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Clinical Coady sinks Crawley
Crawley’s slim play-off hopes were extinguished for good as they went down 2-0 at home to Sheffield United.
The result was slightly harsh on Reds but they were unable to convert their possession into chances against a resolute Blades defence.
Conor Coady displayed the kind of clinical finishing that Crawley lacked as he scored a goal in each half.
Both came against the run of play and originated from mistakes from the home side as Crawley suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time under John Gregory.
The result saw Reds drop to 14th in League One and the gap of 15 points to the play-off zone is surely too big for them to close now.
Crawley started the game in the 4-5-1 formation which had worked so well against Wolves the previous week and could have taken the lead after three minutes.
Billy Clarke whipped over a free kick which Kyle McFadzean met with a glancing header only for Mark Howard to get down well to make the save.
The home side continued to probe without success and then gifted United the lead against the run of play in the 18th minute.
McFadzean was at fault as his clearance went straight to Coady on the penalty spot who had time to pick his spot past Paul Jones.
Crawley’s hopes of finding an equaliser before half-time were frustrated by a well organised Blades defence which gave lone striker Matt Tubbs no room for manoeuvre.
Their best hope of getting back on level terms appeared to be from set-pieces with Andy Drury firing a low free kick just wide and Mark Connolly blazing over from a corner.
Red persevered with their patient approach play after the break and it very nearly brought them a reward in the 55th minute. A shot from Mike Jones was deflected perfectly into the path of Drury but his shot was saved by the feet of Howard with Matt Tubbs unable to steer the rebound home.
United doubled their lead after 62 minutes following a move which originated from another Crawley mistake.
Bulman gave the ball away on the halfway line and Murphy took advantage by running to the byline before crossing for Coady to volley home at the far post.
That left Reds with a mountain to climb but they stuck to their task and came close to halving the deficit three times in the space of a minute.
First Neill Collins almost put the ball into his own net as he prevented Mike Jones getting on the end of Jamie Proctor’s through ball.
Then Howard did well to parry a shot from Proctor with McFadzean heading over after the ball was put back into the box.
The visitors had chances to score a third as Crawley committed more men forward with Paul Jones saving from Ben Davies and referee Gavin Ward waving away a penalty appeal when Kieron Freeman was sent tumbling by Connolly.
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