SAUNDERS: 50 POINTS IS OUR AIM
CRAWLEY interim manager Dean Saunders is targeting 50 points for survival after Izale McLeod’s penalty saw them triumph in a crucial relegation face-off.
After an exhilarating first-half, in which McLeod converted from the spot, Orient piled on the pressure, but the Red Devils stood strong to secure a third win in three.
The win sees Crawley move out of the relegation zone for the first time since their 4-1 loss at Orient in December. However, it leaves the O’s three points from safety with just one win in their last five.
Saunders said: “It’s a good win against a good team. I don’t think they’ll be in the bottom four at the end of the season, so it was a big win for us.
“It also caused them a bit of damage and that sort of result can damage their morale.
“All the defenders I thought played really well. The keeper made some good saves but had to go off at halftime through concussion.
“I don’t look at the table, I’m just aiming for 50 points. That’s 43.
“With all the fixtures, teams are normally there taking points off each other.”
Both sides came out of the blocks quickly and Crawley began to build early pressure, but it was Orient who had the best of the early efforts.
First, Chris Dagnall found space on the right, but Lewis Price was equal to his powerful effort, before he tipped over a rasping drive from Dean Cox.
Just after the half-hour, Crawley’s pressure paid off as McLeod cleverly drew a foul from Luke O’Neill inside the area, and the former MK Dons man coolly sent Alex Cisak the wrong way to score his 17th goal of the season.
Crawley were subjected to constant second-half pressure, to the dismay of an increasingly restless crowd.
Former Burnley stalwart Brian Jensen, brought on at half-time in place of a concussed Price, was swiftly called into action, turning Marvin Bartley’s effort from distance round the post.
Orient piled on the pressure, and the 39-year-old Dane was the hero in the 89th minute, saving from both substitute David Mooney and Ryan Hedges.
Orient boss Fabio Liverani was disappointed to lose after dominating much of the game, particularly lamenting the foul on McLeod.
He said: “It’s a shame we haven’t made points, but in the league table we’re all within very few points because the other teams lost. So, nothing much has changed.
“Last week against Barnsley we deserved to win.
“Here, until the penalty, I think we dominated.We created many chances but unfortunately we gifted away a penalty.
“If you look at the whole match, we created more chances than them. We had chances in the second half, too, but we just couldn’t score.
“I can assure our supporters that the team will fight to the last game to avoid relegation.”
SPOT ON: Crawley’s Izale McLeod scores his penalty
HANDBAGS: Marvin Bartley and Anthony Wordsworth
STAR MAN DARRE
N WARD Crawle