Crawley 1 Argyle 2 - Report
Crawley Town 1
Carey pen 63, Taylor 90
by Rick Cowdery
ARGYLE inched closer to promotion with a come-from-behind late, late victory at the Checkatrade.com Stadium thanks to Ryan Taylor’s goal deep into injury-time.
Taylor, who had been bashed from pillar to post by Crawley’s defence all game, picked up the loose from a corner as the Pilgrims finished on the up to register a club-record 13th away win, showed composure and fired home.
Graham Carey’s 14th goal of the season had brought Argyle level after a they had gone behind in the first half.
Carey netted a second-half spot-kick after Antoni Sarceveic had been fouled, to cancel out Crawley’s 28th-minute opener by Dean Cox, a familiar thorn in the Pilgrims’ side over the years.
Argyle manager Derek Adams had brought his whole fit first-team squad to West Sussex before settling on a starting 11 that showed three changes from the side that had lost 1-0 to Accrington Stanley at Home Park seven days previously.
Former Crawley captain Sonny Bradley was sandwiched by two of the returning players: Yann Songo’o replaced Jakub Sokolik as his partner in the centre of defence, while Gary Sawyer was perferred to Oscar Threlkeld outside him at left-back.
Threlkeld, though, retained his place in the starting line-up by moving to central midfield alongside David Fox and Antoni Sarcevic.
Forward Taylor was the third recalled Pilgrim, starting as the main man in attack, with Carey and Matty Kennedy providing the support. Four players who would surely not have too much trouble making the starting line-up of a majority of League Two sides – Nathan Blissett, Nauris Bulvitis, Jordan Slew and Sokolik – watched the match from the stands.
Crawley, with just one win in their previous seven home games – against doomed Leyton Orient – also made three changes, one because of a suspension being served by central defender Josh Yorweth: Mark Connolly was his direct replacement, with Cox and Billy Clifford coming in to midfield.
The first quarter of the game saw much toil beneath a fierce Sussex sun but little headway made by either side. Crawley spluttered fitfully into life, with most of their potency being provided by former Pilgrim Andre Blackman from the left-back position. His best cross was headed well over the crossbar by Dutchman Enzio Boldewijn.
Argyle, well prompted by Fox, did not get as close to the Crawley goal but nevertheless looked composed and in control for the most part.
Given the above, it was something of a surprise that the home side took the lead from what was probably their first attack down the Argyle right. Lewis Young, played in by Boldewijn, made the byeline and cut the ball back precisely for Cox to clip the ball into the goal under Luke McCormick’s body.
The strike quietened the Green Army, but had little effect on the shape of the game, although Argyle’s attempts to get going in the final third were not helped by a lack of protection for Taylor from the officials.
A Carey free-kick and a couple of corners by the Irishman offered a little hope but Crawley’s defence mustered stations enough to thwart the Pilgrims’ aims.
Their frustration with their own shortcomings and that of the referee resulted in a yellow card for Carey on the on the pip of half-time for little more than bouncing the ball after losing it to concede a throw-in.
Argyle changed things at the interval, bringing on Tanner for Gary Miller, the Threlkeld train being shunted on to right-back. The resultant reshuffle saw Carey brought back into the centre of affairs, but the Pilgrims took time to settle to the switch before the shape changed again, to a midfield diamond, when Arnie Garita replaced Kennedy.
McCormick kept out a speculative long-range shot from Blackman, who found himself in space after duping Tanner, scrambling to his left and bravely taking a boot from James Collins when the ball squirmed away.
Argyle clawed their way into things, blade of grass by blade of grass, and suddenly were on terms.
Taylor, back to goal and still batting away against the fearful battering he was taking, deftly teased in Sarcevic, who nipped the ball away from Connolly. The defender’s leg, stretched out for the ball, instead took out Sarcevic.
Carey stepped up, kept cool, and put the kick to the right of goalkeeper Glen Morris, who guessed Carey’s intentions but could not prevent the ball passing him.
The game changed. Things did not all go Argyle’s way, but the play opened up, which certainly suited them. With 15 minutes to go, Sawyer intercepted the ball and played in Garita, who teed up Tanner for a shot that would not stay down.
Crawley were reduced to ten men when Collins was sent off for punching Songo’o. He had previously been booked and was shown a second yellow, although the card should have been a straight red.
The home side gamely stayed with a central attacker which kept everyone keen, but clear-cut chances were not forthcoming at either end. Argyle had half an opportunity when Carey evaded a couple of tackles to hang up a cross to the far post, but found no takers.
The Greens are going up.
Crawley Town (4-2-3-1): 12 Glenn Morris; 2 Lewis Young, 6 Mark Connelly, 22 Joe McNerney, 14 Andre Blackman; 8 Jimmy Smith, 24 Aliu Djaló (4 Josh Payne 84); 7 Enzio Boldewijn, 18 Billy Clifford (9 Matt Harrold 80), 28 Dean Cox (39 Rhys Murphy 85); 19 James Collins. Substitutes (not used): 13 Yusuf Mersin (gk), 16 Addison Garnett, 17 Bobson Bawling, 25 Josh Lelan.
Sent off: Collins 79.
Booked: Collins 60, McNerney 67.
Argyle (4-3-3): 23 Luke McCormick (capt); 2 Gary Miller (27 Craig Tanner half-time, 14 Jake Jervis 86), 4 Yann Songo’o, 15 Sonny Bradley, 3 Gary Sawyer; 7 Antoni Sarcevic, 24 David Fox, 18 Oscar Threlkeld; 10 Graham Carey, 19 Ryan Taylor, 16 Matty Kennedy (26 Paul-Arnold Garita 55). Substitutes (not used): 6 Conor Smith, 9 Jimmy Spencer, 11 Ryan Donaldson, 21 Vincent Dorel (gk).
Booked: Carey 45.
Referee: Ben Toner.
Attendance: 3,432 (1,540 away).