Roarie Deacon hit a scorching brace to match the conditions as Crawley Town secured their first win of the League Two campaign at Cambridge this afternoon.
The striker hit his first goals for the club netting in each half - the second a delightful finish three minutes after the break - while Gwion Edwards added a third late on as Reds recorded a 3-0 victory on the road.
It was an impressive display for the travelling side, who looked accomplished at the back and had a spark going forwards to inflict their hosts with their first defeat of the season.
They even finished the match with ten men after Liam Donnelly received a harsh second yellow card and was dismissed before the third goal.
Reds made three changes to the side that drew with Portsmouth midweek as on loan Crystal Palace left-back Christian Scales was handed his debut, while Matt Harrold and Deacon came into the side.
Jimmy Smith, Luke Rooney and Lee Barnard all dropped to the bench.
The U’s were without new signing Barry Corr, who missed out through injury having netted five goals in their first three games, but started former Crawley loanee Keith Keane in central midfield.
The visitors started the brighter in boiling temperatures and Donnelly’s effort from inside the box was well blocked by Leon Legge and the follow-up chipped cross from Lewis Young was headed away for a corner.
Cambridge got out their half for the first time on seven minutes and a Jacob Blyth lay-off to Ryan Donaldson put him in a good area, but he skewed wide.
On 14 minutes, Sonny Bradley’s looping header from 12 yards after a deep Simon Walton free-kick had Chris Dunn back-peddling, but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Penalty cries in the Crawley box were waved away by referee Nigel Miller as Donaldson tore into the area at pace and looked to have been brought down.
At the other end, there was a yellow card for George Taft, after the U’s centre-half brought down Donnelly as the Crawley striker moved towards the danger area.
On 28 minutes, Freddie Woodman was down well to save Jacob Blyth’s backward’s header after a Harrison Dunk cross, while at the other end, Deacon’s effort from 20 yards crashed against the bar.
The U’s best chance came nine minutes before half-time as a deflected shot from substitute Liam Hughes flickeed off George Taft, but Woodward was down well to save.
Reds took the lead on 40 minutes as another Deacon effort from outside the area took a wild deflection off a U’s defender’s back and ended up in the back of the net.
The visitors could have had a chance to add a second before half-time as Mark Roberts looked to have fouled Deacon in the box, but again the man in the middle was unmoved.
They didn’t have long to wait in the second half to double the lead, three minutes infact as Deacon dropped his shoulder, beat his man on the left and fired home across goal via the inside of the far post.
Cambridge asked the questions for the next spell of the game, but the Reds back four were superb in heading away any danger and Woodman collected the rest.
The assured stopper was down well to collect Taft’s header from a corner on 64 minutes in the best of their limited chances.
Matt Harrold then sent a spectacular 25-yard volley just wide out the right-hand post after a Deacon knock-down, before substitute Bobson Bawling crashed into the side netting after a Deacon lay-off.
Reds were forced to play the final minutes with ten men as Donnelly harshly received a second yellow card for encroachment in the wall, but the replayed effort was skied high and wide.
Despite this Crawley added a third with four minutes left to play as Edwards tapped home into an empty net after an angled effort from Bawling was parried.
Crawley: Woodman, Bradley, McNerney, Ashton, Scales, Edwards, Walton, Donnelly, Young (Bawling 73), Harrold (Smith 90), Deacon (Barnard 77). Unused subs: Rooney, Preston, Fenelon, Van Den Bogart.
Cambridge: Dunn, Omozusi, Roberts (Slew 57), Legge, Taft, Dunk, Newton (Carr 57), Keane (Hughes 30), Berry, Blythe, Donaldson. Unused subs: Beasant, Taylor, Simpson, Morrissey.
Referee: Nigel Miller.
Attendance: 5, 459 (193 away).
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