The atmosphere at Brisbane Road was best described as tribal as 424 travelling Crawley fans made a huge noise from the kick off.
I haven’t heard anything like it since the FA Cup tie at Southend a couple of seasons back.
The team responded in a rumbustious encounter played at pace in defiance of the Bank Holiday heat wave. The sides were evenly matched and the result could have gone any way but in the end Reds shaded it in terms of energy, flair and, most importantly, goals.
They trailed to a splendidly struck 25 yarder but levelled with a cool and precise finish by Nathan Ferguson. The inconsistent David Sesay conceded a penalty ten minutes into the second half and Leyton Orient regained the ascendancy.
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There was some disquiet when the hard working Ashley Nadesan was quickly substituted by Ollie Palmer as the manager reacted.
It’s safe to say that Gabriele Cioffi knew exactly what he was doing as the striker has rediscovered his best form and Palmer repaid that faith by grabbing both the equaliser and the winner in the space of three minutes.
He held off three defenders to make room for his first goal and then calmly ensured the three points by slotting home a precise low cross from Reece Grego-Cox. Orient battled but stood little chance of salvaging a point in front of the ecstatic Reds fans.
Supporters with longer memories might have been reminded by last Tuesday’s blitz by Crewe Alexandra of the 1970s. It wasn’t quite the total football of Johann Cruyff’s Holland but it was an admirable imitation.
Few visiting teams have brought such a high line pressing game to Broadfield. The Reds were allowed no time to dwell on the ball and Crewe both attacked and defended in numbers. When Bez Lubala opened the scoring for Crawley, sliding the ball wide of Will Jaaskelainen, it was like relieving the Siege of the Alamo.
Glenn Morris needed to be at his very best and Jordan Tunnicliffe prevented a certain goal with a header off the goal line. After Reds scored on the break the Alex simply picked up where they left off and soon levelled the scores as Ryan Wintle picked his spot through a crowded box.
Crawley played well, or as well as they were allowed to, but often let themselves down by a poor final ball. They missed the tenacity of Dannie Bulman in front of the back line and, especially, the calming influence of George Francomb in a frantic midfield.
The best team on the night won which was perhaps justice for Crewe, who went top of the table, as it avenged last season’s 3-0 defeat here. That was probably our best result of the campaign as Reds had been outplayed then as well.