Walsall 1-2 Crawley Town: Tubbs earns Crawley vital away win

Matt Tubbs is back at Crawley and already scoring goals (Pic by Jon Rigby)
Matt Tubbs is back at Crawley and already scoring goals (Pic by Jon Rigby)

A Matt Tubbs brace secured the points for Crawley who earned a superb win at play-off chasing Walsall.

The loanee’s penalty and header saw the visitors hold on despite Billy Clarke’s second half sending off.

Reds’ first game in almost a month saw John Gregory make one change to his side that drew 2-2 with Rotherham United at the end of January. Gary Dicker replaced Nicky Adams, who signed for Steve Evans’ Millers on January’s deadline day.

Crawley made a fantastic start inside just three minutes from the penalty spot. Andy Drury’s bouncing cross was handled by Walsall captain Andy Butler and up stepped Tubbs who confidently slotted to Richard O’Donnell’s right, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Crawley dealt with the Walsall pressure well - their best chance in the opening 25 minutes being a Craig Westcarr free kick that flew just over the bar.

On the half hour mark, Josh Simpson was inches away from getting on the end of a Mike Jones cross, and then five minutes later, Walsall’s Sam Mantom saw his 20-yard effort whistle past Paul Jones’ right-hand post.

That was to be the closest both teams came in a feisty first half at the Banks’ Stadium.

The hosts came out of the blocks quickly and within seconds of the second half beginning, Liverpool loanee Michael Ngoo spun his marker before firing over the bar.

Crawley earned a second goal just moments later and it was created by a piece of Clarke magic. The Irishman produced a sublime touch to flick the ball past Paul Downing before placing a beautiful aerial ball onto the head of Tubbs at the back post, who added another goal to his Crawley collection.

Walsall were gifted an opportunity just a minute later to get back into the game when Mike Jones’ pass went astray, finding Ngoo in the box but the former Bury man was grateful to Kyle McFadzean for sliding in and winning the ball.

It was end to end stuff and on the hour Jones rattled the crossbar after a great run from the halfway line, riding the challenges from a couple of opponents.

It was game on just after the hour after the visitors switched off from a corner. Westcarr found Mantom on the edge of the box and the midfielder stroked home, first time past Crawley ‘keeper Jones.

Walsall’s tails were up and the Saddlers were involving Milan Lalkovic with more purpose after a quiet first half for the young winger.

There was a penalty appeal apiece as Josh Simpson was felled in the box before Lalkovic took a tumble in the area. Neither were given but the Walsall man was booked for simulation.

Crawley had to play the final 11 minutes with a man down after Clarke - who was already on a booking - was shown a second yellow after kicking the ball away.

Dean Smith’s side asserted the pressure following Clarke’s dismissal and substitute James Baxendale fired wide of the mark as the referee added on five minutes of added time.

However, Crawley held on to what they had, showing great character and desire to secure three valuable points.

Reds: P. Jones, Connolly, McFadzean, Walsh, Sadler, Simpson, Drury, Dicker (Bulman 61), M. Jones, Tubbs (Proctor 87), Clarke.