Crawley Town got their league season off to the perfect start with a hard-fought win over 10-man Bradford City at the Broadfield stadium.
Will Wright, who was making his Crawley debut, opened the scoring after 14 minutes, arcing a beautiful free kick past Harry Lewis and into the net from 25 yards out, sending an already fervent home crowd into raptures.
The game itself got off to a fast start, with both sides eager to start their season the right way. Bradford perhaps had the better of the opening exchanges, but Crawley’s defence held firm to resist the pressure being applied by the visitors.
Wright opened the scoring from his free-kick, which was awarded after a foul on wing-back Kellan Gordon.
After taking the lead, Crawley grew into the game and had a few good chances to extend their advantage throughout the half.
Crawley’s job was made easier by the 42nd minute dismissal of Bradford’s Daniel Oyegoke. Oyegoke, who is on-loan at the Bantams from Premier League outfit Brentford, was shown a second yellow card after bringing down Danilo Orsi who was otherwise through on goal.
Just prior to the half-time whistle, Ronan Darcy went close with a strike but the midfielder, who signed from Swindon Town just a few days ago, saw his effort cannon back off the crossbar.
The Reds made two changes at the interval, with Ronan Darcy and Liam Kelly making way for a further two Crawley debutants in Klaidi Lolos and Aaron Henry.
The second half was a largely cagey affair, with very little in the way of genuine chances for either side.
Lolos looked lively and went close on a couple of occasions for Crawley, but was unable to make the most of his opportunities. Henry also saw a vicious shot flash just wide of the post after the ball rebounded to him following a clearance from a corner.
As the game entered its closing stages, Crawley steadily began to exploit the space opening up on the pitch in an attempt to double their advantage. Lolos again went close with a ferocious drive that stung the palms of Bradford keeper Harry Lewis, shortly before Dom Telford fired over from close range.
Danilo Orsi was next to try his luck. However, after being played through by Lolos, he could only send his effort into the side netting.
Addai, who didn’t have a lot to do for large parts of the game, was called into action in injury time, and he was duly on hand to prevent Liam Ridehalgh’s header nick a point for Bradford moments from the full-time whistle.
Both Lolos and Kamarai Swyer had the chance to make sure of the points deep into time added on as the pair looked to be in on goal, but Lolos underhit the pass square to Swyer, and the ball was duly cleared by a Bradford man.
However, Crawley held on to secure a great win, their first on the opening day of an EFL season since 2018.