Blackpool v Crawley Town
Reds stopped the rot after three successive away defeats as they picked up a deserved point on their first visit to Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road.
With neither side in great form it wasn’t a classic. Blackpool had the best chance but Neil Danns missed the target from a first-half penalty.
For the visitors, skipper Jimmy Smith went closest when he fired just wide in the second half but it was a contest of relatively few clear-cut chances. There was no shortage of effort but a draw was a fair result.
Dermot Drummy had rung the changes after Saturday’s defeat to Stevenage. There was a first start in a Crawley shirt for more than two years for Conor Henderson and recalls for Kaby Djalo and Andre Blackman, who took the place of the Josh Yorwerth, as he started a two-match ban while Lewis Young completed his suspension.
Dean Cox began wide on the left and Jordan Roberts on the right flank with Jimmy Smith operating in a more advanced midfield than he had in recent games.
The atmosphere was more like a reserve-team game with just 2080 rattling around inside a 17,338-capacity stadium. The shouts of the players could be clearly heard while a poor playing surface made life difficult for two teams who like to play good football.
After some early sparring Reds created their first chance in the 18th minute. Smith chested Henderson’s long pass into the path of Collins, whose shot was held low down by Sam Slocombe.
Two minutes later Reds had a major let-off. Neil Danns was brought down by Joe McNerney as he burst into the box for a clear penalty. But Danns drilled the spot-kick wide of the left-hand post and Crawley nearly celebrated their reprieve with a goal of their own a minute later but Slocombe held Henderson’s well struck volley from 20 yards at the second attempt.
In terms of goalmouth thrills that was about it in the first half. Both sides showed plenty of endeavour but quality in the final third was missing although Reds did end the half by twice testing Slocombe. The keeper got behind Roberts’ powerful drive before Smith’s pass released Lelan in space but his effort from the angle was never seriously testing Slocombe.
Morris was called into action in the 50th minute. Mark Connolly fouled Danns 20 yards out, Andy Taylor whipped the free kick towards the bottom left-hand corner and Reds keeper produced a superb one-handed save to keep it out.
Reds then had two great chances of their own. Henderson’s pass sent Smith clear of the offside trap but Tom Aldred made an important interception from his cross with Roberts lurking. Moments later Slocombe dropped the ball under pressure from Collins to Smith. His first effort was blocked and he scuffed the rebound wide of the post.
Blackpool made a double change on the hour with Kyle Vassell and Sanmi Odelusi coming on and five minutes later Reds brought on Enzio Boldewijn for Blackman, with Roberts dropping back to left-back.
The Dutchman immediately won his side the first of three successive corners, the third of which was met by McNerney from Cox’s delivery but it was straight at Slocombe.
Blackpool thought they had broken the deadlock with 13 minutes to go. The ball dropped to Kellvin Mellor 10 yards out on the right of the penalty area but Cox threw his body in the way to block the shot for a corner.
The game was now stretched and there for either side to win. Rhys Murphy replaced Collins with eight minutes to go before the hosts thought they had scored in the 86th minute but substitute Colin Daniel’s effort was ruled out for an earlier handball.
Reds soaked up some late pressure to claim their first draw in the League since October 22 at home to Accrington.
Crawley Town: Morris; Lelan, McNerney, Connolly, Blackman (sub: Boldewijn 70); Henderson; Roberts, Djalo, Cox (Bawling 78); Smith; Collins (Murphy 82). Unused subs: Mersin, Payne, Garnett, Clifford.
Attendance: 2080 (34 Crawley)
Skipper Jimmy Smith battles for possession - Picture: James Boardman