The match report from the Lamex Stadium...
- Hard earned point on the road
- End to end game in the rain
- Meite off the mark
- First league starts for Doherty, Lewis and Meite
The Reds battled for a deserved point with a 1-1 draw on a rainy and windy night away to Stevenage on Tuesday evening.
Crawley Town had held firm for the first half until Newton fired home from range on the stroke of half time.
The Reds came back out in the second half and equalised through Ibrahim Meite, in an end to end second half.
Head Coach Harry Kewell made three changes from the side that played at Colchester United on Saturday, handing first league starts to Josh Doherty, Dennon Lewis and Meite, with Dean Cox, Mark Randall and Panutche Camara all dropping to the bench.
Stevenage started well, enjoying the majority of possession early on whilst Crawley struggled to get their foot on the ball.
Clear cut chances were at a bit premium in the opening 45 minutes, as both sides weren’t able to put together a sequence of passes on too many occasions under the rainfall.
The Reds began to settle into the game after riding an initial wave of pressure, but still neither side carved out any real opportunities.
Ben Kennedy who was looking dangerously struck a decent effort from range just wide, whist Harry Beautyman headed goalwards on 36 minutes, but it was saved by Glenn Morris.
Crawley’s best chance came when Meite capitalised on a defensive error just past the halfway line and drove with pace goalward before unleashing a great strike that look destined for the top right corner, but Joe Fryer denied him spectacularly.
Suddenly the game sprang to life, and the game had its first goal, but sadly not for the visitors.
Just minutes after Meite’s chance, Newton scored an admirable solo effort as he jinked past three Reds defenders, before rifling home in off the post from 25 yards.
The goal came just on the stroke of half time and Boro could’ve doubled their lead shortly after, when Fraser Franks came free from a corner and headed just marginally wide.
Dennon Lewis was replaced at half time by Mark Randall, and it wasn’t long after the interval until the Reds were back on level terms.
Meite had given Stevenage a warning just before the break, and punished them just three minutes into the second half after Enzio Boldewijn released the forward down the left allowing him to drive a fantastic effort across the keeper from outside the box into the goal.
It was difficult to put a finger on Crawley’s shape, especially with the introduction of Josh Payne for Doherty on 59 minutes; presumably with Kewell in search of unpredictability.
Moments after the substitution, Meite had another crack at goal from a similar positon, which forced Fryer into a good save.
As we entered the final 20 minutes, Meite was once again involved as Payne played Meite through, but the striker couldn’t quite beat his man and the shot ricocheted off the defender.
The contest remained end to end with both sides looking for a winner.
Lewis Young ghosted into the box from the right side and fizzed the ball across the six yard box with Meite so nearly turning it in - had it not be for some great last ditch defending.
The ball was then up the other end with Morris pulling off a fine save - flying to his left to deny a volley from Matt Godden.
The final chance fell to the Reds and it was a golden one, and once again it was Meite who was inches away from meeting a Randall cross that would’ve surely resulted in a goal had he connected.
Reds XI: Morris, Young, Lelan, Yorwerth, Evina, Bulman, Smith, Doherty (Payne, 59), Lewis (Randall, 45), Meite, Boldewijn.
Unused Subs: Mersin, Connolly, Tajbakhsh, Cox, Camara.