Crawley head coach John Yems hailed a “much improved performance” after a dramatic stoppage-time strike from James Tilley gave the Reds their first home league win in nine games.
Yems’ men had not won in all competitions since upsetting Leeds 3-0 in the FA Cup third round, but Tilley settled the issue with his first goal for the club.
Yems said: “I’m absolutely delighted to get the three points. It’s been a tough couple of weeks but this was a much improved performance.
“We’ve had players coming back from COVID and new players coming in, but it ran our way and we thoroughly deserved it.”
Tilley, released by Grimsby, produced a fine low finish after neat build up play, and Yems added: “He took it well with his weaker right foot.
“It is another three points away from relegation as far as I’m concerned and credit to the boys.”
Colchester have now gone 12 games without a win, their last victory coming at Scunthorpe on December 8 and head coach Steve Ball felt they lost to a “sucker punch goal”.
He said: “I genuinely feel the fans’ pain. We went into the game feeling we could have won it.
“It is a real disappointment, but if you don’t score you don’t win games.”
Ball was dismayed at the manner of his side’s defending when Tilley struck the winner and added: “We should have defended it better.
“We didn’t and in the end it cost us. It was a game of no real quality on a hard pitch.
“It could have gone either way; there was a strong wind and the conditions were difficult.
“But we have to remain positive. We can’t dwell on this one as there is so many games coming up.”
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