A controversial late Sean Canham penalty was just enough to see a fourth consecutive League victory for Hayes & Yeading as Crawley were beaten 2-1 at Church Road.
Manager Garry Haylock made one change to the side that had played so well in Wales the previous week as Scott Fitzgerald returned to the side in place of Marc Canham.
It was the visitors from Crawley who were out of the traps quickest and in just the third minute Simon Overland spread himself well to deny Calum Willock who had moved swiftly onto a Thomas Pinault pass, the United stopper touching the ball past the upright.
Willock was again presented with a great chance to open the scoring on ten minutes when he advanced onto a Chris Giles pass but the striker's heavy touch gave Overland the chance to come from his line and snatch the ball from his feet.
It was fully thirty minutes before United threatened the Crawley goal, Danny Allen-Page found Esmond James just inside him, the youngster making space for himself on the edge of the area before trying his luck with his weaker left foot, his shot curling wide of the far post. Two minutes later the deadlock was broken, James and Toby Little exchanged touches from a short corner and the former's near post cross was met by Sean Canham who headed home from the middle of a mass of bodies.
Sadly for Hayes & Yeading the
lead lasted just 2 minutes when a defensive slip by Adam Green allowed Smith a shot from 8 yards, Overland did superbly to block the effort but the loose ball ran back to the Crawley man who fired past the defensive cover on the line to put his side deservedly level.
Just before the break Crawley keeper Simon Rayner needed to dive to the foot of his post to grab a 20 yard effort from Fitzgerald who latched onto a weak Adam Quinn header but that was it as the half drew to a close.
Just three minutes after the break it was a man advantage Hayes & Yeading as Crawley midfielder Barry Cogan quite rightly received a straight red card for a lunge over the ball at James Mulley who was lucky not to get badly injured.
Minutes later Green played a tantalising free-kick into the area, Rayner could only get his fingertips to the ball and once controlled by James he rolled it to the excellent Justin Cochrane who was just too high from the edge of the area.
Glenn Wilson crossed for Willock whose header was well off target and at the other end Cochrane and James combined with the latter trying his luck from range without troubling Rayner. The introduction of a fit again Dale Binns along with Ram Marwa just after the hour mark gave United fresher legs against the tiring opposition and with fifteen to go Green and Binns combined on the left before finding Mulley who saw his shot charged down and deflected wide by Wilson.
A Green centre was helped on to Canham only for his effort to be blocked wide by Quinn.
Seven minutes remained when Mulley beat two challenges before advancing into the box where Quinn slid in to challenge and although he appeared to get a slight touch on the ball before felling the United man, a penalty was awarded by referee Mr Jerden. Canham stepped up and erased the memory of his miss against Chester by blasting into the Crawley net from 12 yards.
A testing last few minutes were to come United's way as Crawley threw everything bar the kitchen sink at the home defence, including sortie's forwards by Rayner. A Michael Malcolm corner was well headed out by Canham to Town substitute Simon Rusk who took a touch before firing a volley that only just cleared Overland's goal.
Two great chances fell the way of the visitors in the four minutes of added time. After a couple of failed attempts to clear, a bouncing ball in the United area saw Quinn throw himself full stretch at the ball with his header going just inches wide of the far post. A minute later Overland was to produce the save of the game to keep all three points at home, Malcolm seeing his 25 yard drive tipped away by a full stretch dive as the ball appeared to be heading for the top corner.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video
United Man of the Match: Justin Cochrane.
Mascot Michael with favourite player Dale Binns.