Crawley Town 1 Cheltenham Town 0: Ollie Palmer’s first half goal earns Reds’ second successive win

Crawley Town FC. Ollie Palmer . Pic Steve Robards SR1820089 SUS-180731-115858001
Crawley Town FC. Ollie Palmer . Pic Steve Robards SR1820089 SUS-180731-115858001

Ollie Palmer returned from suspension to help clinch Crawley Town’s second successive victory.

His 39th minute penalty strike was his 12th goal of the season and the only goal of the game as Reds added Cheltenham Town to their list of New Year scalpings following their 2-0 win against Colchester United on January 1.

Top scorer Palmer went straight back to the side following a five-match ban for his sending-off against Northampton Town.

He was one of two changes made by Gabriele Cioffi.

Joe Maguire came in at centre-back in place of Joe McNerney who began a three-match suspension for his red card against Colchester United.

Reece Grego-Cox was on the bench, making way for Palmer.

Dominic Poleon kept his place upfront alongside Palmer.

Former Crawley striker Tyrone Barnett lined up for Cheltenham against his former club and headed a cross wide by Connor Thomas, then from another chance saw a header caught by Glenn Morris.

Poleon did great work to beat a defender, went on a run inside the area and forced a good save by ‘keeper Scott Flinders.

Reds were awarded a penalty six minutes before half-time when a ball was hit to Palmer and as he took it down it hit the hand of defender Jordon Forster.

Palmer put the ball away in comfortable style, sending Flinders the wrong way to give Reds the lead.

Seconds before half-time Alex Addai had a good chance for the visitors but struck his shot wide of the post.

Reds made a flying start to the second half with Luke Gambin and Poleon twice have chances to add to the scoreline.

Cheltenham made two substitutions, bringing on Luke Varney and Ryan Broom for Alex Addai and Jacob Maddox.

Cioffi brought on Lewis Young off the bench, having recovered from a groin injury, for excellent wing-back David Sesay.

The Robins were forced into a third change when Nigel Atangana went down with an injury, received treatment on the pitch but had to be replaced by Kevin Dawson.

Palmer then set-up Poleon for a great chance to increase the lead but headed straight to the ‘keeper from the six-yard box.

Moments later Cioffo substituted Poleon and brought in Grego-Cox to partner Palmer up front.

In the closing stages Varney tried intercepted Mark Connolly’s headed clearance but blasted behind the Reds goal.

Reds’ final change was five minutes before the end when Dannie Bulman who replaced Josh Payne and took the captain’s armband.

Crawley survived a late push by the visitors to get back on to level terms when Glenn Morris tipped a chance over the bar.

Finally Mark Connolly heroically cleared off the line to deny a Ben Tozer’s diving header to help Reds make sure of the three points.

Crawley Town: Morris, Doherty, Payne (capt) (Bulman 85), Connolly, Palmer, Poleon (Grego-Cox 80), Gambin, Francomb, Maguire, Sesay (Young 65), Camara

Unused subs: Mersin, Nathaniel-George, N’Gala

Cheltenham Town: Flinders, Hussey, Tozer (capt), Atangana (Dawson 71), Thomas, Addai (Varney 62), Maddox (Broom 62), Forster, Clements, Pring, Barnett

Unused subs: Lovett, Bower, Lloyd, Alcock

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 2,623 (216 away)

Man of the Match: George Francomb