McLeod strikes to earn Crawley a point
Izale McLeod loves scoring against Crewe.
His seventh of the season for Reds, which rewarded a much brighter second-half display by John Gregory’s men, was also his fifth in seven games against the Alex, who had led at the break through George Cooper.
McLeod produced a fine finish from Gwion Edwards’ cut back on 68 minutes and in the closing stages Reds forced Crewe to defend doggedly as the home side looked for a winner.
But they had been indebted to Jamie Ashdown, who made two great saves in the first half to prevent Crewe from doubling their advantage.
John Gregory made just a solitary change for Reds, McLeod coming back into the team in place of Matt Harrold.
Not for the first time this season Crawley struggled to get going in the early stages. Crewe, playing a 3-4-3 formation, had some nice spells of possession but when the deadlock was broken it was a surprise given the lack of goalmouth activity thus far.
It was a well-worked goal though. The lively COOPER connecting sweetly with a low right-wing cross by James Baillie to side-foot the ball past Jamie Ashdown and inside the right-hand post from 15 yards.
It took Reds 31 minutes to test Ben Garratt when McLeod’s volley was easily saved but the Crewe keeper was nearly surprised by another McLeod shot two minutes later which he palmed away.
But Crewe should have doubled their advantage before the break and would have done so were it not for the brilliant reactions of Ashdown.
On 39 minutes he made an instinctive tip over when Jon Guthrie looked certain to score from three yards after Lanre Oyebanjo failed to clear a corner.
Two minutes later Ashdown somehow blocked Harry Davis’s close-range volley and then Davis’s follow-up struck team-mate Adam Dugdale.
Reds made a change at the break with Harrold replacing Conor Henderson in a 4-4-2 formation but it was Crewe who looked the better outfit in the early stages of the second half, without testing Ashdown.
The visitors had only picked up four points out of 21 away from home and it was perhaps understandable that they slowly began to funnel more men back to protect their lead.
Reds slowly began to exert themselves and Garratt got behind a deflected effort from McLeod before the equaliser came on 68 minutes. Keith Keane did superbly in the tackle to win the ball and find Edwards who broke into the box before finding McLEOD who produced a superb finish, side-footing the ball into the top right-hand corner from 15 yards.
Crewe were still a threat. Ashdown pushed away Febian Brandy’s drive when the striker tried to surprise him at the near post and the keeper then got down to save Cooper’s free kick from 25 yards at full stretch.
But Reds dominated the closing stages and came close to grabbing a winner.
Garratt got behind a well-struck shot from Keane on 81 minutes then when Garratt failed to get any distance when he tried to punch Keane’s free kick away, Edwards’ shot on the turn went over the bar.
Then in stoppage time Oyebanjo swung in a great cross which McLeod glanced just wide of the far post.
Only a point, but a much improved second-half display by the Reds.