Crawley secured another fantastic away win this afternoon with a victory over 3rd placed Northampton Town. A Tom Nichols wonderstrike gave Crawley the lead on the stroke of half-time, leaving Crawley the entire second half to defend their slim lead. Defend is what they did, bodies on the line and backs to the wall, but Crawley survived and held on to claim a brilliant three points.
Despite the hosts controlling the opening spell of possession, Crawley created the first chance of the game as James Tilley flashed an effort over the bar. Good link-up play from the returning Sam Matthews and Ashley Nadesan in the build-up allowed Tilley to strike the ball from distance, but the wing-back’s effort flew just over.
There really wasn’t a lot to talk about in the opening twenty minutes of the affair. Joel Lynch being cautioned by the referee was the only notable event until Sam Matthews thought he had scored for Crawley. The offside flag denied the visitors the opener.
Northampton looked like the team who were more likely to open the scoring, and Sam Hoskins could and probably should have given the hosts the lead. The Cobblers attacker latched on to a loose header from Ludwig Francillette and curled an effort way over the bar from inside the Crawley penalty area.
Despite the Cobblers constant and dominant pressure, the Reds took a surprise lead with five minutes left of the first half. The ball broke loose inside the Northampton half, and Sam Matthews picked out Tom Nichols with a brilliant pass which completely split the Cobblers defence. Nichols took his time and picked out the top corner with a beautiful sweeping effort.
The Reds survived a late flurry of Northampton attacks and kept their lead as the sides headed in for the break.
Crawley opted for an early change in the second half as Matthews was replaced by Jack Payne on his return from injury. John Yems opting for a three in midfield to strengthen the Reds’ defensive line.
Northampton were not wasting any time in trying to find an equalsier and were starting to pile on the pressure as the tie reached the hour mark. A flurry of corners were dealt with superbly by Crawley, Tom Nichols winning the majority of the headers inside the Crawley penalty area.
Tsaroulla was then replaced by Archie Davies as Crawley changed to a 4-4-2 formation, Davies slotted in at righ-back while Lynch took up the left-back role.
After a good spell of possession from Crawley, the hosts responded and only the woodwork denied Chanka Zimba a goal on his Cobblers debut. A ball was pulled back into the Crawley penalty area where Zimba was unmarked. The striker had only Morris to beat but failed to keep his effort down as the ball cannoned off of the crossbar.
The hosts were really pushing towards the final ten minutes and somehow the Reds survived a flurry of Cobblers attacks. Aaron McGowan flashed an effort wide from inside the box before Francillette was fortunate not to turn the ball into the back of his own net following a corner.
Glenn Morris then produced a world class save to deny Zimba the equaliser once more. A flick on from a Northampton attacker somehow found its way through the Crawley defence setting Zimba free. Morris spread his body and flicked the attackers effort wide to keep the score in Crawley’s favour.
Joel Lynch followed in Morris’ footsteps and produced a world class challenge of his own. Zimba again was free inside the box and with the goal open, had the ball coming towards his feet. Lynch flew in with a risky challenge but got it spot on and cleared away the danger.
The Reds held on to claim another fantastic three points on the road. The Cobblers threw everything at Crawley today, but John Yems’ red & white army moved to eleventh in the table.
REDS XI: Morris, Tilley, Francillette, Craig, Lynch, Tsaroulla (Davies 62’), Francomb, Powell, Matthews (Payne 54’), Nadesan (Ashford 83’), Nichols