League leaders Crawley Town achieved a large victory over Hayes & Yeading United on Tuesday evening, but the score line was harsh on Garry Haylock’s men.
Phil Appiah deputised in midfield for Adam Green as Haylock reorganised his team and it reaped instant rewards as Elliott Buchanan finished a sweeping passing move with a fierce left footed volley into the top corner past Scott Shearer.
Crawley were stunned and immediately went on the offensive. Dannie Bulman hit a long shot which Delroy Preddie comfortably fielded and John Dempster headed Richard Howell’s cross over after a quick Willie Gibson free kick.
United’s plans were disrupted in the 23 rd minute when Preddie pulled up in trying to stop the ball rolling out for a corner and he had to be replaced by Lee Harrison. From that hat corner, Tom Cadmore flicked the ball away with his head, but Richard Howell retrieved the ball and crossed towards Dempster who half volleyed the ball through a crowded box into the bottom corner.
The pressure was piled on from this point. Gibson’s cross was flicked on by Matt Tubbs and Dempster just failed to connect properly at the far post with his attempted overhead volley. Then Gibson flashed a free kick from the penalty arc just wide of the post.
Crawley took the lead on 32 minutes. Richard Brodie retrieved the ball and rounded Nathan Webb before cutting the ball back to Simpson whose shot deflected off Lee Brown to divert it past Harrison.
As the half wound down to a close, United began to get forward more often. A Webb throw in to Buchanan caught the home defence napping and a one two with Bradley Pritchard created the space for a curling shot which Shearer held at the second attempt. And in the 3 rd minute of stoppage time, the equaliser came as Brown’s deep cross was headed back in front of goal by Webb and Pritchard slotted the ball in from close range.
The home side dominated possession after the break, but were beginning to become frustrated by the dogged United defending. However, the sheer volume of free kicks given away was to take its toll on 58 minutes as a Webb foul on the edge of the area was punished clinically by Tubbs who curled his free kick into the top corner.
Peter Holmes rallied his troops and set up a one two between Pritchard and Appiah before Pritchard fired powerfully at goal only for Shearer to stick out a hand to block his shot.
It seemed that United might go on to really rattle in the closing stages, only for a cruel deflection to make it much easier for Crawley to see the match out. Tubbs latched onto Gibson’s throughball down the right channel and turned. His shot cannoned off Tom Cadmore and looped over the helpless Harrison and just under the bar into the net behind him.
Harrison did well to tip Pablo Mills’s far post header from Sergio Torres’s corner over while at the other end, Shearer took a wild swing at a back pass and the ball spun agonisingly out of Daniel Wishart’s reach with an open goal in front of him.
But as the game drew to a close, Mills was found from another deep corner, this time by Ben Smith, and thundered his header in off the underside of the bar.
Even in stoppage time, United might have reduced the arrears as Andy Yiadom’s long shot made Shearer look uncomfortable and Pierre Joseph-Dubois headed Jamie Hand’s cross inches wide.
But the three goal margin remained, albeit unreflective of a match which was much closer.
Report by Nick Bell. Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Lee Brown.