Swindon Town suffered their first defeat of the 2017/18 Sky Bet League Two campaign this afternoon after going down 3-0 to Crawley Town at The County Ground.
Olly Lancashire’s own goal was the difference at the break, which was extremely harsh on the home side given their sheer dominance in the first-half.
It was a different story after the break however and the Red Devils wrapped up their first three points of the season thanks to strikes from Jordan Roberts and Jimmy Smith.
There were chances galore in the opening 45-minutes as Town looked to extend their unbeaten start to life in League Two, with both Olly Lancashire and Dion Conroy going close.
Luke Norris was then denied by two brilliant saves as the home side continued to turn up the heat.
There was a twist in the plot though as Crawley took the lead completely against the run of play with Lancashire only able to send the ball beyond Lawrence Vigouroux and into the back of the net.
Kaiyne Woolery came close to restoring parity almost instantly, but it proved to be one-way traffic in the second-half as the visitors added two more goals to make it an afternoon to forget for the Reds.
Dave Flitcroft opted to keep faith with the same Starting XI that ground out a superb 1-0 win away at Morecambe a week ago, while new signing Matty Taylor was named amongst the substitutes.
Town were looking to continue their good start to the new season and they were also out to deliver their first home win of 2017/18.
They certainly started with good intentions as some brilliant work from Paul Mullin earned his side an early corner, which was sent in by Chris Hussey and headed over the bar by Luke Norris.
It was all one-way traffic in the opening exchanges as the home side went about their business in impressive style, keeping their guests firmly penned into their own-half.
The Reds were creating plenty of openings too with Paul Mullin trying his luck from distance, while Kaiyne Woolery couldn’t quite connect with a Donal McDermott cross in the box.
They were getting closer and closer and were unlucky not to take an early lead with Olly Lancashire nodding just over the bar after rising highest to connect with a pinpoint Chris Hussey free-kick.
Crawley did enjoy a brief respite from defending but they were soon back under the cosh as James Dunne broke up an attack before launching a swift counter-attack, which saw Paul Mullin work his way into the box and cut inside before seeing his shot bravely blocked by Josh Lelan.
Another Hussey corner led to another glorious opportunity as Dion Conroy’s header came back off the bar before bouncing wide.
The Red Devils did carve out a rare attack but Jimmy Smith could only lash way over and Jordan Roberts’ cross just evaded a team-mate, before normal service was soon resumed with Norris drawing a fine point-blank save from Glenn Morris after being picked out perfectly inside the area by McDermott.
And Norris was causing havoc inside the Crawley box yet again moments later, latching onto a Hussey corner before seeing his drive batted away by Morris.
However, Town were done with a sucker-punch when, moments after Panutche Camara had dragged wide for the visitors, Lewis Young pumped a dangerous ball into the box which was headed into his own net by Lancashire, although there looked to be a push on the Skipper.
Swindon almost hit back immediately as Woolery slammed a shot just over the bar, which touched the crossbar on its way over.
There was a frantic finish to an action-packed first-half with Dean Cox warming the palms of Lawrence Vigouroux, while Mullin could only send a drive over the bar at the other end.
Town made a fast start after the break with Hussey seeing his cross knocked behind for a corner, although it was Crawley who nearly added another moments later with Vigouroux having to be alert to deny Camara with his legs.
Looking for a way back into the contest, Flitcroft decided to freshen things up by making a double change with Matt Taylor and James Brophy coming on to replace Amine Linganzi and Kaiyne Woolery respectively.
Swindon were being frustrated by their guests though and they were nearly caught out again just shy of the hour mark, although Vigouroux got down well to smother Roberts’ low strike.
Mullin looked to make something happen for his side but he was robbed inside the box as Town were being halted in their efforts to find an equaliser by a stubborn Crawley back-line.
There was also a drop in tempo with the visitors happy to sit back and defend their slender lead.
It didn’t deter the Reds though and they continued to press forward with McDermott sending a curling effort wide.
Crawley were continuing to create opportunities too with Josh Yorwerth scooping a volley over the bar, before Camara was also off-target after skewing a shot over the crossbar.
Town then made their final change of the afternoon with Harry Smith replacing James Dunne, and the striker nearly made an instant impact after seeing his rasping drive kept out by Morris.
Vigouroux had thwarted Camara moments before that but the stopper was unable to prevent Crawley from doubling their advantage with just over ten minutes remaining, Jordan Roberts seeing his effort deflected into the back of the net.
Crawley were finishing the game with a flourish and Vigouroux had to be at his best to deny both Roberts and Yorwerth, although the visitors did add a third courtesy of Jimmy Smith who smashed home after latching onto Dannie Bulman’s cut-back.
Dean Cox flashed an effort inches wide and that proved to be the final action of the afternoon with Town enduring a difficult day at the office.
TEAMS AND STATS:
SCORERS - Olly Lancashire OG (36), Jordan Roberts (79), Jimmy Smith (84).
SWINDON TOWN (4-4-2) - Vigouroux; Purkiss, Conroy, Lancashire (C), Hussey; Mullin, Dunne (Harry Smith 77), Linganzi (Matty Taylor 52), McDermott; Woolery (James Brophy 52), Norris.
Subs Not Used - Henry, Robertson, T Smith, Iandolo.
CRAWLEY TOWN (4-2-3-1) - Morris; Young, Lelan, Yorwerth, Evina; Smith (C), Bulman; Boldewijn (Ibraham Metie 80), Cox, Roberts (Dennon Lewis 86); Camara (Josh Payne 82).
Subs Not Used - Mersin, McNerney, Tajbakhsh, Verheydt.
SWINDON TOWN - Dion Conroy, Olly Lancashire, Paul Mullin.
CRAWLEY TOWN - Cedric Evina.
Referee - Brett Huxtable.
Attendance - 6,613.