Notts County 5 Crawley Town 3

Crawley Town V Peterborough United 10-10-14 (Pic by Jon and Joe Rigby) SUS-141014-115933002

Crawley Town V Peterborough United 10-10-14 (Pic by Jon and Joe Rigby) SUS-141014-115933002

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Crawley Town fought back from a terrible start before losing 5-3 at Notts County.

Poor defending led to the Reds going 3-0 down at half-time through two goals by Gary Thompson and another by Zeli Ismail.

Crawley improved in the second half as good goals by Gwion Edwards and substitute Matt Harrold gave them new hope at 3-2.

But the home side added two more goals by hat-trick hero Thompson and Gary Jones. Crawley responded again with a third by Marvin Elliott but it proved too little and too late to affect the result.

John Gregory made three changes to the side which lost 4-1 at home to Peterborough last week with goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown dropped in favour of Brian Jensen and the two Welsh players Edwards and Joe Walsh returning from international duty.

Gavin Tomlin and Sonny Bradley were on the bench along with Ashdown.

Notts County named former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll in goal and ex-Crawley Town defender Mustapha Dumbuya at right back. They returned from international duty with Northern Ireland and Sierra Leone.

Notts County got off to a great start when they took the lead in the tenth minute when Thompson received a flick on in space and beat Jensen with a good, low finish.

Crawley nearly equalised immediately when Carroll punched clear the ball, hitting McLeod along the way and Lewis Young chipped from 20 yards narrowly over the bar and into the top netting. McLeod needed treatment but carried on playing.

Notts County went 2-0 up in the 19th minute as a corner kick was not cleared and the ball was crossed back and went in off the head of Ismail.

There were memories of Crawley’s last away game at Coventry when they looked in defensive disarray having so easily conceded two quick goals.

Edwards made a run into the area and passed to McLeod in the area but he could not get the ball from under his feet to hit a shot and it was cleared.

Playing in front of their largest crowd of the season, the Magpies went 3-0 up when a corner was punched away by Jensen before Jordan Cranston delivered the ball back into the area and Thompson found the net for his second goal of the match.

Jensen grabbed the ball from the feet of Hayden Hollis from the six-yard box following another corner to stop what looked like a certain goal.

It looked like Crawley were completely down and out at half-time having only managed one shot in the first half compared with Notts County’s 12 shots.

But the Reds emerged with renewed purpose after the break and miraculously got themselves back into the game by scoring two goals in the first ten minutes.

Edwards sparked the fightback with their first goal in the 50th minute, with a superb 20-yard shot from a breakaway attack.

Matt Harrold replaced McLeod up front after the break and impressively scored his first goal for the club but placing a cross by from Jimmy Smith past keeper Carroll.

The atmosphere changed completely as the Reds were now very much in the game and Notts County had gone from being comfortable leaders to looking nervous.

But Notts County got back to a two-goal lead eight minutes later when a McLaughlin corner was cheaded in by Thompson to complete his hat-trick.

The Meadow Lane Stadium crowd then saw their side add a fifth with nine minutes to go thanks to a deflected volley by Gary Jones after a corner was not properly cleared.

Crawley showed they had still not given up by scoring a third goal with seven minutes to go when Marvin Elliott headed down Jimmy Smith’s lovely free-kick into the net.

REDS: Jensen, Oyebanjo, Leacock, Edwards, Smith, McLeod (Harrold 46), Walsh, Young, Keane (Banya 83), Sadler, Elliott.

Subs: Ashdown, Bradley, Simpson, Banya, Harrold, Bawling, Tomlin

NOTTS COUNTY: Carroll, Dumbuya (C.Thompson 70), Hollis, Ismail (Petrasso 74), G.Thompson, Jones, Noble, Harrad (Murray 81), McLaughlin, Cranston, Laing

Subs: Spiess, Wroe, Murray, McKenzie, Thompson, Traore, Petrasso

REFEREE: Peter Bankes

ATTENDANCE: 6,086 (120 away)