Tranmere 3 Crawley Town 3
Reds were involved in another thriller but were denied three points by a Tranmere equaliser deep into stoppage time at Prenton Park.
Joe Walsh scored twice and his second goal with ten minutes to go, which followed Billy Clarke’s 55th-minute equaliser, looked to have won the game for Reds. But Lowe, a former team-mate of boss Richie Barker, rescued his side right at the end.
Richie Barker made three changes in the wake of the midweek Cup defeat at Cheltenham with Clarke and Mark Connolly handed their first starts of the season while Andy Drury made his first start since his return to the club during the summer.
Drury was soon involved as a bright start by Reds was rewarded after just ten minutes. Jamie Proctor was fouled on the right by Evan Horwood, who was booked, and Drury’s free kick picked out WALSH for a free header that he guided into the top corner.
But the lead lasted just five minutes. Reds couldn’t clear a ball deep into the box by goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams that was chested down by Lowe and Joe THOMPSON steered his shot past a helpless Paul Jones.
It was harsh on Reds considering the start they had made but they were inches away from regaining the lead when Proctor’s shot from just outside the box flashed inches wide of the far post.
Chris Atkinson wasn’t far away with a strike from distance midway through the first half as the hosts began to get a measure of control but Reds continued to threaten on an excellent surface that encouraged their passing style and Fon Williams had to get down smartly to keep out a drive from Drury.
The home keeper was called upon again on 35 minutes when he came out to smother Clarke’s shot after Proctor had dispossessed Stephen Foster to set up the chance.
But it was the home side who took the lead two minutes before the break after a rare mistake by Paul Jones. The keeper’s clearance, which was intended for Walsh, was intercepted by THOMPSON, who strode forward and fired home his second goal. Jones had conceded an own goal on his last visit to Prenton Park in January and his memories of the place will hardly have improved.
Reds were inches away from drawing level before the break but Clarke could just not get a decisive touch on an inviting cross by Adams.
The second half started with the visitors on top and they were level after 55 minutes. James Hurst went on the overlap and took Adams’ pass into his path before getting to the line and pulled the ball into the path of CLARKE who could hardly miss from a yard.
Both sides went for the winner after that. Clarke was denied by Fon Williams as it looked certain he would get onto Proctor’s cross and at the other end Jones had to hold a stinger from sub Jean Louis Akpo-Akpro.
Reds had vehement appeals for a penalty turned down when Akpo-Akpro appeared to control the ball with his hand ten minutes from time but moments later Reds were back in front when Drury’s corner dropped to WALSH 12 yards out and he turned to find the bottom corner with a right-foot shot which may have taken a deflection on its way past the keeper.
The hosts pushed for an equaliser and deep into stoppage time Akpa Akpro fluffed his chance at far post, slicing his shot wide but with seconds left Reds failed to clear a corner from the left and LOWE directed it past Jones at the far post.
Even then there was a late chance for Reds, but Gary Alexander couldn’t quite make a firm enough connection and Fon Williams made a brave save.
A real kick in the teeth for Reds after an excellent performance, particularly in the second half.