Struggling Shrews drew level through Paul Parry in the second half and Reds had to show plenty of defensive resilience as the hosts twice hit the woodwork while Joe Walsh cleared an effort off the line. Jamie Proctor nearly won it at the end but a point was a fair result in the end.
John Gregory made four changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Gillingham. Proctor, Matt Tubbs and Paul Connolly dropped to the bench while Andy Drury missed out through injury. In came Rory Fallon, for his full debut, Simpson, Mark Connolly and Gary Dicker.
The struggling Shrews hadn’t won at home since November – nine games back – and their lack of confidence in front of their own fans was evident in a first half which ended with the home side being booed off.
Billy Clarke was a real bright spark for Reds in the first 45 and created the first chance on three minutes when he cut inside but fired wide from 20 yards.
Ryan Woods responded with a header straight at Paul Jones but Clarke went desperately close on eight minutes when he brought a long ball from Kyle McFadzean under control but could only lift his shot over Anyon and the crossbar.
Clarke was then booked for a late challenge on Asa Hall but on 24 minutes he played his part in Reds’ opener. Fallon was fouled 22 yards out and when Clarke’s free kick bounced off the defensive wall SIMPSON pounced to drill a right-foot shot into the bottom corner for his second goal of the season.
Shrewsbury almost produced an instant response when Jones pushed out Paul Parry’s shot and ten minutes before the break they came even closer. McFadzean got an attempted back pass all wrong and Miles Storey pounced, sending his shot past Jones but it hit the inside of the post and when Jon Taylor tried to turn in the loose ball Joe Walsh made an important block.
Dave McAllister was booked for a foul on Clarke on the stroke of half-time.
As expected, there was a positive response at the start of the second half from the Shrews. Jermaine Grandison came on and the home side switched to 4-3-3 and twice in a minute Asa Hall went close, first with a drive wide of the near post and then from a header that was also off target.
Reds responded through Mike Jones who found a yard of space to let fly from 20 yards and force Anyon to push his low shot round the post for a corner but the momentum had shifted and on 55 minutes Shrewsbury were level.
Reds failed to clear a cross from the right and PARRY met it 15 yards out with a lovely volley which flew into the far corner, even though Jones did get a hand on it.
McFadzean was cautioned for a foul on Grandison as Reds were forced on to the back foot although they broke with good effect on the hour but Clarke’s attempt to find Jones was a touch too strong and Anyon cleared. Dannie Bulman had been fouled at the start of the move by Joe Mills, who was also booked.
Reds made their first change on 64 minutes when Proctor replaced Fallon and moments later were relieved when Mills’ storming run into the box ended with the left-back going down under a challenge from Mark Connolly but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.
With 16 minutes remaining Sergio Torres replaced Gary Dicker and then Anyon was called into action to turn a header from Proctor over the bar after he’d met a deep cross from Mat Sadler.
With seven minutes to go Mike Jones’ cross skidded off Parry’s head into the path of Clarke but he fired wildly wide from a decent position but seconds later the woodwork came to Crawley’s rescue again when Parry let fly from 25 yards and the ball thudded off the post with Jones beaten.
Hall then met Mills’ free kick with a free header but he directed it horribly wide as Shrewsbury pushed for a winner.
Reds had a massive let-off with a minute to go. A free kick came in and when Jones failed to clear the ball rolled towards an open goal but McFadzean cleared it off the line.
But there was so near drama at the other end in stoppage time when Proctor picked his way through the home defence but his shot was superbly kept out by Anyon. When the corner came in McFadzean’s header down fell for Clarke but his shot on the turn was cleared.
Reds dealt with a corner in the dying seconds and both sides had to settle for a hard-earned point.