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Tubbs double earns Crawley victory
Matt Tubbs scored twice as ten-man Crawley returned to action with a 2-1 win away to Walsall.
The Reds were playing their first game for almost a month following five successive postponements.
But they took the points against play-off chasing Walsall thanks to goals at the start of each half from the on-loan Tubbs.
Sam Manton reduced the arrears for the hosts who pressed hard for an equaliser but Crawley held on for their first win of 2014 despite having Billy Clarke sent off ten minutes from time.
The Reds handed a full debut to former Albion midfielder Gary Dicker as the only change to the side that drew 2-2 at Rotherham in their last match on January 25.
Their five new signings since then had to be content with places among the substitutes.
Crawley found themselves ahead after just four minutes as Andy Drury’s cross was handled by Andy Butler and Tubbs tucked home the resulting penalty for his second goal since returning to the club on loan.
Crawley had to defend stoutly after that for the rest of the first half, which they did, restricting Walsall to just a couple of chances.
Craig Westcarr curled a free-kick over the bar from a dangerous position and Mantom fired wide from inside the penalty area.
The visitors doubled the lead with a goal of real quality five minutes into the second half. Clarke produced a wonderful touch to take him away from defender Ben Purkiss and his cross to the back post was inch-perfect for Tubbs to head home.
It was almost 3-0 on the hour-mark as Mike Jones burst into the penalty area before rattling the crossbar.
Instead, Walsall halved the arrears on 63 minutes when a well-worked corner saw Westcarr feed Manton whose shot went in off a post.
Crawley were reduced to ten men for the last ten minutes as Clarke, already booked, proceeded to shoot after being flagged for offside and was shown a second yellow card.
Crawley: P.Jones; M.Connolly, McFadzean, Walsh, Sadler; Simpson, Drury, Dicker (sub Bulman 61), M.Jones; Tubbs (sub Proctor 89), Clarke. Subs not used: Fallon, Kaikai, Boateng, P.Connolly, Atkins.
Walsall: O’Donnell; Purkiss, Downing, Butler, Benning; Brandy (sub Hemmings 86), Mantom, A.Chambers, Lalkovic (sub Baxendale 78); Westcarr; Ngoo (sub Sawyers 61). Subs not used: Featherstone, J.Chambers, Hewitt, Lewis.