Morris saves penalty as pulsating contest finishes 0-0
Man of the match Glenn Morris saved a first-half penalty as battling Reds held the League 2 leaders for the second time this season.
Morris dived to keep out John Marquis’s spot kick midway through a first period when the keeper denied Doncaster on several occasions.
The second half was a much more even affair and Donny keeper Tom Lawlor made a brilliant save to thwart Joe McNerney when Reds created their best chance of the contest.
A vibrant atmosphere made for an excellent afternoon’s entertainment and at the end Crawley certainly deserved to have taken something from the game.
Reds made three changes with recalls for Josh Lelan, Billy Clifford and Josh Payne. Andre Blackman joined Matt Harrold, Jordan Roberts and Addison Garnett on the injured list dropped out with Kaby Djalo and Conor Henderson on the bench.
Doncaster began with a six-point lead at the top and it was soon evident why as they began to carve out chances after an even first 15 minutes.
Marquis looked offside when he cut in from the left before firing wide but a minute later he laid a great pass into the path of Alfie May. His cross from the right found Marquis unmarked but Morris was out quickly to smother his shot.
The keeper excelled himself in the 24th minute when he saved Marquis’s penalty by diving low to his left to push the ball away before blocking May’s follow-up effort. But Reds and the home fans felt justice had been done because the award looked harsh with Mark Connolly penalised for bringing down Rowe when it looked as if he’d played the ball. There were certainly no appeals from the visitors.
Morris was at his best again in the 35th minute. McNerney gave the ball away to Marquis and his cross found Coppinger unmarked 12 yards out but Morris flung to his right to push away the Doncaster skipper’s effort.
Reds were fortunate to reach the break level but twice in the space of a minute shortly after the break they came close to breaking the deadlock. When Clifford was fouled 30 yards out in the 50th minute Cox swung in a free kick which McNerney met with a powerful header that produced a brilliant response from Lawlor, who somehow scooped it away.
Payne then picked out McNerney with a diagonal ball from the left which he headed back across to Connolly and the defender was superbly denied by Lawlor, with the rebound going inches wide of the upright.
Reds certainly carried more of an attacking threat in the second period. Twice Enzio Boldewijn got into good crossing positions but wasted the opportunity with a poor delivery.
Rhys Murphy replaced Clifford with 20 minutes left and moments later Reds had a double let-off. Coppinger’s volley was goalbound before taking a deflection for a corner which Andy Butler met only to see his close-range shot hacked off the line by Young. The danger still wasn’t cleared and Morris got down well to hold Coppinger’s drive from just outside the box.
Going into the last 15 minutes the contest was on a knife-edge. A defensive slip gave Cox room down the left to find Collins but he skied his shot from a tight angle.
With five minutes to go Boldewijn, who had just been booked, ghosted past his marker. His cross was cleared to Collins in space 15 yards out but Matthieu Baudry blocked the shot.
Doncaster thought they had won it in the 88th minute when Butler met a corner with a powerful header which Lelan nodded off the line but it was honours even after a pulsating contest.
Reds: Morris; Lelan, Connolly, McNerney, Young; Boldewijn, Payne, Smith, Cox; Clifford; Collins.
Booked: Smith (foul), Boldewijn (foul)
Attendance: 2417 (594 away)