Chances galore but it's goalless against Carlisle United
Reds suffered a frustrating night in front of goal as their final midweek game of the season ended in a goalless draw.
The point just about kept Carlisle’s League One survival hopes alive but Crawley had enough chances to have won the game and condemned them to the drop.
Jamie Proctor and Matt Tubbs, in particular, squandered some gilt-edged opportunities and it was actually Carlisle who came closest to a winner when Liam Noble hit the bar in the second half.
John Gregory made three changes with Mike Jones (groin), Josh Simpson (hamstring) and Gary Dicker dropping out. In their place came Sergio Torres, skipper Andy Drury and Proctor in a 4-4-2 formation.
With their League One status at stake it was no surprise that Carlisle got on the front foot early on. They looked a threat in the first 10 minutes without seriously testing Paul Jones, until he had to push David Symington’s cross over the bar for the game’s first corner.
Reds threatened for the first time on 13 minutes. Proctor played in Tubbs on the right-hand corner of the box and his stinging drive was pushed around the post for a corner by Jordan Pickford.
Gwion Edwards then robbed Carlisle defender Shaun O’Hanlon, but with Tubbs ready to pounce Pickford grabbed the Welshman’s low cross.
Proctor was next to threaten, capitalising when Reece Brown gave the ball away to fire in an angled shot which had plenty of power but was always clearing Pickford’s cross bar.
Andy Drury then played a great pass into Tubbs’ path but his marker got in a vital interception as the striker was about to take aim before Edwards, who had switched to the right-hand side, fired in a low cross which Pickford again gathered as Proctor waited to pounce.
Reds had a measure of control as the first half drew to its close and the two front men linked up again on 43 minutes when Proctor teed up Tubbs but his shot flew a yard wide of the right-hand upright.
But Carlisle nearly broke the deadlock in stoppage time after a scramble in the box the ball fell to James Berrett, whose curling effort took a deflection which was deflected for a corner that Reds cleared.
Reds had a great chance to take the lead on 50 minutes. Drury led a break and threaded the ball into Proctor’s path but he elected for placement rather than power and got his angles all wrong with Pickford able to make a comfortable save.
Carlisle then began to rouse themselves and were denied by the woodwork on 57 minutes when Noble had time to line up a right-foot shot from 15 yards which struck the top of the crossbar.
With the visitors pushing more men forward there were opportunities for Reds on the break and Proctor should have taken one after 62 minutes. Tubbs’ unselfish pass set him up but he delayed his shot then hit it on the angle over the bar.
The 226 away fans thought their team had broken the deadlock on 67 minutes when Brad Potts hit the side netting with a powerful drive before Jones made a comfortable save from Noble’s attempted curler.
With a quarter of the contest left it was anyone’s game and Edwards nearly broke the deadlock when he picked his way through the Carlisle defence only for O’Hanlon to block his shot. Then with 13 minutes to go Tubbs raced onto Proctor’s pass and got into the box but once again failed to hit the target.
It was turning into a frustrating night for the hosts. Berrett was booked for a late challenge on Torres moments after a lovely flick by Drury appeared to have put Tubbs in only for Pickford to smother at his feet. Drury’s curler then eluded everyone and flashed inches past the far post with Pickford a spectator.
In stoppage time Reds again should have scored. Edwards’ drive was beaten away by Pickford who then got a strong hand on Proctor’s goal-bound drive.
The game ended on an ugly note when Potts pushed Torres into the trackside boards after the ball had gone out of play and was fortunate to only receive a yellow card.
For a goalless draw it had been a lively encounter.