It wasn’t to be a happy trip for The Imps into Sussex this afternoon as Crawley Town scored three goals and took all three points.
Jimmy Smith had given the home side the lead before Matt Green leveled early in the second half, but Josh Payne scored from the penalty spot and that was followed up by Mark Connelly.
The Imps started brightly and were almost in front in under two minutes, a wicked cross by Tom Pett on the left was flicked by Josh Yorwerth and almost inadvertently past his own ‘keeper but it crept just wide of the far post. Crawley were quick to get the ball forward, utilising the pace of Enzio Boldewijn, his low cross to the edge of the box was hit first time by Josh Payne, but Luke Waterfall stood in the way of the shot as things opened up somewhat.
The Red Devils attacked again down the right, this time it was Lewis Young piling forward from full back, the ball was slipped inside where at the second attempt Mark Randall got his effort away but it flew over the top of goal. Ryan Allsop was called into action a minute later, Boldewijn used his pace to create a yard of space and fire low across goal but The Imps’ stopper made a smart one handed save. Randall certainly had ambitions to hit one from distance but Allsop was there. The intensity didn’t let up, Matt Green was denied by Glenn Morris up the other end of the field as the early entertainment continued.
However, the travelling supporters were disappointed when the home side took the lead, Young unleashed a long drive that hit the woodwork but Jimmy Smith was there to sweep home the rebound. Crawley had their tails up and were trying to double their lead Boldewijn struck a volley wide of goal after Karlan Ahearne-Grant burst down the left, with the home fans still urging their team forward, but City stayed resolute.
Ahearne-Grant burst clear after an attack for City, but Allsop made a good block after spell of possession for the visiting side, before the home crowd were momentarily quietened, Harry Anderson made a wonderful run into the opposing half, skipping past two players, he fed Green who slid the ball to Tom Pett, he twisted and turned before firing at goal but it was blocked as The Imps finished the half strongly.
Crawley Town 1 The Imps 0
City were on the front foot after the break an early cross into the box was missed by Morris as he was under pressure from Matt Rhead, but the home side blasted clear. Anderson made a break down the right and won a free kick down the right, it was dinked into the box by Sam Habegham but again a hurried clearance just got Crawley out of danger. Eardley whipped in a typical curling cross which Pett met with a deft sidefoot volley but it bounced off the top of the crossbar.
The Imps though weren’t to be denied shortly after, Rhead linked with GREEN and the number ten did the rest, flicking home his tenth League goal of the season from close range in front of the travelling supporters. Almost straight from the restart Rhead then tested the reflexes of Morris as he won a header at the back post with the whole game seemingly turned on its head.
Crawley’s attacks were sporadic, City were in the ascendancy and when Pett tried an audacious lob over Morris, the home fans nerves were jangling but the ball just landed on the roof of the goal. It was all about the Imps, Green laid off the ball for Michael Bostwick to hammer a low drive just wide of goal. Crawley broke from the goal kick and a flick from Williams found Smith wide on the right, his low cross didn’t find a man but Boldewijn went down and a penalty was awarded which Josh Payne slotted home. A cruel blow, that was completely against the run of play and that pain was compounded when the home side quickly scored a third, a free kick was played to the back post and Mark Connelly turned it into the roof of the goal from almost under the crossbar.
The Imps’ tried to fight back quickly, but Pett couldn’t beat Morris from inside the box and seconds later Anderson’s low effort somehow screwed inches wide of the far post. Pett then muscled his way into the area in injury time but just as he was to unleash an effort, the Crawley defence did enough to force him into miscuing his effort just wide.
Crawley Town 3 The Imps 1
1 Glenn MORRIS
2 Lewis YOUNG
6 Mark CONNELLY
15 Josh YORWERTH
3 Josh DOHERTY
7 Enzio BOLDEWIJN
8 Jimmy SMITH
4 Josh PAYNE
25 Mark RANDALL
9 Karlan AHERNE-GRANT
23 Thomas VERHEYDT
12 Yusuf MERSIN
5 Joe McNERNEY
21 Dannie BULMAN (for Payne 83’)
20 Aryan TAJBAKASH (for Randall 87’)
22 Josh LELAN
19 Cedric EVINA
11 Jordan ROBERTS (for Verheydt 46’)
Goals: Smith 15’ Payne (pen)68’ Connelly 72’
Booking: Payne 49’ Randall 86’
22 Ryan ALLSOP
3 Sam HABERGHAM
5 Luke WATERFALL
6 Scott WHARTON
7 Tom PETT
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN
16 Michael BOSTWICK
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
30 Alex WOODYARD
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Sean LONG
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE (for Wharton 78’)
8 Ollie PALMER (for Green 75’)
12 Ellis CHAPMAN
14 Jordan WILLIAMS (for Rhead 75’)
32 Cameron STEWART
Booked: Green 18’ Waterfall 45’ Wharton 67’ Habergham 90'
Goal: Green 52’
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Assistants: Paul Kelly & Andrew Aylott
Attendance: 2,809 (702 Imps Supporters)