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Clarke off as Crawley lose
Crawley are still looking for their first home win since mid-October following a 2-0 defeat against MK Dons at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
The Reds were unable to build on their pre-Christmas victory at leaders Leyton Orient in a match where they also suffered two injury blows and had Billy Clarke sent off in the closing stages.
With Clarke facing a three-match, Crawley’s thin squad will be stretched to the hilt for Sunday’s game at home to Notts County if Nicky Adams and Dannie Bulman fail to recover in time.
The hosts started well with two decent chances in the first seven minutes. First, Adams seized on a mistake and drove a low shot wide of the far post, then Alexander headed straight into keeper David Martin’s arms from a good position following a free-kick from the right by Adams.
Adams was injured moments later following a tackle which earned Dean Lewington a booking. He played on for a few minutes before being replaced by Jamie Proctor and Crawley seemed to lose their momentum with that change.
The visitors took the lead on 22 minutes from a corner which was cleared only as far as Stephen Gleeson 25 yards out and he returned a great strike into the far corner.
Crawley were forced into another change four minutes before the break when Sergio Torres came on for captain Bulman who was injured in an aerial clash with Jordan Spence.
In the closing stages of the half Joe Walsh sent a glancing header from a free-kick wide and then Torres lifted a shot over the top after bursting into the penalty area.
The Reds missed a great chance to draw level eight minutes into the second half when Mat Sadler’s cross appeared to be on a plate for Alexander but he poked the chance wide of a gaping goal.
However, a second goal out of nothing on 59 minutes put the visitors in control. James Hurst lost the ball on the halfway line and Dale Jennings threaded a pass for Patrick Bamford to run on and score.
Torres, who looked hungry to make an impression, threatened a reply with a shot from the edge of the area which rattled the bar on 66 minutes.
A suspiciously offside-looking Bamford squandered a great chance to make it 3-0 with 18 minutes remaining and moments later at the other end Walsh’s header was cleared off the line by George Baldock.
When Proctor was sent through one-on-one but produced a tame shot which was comfortably saved by Martin, you sensed it was not Crawley’s afternoon.
A bad day got worse for Crawley five minutes from time when Clarke was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Lee Hodson.
Crawley: P.Jones; Hurst, Connolly, Walsh, Sadler; M.Jones, Bulman (sub Torres 41), Drury, Adams (sub Proctor 14); Clarke, Alexander. Subs not used: Essam, Sinclair, Smith, Malins, Maddison.
Milton Keynes Dons: Martin; Hodson, Spence, Williams (sub Kay 55), Lewingtone; Carruthers, Gleeson, Potter, Jennings (sub Baldock 67); Reeves; Bamford (sub Smith 90). Subs not used: Flanagan, Galloway, Banton, McLoughlin.
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