Colchester 2 Crawley Town 3

Crawley Town's Skybet Player of the Month winner Izale McLeod with his award SUS-150903-193751002
Crawley Town's Skybet Player of the Month winner Izale McLeod with his award SUS-150903-193751002
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A controversial penalty by Izale McLeod completed a superb fightback as Crawley beat relegation rivals Colchester.

Goals by Ryan Dickson, Gavin Tomlin and McLeod from the penalty spot overcame home strikes by Sammy Szmodics and David Fox.

The result lifted Crawley up one place to third from bottom above Colchester and just three points from getting out of the relegation zone.

Dean Saunders named an unchanged side from that which narrowly lost 2-1 against Bristol City.

Marvin Elliott returned from injury and was on the bench.

Colchester handed a debut to new signing Jacob Murphy who is a striker on loan from Norwich City.

He was their only change, replacing defender Alex Wynter who was a substitute.

Crawley had the first good chance for either side when Tomlin put McLeod through but the goal opening up in fron of him his shot hit the left upright.

Sammie Szmodics handed Colchester the lead after 11 minutes when he seized upon a poor clearing header from Lewis Young and scored with a half-volley.

Crawley soon got back on to level terms within four minutes when Young made amends for his earlier mistake at the other end.

He supplied a great cross low to Dickson who scored against his former club - a perfect time to score his first goal for Crawley.

Murphy played a ball across the face of Crawley’s goal but thankfully for the visitors no-one could connect.

Anthony Wordsworth nearly took the lead for Crawley when Dickson’s throw-in was flicked on to him by Sonny Bradley and his powerful stike rebounded off the crossbar.

Lewis Price made two saves against Colchester shots as the home side went in search of another goal before half-time.

But despite their chances it was Crawley who gained the lead three minutes before the break as Young provided a cross for Tomlin who made no mistake.

Colchester levelled six minutes after the start of the second half with a superbly taken free-kick which he bent inside the right hand post.

Crawley began a period of notching up all the main chances as Mathias Pogba supplied Mcleod who scuffed his shot to allow Sam Walker to make an easy save.

Tomlin then provided a clever pass for Dickson who got the ball in the net for a second time in the game but it was ruled offside.

Crawley took the lead for the first time with 15 minutes to go when McLeod was brought down by Walker and a penalty was awarded.

McLeod did seem to go down easily and the decision proved controversial with shouts from the home crowd that McLeod had cheated.

However the referee awarded Walker with as yellow card and McLeod stepped up to take the spot-kick, expertly sending Walker the wrong way with a stuttering run-up.

The goal was met with great cheer by the excellent Crawley fans who made plenty of noise as they sung their side on to a vital victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Colchester pushed on in the closing stages but were not allowed any clear sights on goal as the Reds defended well in the last few minutes to clinch the three points.

REDS: Price, Dickson (Edwards 83), McLeod, Young, Fowler, Tomlin (Bawling 90), Ward, Wordsworth, Pogba (Elliott 69), Wood, Bradley

Unused subs: Jensen, Smith, Morgan, Anderson

COLCHESTER: Walker, Osborne (Wynter 51), Gilbey, Briggs, Eastman, Massey, Murphy, Szmodics (Moncur 46), Fox, Hewitt, Porter.

Unused subs: Lewington, Healey, Vincent-Young, Bonne, Sembie-Ferris

REFEREE: D.Adcock (Nottinghamshire)

ATTENDANCE: 3,592 (away 294)