Hartlepool 1 Crawley 2: Walton and Murphy goals seal Reds win
Goals by Simon Walton and Rhys Murphy earned Crawley Town a valuable 2-1 away win at ten-man Hartlepool.
It was Reds’ fourth victory in six matches and lifted them one place up the table to 17th in League Two.
Pools fell behind to a Simon Walton penalty midway through the second half after Scott Harrison was shown a straight red after referee Mark Heywood deemed he had handled on the line.
Crawley soon made it 2-0 thanks to a soft Rhys Murphy goal before captain Billy Paynter’s headed consolation goal 10 minutes from time.
Pools haven’t won on home soil since the middle of August and the defeat leaves Pools 19th in the table.
Ronnie Moore’s side had gone into the game looking to extend their unbeaten run to three games after a win at Dagenham & Redbridge and draw at home to Barnet.
On-loan Burnley right-back Luke Hendrie showed his intent from the kick-off but his long-range effort was well, well wide.
Crawley soon found their feet, with Murphy forcing Trevor Carson into a comfortable save before Matt Harrold blasted high over the bar.
With nine minutes on the clock the visitors should have taken the lead, Nicky Featherstone gifted the ball away in his own penalty area.
The ball fell nicely to Jimmy Smith but Carson got down low to palm his effort away.
Rhys Oates then saw his long-range effort saved by Town keeper Darryl Flahavan as Pools searched for their first home win since August.
Carson was again called into action in the 18th minute, spreading himself to deny Murphy’s well-struck goalbound effort.
Pools were lacklustre in the opening half hour, with Crawley dominating possession and carving out the clearer chances.
They almost took the lead after 31 minutes, Shamir Fenelon making his first league start for Crawley, seeing his poked effort drift just wide of the left-hand post.
Pools captain Billy Paynter twice saw headers go over the bar, the first palmed over by Flahavan, while Josh Yorwerth saw his low attempt fly inches wide of the post from a Simon Walton corner.
It was a poor game, lacking any real quality with a few boos for the players as they headed off at the break.
A clearly unimpressed Moore hauled Walker and Carroll off at half-time, bringing on Michael Woods and Jason Banton in their place.
Banton and Oates switched flanks in a bid to breathe some life into a lifeless Pools attack.
Pools looked better following their introduction, with Banton showing attacking intent even if his final ball let him down.
Moore was forced to make his third sub of the game with half an hour still left to play.
Dan Jones took a heavy knock to the face and was forced off after treatment from head physio Ian Gallagher and the club doctor.
Michael Duckworth, back from his hamstring injury, in at left-back in his place.
But Pools were dealt a hammerblow in the 65th minute.
Crawley broke forward with pace, forcing a good save from Carson but from the follow-up shot by Gwion Edwards, Harrison was deemed to have cleared the ball off the line with his hand.
Harrison - despite his strong appeals - was shown a straight red and ex-Pools midfielder Walton sent Carson the wrong way from the spot.
Featherstone dropped into right-back, with Hendrie partnering Okuonghae in the centre of defence.
Woods waltzed through the middle of the Town defence but he was denied by Flahavan.
Crawley made it 2-0 after 76 minutes, Murphy tapping the ball in at the far post following a ball across the face of goal.
Pools got one back in the 80th minute through Paynter, the striker nodding home Banton’s corner.
A penalty appeal against Mitch Hancock was waved away, the defender appearing to handle inside the area, while Bingham couldn’t take advantage of a poor back pass.
Crawley (4-4-2): Flahavan, Young, Bradley (C), Yorwerth, Hancock, Fenelon (Scales, 66), Smith, Walton (Jenkins, 84), Edwards, Harrold, Murphy (Deacon, 87).
Subs Not Used: Preston (gk), Barnard, Rooney, Ashton.
Booked: Harrold (70), Murphy (84)
Goals: Walton (66), Murphy (76)
Pools (4-4-2): Carson, Hendrie, Harrison, Okuonghae, Jones (Duckworth, 61), Oates, Walker (Woods, 45), Featherstone, Carroll (Banton, 45), Bingham, Paynter (C).
Subs Not Used: Bartlett (gk), Bates, Oyenuga, Fenwick.
Booked: Woods (90)
Sent off: Harrison (65)
Goals: Paynter (80)
Attendance: 3,262 (Crawley, 82)
Referee: Mark Heywood (West Yorkshire)
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