Stevenage 2 Crawley Town 1: James Ball’s brace brings Reds defeat despite 2nd half dominance

DM191000545a.jpg. Football, Crawley Town v Colchester United. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-190101-192051008
DM191000545a.jpg. Football, Crawley Town v Colchester United. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-190101-192051008

Crawley Town were unlucky to return from Stevenage with nothing after giving a dominant display.

Reds suffered their first defeat of the New Year when they somehow lost what was a thrilling battle.

The home side won through two goals in the first half scored by substitute James Ball.

Crawley had equalised through a well-taken goal by Dominic Poleon and had plenty of opportunities to draw level, but it wasn’t to be.

They dominated much of the game but could not find the net to earn what would have been a deserved draw.

Head coach Gabriele Cioffi named an unchanged side from the one which beat Cheltenham last week with Ollie Palmer retaining his place.

New signing defender Tom Dallison was named on the bench.

Stevenage suffered an early blow when their captain and former Brighton striker Alex Revell limped off injured after just ten minutes and was replaced up front by James Ball.

Revell had already looked menacing with an wearly breakaway chance, firing over the bar.

Crawley had the first good chance to score when Palmer set up Poleon who fired over.

Ball soon made an impact after coming on when he headed home from a cross from the right by Luther James-Wildin to put the hosts in front.

Crawley got back on to level terms in fine style in the 36th minute when David Sesay sent in a fine cross for Poleon who controlled the ball and fired into the net.

Reds looked the more likely to go into half-time in the lead as Panutche Camara put Palmer through for a chance but the Reds top scorer was denied by ‘keeper Paul Farman.

But despite good play by the visitors, Stevenage regained the lead five minutes before the break when Ball scored his second goal of the game, pouncing upon a ball spilled by Glenn Morris following a cross.

Morris then made an important save to deny Stevenage a third goal as James-Wildin ran past two Reds players and set-up Danny Newton for a deflected shot.

Stevenage somehow managed to keep the ball out of the net in a desperate goalmouth scramble during which Reds hit the crossbar.

Palmer took a fine shot which was saved which fell to Camara but he fired wide on the rebound.

Farman pulled off another good save to prevent Sesay finding the Reds forwards.

Filipe Morais replaced captain Josh Payne off the bench for his first taste of action since November 20.

Lewis Young came on for Sesay to become the first Reds player to make his 200th appearance for the club in one spell since they joined the Football League.

Reece Grego-Cox replaced Poleon up front in Cioffi’s final substitution.

Crawley’s fans really made themselves heard as Reds pressed hard with wave after wave of attacks in the closing stages.

Finally ‘keeper Farman kept out a great chance by Young which rolled inches wide of the post.

Crawley Town: Morris, Doherty, Payne (capt) (Morais 66), Connolly, Palmer, Poloen (Grego-Cox), Gambin, Francomb, Maguire, Sesay (Young), Camara

Unused subs: Mersin, Dallison, Bulman

Stevenage: Farman, James-Wildin, Hunt, Timlin, Cuthbert (Wilkinson 68), Byrom (Iontton 55), Revell (capt) (Ball 10), Seddon, Newton, Makasi, Nugent

Unused subs: Sonupe, Vancooten, Henry, Smyth

Referee: Thomas Bramall

Attendance: 2,347