Reds hit back twice to collect point
Reds showed their resilience to twice come from behind and collect a point against Walsall in a 2-2 League One draw at the Broadfield Stadium today.
The visitors did not look like a side without a win in 11 games as they twice led through Fabien Brandy and Ashley Hemmings. But Reds fought back with strikers Billy Clarke and Jonathan Forte on target, Forte equalising nine minutes from time with what was his final touch in a Crawley shirt at the end of his loan spell with Southampton.
Reds finished the game with ten men after Joe Walsh was sent off for a foul on Brandy when he was in on goal.
Richie Barker made one change to the side with flu victim Kyle McFadzean replaced by Walsh but it was much-changed Walsall, with five alterations to their line-up, who made the better start.
They had a great chance after just five minutes when Will Grigg rose to meet a cross from Andy Taylor but directed it wide. Two minutes later Paul Jones got behind a free kick from James Paterson.
Walsh came to Reds' rescue after 14 minutes with a great tackle to dispossess Brandy but the relief was short lived. Paterson threaded a pass into the path of Brandy and his shot beat Jones with a deflection off Claude Davis.
Barker switched Nicky Adams to the right flank and finally the hosts began to build some momentum and on 22 minutes they equalised with their first shot on target. It was a quality goal too as Mike Jones' pass found Forte. He switched it quickly to Clarke 22 yards out and his shot flashed into the top left-hand corner.
It was just what the home side needed and they began to probe a well-organised Walsall back line in search of another. Jones and Adams combined again after 40 minutes but Forte's header from Adams' cross went wide and Reds went to the interval all square.
Once again it was the visitors who started the second half with more purpose, although Mike Jones wasn't far away when he let fly from 25 yards three minutes in.
Walsall went close on 56 minutes when the impressive Paterson cut in from the left and hit a shot which beat Jones but came back off the bar. As Walsall sensed unease in the home ranks Paterson turned in the box but his curling effort was clawed around the post by Jones.
Reds could make little headway and they fell behind again after 73 minutes. Sam Mantom's well-struck shot from the edge of the box was pushed out by Jones but only as far as Hemmings who buried the loose ball, as Reds appealed in vain for offside.
Reds made a double change and switched to a 4-3-3 formation and with nine minutes to go they equalised. Adams did well on the right to pick out Forte with a cross and the striker's header looped inside the top corner.
There was more drama to come though. After Brandy skipped past the challenge of Dannie Bulman and Davis he was upended by Walsh. As the last defender the Welshman was shown a straight red card.
Davis collected a fifth booking which will rule him out of the Yeovil game and in an end-to-end finale Mark Connolly came close to grabbing a dramatic winner when his volley was deflected wide off fellow substitute Nicky Ajose.