Crawley Town 2-0 Notts County: Vital win for Reds in relegation dogfight

It was smiles all round for Crawley after beating Notts County (Pic by Joe and James Rigby) SUS-150323-144204008
It was smiles all round for Crawley after beating Notts County (Pic by Joe and James Rigby) SUS-150323-144204008
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Kelly Youga scored an inspired overhead kick and Darren Ward headed a second as Crawley Town earned a vital win over relegation rivals Notts County.

The result means that Crawley move out of the relegation zone before their final two games - away to Peterborough next weekend before hosting Coventry, another side in the relegation dogfight, on the final day of the season.

Crawley boss Dean Saunders is delighted with his players after they beat Leyton Orient (Pic by Joe and James Rigby) SUS-150323-144025008

Crawley boss Dean Saunders is delighted with his players after they beat Leyton Orient (Pic by Joe and James Rigby) SUS-150323-144025008

The two sides entered the pivotal fixture level on 47 points and both in the relegation zone - with Reds having played an extra game.

Crawley made three changes to the side that suffered a 5-0 humbling at the hands of Walsall in midweek, with long-serving Josh Simpson making his first appearance since November.

Ward was welcomed back from injury and Mathias Pogba returned to the lineup, with Lanre Oyebanjo, Ryan Dickson and Dean Morgan dropping to the bench.

There were no signs of nerves from Crawley, who found the net twice in little over two minutes to race into a 2-0 lead with just 16 minutes gone.

Youga broke the deadlock with a stunning strike that marked his first goal for the club in some style.

It was a moment of inspiration from the defender, who gave County’s ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll no chance with an acrobatic overhead kick that flew into the bottom corner.

Reds supporters were in dreamland when their lead was doubled just two minutes later.

Anthony Wordsworth whipped in a free kick from the right side, which was met by a glancing header from Ward that found the bottom corner.

Home supporters launched into chants of ‘we are staying up’, but County threatened when Blair Adams’ cross found the head of Jimmy Spencer, who forced Brian Jensen to tip the ball over the bar.

Jensen made a fine stop minutes later, diving to save Garry Thompson’s header.

The goals seemed to open the game up after a nervy start, and Crawley had a penalty shout turned down when Izale McLeod went down under the challenge of Jordan Williams.

Jensen was soon called on to make another smart stop, the keeper diving low to his right to keep out Gary Jones’ 25-yard volley.

A clever free kick routine straight from the training ground involving Wordsworth and Lee Fowler ended with Youga attempting another overhead kick - but this time his effort cleared the crossbar, in the last chance of the half.

The second half was a quieter affair, and though County began the half with renewed purpose, they were unable to break down a stubborn Crawley back four.

Crawley threatened when McLeod’s header dropped wide on 57 minutes, before the same player forced Carroll into a stop on the other side of the hour mark.

Simpson more than held his own on his return to action, the popular midfielder receiving a standing ovation when Gwion Edwards replaced him on 71 minutes.

With ten minutes to play, Crawley squandered a huge chance to make the game safe. Jordan Williams miscontrolled the ball and McLeod raced through - but the striker was denied one on one by Carroll and from the rebound substitute Dean Morgan missed the target with the goal at his mercy.

Despite an allocated five minutes of injury time, the visitors were unable to test Jensen again as Crawley sealed a vital three points.

Reds: Jensen, Young, Ward, Bradley, Youga, Tomlin (Oyebanjo 84), Wordsworth, Fowler, Simpson (Edwards 71), Pogba (Morgan 78), McLeod.