Reds draw with Oldham Athletic
Kyle McFadzean scored a 76th-minute equaliser as Reds came from behind to draw 1-1 with Oldham Athletic at the Broadfield Stadium.
Both sides were down to ten men by the time Jose Baxter fired Oldham into a 67th-minute lead after Jean Yves M'Voto and Hope Akpan were sent off.
Reds pressed for a winner and Gary Alexander twice went close while Oldham keeper Dean Bouzanis made some fine stops as the visitors held on for a point.
It was a strange game, punctuated by free kicks aplenty and Reds often struggled to make much headway in the 47 minutes they were against ten men. Their passing and decision-making was occasionally flawed but there was no doubting their resolve at the end to draw level and almost make it three wins in a week. Instead, this was only their first draw for more than a month.
Bouzanis was called into action after two minutes to push away Nicky Adams' cross shot then Billy Clarke was a whisker away with an angled drive that flashed past the far post.
The game exploded into life on 20 minutes when defender M'Voto was shown a straight red for raising his hands first at McFadzean and then Alexander. He could have no complaints but for the rest of the half Reds struggled to break down the ten men although McFadzean had a decent chance on 39 minutes when Adams found him at as corner but he fired well over.
Reds began the second half on the front foot and the ball fell kindly for Clarke on 54 minutes but his goal-bound shot was deflected for a corner which Adams swung in under the bar and Bouzanis punched away without looking too confident.
But it was 10 v 10 on 62 minutes when Akpan was sent off for the second time this season after he was shown a straight red for a challenge on Robbie Simpson when a poor touch had led to the midfielder conceding possession.
It got worse for Reds five minutes later when Oldham scored from their first shot on target. Lee Croft played a good ball into the path of Baxter on the edge of the box and his shot took a big deflection off McFadzean and flew past a helpless Paul Jones into the net.
Reds needed a response but they nearly conceded again when a mistake by McFadzean let Matt Derbyshire go clear but as he tried to round Jones the keeper pulled off a terrific save.
The importance of that stop was soon to become evident. By then Richie Barker had thrown on Nicky Ajose in search of the equaliser and it came on 76 minutes when Oldham failed to pick up McFadzean on the left-hand side of the box and he lashed a shot past Bouzanis to make it 1-1.
From then there looked to be only one winner. Alexander's shot on the turn was inches wide after McFadzean headed a corner back across goal and the Reds' skipper then saw his header from Mat Sadler's cross pawed away by Bouzanis who made another great save in stoppage time to push a shot from Josh Simpson round the post.
A decent point in the end as Reds were far from being at their best. But they go into the ten-day break before their next League One fixture second in the table which is an achievement not to be sniffed at.