Oldham Athletic 1 Crawley Town 1
Gwion Edwards scored his fifth goal of the season to earn Reds an excellent point against in-form Oldham at Sportsdirect.com Park.
The Welsh winger fired a tremendous shot from 25 yards into the bottom corner three minutes before the break to cancel out Daniel Johnson’s early opener.
Reds had to defend doggedly in the second half but they did so and more than deserved the point which stretches their unbeaten League run to four games.
Crawley were without four players – the suspended Izale McLeod and injured trio Lanre Oyebanjo, Josh Simpson and Matt Harrold – so two changes were made to the team beaten by Gillingham on Tuesday.
In came Dean Leacock at the heart of a three-man defence while Conor Henderson was drafted into midfield.
Oldham came into the game having lost just once in 12 games and the confidence engendered by that run was evident early on.
Debutant Johnson, who is on loan from Aston Villa, had already made one speedy burst towards goal, skipping two tackles but over-hitting his pass for Jonathan Forte.
But on seven minutes JOHNSON embarked on another run in the inside-right channel which took him again past two defenders before he picked his spot from the angle of the six-yard box, giving Jamie Ashdown no chance.
Jimmy Smith was immediately detailed to do a marking job on Johnson and this cut out Oldham’s main attacking threat.
Reds gradually worked their way back into the game without creating too much while at the other end Ashdown made solid saves from Mike Jones and Daniel Philliskirk when they let fly from outside the box.
Edwards was playing just off lone striker Gavin Tomlin and as Reds began to get on top in midfield through the energy of Keith Keane in particular space began to open up.
Three minutes from the break came a spectacular if somewhat unexpected equaliser. Oldham full back Joe Mills gave the ball away to Smith. His pass allowed EDWARDS to run into space and then let fly with his left foot from 22 yards and the shot flew past Paul Rachubka and into the corner of the net.
It was a great strike by the Welshman for his fifth goal of the season and must have helped change the half-time mood.
Oldham boss Lee Johnson sent his side out five minutes before the start of the second half and his words clearly had the desired effect as they stepped up the intensity.
Reds defended a couple of corners and free kicks then Ashdown, who saw the shot late, pushed a 25-yarder from Jones around the post before the former Crawley midfielder saw another effort deflected wide for a corner, which Crawley cleared. Mills then picked out Philliskirk’s late run into the box but he made no connection with what looked a simple header and Reds were able to clear.
While Crawley concentrated on keeping the back door firmly shut, opportunities at the other end were rare but Edwards wasn’t far away with a volley from the edge of the box on 77 minutes moments after Ryan Dickson’s left-wing cross was eventually cleared by Oldham as Reds appealed for a handball as Bobson Bawling challenged.
Oldham made three changes in an effort to force the breakthrough and Philliskirk thought he’d made it with six minutes to go when his close control in the box opened up a yard of space but Bawling made a brilliant interception to block the shot.
Bawling then tested Rachubka at the other end with a curling shot which the Latics’ keeper saved. Oldham by then seemed to have run out of ideas and Crawley saw out the remainder of the game comfortably enough.
At the end of a difficult week it was a positive ending.