th minute. Jamie Murphy cooly volleyed home an inch-perfect cross from the right-wing following another rapid counter-attack from the home side.
Crawley looked to respond before the break, and James Tilley came inches away from an equalising goal. The Reds played some nice football on the right-wing, and after a neat interchange with Jake Hessenthaler, Tilley had space to curl a shot towards goal. Tilley’s shot had Nathan Bishop beaten but curled just inches past the post.
Morris was then forced into an incredible save to stop the Stags from doubling their lead. Stephen Quinn lined up a ferocious effort from outside the area and forced the Crawley goalkeeper into a high-flying acrobatic save.
Crawley went into the second half with it all to do and had Glenn Morris to thank, as without him, Mansfield's lead would have increased to two or three goals.
Morris continued his antics into the second half to deny Rhys Oates a goal. The attacker breezed past the Crawley defence and set off towards goal. Morris rushed out to block Oates’ effort superbly well.
The long-awaited return of Aramide Oteh seemed to awaken the Reds in the 56th minute as the visitors began to make some promising runs at goal.
Just as things started to look up for Crawley, the Red Devils were reduced to ten men. James Tilley had already been shown a yellow card when he was judged to have unfairly challenged Stephen McLaughlin in an ariel duel. Referee David Rock thought for a moment before brandishing Tilley’s second yellow card.
The Stags wasted no time in doubling their lead as Lucas Atkins nodded home no later than five minutes after Tilley had been dismissed. The ball broke kindly for the striker, who rose above his marker to cooly nod past Morris into the bottom corner.
Sadly, there was very little Crawley could do except ride out the remaining minutes to avoid further disappointment. The Red Devils travel to Sutton United on Tuesday evening.
Reds XI: Morris, Davies (Oteh 56’), Francillette, Lynch, Tunnicliffe, Ferry, Francomb (Marshall 73’), Hutchinson, Hessenthaler, Nichols, Tilley