It’s now four consecutive defeats for Crawley following Tuesday night’s 2-0 away loss to Sean O’Driscoll’s struggling Bristol City side, writes Warren Lucy.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Joe Bryan both found the net in the final ten minutes of the game, as City picked up not only their first home win of the season, but also their first clean sheet in League One this campaign.
Richie Barker made two changes following Saturday’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Brentford with Dannie Bulman and Andy Drury making way for James Hurst to return to right back, and Emile Sinclair, who partnered Jamie Proctor up front.
Despite an early warning shot from Emmanuel-Thomas, when he headed a Brendan Moloney cross over the bar, Reds had the early pressure on the Robins’ goal.
Firstly, after only three minutes, Nicky Adams was sent clear but saw his effort from a narrow angle trickle wide of Elliot Parish’s right-hand post.
Soon after, Sinclair saw his drive deflected into the grateful gloves of Parish before loanee Kyle Bennett saw his eighth minute strike fly well wide of the goal.
The best chance of the half fell to Sinclair after 16 minutes. The Reds forward played a neat one-two with his strike partner Proctor before unleashing a first time effort that Parish had to push away for a corner.
The game began to get scrappy, particularly in the middle of the park where Mike Jones and Josh Simpson battled well with the City duo of Reds summer transfer target Marlon Pack and Nottingham Forest loanee Simon Gillett.
The visitors were restricting the hosts well and the closest O’Driscoll’s troops came to scoring was on the stroke of half time but Bryan’s right-footed effort was straight at Paul Jones as the teams went back to the changing rooms with the home supporters’ groans in their ears.
After the break, City came out with much more purpose and straight from the off Sam Baldock sent a long range effort skimming off the surface, which Jones did well to get down low and tip around his right-hand post, before Derrick Williams scuffed his shot wide.
With 20 minutes remaining, another City newboy, Karleigh Osborne, headed a Pack free kick off target as the hosts looked to snatch the goal that could win the game.
Gillett went closer three minutes later when his 20-yard strike flew inches wide of Jones’ upright.
The deadlock was broken on 80 minutes when Kyle McFadzean looked for a foul that wasn’t given by referee Brendan Malone, leaving Emmanuel-Thomas with the simple task to slot past Jones.
The goal seemed to rejuvenate Crawley and Jamie Proctor had two good opportunities to equalise, a header tipped over by Parish before shooting wide with his left foot a minute later.
Up the other end, City had an excellent chance to add a second goal when McFadzean failed to deal with a long ball, but Baldock saw his effort tipped up in the air by Jones before the Reds’ stopper grabbed the ball following Joe Walsh’s head back.
The second City goal came just three minutes from time as Bryan broke the offside trap, latching on to an Emmanuel-Thomas through ball to lash past Jones, making the points safe for his side, leaving Crawley in 13th place in League One.
REDS: P. Jones, Hurst, McFadzean, Walsh, Sadler (Rooney, 85), Adams, M. Jones, Simpson, Bennett (Drury, 76), Proctor, Sinclair (Alexander, 81)