Crawley boss Richie Barker was full of praise for striker Billy Clarke after his two goals gave in-form Reds a 2-0 victory over MK Dons for their fifth win in six league games.

Clarke's goals were the first by a Crawley striker in 10 matches and Barker said: "Billy has been champing at the bit for a chance for a month now and this was a great response. I asked him to do something different as I changed the shape of the team and he topped it off with two goals. I promised him if he scored he might get to keep his place."

Barker described the match as "really exciting" and felt it was one of those games which could have ended in a high-scoring draw.

He added: "At times, in terms of our counter-attacking at home, I think it's exciting and not negative. We've won five out of the last six and you can't knock that.

"We have won three in a row now and have a bit of momentum. For 70% of the game we were the better side, but we won't dominate every match. MK Dons missed chances as we did, but clean sheets breed confidence and our keeper, Paul Jones, had an excellent game."

Crawley director of football Steve Coppell has been linked with the vacant manager's job at Crystal Palace, where he has already had four spells, and Barker said he was desperately hoping he would not be leaving.

Said Barker: "Steve has been fantastic for this football club and for my learning. From a personal point of view and a selfish point of view I hope that he stays. He has been a massive part of what we are trying to achieve, and I have learned a lot from him."

MK Dons' defeat leaves them with only one win from their last six games and manager Karl Robinson admits that the dip in form has become a worry to him.

He said: "There is a long way to go and we are hoping to get this dip in form out the way. We're away at Scunthorpe on Saturday and there will be more competition with hopefully players like Dean Bodwitch and Stephen Gleeson coming back in."

Robinson was quick to confess his side found the live-wire Clarke, a former Blackpool striker, a handful throughout. He added: "Clarke is a player I admire immensely. The boy was in the right place at the right time for both of his goals."