By Ben Blackmore
Josh Simpson scored twice to earn the Red Devils a battling 2-2 draw against Shrewsbury at the Broadfield Stadium.
Simpson opened the scoring after 43 seconds, firing a 20-yard shot into the corner to give the hosts an emphatic start.
However, after the promising opening, it was the visitors who levelled when Shrews’ captain Matt Richards scored from inside the box following up after a Jon Taylor cross was only partially cleared.
And soon enough the visitors took the lead when the lively Taylor skipped through the Crawley defence to fire his side ahead.
But Reds dominated the second half and Simpson equalised in the 81st minute from 12 yards out to earn his side a deserved point.
Tom Bradshaw had a great chance to win the game for the visitors but he fired wide in the third minute of stoppage time.
The Red Devils came into the League One clash looking for a first league win since October 23, whilst the visitors were searching for a first away win this season.
Richie Barker made one enforced change to the team that beat Chelmsford last Saturday, Nicky Ajose replacing the injured Billy Clarke.
And it was the Reds that got off to a great start. Simpson picked the ball up 20 yards out and fired a low shot past Weale to give Crawley the lead less than a minute in.
Crawley then looked to add a second shortly after, the ball breaking to Gary Alexander but his half-volley went over the crossbar.
The hosts dominated the early exchanges before the visitors equalised against the run of play in the 14th minute.
Taylor sent over a hanging cross from the right which Paul Jones punched only to the feet of Richards who shot past two Crawley defenders on the line to make it 1-1.
The visitors grew in confidence following the equaliser, Marvin Morgan causing problems in the home defence before Taylor narrowly headed over.
Graham Turner’s side had more of the play and were ahead on the 34th minute mark. Taylor skipped past two defenders to fire the ball into the corner past the helpless Jones after racing through the heart of the home defence.
Simpson tried to re-produce his first minute strike with a similar effort on half time but Weale saved down low to keep his side ahead at the interval.
Reds kicked towards the noisy Bruce Winfield Stand in the second half and started the brighter of the two sides after the break, Nicky Adams twisting and turning but his cross dropped kindly to a defender.
It was the visitors who nearly added a third, Jones saving well from a venomous strike by Luke Rodgers.
Crawley pushed for an equaliser, andClaude Davis knocked down a free-kick that fell kindly for Nicky Ajose but his shot was pushed away for a corner.
With just over 20 minutes to play, Richie Barker introduced Dannie Bulman and John Akinde for Sergio Torres and Ajose and the changes nearly paid off, Akinde laying the ball off to Adams but his shot was way over the crossbar.
Pushing for an equaliser the Reds were nearly caught on the break as Luke Summerfield’s half-volley dipped just over the bar.
With just under 10 minutes to play it seemed the game might slip away from the Reds, however Simpson levelled the scores in the 81st minute. Sadler played a low cross into the box and the midfielder side footed the Reds level from 12 yards out.
The hosts then pressed for a winner, Akinde narrowly missed a cross after good play from Adams and it was Adams who went close just a minute later, but his shot was wide. Adams then saw his effort well saved by Weale.
Into stoppage time and Shrewsbury had a gilt-edged chance of taking all three points. Paul Parry’s low cross was met at the back post by substitute Tom Bradshaw but his effort went agonisingly wide.