A brace from Aramide Oteh and a superb strike from Jordan Mutch gave Crawley a much-needed three points at the Broadfield Stadium this afternoon. Oteh opened the scoring in the opening ten minutes with an excellent strike from range before he finished off a neat move on the stroke of half-time. Mutch added Crawley’s third with a whipping effort from the edge of the box in the 68th minute. Anthony O’Connor pulled a goal back in stoppage time, but the Reds held on to claim the all-important three points.
The Broadfield Stadium was absolutely rocking at the start of the match, which undoubtedly inspired the Red Devils to a fast start. James Tilley made his full return from injury and got stuck in straight away and began causing the opposition issues in the opening exchanges with his quick feet.
Crawley’s fast start was rewarded with the opening goal in the 8th minute. A few early shots from range had given the Crawley players some confidence with the ball at their feet. One of those was Aramide Oteh, who let fly from 20 yards and beautifully found the bottom corner to give the Red Devils the lead.
Admittedly, the early goal had slowed the game down for the next 15 minutes or so. Crawley looked comfortable on the ball, and Harrogate began to put some attacking plays together but had failed to trouble Corey Addai in the Crawley goal.
Crawley continued to dominate the possession in the first half, but the majority of play had been centred around the midfield, which meant neither side was getting many opportunities to shoot at goal. Alex Pattison had a half-chance for the visitors as he stung the palms of Addai.
Scott Lindsey’s side were holding the ball well, but there were a few Red men that found themselves walking on eggshells in the first half. Jack Powell, James Tilley, and Ashley Nadesan had all found their way into the referee’s book in the opening 45 minutes.
The persistent pressure paid off once again for Crawley as Oteh doubled his side’s lead on the stroke of half-time. The goal was produced by Ashley Nadesan, who had been found well by Dom Telford on the wing. The striker bounced towards goal and neatly pulled the ball back to Oteh to allow his strike partner to score his and Crawley’s second goal.
It was a fairly even start to the second half, and Crawley were looking confident with the ball at their feet. Oteh was proving to be a right handful this afternoon, and the forward had won Crawley a couple of corners in the early knockings, but both were dealt with by the Harrogate defence.
Harrogate showed some promise after the hour mark with a well-worked chance that was flashed wide by Toby Sims. A free-flowing move from the visitors saw Sims pick the ball up inside the box, but the full-back dragged his effort wide of the post.
Harrogate were showing real intent at the Broadfield Stadium and should have punished the Reds in the 67th minute. A ball was flashed across the face of the goal and substitute Matty Daly had plenty of the goal to aim for but failed to connect with his effort and saw it dribble wide.
Crawley took advantage of this and scored a very impressive third goal in the 68th minute. Nadesan was again brilliant in the build-up as he found Tom Fellows, who had been introduced for James Tilley. Fellows pounced on the ball and found Telford inside the box. The striker worked the ball out to Jordon Mutch on the edge of the box, and the midfielder expertly picked out the top corner to send the Broadfield Stadium terrace wild.
Harrogate pulled a goal back in stoppage time, but the Red Devils held on to claim a vital victory at the Broadfield Stadium.
REDS XI: Addai, Gordon, Conroy, Francillette, Mazeed, Tilley (Fellows 60’), Powell, Mutch, Oteh, Nadesan, Telford (Khaleel 79’)
Attendance: 3317 (109 away)