Grimsby Town v Crawley Town
James Collins returned to goalscoring form with his 19th of the season as Reds picked up a deserved point at blustery Blundell Park.
Collins, who had earlier hit the post with a header, profited on the stroke of half-time after Josh Payne’s free kick had been pushed out by Grimsby goalkeeper James MeKeown.
The hosts had taken the lead through Sam Jones but played for the last ten minutes with ten men after Danny Collins was sent off.
Jimmy Smith had two great chances to win it for Crawley in the closing stages but one defeat in their last six away games represents good form on the road for Reds.
Dermot Drummy had made two changes to the side beaten by Crewe. Dean Cox (hamstring) and Mark Connolly (knee) both missed out so there were recalls for Andre Blackman, Josh Yorwerth, Josh Payne and Kaby Djalo, with Josh Lelan Conor Henderson dropping to the bench. Matt Harrold was also among the substitutes, his last had come when Reds beat the Mariners 3-2 back in November.
Crawley lined up with Collins operating up front ahead with Rhys Murphy and Enzio Boldewijn giving support in behind from the flanks, enabling them to stiffen midfield when the hosts had possession.
Collins went close after just six minutes. Boldewijn picked him out at the far post with a terrific cross from the right and Collins’ header came back off the left-hand post.
A capricious wind and bobbly pitch were hardly conditions for a classic and when Grimsby did equalise Reds were their own worst enemies. After two attempts to clear Jamie Osborne’s cross Josh Yorwerth had the opportunity to boot the ball clear, but instead he could only find Jones a couple of yards away and he lashed the ball past a helpless Glenn Morris.
But instead of giving Grimsby confidence they, and Reds as well, continued to concede possession too easily, although Smith went close in the 35th minute when Blackman’s cross picked him out and his overhead kick was blocked by a defender.
But on the stroke of half-time Reds were level. Djalo was fouled on the left-hand corner of the Grimsby area in Payne territory. The midfielder clipped the free kick over the wall and McKeown pulled off a terrific save but could only parry the ball into the path of Collins who couldn’t miss from close range – his first goal since the home tussle with Morecambe six games ago. On the balance of first-half play it was no more than Reds deserved.
There wasn’t much pattern to play at the start of the second half. Danny Collins was booked for a late tackle on Smith and Grimsby then had a spell of pressure without threatening Morris’s goal.
Drummy made his first change in the 62nd minute when Lelan came on for Blackman with Young switching to left-back.
Morris was called into action for the only time in the second half in the 74th minute when he held a shot from substitute Akwasi Asante after Zac Mills’ cross found its way into the six-yard box but it was a rare moment of alarm at either end.
Grimsby were reduced to ten men with eight minutes left when Collins picked up a second yellow for bringing down Boldewijn on the edge of the box. Payne lifted the resulting free kick well wide but moments later Crawley had a great chance. Boldewijn laid the ball into Smith’s path 15 yards out but his right-foot effort failed to find the target.
Murphy nearly caught out McKeown when his cross was turned over the far post by the home keeper before he had a penalty claim turned away after going down in the box under a challenge from Mills.
Smith had another great chance in the 89th minute. Payne’s shot was deflected into his path but having side-stepped a defender to create space he lifted his shot over the bar with the Reds fans ready to celebrate. Instead, they saw their side pick up a hard-earned point.
Reds: Morris; Young, McNerney, Yorwerth, Blackman (sub: Lelan 62); Smith, Payne, Djalo (Harrold 90); Murphy; Boldewijn, Collins. Unused subs: Mersin, Bawling, Clifford, Henderson.
Attendance: 4263 (124 away)