Crawley lost out to high-flying Tranmere Rovers this afternoon. Jay Spearing scored the only goal of the game with a drilled free-kick in the early stages of the second half. The Reds attempted to mount a comeback but failed to break down a resilient Rovers defence.
It was a bright start for the Reds, who welcomed Jordan Tunnicliffe back to the starting XI. Tom Nichols led the attack as the lone striker and almost immediately caused danger to the visiting defence. Nichols and Sam Matthews linked up well on the edge of the penalty area, allowing the striker to strike an effort at goal. Veteran defender Peter Clarke blocked the effort well with a vital challenge.
There wasn’t a lot to shout about, in the first 25 minutes, for either side. The most notable action was a collision between Tony Craig and Ross Doohan inside the Rovers penalty area. Sam Matthews delivered a quality ball into the penalty area, where Craig and Doohan clashed heads. The Tranmere goalkeeper required nose plugs to stem the bleeding.
Tranmere won a free-kick deep inside Crawley territory as the clock ticked over the half-hour mark. Morris’ initial punch only reached the edge of the penalty area, where a Tranmere defender headed back into the box. Morris claimed at the second time of asking.
The sides entered the break level. Both teams only managed to have two shots at goal in the opening 45 minutes.
Tranmere started the second half on the front foot and came agonisingly close to taking the lead through Josh McPake. The midfielder played a neat one-two on the edge of the area with Kane Hemmings before drifting closer to the goal with a neat touch. McPake’s shot at goal flew just past the post.
Tranmere continued to hold the majority of possession and took the lead with a fluke goal in the 65th minute. Jay Spearing drilled a low free-kick into the box, and with the slightest of deflections, the ball flew past Morris into the back of the net.
Crawley made several changes in a bid to respond to the visitors. Jack Payne, Ashley Nadean and Mark Marshall were all introduced in the early stages of the second half.
Despite a late push from the Reds, Tranmere held on and claimed all three points in West Sussex. John Yems’ side travel to Bradford City next weekend on Saturday 29th January.
REDS XI: Morris, Davies, Tunnicliffe, Craig, Lynch, Tsaroulla (Marshall 66’), Francomb (78’), Powell, Tilley, Matthews (Nadesan 59’), Nichols
Attendance: 2,803 (443 away)