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Crawley in command after 3-0 first-leg win over MK Dons
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Crawley had a night to remember at home (Steven Paston/PA)
Crawley had a night to remember at home (Steven Paston/PA)

Crawley took a firm grip of their League Two play-off semi-final by deservedly beating MK Dons 3-0 in the first leg at a sold-out Broadfield Stadium.

Liam Kelly gave the Red Devils the perfect start with a fifth-minute opener and Jay Williams struck again in first-half stoppage time.

Substitute Ronan Darcy hit a deflected third to leave the Dons facing a big test in the return leg at Stadium MK on Saturday evening.

Crawley clinched the seventh and final play-off place on the final day and their fourth-placed opponents were forced on to the back foot for long periods.

Manager Scott Lindsey admitted he had no problem with his Crawley side being labelled as underdogs going into their first-ever play-off tie, having already defied critics who tipped them for relegation at the start of the season.

The Dons won a first-minute corner but Joe Tomlinson fired over after Jack Payne took it short.

The visitors look set to take the lead in the third minute when top scorer Max Dean burst through, but his goal-bound shot after rounding keeper Corey Addai was dramatically cleared off the line by Will Wright.

A frenetic start continued as Crawley went ahead on five minutes, former Rochdale midfielder Liam Kelly drilling his fifth goal of the season into the corner from just inside the area after exchanging passes with Adam Campbell.

They threatened again when Campbell forced keeper Michael Kelly to parry his shot before Dean shot wide from the edge of the area at the other end.

A floated attempted back pass by Liam Kelly had Crawley fans jittery, Addai racing out to control the ball, and Danilo Orsi then put a low shot wide in front of the Dons’ travelling fans.

Crawley forward Klaidi Lolos, who had hit five goals in his previous six games, got into a good position inside the area but a well-timed tackle by the recalled Cameron Norman averted the danger.

Town’s flowing attacking play produced another opportunity when Orsi had a shot tipped over by Michael Kelly before defender Laurence Maguire had a close-range header blocked.

Crawley deservedly doubled their lead in the first minute of first-half stoppage time when Williams, at full stretch, steered Wright’s free-kick home at the near post.

Addai showed alertness shortly after the break when he punched away a goal-bound shot from Tomlinson as Dons attempted to raise their game.

MK substitute Ellis Harrison was presented with a quick opportunity to make his presence felt but wastefully planted the ball wide of Addai’s left-hand post in a one-on-one situation.

The Red Devils made it 3-0 on 65 minutes when substitute Darcy, only on the pitch for five minutes, struck with a deflected shot which looped over the helpless Michael Kelly.

Dean wasted a chance to reduce the deficit when he put the ball over from a good position after a cross from Daniel Harvie.

Lolos had the ball in the net late on for Crawley but it was ruled offside, before substitute Kyran Lofthouse fired over at the other end.


League TwoCrawleyMilton Keynes Dons
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