McLeod gets Crawley off to winning start

Izale McLeod scoring the only goal for Crawley today

Izale McLeod scoring the only goal for Crawley today

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Izale McLeod scored the only goal as new-look Crawley Town opened the League One campaign with a 1-0 win at ten-man Barnsley.

The summer signing from MK Dons headed an 81st minute winner for the Reds.

Barnsley played for almost half-an-hour with ten men after having Dale Jennings sent off.

The only black note for Crawley was an injury which forced skipper Josh Simpson off at half-time and left him on crutches.

Reds manager John Gregory handed debuts to eight players in his starting line-up and included nine summer signings, with former loanee Gwion Edwards having made a permanent switch from Swansea.

The home side had seven new faces in their opening XI.

Crawley enjoyed a decent first half and went close to breaking the deadlock when Simpson struck a post with a low 20-yard shot on 37 minutes.

Three minutes later the Reds were grateful to Brian Jensen for a tremendous save to deny Jennings who cut inside from the left and unleashed a terrific strike.

Just before the break an overhit pass by Lanre Oyebanjo was retrieved by Gwion Edwards and his cross was superbly cleared by Joe Dudgeon as Simpson waited to pounce.

Simpson was injured in the incident and was replaced by Bobson Bawling at the start of the second half.

Jensen displayed safe hands twice in the opening stages of the second half to hold shots from Conor Hourihane and Sam Winnall, then Jennings headed over the top from Martin Cranie’s cross on 57 minutes.

The game exploded into life just past the hour-mark when Barnsley were reduced to ten men, Jennings seeing red for raising an arm to Edwards in reaction to a challenge which the Crawley man was booked for.

Moments later the visitors were thankful again for Jensen, who beat away a free-kick from Hourihane.

The breakthrough came nine minutes from time when Conor Hendersen delivered a corner from the right and McLeod rose highest to head home unchallenged.

Two minutes later substitute Charles Banya should have wrapped up victory but failed to get a proper connection with his header on McLeod’s centre.

In the third minute of stoppage time Barnsley substitute Nana Boakye-Yiadom glanced a header wide from Dudgeon’s cross as the offside flag stayed down.

Crawley: Jensen; Oyebanjo, Leacock, Walsh, Dickson; Young (sub Banya 56), Smith, Henderson, Edwards; Simpson (sub Bawling 46); McLeod. Subs not used: Bradley, Rose, Tomlin, O’Connor, Spiegel.

Barnsley: Davies; Brown, Cranie, Nyatanga, Dudgeon; Berry (sub Nana 78), Bailey, Hourihane, Jennings; Winnall, Rose (sub Treacy 66). Subs: Digby, M’voto, Abbott, Bree, Dibble.

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