The cheekiest of penalties from Matt Tubbs four minutes from time handed Crawley Town all three points against Peterborough United as football finally returned to the Broadfield.
The first game at home since January 8 was largely a poor one with only half chances for both sides before Posh substitute Jack Baldwin handled in the box and on-loan Bournemouth striker Tubbs coolly dinked in his fifth goal in five Reds starts from 12 yards.
It saw Reds do the double over Peterborough to put a dent in their play-off chances, and saw John Gregory’s side up to 13th in League One having taken seven points from nine since returning to action after a string of postponements.
Reds made two changes from the mid-week draw as the same starting XI that finished at Swindon lined up. Sullay Kaikai was handed his first ever start in the Football League while Dannie Bulman was in the starting line up for the first time since fracturing his cheekbone on Boxing Day, Jamie Proctor and Andy Drury dropped to the bench. Posh were unchanged from their 1-0 win at Stevenage
Inside two minutes the in-form Tubbs tested visiting ‘keeper Bobby Olejnik with a stinging left-footed strike after Bulman had expertly picked out his run.
And capping a lively start from the hosts, Kaikai fired in a free kick from the corner of the box which the Posh stopper again had to tip over.
An in-swinging Mike Jones free kick caused some nerves in the visitors’ box but only resulted in both Kyle McFadzean and Kaikai down, although both quickly recovered.
Peterborough’s first effort on target arrived on 17 minutes, a free kick from range was teed up for Michael Bostock to let fly with a fizzing low effort straight at Paul Jones.
A quiet ten minutes was disturbed by right back Mark Little marauding up the wing and his low cross found Tommy Rowe in space but he could only dig a shot wide.
After a lively opening the game had largely gone off the boil. Five minutes before half-time however Tubbs hustled and bustled for possession before playing a slick one-two with Simpson, but from the left of the box he could only shoot straight at Olejnick when he would have expected to do better.
At the other end Connolly threw himself at a vicious snap-shot from Lowe to flick it over Paul Jones’ crossbar with the Reds ‘keeper scrambling.
Crystal Palace teenager Kaikai had started the game brightly before fading as the first half went on and he was replaced by Proctor at half-time.
Posh striker Nicky Ajose - who had a successful loan spell at Reds last season - got behind the Reds defence on the left and Paul Jones was needed to make a close-range save with the first chance of the second period.
A neat move from the visitors then saw Assombalonga played in to a similar position down the left and again Jones made the save with the rebound just hacked behind.
Despite the visitors making the brighter start to the second half, Crawley came agonisingly close to grabbing the opening goal on 65 minutes. Tubbs was razor sharp to latch onto a ball in the box and his fierce low cross deflected off a defender and spun close to the goal line before Olejnik smothered the ball with two Reds players waiting to tap home.
With a large section of the pitch by the dugouts heavily sanded and other areas cutting up it was perhaps no surprise that both sides struggled to pass the ball and that there was largely a lack of any real quality throughout.
But with five minutes remaining there was a goal for the home crowd to cheer when Andy Drury’s free kick was handled in the box by Posh substitute Jack Baldwin and referee Lee Collins pointed straight to the spot. Tubbs stepped up and chipped in the cheekiest of penalties to make it five goals in five games since returning to Crawley on loan.
Right at the death substitute Conor Washington volleyed against the inside of the far post having met a deep cross first-time as Reds hung on to all three points.
REDS: P Jones, Sadler, M Connolly, McFadzean, Walsh, Bulman, Jones, Dicker (Drury 55), Simpson, Kaikai (Proctor 45), Tubbs (P Connolly 90).
Subs: Torres, Fallon, Drury, Proctor, Boateng, Maddison, P Connolly.
POSH: Olejnik, Brisley, Bostwick, Swanson (Washington 57), Assombalonga, McCann, Rowe, Knight-Percival (McQuid 87), Ajose, Nugent (Baldwin 81), Little.
Subs: Alock, Baldwin, Payne, Day, Newell, Washington, McQuid.