A horror first 20 minutes cost Crawley Town dear as they lost 2-1 to AFC Wimbledon under the Friday night lights at the Broadfield Stadium.
Harry Ransom – last season’s Young Player of the Year – replaced the suspended Jay Williams, who was sent off during the 3-1 defeat to Mansfield Town last Saturday.
It was a bright start from the Reds as Nick Tsaroulla’s penetrating run ended with his cross just evading Danilo Orsi. But after it was mostly downhill for the Reds. Kelly was replaced by Darcy then Josh Davison scored with a header which initially looked easy for Luca Ashby-Hammond, but the keeper somehow spilled it into his own net.
Reds had a great opportunity to equalise when Kellan Gordon was tripped on the edge of the Wombles area – for which Joe Lewis was booked – but Will Wright couldn’t get his free kick up and down quickly enough.
It then got worse for Scott Lindsey’s men as Ali Al-Hamadi broke clear on right before cutting back on his left foot and firing home past Ashby-Hammond.
The first 20 minutes couldn’t have gone much worse for Scott Lindsey's side.
There was more concern for Lindsey as Gladwin had to receive treatment after going down after a challenge, but the Reds skipper was able to carry on to everyone’s relief.
There was more relief when Al-Hammadi had the ball in the back of the net a few moments later, but Davison was adjudged to have fouled the keeper. In the aftermath, Wimbledon Manager Johnnie Jackson took his protests about the decision too far, and after being booked, was shown a red card.
Crawley could have and probably should have pulled one back before the break when Tsaroulla and Campbell created a great chance for Orsi, but the in-form striker scuffed his shot.
Skipper Gladwin was replaced by Klaidi Lolos, who almost made an immediate impact when he received the ball 20 yards out, turned, swapped feet, and unleashed a shot which Alex Bass did well to palm away.
That seemed to give the Reds a lift and on 58 minutes, they had three chances to pull one back in quick succession. First Tsaroulla found Lolos, his run was blocked but the ball fell kindly to Orsi, whose shot was saved well by Bass, Gordon followed up but his effort was blocked before Bass saved easily from Tsaroulla.
The pendulum then swung in Crawley’s favour as Joe Lewis was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Lolos. Almost straight away, the Reds had a chance as Gordon blasted over a rebound from a Wright free kick.
Campbell and Wright then had chances before Lindsey rolled the dice by bringing on Ade Adeyemo and Jack Roles to replace Campbell and Gordon with 15 minutes to go.
Reds were controlling the game and with eight minutes to go, they got their lifeline. Lolos broke into the box and did well to not panic, which allowed him to twist and turn before laying off to Wright, who finished delightfully with his right foot from 18 yards.
Game on and Tsaroulla then tested Bass with a tame shot before the same player found Orsi with a cross, but the striker failed to make a connection with the ball.
Bass pulled off a stunning save from a Roles header with only a minute to go to break the hearts of almost 5,000 packed inside the Broadfield Stadium.
Reds now travel to Gillingham on Boxing Day.