Crawley Town 1 Sheffield United 1
Reds made it seven points from their last three games as they held promotion-chasing Sheffield United to a 1-1 draw at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
Reds went in front when defender Richard Wood headed home a free kick on 63 minutes on his home debut.
But the Blades got a deserved equaliser from the penalty spot with ten minutes left through Marc McNulty.
Crawley were organised and disciplined throughout and although they didn’t create too many clear-cut chances they certainly deserved something from an entertaining game.
Dean Saunders named an unchanged team with Brian Jensen and Darren Ward returning on the bench.
The home side started well. Izale McLeod had a penalty appeals turned down when his shot hit Terry Kennedy and Blades’ keeper Iain Turner then had to turn a powerful drive from Mathias Pogba as Reds forced a flurry of early corners.
United, who had won their last three on the trot, began to get into the game though and thought they had taken the lead on 16 minutes. Skipper Michael Doyle fired in a drive from 25 yards that picked up pace off the greasy turf and flew past Lewis Price, but the assistant’s flag was up for offside against Matt Done.
McLeod then followed Lewis Young into the book for a foul and towards the end of the first half United stepped up the pressure, forcing Reds to do a lot of defending.
The home side were hard to break down though and Price was well protected by his defenders although he did make an excellent save on 37 minutes when he managed to parry Paul Coutts’ drive despite seeing it late. The rebound fell to Done but his effort took a deflection as it flew over the bar from close range.
United forced Price into another save on 48 minutes when he kept out John Brayford’s low drive then four minutes later Bob Harris came up from left-back to send a cross-shot narrowly wide of the right-hand upright.
Reds made a change on 58 minutes when Jimmy Smith replaced Lee Fowler and five minutes later the home side broke the deadlock.
Anthony Wordsworth delivered a superb free kick from the right and WOOD climbed above the visitors’ defence to power a header from eight yards past Iain Turner before celebrating in front of the Reds’ fans in the Bruce Winfield Terrace.
Crawley now had something to hang on to and the goal clearly lifted their confidence. McLeod thought he should have had a free kick at least when he cut across Jay McEveley as he controlled a long ball but referee Breakspear waved away protests.
United brought on Marc McNulty in the 73rd minute and six minutes later he brought the home side level. Ryan Dickson was penalised for a push on Done as the Sheffield striker raced onto a long ball forward and the referee pointed to the spot before booking Dickson. McNULTY sent the penalty down the middle of the goal as Price dived to his right.
It then took a brave block by Lewis Young to prevent Sheffield from going in front in the 88th minute. Dickson was dispossessed and when the ball broke to Murphy his side-foot shot hit the Reds’ defender and flew over the top.
By then Bobson Bawling had replaced Pogba and as the game entered stoppage time Ward came on for Edwards.
It had been a terrific defensive display by Reds and the first point they have taken off the Blades at home in three attempts might prove to be an important one come the end of the season.