Play-off debutants Crawley storm to first-leg win over MK Dons

Crawley’s first ever Sky Bet EFL play-off match went like a dream as they stormed to a 3-0 win over MK Dons in their rescheduled League Two play-off semi-final first leg.

The game had initially been set for Bank Holiday Monday, but torrential rain in West Sussex had resulted in a waterlogged pitch and pushed kick-off back by almost 28 hours.

When it did finally get under way on Tuesday night, the hosts edged in front through Liam Kelly, just 105 seconds after Max Dean had seen a shot cleared off the line at the other end.

Scott Lindsey’s side passed up a handful of chances to extend their lead before the break, but did so in first-half stoppage time, as Jay Williams poked a free-kick from the left into the bottom corner.

It was job done with just over an hour gone, too, when Ronan Darcy came off the bench to add a third with a deflected strike.

Crawley take their commanding lead into Saturday’s second leg at Stadium MK, which kicks off at 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Football.

How debutants Crawley took one step towards Wembley

The aforementioned delay threatened to disrupt preparation for both teams – but instead, it seemed to do the opposite. One day’s extra rest provided an injection of energy and made for a breathless start.

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Liam Kelly gave Crawley the lead

MK Dons were denied the opener when Dean’s shot was hooked off the line by Will Wright after Crawley’s backline allowed a long ball forward to bounce and, less than two minutes later, Kelly had fired Crawley ahead with a shot inside the near post after a smart one-two with Adam Campbell.

Crawley controlled the game after that and would have been in front had it not been for Michael Kelly, who tipped Danilo Orsi’s dipping shot over, before standing in the way of Laurence Maguire’s header – not that he seemed to know much about the latter.

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Jay Williams doubled Crawley’s lead in first-half stoppage time

But they did add a deserved second in first-half stoppage time when Wright’s free-kick from the left was helped in by Players’ Player of the Season Williams.

MK Dons started to offer more of a threat at the start of the second half, but they just struggled for any kind of fluency in the final third – and so the game was put beyond them when Darcy’s shot took a wicked deflection and looped over goalkeeper Kelly.

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Ronan Darcy finished off a slick passing move to put Crawley three up

Klaidi Lolos thought he had added a fourth in the last 10 minutes after a free-kick had been pumped into the box, but the assistant referee’s flag was quickly raised and Crawley were forced to settle for three.

What’s next?

Live EFL

Thursday 9th May 7:30pm

Crawley and MK Dons will face off against one another in the second leg at Stadium MK at 7.45pm on Saturday May 11, live on Sky Sports Football.

The winners will advance to the Sky Bet League Two play-off final, which will be played at Wembley on Sunday May 19.

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