Stevenage 0, Crawley 1: Reds end three-game losing run with rare away win

Crawley Town captain Sonny Bradley in action against Mansfield Town last week (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-160130-184551008
Crawley Town captain Sonny Bradley in action against Mansfield Town last week (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-160130-184551008

A Matt Harrold goal ended Crawley Town’s three-game losing run as they completed a League Two double at Stevenage this afternoon.

Reds ran out 1-0 winners in what was just their second victory since the reserve triumph over Stevenage in the home game back in December and first away win since October.

There was no dream start for Stevenage stalwart Darren Sarll, who was installed as caretaker manager this week after the club dismissed Tottenham legend Teddy Sheringham from his position.

The hosts will, however, count themselves unlucky not to have taken something from the game as they dominated possession, but came up against a shut-out display from the Reds defence.

Harrold’s first-half goals was enough to give the visitors all three points and leave the home side winless in nine games.

New signing Paul Jones came into the starting XI in goal, that was despite Callum Preston’s man-of-the-match display in last week’s 1-0 defeat at home to Mansfield Town.

Reds made five changes in total as Jon Ashton returned to face his former side, along with Chris Atkinson, Gavin Tomlin and Roarie Deacon.

The others missing out were Lee Barnard, who wasn’t in the matchday squad, Lewis Young, Ross Jenkins and George Smith, who has returned to Barnsley after his 28-day loan.

Amidst strong winds at the Lamex Stadium, the first chance went the hosts’ way as Dale Gorman’s floated ball from the centre of the pitch was just past the arriving Pat Hoban at the far post.

At the other end, nothing came of an early Reds corner, before Stevenage full-back Connor OGilvie whipped a teasing cross over Paul Jones in the Crawley goal.

Reds started growing into the game and Gwion Edwards - in an unusual role up front with Matt Harrold - looked to be their best threat.

It was the Welshman that drew the first save from Jamies Jones as the stopper parried up his effort from the right and collected at the second attempt.

On 21 minutes, Paul Jones went sprawling across his goalline as Dean Parrett’s 23-yard free-kick was deflected just wide by the wall.

Borough’s Aaron O’Connor skipped inside the Reds box just past the half-hour mark and shaped to shoot after his promising run, but his effort was blocked away by Walton.

Paul Jones pulled off a fine save five minutes before the break as he tipped over Hoban’s curling effort after Tom Pett eased past Deacon and teed him up on the edge of the box.

And that save was to prove crucial as, from a bit of sustained pressure at the other end three minutes later, Deacon broke into the box and fired across the goalmouth for Harrold to slide onto the ball and finished.

Reds could have made it 2-0 just three minutes into the second half as a Walton free-kick flew across the goalmouth, but an unmarked Gwion Edwards and Josh Yorwerth failed to finish.

At the other end, Ashton cut out a dangerous-looking cross and Harrold put in a fine tackled to deny Parrett.

The hosts had long periods of sustained pressure in the second half as the ball bounced around the box on numerous occasions from corners and open play, but the Reds defence stood strong.

Pett’s effort was the most clear-cut from one of the scrambles on 69 minutes as he drilled wide after the ball broke out to him.

With ten minutes to go, Paul Jones made another crucial stop as he got his finger tips to substitute Tom Conlon’s flicked effort at the near post.

In five minutes of added time, Paul Jones was down to parry a driven effort and penalty appeals went against the hosts when someone went down in the follow-up.

Crawley: Jones, Bawling, Ashton, Yorwerth, Bradley, Tomlin (Jenkins 81), Walton, Atkinson (Rooney 81), Deacon, Edwards, Harrold. Subs: Fenelon, Young, Preston.

Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson, Wells, Ogilvie, Lee, Gorman (Conlon 64), Parrett, Pett, O’Connor (Hedges 77), Hoban (Zanzala 70). Unused subs: Day, Franks, Johnson, Keane.