3 points for Town Against Crawley Green
In difficult conditions that tested both sides, Leighton eventually came out on top against second from bottom Crawley, in a scrappy encounter at Bell Close on Saturday, but had to endure a few scares in the process.
Twice ahead against their plucky opponents, Leighton were pegged back and but for some last ditch defending and the woodwork, Town could have fallen behind in the last period of the game. However a superbly taken goal by Smith, his second of the match, was enough to see off a late onslaught from Crawley, whose performance belied their lowly league position.
Without the injured McBride and suspended Marsala, Leighton started the game with Silford and Coulter in the wide positions and Smith partnered Hatch up front. Town were quick out of the blocks and in the eighth minute Silford’s pin-point cross was met by Coulter, whose powerful header was saved by Bull in the opposition goal. The experienced striker was, however, first to react and fired home the loose ball to give Leighton a dream start.
Leighton dominated the first period of the game but Smith fired wide when well placed and for all Leighton’s possession they were unable to add that crucial second goal. Crawley drew level on the half hour as Hall brought down Brown and the young Crawley wide man, converted the resultant penalty with aplomb.
Leighton were back in front before the break when an intelligent header by Hatch found Smith on the edge of the Crawley box. The talented young striker manoeuvred his way across two defenders before unleashing an unstoppable right foot drive into the corner of the visitor’s net. It was an excellent finish and gave Leighton the advantage at half-time their dominance deserved.
The second half was a different affair with Leighton once again losing their positional discipline and lacking width, they struggled to increase their advantage.
As the half progressed Crawley began to grow in confidence and justly equalised when Brown, unmarked at the far post, dispatched a left foot drive that Wyant had no chance of stopping. It was now anyone’s game and Crawley looked the more likely to score but they were denied by some excellent defending by Murphy and Guiney and the Town woodwork.
There is a deep resilience about this Town team, however, and they have individuals who can change a game in a moment.
On Saturday it was a combination of new signing Bruno Britto and Smith. Britto had just flashed two excellent strikes past the visitors post when he released Smith with a beautifully timed through ball. The speedy forward shrugged off the challenges of two defenders before rounding the advancing Bull, to secure all three points for Town and cap a man of the match performance.
With all their promotion rivals winning comfortably, this was a critical win; Town now travel to Leverstock Green on Tuesday before heading for the Midlands next Saturday for their Buildbase FA last 16 FA Vase tie against Wolverhampton Sporting FC.