The Reds secured all three points this afternoon in a dominant display, which saw a brace from Ashley Nadesan and a thumping finish from Joel Lynch. The Reds were two up at the break before Nadesan added Crawley’s third and his second shortly after the restart. Freddie Sears pulled one back for the visitors late in the affair, but Crawley held on to claim the victory.
Crawley were looking to build on their 2-1 victory away at Orient three weeks ago and started the game on the front foot. James Tilley found himself in the slightly unorthodox role of right wing-back and earned the Reds a corner within the first few moments. Tom Nichols flicked on the first header before Ludwig Francillette had an effort cleared off of the goal line.
The visitors then embarked on an attack of their own and were denied the opener by a fantastic save from Glenn Morris. A fortunate deflection off of the back of Tony Craig saw the ball fall at the feet of midfielder Cole Skuse deep inside Crawley territory. Skuse picked out Alan Judge, who was one on one with the Crawley goalkeeper, but Morris spread his arms and beat away the effort.
Just moments later, the Reds were ahead. A brilliant piece of build-up play from Tom Nichols gave the striker space to clip a ball into the U’s penalty area, which allowed Ashley Nadesan to direct a glorious header past Jake Turner.
Crawley continued to dominate possession and were causing all sorts of trouble to the U’s defence. Brendan Wiredu was booked following a very late challenge on Jack Powell.
The Reds’ persistence paid off as Joel Lynch put John Yems’ side 2-0 up in the 37th minute. A sublime cross from Jack Powell was converted after Ludwig Francillette made a crucial flick towards goal. The centre-back’s header did not have enough power behind it to reach the goal but instead found his defensive partner, who smashed the ball home from 3-yards.
Crawley entered half-time with a firm grip on the fixture. Hayden Mullins’ Colchester side had it all to do in the second half.
Despite a better start from Colchester in the second half, Crawley stretched their lead to three goals with a virtual carbon copy of the opener. The only difference in Crawley’s third goal was the crosser. This time Appiah lifted in a delightful clipped cross into the penalty area, which Nadesan steered past Turner.
The Reds still had to remain on high alert, and the visitors almost pulled one back through Judge. Another fine stop from Morris denied the U’s midfielder. Lightning-quick reactions from the Cat allowed the shot-stopper to stick out a leg and divert Judge’s powerful volley wide.
Crawley were then denied a stunning fourth goal as Jack Powell rattled the crossbar from a free-kick. Turner was well beaten, but Powell’s effort came crashing off of the woodwork.
The Reds were then sent a real warning as former Ipswich striker Freddie Sears pulled one back for the visitors. Great skill from Sylvester Jasper inside the Crawley penalty area gave the substitute time to pull a cross back towards the penalty spot, where Sears converted past Morris.
The Reds held on to claim a brilliant three points in a dominant display at The People’s Pension Stadium. John Yems’ side are back in action next weekend as they travel to Northampton Town on Saturday 8th January.
REDS XI: Morris, Tilley, Francillette, Craig, Lynch, Ferry (Grego-Cox 90’), Francomb, Powell, Nichols (Bansal-McNulty 84’), Nadesan (Ashford 84’), Appiah
Attendance: 2,022 (332 away fans)