CRAWLEY'S status as the constituency with the most marginal seat in the country attracted national attention last week as the political climate grew increasingly unstable.

But, on Saturday, the West Sussex town hosted the kind of landslide victory unlikely to be enjoyed by Tony Blair's eventual successor - whoever that might be.

Crawley's football team have endured a power struggle of their own, which has resulted in administration, a ten-point deduction and the continued threat of liquidation.

York City, meanwhile, appear to have stabilised matters off the pitch but the chances of extending their six-game undefeated start to the season were sadly diminished after just 16 minutes when goalkeeper Tom Evans was sent off.

Evans, though, can have little argument with the decision.

Left in a vulnerable position on the edge of his penalty box by David McGurk's indecisive back pass, Evans dragged down Dannie Bulman as the on-loan Stevenage Borough midfielder attempted to round him.

The whole episode, entirely of the visitors' own making, seemed so needless.

To add to the frustration, Crawley had rarely threatened until that moment with City in the ascendancy.

Left-winger Martyn Woolford was given his full debut by Billy McEwan and almost marked the occasion with a goal after 35 seconds.

The former Frickley Athletic player bombed into the six-yard box to get on the end of a Craig Farrell cross but his close-range effort was saved by Ben Hamer.

An excellent eighth-minute cross by Nathan Peat then picked out Farrell unmarked six yards out at the far post but the former Exeter City striker's sidefooted effort lacked the power to beat Hamer.

But, despite leaving frontmen Farrell and Clayton Donaldson upfield following Evans' red card, City's attacking outlets were restricted by the sacrifice of an unfortunate Woolford for teenage keeper Arran Reid, who was beaten for the first time in professional football just four minutes later by Jake Edwards' clever back heel following Ben Strevens' low cross from the right.

Neal Bishop, however, then twice went close to levelling the scores. First, Bishop stabbed wide from 15 yards after Dave Woozley could only head a 38th-minute Donaldson cross into his firing range.

Moments later, the former Scarborough midfielder found the net with a downward header but was penalised for a push on Hiley.

Contact seemed slight but was, arguably, not necessary at all as the quality of Darren Craddock's cross appeared to have beaten Hiley and Bishop was probably the victim of his own over-eagerness.

Crawley still went close to doubling their lead before the break when Peat lost possession but Lee Blackburn wastefully dragged an early, 15-yard attempt wide of goal.

The home side, however, made the points safe with two goals within two minutes either side of the hour mark.

Edwards, released by Exeter in the summer, was impressive throughout and added two assists to his earlier goal.

First, he went past Peat on the right and delivered a low cross that Reid could only punch out as far as Bulman, who found the bottom corner from ten yards.

Then, another Edwards cross from a similar position found Blackburn unmarked on the far post and his downward header beat Reid, A more humiliating scoreline seemed possible when a poor pass from substitute Danny Parslow saw fellow replacement Scott Rendell bundle past McGurk before selfishly shooting weakly at Reid when Edwards was in a much better position to score. Edwards, then squandered another opportunity when he headed wide from a Ben Judge cross.

City went close to a consolation in the final ten minutes with Bishop firing narrowly wide from 20 yards and Donaldson being denied a penalty when he tricked his way past Pat Sappleton and appeared to be tripped.

Donaldson also lifted an 86th-minute chance over an unguarded net after he had shimmied his way past Sappleton, keeper Hamer and covering defender Woozley.

The Minstermen perhaps deserved a goal for their efforts but, at the other end, had failed to defend in a manner required by any team reduced to ten men.

Match facts

Crawley 3 (Edwards 23, Bulman 59, Blackburn 62), York City 0.

Evans 5, Craddock 7, Dudgeon 5 (Parslow 67m 6), McGurk 5, Peat 5, Convery 6 (McMahon, 90), Panther 5, Bishop 6, Woolford (Reid 17m 6), Farrell 5, Donaldson 6.

Key: 10 - Faultless; 9 - Outstanding; 8 - Excellent; 7 - Good; 6 - Average; 5 - Below par; 4 - Poor; 3 - Dud; 2 - Hopeless; 1 - Retire Sub (not used): Lloyd.

Star man: Craddock - raided down right to good effect and delivered several dangerous crosses.

Crawley Town: Ben Hamer, Scott Hiley, Ben Judge, Dave Woozley, Danny Brown (Pat Sappleton, 77), Lee Blackburn (Gary Mills, 67), Michael Bostwick, Dannie Bulman, Tony Scully, Jake Edwards, Ben Strevens (Scott Rendell, 64). Subs not used: Rob Tolfrey, Jack MacLeod.

Yellow card: Donaldson 64.

Red card: Evans 16.

Referee: Darren Sheldrake (West Moseley). Rating: correct decision with Evans red card. Might have been harsh on City with the disallowed goal and penalty appeal but only replays would reveal the truth.

Attendance: 932.

Weather watch: Warm and dry.

Game breaker: Without Evans' dismissal, it is difficult to imagine City would have lost 3-0.

Match rating: Over as a contest after 61 minutes, Until then, it had been an even encounter despite the home side's numerical advantage.

Billy's verdict: I thought we could have been two up in the first five minutes. We played very well with ten men but we beat ourselves with some of our decisions.

Player watch: Darren Craddock

Shots on target: 0
Shots off target: 0
Passes to own player: 22
Passes to opposition: 4
Crosses to own player: 2
Crosses to opposition: 3
Pass success rate: 88.9 per cent
Dribbles ball retained: 2 Dribbles ball lost: 1 Dribble success rate: 66.7 per cent
Fouls won: 2 Fouls conceded: 0 Headers: 6 Tackles: 3 Offsides: 0
Clearances, blocks and interceptions: 7
Bookings: 0
Final summary: Craddock was City's most reliable defender and also contributed to his side's attacking options with some telling crosses. He was generally reliable in possession as is illustrated by just four stray passes. He was also disciplined and did not concede one free kick.