Reds and Bristol Rovers will have to play it again after Wednesday’s second round replay was abandoned after 75 minutes.
The game was played in torrential rain and a gale-force wind as conditions worsened as the second half progressed with the ball stopping in puddles and players struggling to keep their feet. Referee Stuart Atwell’s decision to call it off was no surprise and backed by both John Gregory and Rovers’ boss John Ward.
JG made two changes to the side that came from 2-0 down to draw with Preston on Saturday. Jamie Proctor came in for Gary Alexander up front while Andy Drury replaced James Hurst.
The game kicked off in driving rain and with a gusting wind blowing straight down the pitch which Reds had at their backs in the first half.
Reds began with a good tempo and Mark Connolly wasn’t far away with a drive from 20 yards after Billy Clarke had played him in with a pass across the face of the penalty area.
Rovers threatened for the first time when Lee Brown, who scored on their previous visit to Crawley, curled a free kick in from the right but two team-mates collided with each other inside the six-yard box, allowing Drury to hack to safety.
Emile Sinclair then laid a great ball into the path of Nicky Adams, whose cross was smothered by keeper Steve Mildenhall under pressure from Proctor.
Connolly threatened again with a shot on the turn which was a yard wide of the right-hand upright as Reds began to build up a head of steam. Adams and Clarke combined from a corner on 21 minutes and Mildenhall produced a full-length save from Adams’ shot from a tight angle, although the assistant had already raised his flag for offside.
Brown showed his prowess from again from free kicks when he whipped one in with his left foot that eluded everyone and flew just past Jones’ far post.
Reds created a great chance on 27 minutes when Clarke picked out Proctor six yards out and although he adjusted his body position to get in a header he could only direct it a yard wide of the post.
Joe Walsh then forced Mildenhall into another great save when he got down to push the defender’s header from Adams’ corner onto a post. Adams then whipped in a free kick after Sinclair had been fouled but Kyle McFadzean’s effort was also off target before Proctor picked his way through the Rovers’ defence but Mildenhall beat his shot away. The striker then lashed a shot on the turn wide as Reds cranked up the pressure.
Oliver Norburn followed Tom Lockyer into referee Atwell’s book for a late challenge on Adams at the start of the second half.
Rovers now had the elements behind them but for the first 15 minutes offered little threat while Sinclair couldn’t keep his header on target at the other end from Connolly’s cross.
Conditions were now appalling with surface water collecting on the pitch and the players struggling to keep their feet. As a result the chances dried up although Gary Alexander, who replaced Sinclair on the hour nearly got on the end of Adams’ cross while Jones held a long-range effort from John Joe-O’Toole at the other end.
But it had become little more than a farce by then and the referee’s decision to abandon proceedings came as no surprise.
Replay details will be announced as soon as possible.