Crawley defeated league leaders Forest Green Rovers at The People’s Pension Stadium this afternoon. First-half goals from Ashley Nadesan and Jordan Tunnicliffe saw the Reds lead by two at half-time. Dominic Bernard pulled one back for Rovers late in the second half, but the Reds saw out the remaining minutes to pick up a brilliant three points.
The league leaders earned the first chance of the game and forced a brilliant double save from Glenn Morris. Nicky Cadden whipped in a free-kick which took a nick off of a body and forced Morris into a smart save, the rebound fell kindly to Jordan Moore-Taylor, but Morris reacted well to claim.
Rovers then embarked on a ferocious counter-attack and really should have taken the lead through Kane Wilson. Mathew Stevens linked up well with Ebrima Adams before sliding a brilliant ball through to Wilson. The right-back had the goal at his mercy but dragged his shot wide of the target.
Despite the early pressure from the league leaders, Crawley took the lead through Ashley Nadesan. The striker had only entered the field minutes earlier due to an injury to Aramide Oteh. Nick Tsaroulla picked up the ball inside his own half and fired a brilliant pass downfield towards Nadesan. The striker shrugged off his marker and tucked a delightful finish under Luke McAtee to give the Reds the lead.
Nadesan almost had a second goal after McAtee spilt a cross. It was Tsaroulla in the thick of the action again as the wing-back drilled a cross into the penalty area. The Rovers goalkeeper failed to take in the cross as Nadesan stretched to poke an effort towards goal, Udoka Gowdwin-Malife cleared the danger.
Crawley were playing some sublime football, and just moments later, Jordan Tunnicliffe doubled the lead. Jack Powell floated in a corner towards the back post where Tunnlciffe was waiting. The defender lept like a Salmon and powered a header into the back of the net.
The Reds survived a late flurry of Rovers attacks and kept their two-goal lead heading into half-time.
It was a fairly uneventful start to the second half. Crawley were soaking up attacks from the league leaders and slowly began to work their way into the half as they did in the first. It was a real gutsy performance from the Reds, who were first to every ball and putting in some strong, but fair challenges.
Tom Nichols made a welcome return to action in the 70th minute as he replaced Isaac Hutchinson. Another strong performance from the Derby loanee.
Rovers were beginning to mount some dangerous attacks, and with a little over ten minutes to go, pulled a goal back. A Forest Green free-kick was only half-cleared by Crawley, allowing Dominic Bernard to smash the ball into the back of the net.
Morris was then forced into another fantastic save to deny Jack Aitchinson. After some nice link-up play on the edge of the area, Aitchinson found himself with only Morris to beat. The Cat reacted brilliantly to the substitute's effort and palmed the shot away.
With five minutes of added time indicated, Forest Green thought they had the equaliser. After a scramble in the box, the ball was eventually turned home. Fortunately for Crawley, the referee called a foul.
The referee eventually blew for full-time as Crawley picked up their first home win since New Year's Day.
REDS XI: Morris, Tsaroulla, Lynch, Tunnicliffe, Craig, Ferry, Payne, Powell, Francomb (Davies 86’), Hutchinson (Nichols 49’), Oteh (Nadesan 15’)
ATTENDANCE: 2086 (240 away)