The Academy South Championship team won a crucial 4-2 victory against visitors JMA Reading this afternoon as the title-race hots up in the National Football Youth League division.
Crawley came into the game three points behind JMA and with a game-in-hand over the Berkshire side. Anything other than a win would have given away a huge advantage with just three games left to play in the season.
The Red went behind early on after Yaro Tsyhanenko handled in the area with ‘keeper Louis Erotorkritos unable to keep the resulting penalty out despite a glove.
Crawley ramped up the pressure after the goal and got their rewards when Josh Clay slammed a low shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards. The goal put the game level on the stroke of half-time with momentum with the hosts.
Crawley were gifted a penalty midway through the second half following a clumsy challenge in the area, striker Lewis Gould couldn’t make it count with the Reading ‘keeper parrying to his left before collecting the rebound.
A brilliant overhead kick then went in for JMA after a corner flew across goal, meaning Crawley faced a testing final half hour of football still to play.
With ten minutes to go, though, substitute Charlie Mark hammered home from 10 yards when found in space from the right wing; and within minutes another substitute - Harry Stone - scored from 6 yards out to claim the lead; the assist coming from Ryan Yoro Thomas.
As JMA Reading pushed for an equaliser Lewis Gould fought hard to keep the ball in play near the opposition goal to tee up substitute Wiktor Maznika in the 90th minute to make it 4-2 to Crawley.
The win means the Reds go into the final three games level on points with JMA and with a game left to play.
Education Academy Head Coach Rob Semark:
“We knew we had to win if we had any chance of wining that league. I’m particularly pleased with the response from the guys on the bench - their response and professional approach to to support the squad was excellent. Not only that, once they came on they all made a great impact for the team.
In the first half we dominated. We had a lot more of the ball, we were causing them a lot more problems than they were causing us.
Seeing what you do on the training ground, seeing the way they are take on the information and put that into practice on the pitch - ultimately, that’s the greatest satisfaction any coach gets out of watching their team play.”
Player of the Match Ryan Yoro Thomas