The Reds suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of promotion-chasing Sutton United this evening. Two goals in the first seven minutes from Alistair Smith and Richie Bennet gave Sutton a healthy lead at half-time. Smith added his second of the game in the dying stages to secure an important win for the Amber and Chocolate men.
Crawley started the game well and were moving the ball around nicely in the opening exchanges. Despite this, Sutton took the lead as Alistair Smith fired in a rocket from range. The midfielder picked the ball up from 25-yards out and unleashed a powerful effort, which flew beyond the reach of Morris into the top corner.
Just moments later, Sutton had a second goal. The hosts won a free-kick wide on the right-wing in a dangerous position. The ball was whipped in low with pace, which allowed Richie Bennet to provide a perfect flick to take the ball past Morris and into the bottom corner. A disastrous start for Crawley.
Crawley looked to respond with immediate effect, and Tom Nichols almost provided a lifeline with a curling effort from the edge of the box. The striker drifted past his man and curled a delightful effort just wide of the post. Ashley Nadesan then forced a great save from Dean Bouzanis as the Reds began to really knock on Sutton’s door.
The Reds were much the better team for the majority of the half after Sutton’s electric start. Glenn Morris, however, was needed to keep the score at 2-0. Will Randall burst through the Crawley defence and found himself one-on-one with Morris. The Crawley goalkeeper spread himself well to block Randall’s effort.
The half-time whistle followed shortly after to end a miserable half for Crawley. The Reds had been the better of the two sides for large periods of the half but found themselves trailing by two at the interval.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half had very little to write home about. Aramide Oteh had a half-chance well blocked by a Sutton defender, but both sides were struggling to get a firm grip on the ball.
Lewis Young introduced Isaac Hutchinson and Mark Marshall to give Crawley some extra legs for the remaining 20 minutes.
This did seem to add some life to the Crawley side as both Hutchinson and Jake Hessenthaler stung the palms of Bouzains from distance.
Sadly for Crawley, Sutton sealed the tie as Smith scored his second of the game. The midfielder was slid through on goal and drilled a powerful effort past Morris into the roof of the net.
The home side rode out the remaining minutes to secure all three points, which may prove vital in the race for promotion to Sky Bet League One. Crawley are back in action for their final home league game on Saturday as Leyton Orient travel to The People’s Pension Stadium.
REDS XI: Morris, Davies, Lynch, Craig (Marshall 69’), Tunnicliffe, Ferry, Francomb, Hessenthaler, Nichols, Oteh (Hutchinson 63’), Nadesan
Attendance: 3,100 (459 away)