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Match Reports

Latics v Crawley Town

20 April 2013

Latics v Crawley Town


Lee Johnson admitted the hard work is about to begin after helping Latics preserve their npower League One status. 

Latics made it three wins in a week after their 2-1 victory against Crawley Town banished the threat of relegation. 

Goals from Matt Smith and Jean-Yves M’voto – he scored a dramatic winner in stoppage time – ensured Latics will finish clear of the bottom four. 

Johnson, who has picked up an impressive 14 points from his first eight matches as manager to lift Latics to safety, said: "It was a nerve racking last 10 minutes, but the boys have come through and well done to them. 

"Thank you to the club and to the owner and board for giving me the opportunity. The first steps have been so far so good, but now we have to kick on."

Johnson admitted it was not a vintage display from Latics believing that was probably due to fatigue following two "monumental" performances in the last week against Bury and Yeovil Town. 

He said: "I knew they would be leggy but the players stuck to the game plan and defensively we were pretty sound. 

"Though it wasn’t a fantastic display offensively, defensively we did alright apart from the set piece which led to their goal.”

Johnson added that Korey Smith was “magnificent” adding that his work rate was phenomenal as he and David Mellor were up against three Crawley players in the centre of midfield. 

“They both had to put in some mileage considering they had both played 180 minutes this week. I was proud of them," he said.

Johnson selected the side which beat Yeovil which meant Jose Baxter, available after completing a two-match ban, had to settle for a place in the bench. 

He explained that he believes continuity is important saying: “We have two games left and I want to remain relentless and keep that momentum going into next season. 

"I am a believer in continuity and noticed when we went on good runs before that we  had a settled side. I put trust in my players when they deliver and they had delivered in the last two games. 

"And though it was a little lacklustre at times, it was the right decision as we won the game." 

It was as disappointing opening half in which Latics had only one clear-cut chance when Smith headed over when well placed to head home a Mellor cross. 

Crawley only had one opening themselves when Billy Clarke’s angled shot was turned round the post by keeper Dean Bouzanis. 

Latics made a breakthrough in the 57th minute when Smith received a ball in the middle from Lee Croft and then set off on a barnstorming run before finding the net with a terrific drive from just outside the penalty area, 

Robbie Simpson also stung the palms of keeper Paul Jones with a rasping shot as Latics took control. 

Johnson brought on Baxter and Kirk Millar for Matt Smith and Lee Barnard midway through the half to provide them with fresh legs. 

There was a shock in store, however, when Crawley equalised in the 76th minute. Latics were slow to react to a short corner and the ball eventually found its way to the far post where Mark Connolly was completely free to head home from a couple of yards out. 

Suddenly nerves began to show as Bouzanis raced out of his box but only cleared as far as Jamie Proctor who shot narrowly wide from the left wing. 

 Latics managed to summon the strength to conjure a winning goal in stoppage time after winning a free kick on the left. 

Baxter sent over a great ball to the far post for central-defender M’voto,  who disobeyed instructions to charge forward, to find the net with a downward header which looped into the roof of the net. 

"There was only about one minute left and we didn't want him going forward, but that is the best way to shut up the manager, isn't it?," he said. 

Sadly it sparked over-zealous celebrations from fans with the pitch invasion likely to land the club in hot water with the football authorities which was the only dampener on an otherwise memorable afternoon. 

Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Brown, Belezika, M’voto, Grounds; Croft, K Smith, Mellor, R Simpson;  M Smith (Baxter 68), Barnard (Mellor 64). Subs (not used): Cisak, Montano, Reid, Winchester, Cooper. 

Crawley (4-3-3): Jones; Hunt, Walsh, Connolly, Sadler; Jones (Proctor 64), Torres (J Simpson 64), Bulman (Sparrow 64); Clarke, Hayes, Clarke. Subs (not used): Dumbuya, O’Brien, Elford-Alliyu, Maddison. 

The goals: M Smith (57), M’voto (90+2) for Latics, Connolly (76) for Crawley. 

Bookings: Croft (75),  Brown (90) for Latics. 

Referee Mr R Madley. 

Attendance: 4,794 (156 visitors). 

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