Hard-fought point on the road for Crawley
Reds battled out as hard-fought goalless draw with fellow strugglers Crewe at rain-lashed Gresty Road.
Crewe had the better of a poor first half although neither keeper was overworked before Crawley took up the initiative in the second half and went close to winning it late on through Gavin Tomlin.
So a ‘six pointer’ ended with a point each but Reds remain in the relegation zone with six games to go in a battle for survival that could well go down to the final day of the season.
Dean Saunders rang the changes with Dean Leacock making his first start since Boxing Day after recovering from a groin problem. He replaced Darren Ward (heel) while Lanre Oyebanjo, Gwion Edwards and Mathias Pogba, who was facing his old club, all got starts.
It was a grim Good Friday with rain sweeping across a threadbare pitch at kick off at a venue where Reds had collected just a point from three previous visits.
The first half proved to be something of a damp squib as well with just one shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.
It came five minutes in when Crewe midfielder Jamie Ness let fly from 20 yards but Brian Jensen parried his effort away from his right-hand post.
The hosts carried a threat down their right through Finnish striker Lauri Dalla Valle, who scored twice in this meeting back in 2012, but Reds coped well defensively with Crewe’s three-pronged strike force despite losing the unfortunate Leacock after 21 minutes to what looked like a recurrence of his groin injury.
Reds threatened occasionally with some neat passing but Paul Rachubka was untested in a first half when both sides were guilty of giving possession away too easily. With so much at stake that was probably not a surprise.
Reds began the second half in decent fashion and although Rachubka was still not being tested too much Lanre Oyebanjo had a sight of goal in the 55th minute when he let fly from the corner of the box, but his effort drifted well wide of the left-hand post.
As the 206 Reds fans upped the noise levels even further Crewe responded. Substitute Ryan Colclough fired one over the top on the turn then Jensen had to watch a chip from Chris Atkinson 20 yards out drift just over the top.
Anthony Wordsworth was booked for a foul to follow Anthony Grant into referee Boyeson’s note book but as the game entered its final quarter it was there to be won by either side who could conjure up some magic in their opponents’ final third.
Colclough was booked for a late challenge on Bradley then Tomlin’s daisy-cutter from 25 yards drifted just wide with 13 minutes to go. Crewe responded through Ness, but his effort from even further out was well, well wide of Jensen’s goal.
Reds had their best chance with seven minutes to go. Allan Tate’s slip inside the box gave McLeod a shot at goal but he could only hit his effort straight at Rachubka.
The keeper made a fantastic save in the 90th minute to push Tomlin’s shot around the post for a corner. Then in stoppage time Dean Morgan, who had just replaced Pogba, let fly and a Crewe defender blocked his effort. Morgan appealed for handball but the referee was unmoved.
So a hard-fought point for Reds who will be looking to build on this result on Easter Monday when we entertain Oldham Athletic.