The Academy ‘A’ team extended their unbeaten run to six games Wednesday afternoon as they overcame a strong Swindon Town side to win 3-1 in the National Football Youth League South Championship.
Two goals from Charlie Mark and one from substitute Alfie Sayle was enough to keep pace with league leaders JMA Reading and put a six-point cushion between themselves and their Wiltshire visitors.
It was a gritty first half with both teams looking to carve an opening and it was five minutes before half time when Charlie Mark open the scoring from a Crawley Town corner. The ball was whipped in from the right to bypass bodies in the 18-yard area with Mark heading in at the back post to make it 1-0 to the Reds.
Early in the second-half Swindon produced a similar headed goal at the back post from a corner to bring the teams level and momentum swung away from the hosts.
With ten minutes to go Swindon had a player sent off after clawing the ball off the line with his hand giving Charlie Mark the opportunity to slot home from 12 yards - which he calmly took to make it 2-1.
Louie Erotokritos produced a save to deny Swindon with a bobbling long-range effort to keep the game level with moments to go and as Crawley fought back from a spell of pressure Alfie Sayle picked up the ball in the middle of the 18 yard box and placed it into the bottom left corner to put the hosts 3-1 ahead.
The ‘A’ team season has started brightly with the team unbeaten in all their league games this season. They next face Solihull Moors at home, a team that have yet to win in their opening seven games and will need a result if they want to overtake the league leaders.
Education Academy Head Coach Rob Semark:
“I was a really big game for us with Swindon sitting third and ourselves second; so it was important to to get favourable result to keep Swindon at arms-length.
With our domination in the first-half we didn't really create enough clear-cut chances but I still felt that we deserved to go in at half-time one-nil up.
It got a little bit tense when they pulled the goal back and the game seemed to be in the balance a little bit, but I still felt confident that with our cutting edge we would still come out on top.
We applied quite a bit of pressure and then got the penalty which Charlie Mark did fantastically well to tuck away.
They threw things at us, tried to put us under pressure; played a lot of long balls; had a lot of set pieces; but we stuck to it and I think we deserved the win.