Crawley 1, AFC Wimbledon 2: Reds stunned by second-half fightback

Oxford Utd V Crawley Town (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150908-124821008
Oxford Utd V Crawley Town (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150908-124821008

Crawley Town threw away a half-time lead as they went down 2-1 to AFC Wimbledon in their opening home League Two game of the new campaign this afternoon.

The home side led 1-0 thanks to a Gwion Edwards header after a first 45 minutes they mainly controlled, but couldn’t get a foothold after the break and were pegged back by a Adebayo Akinfenwa leveller and Andy Barcham winner 13 minutes from time.

Reds made three changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Peterborough midweek with Jon Ashton, Simon Walton and Gwion Edwards replacing Joe McNerny, Ashley Young and Shamir Fenelon.

And despite having just six on the bench there was no sign of wantaway striker Izlae McLeod, despite Mark Yates suggesting on Thursday that he might feature.

There was a debut for Belgium Bryan Van Den Bogaert for Reds, while former fans’ favourite Dannie Bulman was on the bench for The Dons on his return to the Stadium.

Reds started the more lively and a deep Jimmy Smith cross was headed towards goal by Matt Harrold, but James Shea held his looping header.

The home side dominated possession in the early stages and had plenty of the ball in the Dons’ half, but didn’t create too much with it, while at the other end Akinfenwa cut an isolated figure.

The Dons grew into the game and while Edwards put in a defensive shift to cut George Francomb out of the game on the right, their first chance developed from the opposite flank.

Tricky footwork from Barcham saw him jink to the byline and cut it back for Lyle Taylor, who turned and shot wide from close range under pressure.

On 23 minutes - after some wayward shooting from Luke Rooney, once firing into the car park and the other well wide - Roarie Deacon cut inside and fired one straight at Shea from just outside the box.

A good defensive header by Jon Ashton saw him put out a dangerous cross from Francombe as Dons had men over at the back post on 31 minutes and Reds cleared the resulting flag kick.

They took the lead on 34 minutes and while Rooney’s shooting may not have been up to scratch, he produced a delicious ball to the far post from by the left-hand corner flag and Edwards rose to nod into the top corner.

Soon after it could have been two as Smith found a extra yard of space and fired just over the bar from 20 yards, while at the other end, just before half-time Freddie Woodman pushed away a free-kick before showing smart hands to hold the follow-up delivery.

Within five minutes of the second half there were huge shouts for a penalty from the Dons fans behind the goal after Akinfenwa went down under heavy pressure, but play was moved on in the box and Barcham put the follow-up over.

Less than a minute later, however, the visitors were level as good work down the left saw Barcham put a lovely ball to the far post to give Akinfenwa a simple tap-in.

Reds struggled to get on the ball in the second half and chances and attacks were limited. On a rare break forwards, Edwards was felled to the right of the box, but Rooney’s delivery was headed away.

On 71 minutes, Woodman was alert to push away a dropping Barcham effort as the Reds keeper clawed the effort out from behind him.

The stopper produced an even better stop soon after as he got down to Akinfenwa’s close-range header and his fingertips were enough to push it around the post.

The pressure finally told on 77 minutes from a great move as Francomb was put away down the right, he drove into the box and his deflected shot looped over Woodman and Barcham nodded into an empty net from a yard much to the delight of the large number of travelling supporters.

Reds created little in terms of an equaliser and the game became disjointed with a plethora of fouls and yellow cards in the closing stages as Wimbledon eased to the three points.

Crawley: Woodman, Donnelly, Ashton, Bradley, Edwards, Van Den Bogaert, Rooney, Smith, Walton (Young 85), Edwards, Harrold, Deacon (Barnard 66). Unused subs: McNerney, Fenelon, Bawling, Preston,

AFC Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Robinson, Osborne , Francomb, Meades, Reeves, Barcham, Taylor (Bulman 45), Akinfenwa (Rigg 85), Elliott (Azeez 78). Unused ubs: Kennedy, Nightingale, Fitzpatrick, McDonnell.

Attendance: 2,988 (1,297 away).

Referee: Dean Whitestone.