Leyton Orient 0, Crawley Town 1: Billy Clarke’s stunner seals win

Billy Clarke is congratulated on his goal against Leyton Orient (Pic by Jon Rigby)
Billy Clarke is congratulated on his goal against Leyton Orient (Pic by Jon Rigby)
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Billy Clarke’s classy goal sealed a 1-0 win for Crawley Town at Leyton Orient today.

Clarke struck after 11 minutes when his curling shot found the top corner, and in a game which took a while to come to the boil, the Reds withstood wave after wave of second half pressure to go 12th in the table above today’s hosts.

It was Crawley’s first win since New Year’s Day and their first ‘double’ of the season, on the back of the 1-0 win at the Broadfield in September.

Crawley made a lively start but The O’s might have made more of an early chance, as both David Mooney and Mark Connolly slipped when Charlie MacDonald slid a low ball into the six yard box.

It was all pretty low-key, until the 11th minute that was. Billy Clarke brought the ball down and in a flash he had turned his man before curling a shot into the far corner from an improbable angle.

Crawley then proceeded to get a stranglehold on the match, and could have doubled their lead when Mike Jones’ header flicked the top of the bar from Nicky Adams’ cross, with Orient keeper Jamie Jones rooted to the spot.

It wasn’t pretty, but as the half progressed, the hosts gained a foothold, forcing a first save from Paul Jones when MacDonald latched on to Dean Cox’s ball over the top, and when the resulting corner was cleared, Leon McSweeney fired narrowly over from 30 yards.

Crawley survived that spell of pressure though and forced a series of corners towards the end of the half as The O’s were kept at arm’s length.

It was more of the same after the break, Reds looked to play on the break, and Adams chose to shoot instead of sliding Proctor in, while Clarke then saw his 20-yard effort gathered by Jamie Jones. Reds had another couple of similar breaks through Adams’ and Matt Sparrow’s industry. The best of which saw Proctor burst into the Orient box but drag an effort which was neither a cross nor a shot across the six yard box.

Orient’s threat had been sporadic, but they were denied a leveller though with 19 minutes to play - a combination of Joe Walsh and Dannie Bulman blocking a close range Cox effort when the Orient man had an open goal.

That saw the hosts start to crank up the pressure, another brave Walsh block denied substitute Shaun Batt, and Paul Jones produced a terrific reaction save to keep-out Scott Cuthbert’s thumping header. But the Re4ds held on to register a first away win since beating Portsmouth on Boxing Day.

Crawley Town: Paul Jones, Mustapha Dumbuya, Mark Connolly, Joe Walsh, Mat Sadler, Nicky Adams, Mike Jones, Dannie Bulman, Matt Sparrow, Billy Clarke, Jamie Proctor.

Subs: Johnny Maddison, Aiden O’Brien (on for Adams 88), Sergio Torres (on for Clarke 82), Jonte Smith, Connor Essam, Lateef Elford-Alliyu.

Leyton Orient: Jamie Jones, Leon McSweeney, Romain Vincelot, Scott Cuthbert, Mathieu Baudry, Dean Cox, Nathan Clarke, Lee Cook, Lloyd James, Charlie MacDonald, David Mooney.

Subs: Anthony Griffith, Jimmy Smith (on for Vincelot 78), Moses Obudajo (on for Cook 56), Charlie Grainger, Afolabo Obafemi, Elliot Omozusi, Shaun Batt (on for MacDonald 65)