Crawley 1, Gillingham 2: Reds slip back into relegation places

Crawley Town's Anthony Wordsworth and Lee Fowler  (Pic by Joe & James Rigby) SUS-150903-131538008
Crawley Town's Anthony Wordsworth and Lee Fowler (Pic by Joe & James Rigby) SUS-150903-131538008
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Crawley Town suffered their first defeat in four matches with a 2-1 home reverse to Gillingham this afternoon.

Jermain McGlashan’s header 12 minutes from time turned out the winner and ended a run of three straight wins for Reds.

A season-highest attendance of 3,570 watched Crawley top scorer Izale McLeod levelled up Bradley Dack’s first-half goal as the home side dropped back into the League One relegation places.

Brian Jensen returned to the starting line-up for the first time in three months with Lewis Price consigned to the bench after suffering concussion against Leyton Orient.

The 39-year-old stopper was one of two changes for Dean Saunders’ Reds side who were chasing an unprecedented fourth straight win.

Marvin Elliott also returned to the eleven at the expense of Mathias Pogba, while new signing John Cofie was named amongst the substitutes.

It was an error-strewn opening third of the half with little action of real note. A central 30-yard free-kick from Reds was wasted, while a dangerous-looking McGlashan cross for John Marquis was cleared away at the far post.

On 20 minutes, Elliott headed behind a cross to the back post which drew plenty of gasps from the home crowd as it dropped close to the side netting.

Five minutes later, Marquis was penalised for a push on Darren Ward as Jensen tipped his header over the bar.

The visitors dominated possession and territory for much of the first half, but created little as Reds were happy to contain their visitors.

With Elliott off receiving treatment after a crunching 50-50 tackle on the halfway line, the visitors took the lead five minutes before the break.

Dack simply ghosted in behind the Reds defence on the right and slotted into the bottom corner past Jensen with a smart finish.

Crawley’s first effort on target came on 44 minutes as Anthony Wordsworth struck wide of the right-hand post, before moments later his dipping 30-yard free-kick fell on the roof of the net.

Reds made two changes at the interval with Lanre Oyebanjo and Gwion Edwards replacing Lewis Young and Elliott.

Edwards proved a pain down the right after his introduction, but it was Gills that would have the first effort of the half as Luke Norris broke away down the left and forced Jensen to turn behind at the near post.

On 58 minutes, McLeod looked to break away from a ball over the top, but a poor touch let the loan striker down as the Gills recovered.

Reds had strong shouts for a penalty waved away as McLeod then got the wrong side of his defender, but was himself penalised.

A minutes later the home side were level as McLeod controlled a ball over the shoulder and superbly struck past Glen Morris from outside the area.

At the other end, Jensen was alert to tip over a close-range header from Marquis and as Crawley broke from the resulting corner a chance was wasted by a misplaced McLeod pass.

McGlashin eased past Sonny Bradley on the left on 78 minutes and cut the ball back for Max Ehmer, who fired against the right-hand post.

The visitors did retake the lead with ten minutes remaining as smart passing on the edge of the box put Dack in and he picked out McGlashan at the far post who headed into an empty net.

Saunders threw Cofie on for his home debut immediately after the goal as Reds looked to salvage a point, but the closest they came was a stinging Oyebanjo effort that struck a post.

Crawley: Jensen, Young (Oyebanjo 45), Wood, Ward, Bradley, Tomlin, Fowler, Elliott (Edwards 45), Dickson (Cofie 82), Wordsworth, McLeod. Unused subs: Smith, Bawling, Pogba, Price.

Gillingham: G.Morris, Hoyte, Egan, Ehmer, Bell, A Morris (McDonald 68), Loft, Dack, McGlashan, Norris, Marquis (Dickenson 88). Unused subs: Nelson, Legge, Galbraith, Pritchard, German.

Referee: Trevor Kettle.

Attendance: 3,570 (1,111 Gillingham).