Crawley Town were beaten 3-1 by a vastly experienced Mansfield Town outfit in what was their final Saturday 3pm kick-off before Christmas.
The game got off to a very fast start - the ball was flashed across the Mansfield area inside the first couple of minutes, but the visitors dealt with the danger before Crawley had the chance to open their account for the afternoon.
Alas, it was Mansfield who opened the scoring, with centre back Bailly Cargill emphatically powering home a header following a sumptuous cross from Rhys Oates.
Crawley had a shot at a near-instant response, and they came mightily close to equalising in the fourteenth minute when a free-kick from renowned set-piece specialist Will Wright hit the side netting.
Following the goal, chances seemed to come at a premium. Crawley came close to scoring in the 24th minute, but neither Danilo Orsi nor Adam Campbell could convert from Kellan Gordon’s low, driven cross into the area.
Mansfield’s Davis Keillor-Dunn also came close to a sensational Mansfield second, as he tried to lob Luca Ashby-Hammond who found himself off his line, and missed the right hand post by just a few inches.
Orsi then went close again just past the half-an-hour mark. He displayed both excellent ball control and footwork to wriggle free of a few Mansfield defenders inside the area, but his shot arched just over the bar from 12 or so yards out.
In the 35th minute, Crawley received a penalty following a tussle in the box – and it was duly powered home by Orsi much to the delight of the home crowd.
The second half was a cagey affair to begin with, but Will Wright nearly gave Crawley the lead with an outrageous effort from 25 yards out, which, with the keeper beaten, cannoned against the crossbar.
And no sooner had Crawley gone so close to taking the lead, they found themselves behind again. Davis Keillor-Dunn scored with 56 minutes on the clock, poking home inside the area to give the visitors the advantage, perhaps against the run of play.
George Maris then extended the visitor’s lead as the clock ticked over into the 64th minute of play. Lucas Akins saw his initial shot deflected and it fell kindly for Maris, who was on hand to sweep the ball home and double the Mansfield advantage.
As if Crawley’s task wasn’t already hard enough, they were then reduced to 10 men as defender Jay Williams was shown two yellow cards in quick succession and duly sent off.
The rest of the game frustratingly petered out, with Crawley having little joy trying to get back into it. Summer signing Ade Adeyemo went close, but his effort flew over the bar.
All in all it was a frustrating afternoon for Scott Lindsey’s Reds – who will surely be looking to bounce back over the festive period.
Attendance: 2,817 (452 away)
REDS XI: Ashby-Hammond, Gordon (Lolos 74'), Williams, Conroy, Maguire, Tsaroulla (Adeyemo 74'), Gladwin (c), Wright, Kelly, Campbell (Darcy 74'), Orsi