Crawley lost out to high-flying Northampton Town at the Sixfields Stadium this afternoon. A cagey first half was followed by a vicious second, as Northampton's Aaron McGowan was dismissed in the 72nd minute for an elbow on Jack Roles. Despite the man advantage, Crawley fell behind moments later courtesy of a brilliant strike from Jack Sowerby. Crawley's persistence didn't pay off as the Reds failed to find an equaliser.
It was a shaky start for the Red Devils, who were fortunate not to be behind within the first two minutes. After a sloppy piece of Crawley defending, Mitch Pinnock raced through on goal. The Cobbler's wide man really should have scored, but could only direct his shot at Corey Addai, who made a routine save.
Northampton were all over Crawley in the opening twenty minutes as the Reds' defensive line appeared to be stretched by the opposition attack in the early stages. The home side were constantly finding space in-behind the Crawley defence with balls over the top and Jon Brady would have been frustrated that his side had not found a way through as of yet.
Brandon Mason was filling in for the injured Nick Tsaroulla this afternoon in the left-back position, and Crawley's number eleven was facing a tough afternoon after he was booked in the 23rd minute for a challenge on Pinnock. This didn't stop Mason from adventuring forward, and it was the full-back who helped create Crawley's first real chance of the afternoon. Ashley Nadesan burst forward on the counter-attack and found Mason in space. Brandon tried pulling the ball back into the Northampton box from a tight angle, but had to settle for a corner.
Joel Lynch also entered the referee's book before half-time. An ariel dual resulted in the Crawley centre-back taking a boot to the chest, which left him in a visible amount of pain. Despite this, Lynch was penalised for the challenge and shown a yellow card.
Josh Eppiah then found himself with a golden opportunity to put his side ahead a few minutes before half-time. The attacker looked to be in an offside position when he received the pass, but rushed through on goal with no flag from the linesman. Travis Johnson tracked his man brilliantly, and producded a sublime tackle to almost certainly keep the score level.
0-0 was a good scoreline for Scott Lindsey's side at the break. Northampton had controlled large periods of the first period, but Crawley's defence had done just enough to keep the Cobblers at bay.
It was a much brighter start for the Reds in the second half as Dom Telford let fly with an effort in the 46th minute. The ball fell to the striker, who whipped a powerful effort at goal, but failed to find the target.
Conroy and Telford had chances to shoot a few moments later, but the pair failed to get any real connection on their strikes and saw them cleared to safety.
Jack Roles and Jordan Mutch were introduced in the 67th minute to try and inject some energy into the Crawley attack. Mutch, who was on for his Crawley debut, replaced Telford, while Roles replaced Tom Fellows.
Out of nothing, the game erupted. Over two separate incidents in the space of two minutes, there were almost two full-blown fights. The first ended after a few minutes, but the second was triggered by an act of stupidity from Northampton's Aaron McGowan. The Cobbler landed an alleged elbow to the face on Jack Roles, which caused an eruption between the two sides. Fortunately, the incident occurred right in front of the linesman, and as a result, McGowan was dismissed by the referee. The Reds now had over 15 minutes with a man advantage.
Despite the man advantage, Crawley were a goal down moments later. A Northampton corner was only cleared to the edge of the box where Jack Sowerby was waiting. The Cobbler's midfielder rifled a volley into the top corner to put his side ahead.
Seven additional minutes were not enough for Crawley, as the home side walked away with all three points.
REDS XI: Addai, Gordon, Johnson (Francillette 78'), Lynch, Mason, Fellows (Roles 67'), Powell, Conroy, Oteh, Telford (Mutch 67'), Nadesan