Crawley did their hopes of avoiding relegation from League Two a great boost with a comfortable 2-0 home win over bottom side Rochdale to clinch their third victory in four games.
The success puts third-bottom Reds 10 points ahead of Dale and four clear of second-bottom Hartlepool, with a game in hand.
Crawley had the backing of a bumper crowd of nearly 5,000 after tickets were reduced to £2, and boss Scott Lindsey urged the “brilliant” fans to “get behind the Reds in an important game for the club”.
The Reds – on their best run of form since the end of October – threatened inside the first 15 seconds when Ashley Nadesan ran towards goal but goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell managed to deflect his shot round the post.
Crawley stopper Corey Addai saved a low shot from Ethan Brierley before Reds forward Aramide Oteh put an angled shot just wide from Dom Telford’s pass.
The hosts took a firm grip on the game by scoring twice in the space of four minutes shortly before the interval.
Telford put them ahead by firing under keeper O’Donnell from Mazeed Ogungbo’s assist after 35 minutes and then James Tilley’s cross set up Dion Conroy and his downward header beat O’Donnell into the far corner.
Dale, without the injured Devante Rodney and Scott Quigley, threatened when Addai denied Ian Henderson before Owen Dodgson blazed an angled shot wide.
Jimmy Keohane later shot over when well placed as Dale went down to a damaging defeat which leaves them with just two wins from their last 21 league matches.
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