Izale McLeod earned Crawley Town the perfect start to their League One campaign with a 1-0 win away to former Championship side Barnsley.
The Reds took advantage of Barnsley being reduced to ten men for the last half hour following the sending-off of Dale Jennings to clinch the three points when McLeod powerfully headed home Conor Henderson’s free-kick with nine minutes to go.
John Gregory gave debuts to nine players in his starting line-up with only Josh Simpson and Joe Walsh surviving from last season.
Gwion Edwards made his second debut having signed permanently over the summer following a successful loan spell from Swansea.
Striker Charles Banya who was signed on a short term deal from Fulham yesterday, was on the subs’ bench.
Barnsley also handed out seven debuts to new signings, including the first start for £250,000 purchase from Scunthorpe who was League 2 topscorer last season, Sam Winnall.
The Tykes paraded their latest signing before kick-off, ex-Swansea Premier League striker Leroy Lita who signed today but was not eligible to play.
The first half was even with neither side holding possession for any length of time and few chances created for either side.
Crawley had the better of the attacking play as Lewis Young both had shots blocked before McLeod headed over the bar.
However Crawley nearly scored towards the end of the half when Simpson drove a low shot against the post.
At the other end Brian Jensen pulled off a tremendous diving save to deny Dale Jennings with his curling shot from 20 yards towards the top right hand corner.
Crawley took off Simpson with an injury at half-time and replaced him with another new signing making his debut, Bobson Bawling who played on the right of midfield while Lewis Young moved into the centre to support striker Izale McLeod.
However the new formation only lasted a matter of four minutes before Young was taken off and replaced by striker Banya.
Moments later a move in from the left gave McLeod a chance but he scooped his shot well wide.
The Tykes went on the attack in the second half as Conor Hourihane forced a comfortable save from Jensen from 25 yards and then crossed to Winnall whose shot was also saved by the impressive Jensen.
Barnsley were reduced to ten men on 62 minutes when Jennings reacted by putting his hand up toward Edwards in reaction to a foul.
Edwards was booked while Jennings was shown a straight red, although it did not look that serious a confrontation.
Crawley took the lead in the 81st minutes when McLeod powerfully headed in Conor Henderson’s corner kick from the right.
The Reds were not content just to defend as first Jimmy Smith and then Banya had efforts saved by keeper Adam Davies.
Crawley: Jensen, Oyebanjo, Dickson, Henderson, Leacock, Edwards, Smith, McLeod, Simpson (C) (Bawling 46), Walsh, Young (Banya 50).
Unused subs: Subs: Spiegel, Bradley, M.Rose, Tomlin, O’Connor
Barnsley: Davies, Brown, Dudgeon, Berry (Boakye-Yiadom 75), Nyatanga, Cranie, Hourihane, Winnall, Bailey, Jennings, D.Rose (Treacy 69)
Unused subs: Dibble, Digby, M’Voto, Abbott
REFEREE: Jeremy Simpson