REDS STREAK IS ENDED BY VALE
TWO first-half set pieces sent Port Vale on their way to a perfect start to the season and with it ended Crawley's six-year opening day unbeaten record.
In Harry Kewell's first competitive game as home head coach, Michael Tonge was the architect, scoring one and setting up the other in a lively opening 25 minutes.
Crawley responded in the second half through Enzio Boldewijn, but a late suckerpunch from Dan Turner made the points safe for a delighted Michael Brown.
“We go away with the points but I've seen the good and the bad of us today,” he said. “The fitness levels are still not there but we're getting better.
“Crawley move the ball well, were very strong down the right and we got them late on with a fantastic header from Turner.”
It was a strong start from the visitors who had the first real attempt of the game with Tonge seeing his long-range effort fly just over.
It was the same player who gave Vale the lead just minutes later as his free-kick took a deflection and deceived the wrong-footed Glenn Morris to find the net.
Mark Randall dragged wide before Anthony Kay glanced home a header against the run of play to thrill Brown.
“It was a great goal from Tonge and a great ball in for Kay to get on the end of it to put us in that commanding position,” he said.
The hosts started the second half well and managed to pull a goal back through winger Boldewijn who, after a superb solo run, jinked inside and fired past Rob Lainton.
Jordan Roberts hit wide, Lewis Young volleyed over and Boldewijn saw his effort go agonisingly wide as the hosts hunted an equaliser.
But with eight minutes remaining Vale nabbed a third when Turner nodded home Marcus Harness' pinpoint cross.
Defeat left Reds' chief Kewell ruing a disappointing first-half showing.
He said: “It was a game of two halves. We knew what Port Vale were going to bring. They look to go long, they look to Pope and are dangerous at set pieces.
“The free-kick was a deflection and the keeper has no chance, and the second is a great delivery in. We should be man marking their players.
“I didn't think they had too much to offer and we woke up in the second half, playing the game we wanted.” However, Brown was thrilled with his side’s exhibition in how to win away from home.
“Crawley pinned us back but we showed desire in the second half, hanging in when we needed to and we got our rewards,” he added. “We wanted more of the ball, but we defended well and limited their chances. It was a great away performance.” CRAWLEY (3-5-2): Morris 6, Lelan 6, Connolly 6, Yorwerth 6 (Payne 55 6); Young 7, Randall 7, Bulman 6, Randall 7, Roberts 6 (Cox 65 6); Boldewijn 8 (Lewis 75 6), Verheydt 6. Subs not used: Mersin, Blackman, Harrold, Djalo PORT VALE: (4-5-1): Lainton 6, Wilson 6, Kay 6, Smith 6, Gunning 6, Tonge 7 (Reeves 65 7), Pugh 6, De Freitas 6, Harness 7 (Whitfield 85 N/A), Montano 6 (Turner 46 6), Pope 6. Subs not used: Hornby, Davis, Forrester, Pyke
DEFLECTION: Port Vale’s Michael Tonge scores the opening goal of the game ON YOUR HEAD: Antony Kay climbs above Crawley’s Glen Morris to score Valients’ second