Crawley Town 3 Lincoln City 1: Reds move up to ninth with win over promotion-challenging Imps

Crawley Town FC v Lincoln City FC. Jimmy Smith 1st half goal.  Pic Steve Robards SR1804885 SUS-180217-163724001
Crawley Town FC v Lincoln City FC. Jimmy Smith 1st half goal. Pic Steve Robards SR1804885 SUS-180217-163724001

Crawley Town beat Lincoln City 3-1 to move up to ninth place and earn their fifth consecutive home win for the first time in their Football League history.

After their heavy 4-1 defeat at top of the table Luton on Tuesday night, the Reds went into the game looking to re-discover their form which saw them win seven of the previous eight games.

Crawley Town FC v Lincoln City FC. Jimmy Smith 1st half goal.  Pic Steve Robards SR1804865 SUS-180217-163713001

Crawley Town FC v Lincoln City FC. Jimmy Smith 1st half goal. Pic Steve Robards SR1804865 SUS-180217-163713001

Harry Kewell made three changes to that side, with Josh Yorwerth returning after a one-match injury lay-off, Josh Doherty filling in at left-back and Thomas Verheydt favoured up front.

Josh Lelan, Cedric Evina and Jordan Roberts all made way.

Despite a couple of nervy moments at the back, the Reds made a strong start with several chances.

It took them just 15 minutes to open the scoring, via a Jimmy Smith tap-in after Lewis Young’s driving run and excellent effort crashed against the bar.

Crawley Town FC v Lincoln City FC. Karlan Ahearne-Grant.  Pic Steve Robards SR1804859 SUS-180217-163649001

Crawley Town FC v Lincoln City FC. Karlan Ahearne-Grant. Pic Steve Robards SR1804859 SUS-180217-163649001

Enzio Boldewijn, who was influential as ever, came closest to doubling the hosts’ lead after finding himself on the end of a perfect Karlan Ahearne-Grant cross, but saw his volley fly over the bar.

Boldewijn was again involved a few minutes later, finding Smith just inside the area, who mis-cued his shot wide.

Ahearne-Grant came agonisingly close to his fourth in four games, after being played through by Enzio, but was thwarted by a fine save by Ryan Allsop.

Lincoln, who sit inside the play-off places in seventh, withstood the pressure before Tom Pett twisted and turned his way past several Reds defenders, but an unlikely equaliser was prevented by an acrobatic Josh Yorwerth clearance on the line.

Crawley Town FC v Lincoln City FC. Ref informed about issue in dug out by fourth official 1st half.  Pic Steve Robards SR1804949 SUS-180217-163848001

Crawley Town FC v Lincoln City FC. Ref informed about issue in dug out by fourth official 1st half. Pic Steve Robards SR1804949 SUS-180217-163848001

After a heated end to the first half, which saw several fouls and on-field disputes, Imps manager Danny Cowley was sent to the stands and Verheydt had to be helped off the field injured to be replaced at half-time by Roberts.

Lincoln came close to levelling the scoring just five minutes after the restart, with Matt Green flicking a header across goal onto the bar.

On the break, Karlan-Grant fired over the bar after good work by Roberts and Boldewijn.

The visitors made the most of an improved start to the second half and got back into the game through a well-taken goal by Green from the left of six-yard box.

Josh Payne skied a free-kick from just outside the box and Ahearne-Grant played in a dangerous ball after an excellent run to no avail as Crawley looked to restore their lead.

Crawley were presented a golden opportunity to do just that from the spot when Boldewijn was hauled to the ground as he looked to get on the end of a Smith cross.

Payne made up for his earlier poor free-kick with a well-taken penalty into the bottom right corner.

No more than five minutes later, Mark Connolly got on the end of Roberts’ self-earned free-kick to smash in from two yards out to give Crawley a two-goal cushion.

Lincoln didn’t go without a fight and battled for a way back into the game with a few late chances, but Kewell’s side held out for yet another home win.

Crawley: Morris, Young, Connolly, Yorwerth, Doherty, Boldewijn, Smith (capt), Payne (Bulman 83), Randall (Tajbakhsh 87), Ahearne-Grant, Verheydt (Roberts 46)

Unused subs: Mersin, McNerney, Lelan, Evina

Lincoln: Allsop, Habergham, Waterfall, Wharton (Whitehouse 78), Pett, Rhead (Williams 75), Green (Palmer 75), Bostwick, Eardley, Anderson, Woodyard

Unused subs: Farman, Chapman, Stewart, Long

Attendance: 2,809 (702 away fans)

Man of the Match: Lewis Young