Tubbs and Simpson strike in 2-2 draw
A goal in the last minute of stoppage time robbed Reds of three points on their first visit to the New York Stadium.
Matt Tubbs made a fairytale return to his old club by giving the visitors the lead and although Kieran Agard levelled from the spot skipper Josh Simpson restored Reds' lead with a superb goal on 64 minutes.
Crawley seemed to have done enough but deep into stoppage time Agard lashed home his second of the game. Even then the visitors nearly won it when Adam Collin produced a triple save in the dying seconds to ensure the points were shared.
The return of Billy Clarke for Gary Alexander, who dropped to the bench, was Reds’ only change to the side that drew 2-2 at Coventry 13 days ago. Gary Dicker was on the bench after signing for the club on Thursday.
There were three former Crawley players on the Rotherham bench: Scott Shearer, Wes Thomas and Claude Davis.
Rotherham tend to start on the front foot and they could have gone ahead on two minutes when defender Kari Arnason headed wide from four yards from an inswinging corner by Pringle.
Paul Jones was then tested by shots from Alex Revell and Tom Hitchcock but Reds gradually began to get a toe-hold in the game.
Clarke fired wide from distance and then Nicky Adams forced Adam Collin into a comfortable save from his 15th-minute shot.
Reds were defending doggedly at this stage and Mat Sadler got in a brave block to thwart Tom Hitchcock when he tried to covert a cross from Kieran Agard.
The value of that was emphasised on 24 minutes when Reds took the lead. Adams created it with some trickery in the box and when Collin spilled his shot from the right, TUBBS reacted like the master poacher he is to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
The goal was slightly against the run of play but Reds were beginning to play well and the home fans starting to voice their frustration at what was going on in front of them.
But the Millers levelled on 34 minutes from the penalty spot after Joe Walsh’s attempt to dispossess Pringle ended with the Rotherham midfielder hitting the deck. There were no complaints from the Crawley players about the decision and little Jones could do as AGARD sent him the wrong way from the spot.
Jones made a good save to keep out Alex Revell’s half-volley and in stoppage time Arnason met another good free-kick from Pringle with a header but he directed it well wide.
Crawley made a strong start to the second half. Mark Connolly joined the attack for a 52nd minute corner and when Collin weakly punched it clear the defender’s volley wasn’t far away.
Thomas, a half-time sub for the Millers, saw his header cleared but Clarke squandered a golden chance on 57 minutes after Tubbs headed Connolly’s pass into his path. Clarke was through on goal but could only fire tamely at Collin.
Mike Jones then cut in from the left after a counter-attack but his deflected shot was comfortable for Collin before Miles Addison headed Pringle’s cross wide at the other end.
But it was Reds who regained the lead with a wonderfully worked goal on 64 minutes. Tubbs cushioned Clarke’s ball in from the right superbly into the path of SIMPSON and the skipper side-footed the ball between Collin’s legs for his first goal since last February.
Pringle looked Rotherham’s best hope of a response and on 70 minutes he ended a dribble with a shot that was only just wide of the left-hand upright.
Clarke had been much more involved in the second half and after Reds had pressed their opponents into conceding possession again he left fly with the outside of his left foot and the ball flew just wide.
Simpson was involved again with 10 minutes to go and it should have produced a third goal. He played a great give-and-go with Jones who got into the box but shot into the side netting with Adams and Tubbs unmarked waiting for a ball across the face of goal.
Simpson was then given space to run at the home defence after Tubbs’ neat pass played him in but he struck his shot from outside the box well over.
At the other end Reds were working hard to preserve their lead. Kyle McFadzean, Connolly and Sadler all made important interventions, the latter with a header as Thomas was ready to pounce.
Reds looked to have done enough but in the last minute of stoppage time after a bout of ping-pong in the visitors’ box, AGARD smashed home an unlikely and somewhat undeserved equaliser.
Even then Reds almost won it but Collins made three saves in the space of a few seconds, the home keeper denying Gary Alexander, Andy Drury and Clarke who all saw shots saved by Collin.