Colchester United 2, Crawley Town 3: Smith hat-trick brings fine away victory

Jimmy Smith scored a perfect hat-trick
Jimmy Smith scored a perfect hat-trick

A hat-trick by skipper Jimmy Smith helped to end Crawley Town's four-game winless run with a fine 3-2 win away to Colchester United.

Reds recovered from going a goal behind and then pushed to a 2-1 lead at half-time thanks to two goals by Smith.

The Crawley captain then scored his third goal of the game early in the second half to pave the way for a morale-boosting away victory in Essex.

The home side pulled a goal back from a well-taken free-kick by Ben Dickinson, but they could not find a third to grab a point.

Colchester went into the game high in confidence having won their previous five home matches.

The Us took the lead in the 18th minute when a cross from the left wasn't cleared and Denny Johnstone scored with a shot which was deflected over keeper Glenn Morris.

The goal was controversial as appeals for handball were ignored by the referee.

Smith pulled Reds back on to level terms just five minutes later when he rose to head home Dean Cox's corner.

Smith then added a stunning second goal to give Crawley the lead in the 34th minute when he received a ball from Enzio Boldwewijn from the far post and he volleyed in it sweetly into the net.

Cox tried to find James Collins with a cross as they looked for a third goal but home keeper Sam Walker gathered the ball.

Just before half-time Reds went close again when Cox broke clear and nearly put Boldewijn through for a chance but the ball was cleared.

Coming out from a 2-1 half-time lead, Smith continued in the same vein by clinching his hat-trick in the 51st minute, hitting the ball under Walker from the edge of the area.

Midway through the half the referee had to receive treatment for an injury and was then substituted and Mr Waters replaced official Collins.

Smith's inspired night nearly brought a fourth goal when from a breakaway move, Boldewijn cut back and Smith's shot was blocked before Kaby Djalo hit the rebound wide.

With two minutes to go Reds survived a threat when they cleared from a goalmouth scramble.

Play had been held up by the incident with the referee and so consequently eight added minutes were indicated.

During the long period of injury-time Colchester pulled a goal back to 3-2 with a 93rd minute goal by Dickinson from a curling free-kick.

There was a tense last few minutes as Crawley battled to hold out for the valuable three away points and in the final seconds Morris held a dangerous ball sent into the penalty area as Crawley clinched a rare away victory.

REDS: Morris, Young, Lelan, Connolly, Roberts, Henderson, Djalo, Smith (capt) (Payne 86), Boldewijn, Cox (Bawling 73), Collins

Subs: Merson, Blackman, Yorwerth, Clifford, Murphy