Reds’ woes on the road continued as they went down to a 2-0 defeat at Macclesfield in Saturday’s Sky Bet League 2 contest at Moss Rose.
The first goal from Elliott Durrell – who beat Glenn Morris with a brilliant volley from 30 yards – was a rare highlight of a contest ruined by the conditions. Reds had the elements at their backs in the second half with Luke Gambin’s curling effort which was brilliantly turned over by Kieran O’Hara their best chance.
Harry Smith made the game safe with a neat header near the end to leave Gaby Cioffi still looking for his first point on the road as Crawley’s Head Coach. Reds had their opportunities but on this occasion lacked a cutting edge.
Reece Grego-Cox made his first League start under Cioffi as the only change to the side that lost to Northampton last Saturday, with Ollie Palmer starting a three-match ban and Filipe Morais and Mark Connolly still ruled out by injury.
Conditions were horrendous with a freezing-cold wind accompanied by driving rain blowing down the pitch. Macclesfield had the elements behind them in the first half but it took them 20 minutes or so to harness the conditions in their favour.
Indeed the first chance fell to Reds on 12 minutes when Joe McNerney met George Francomb’s corner with a firm header and Michael Rose had to clear in front of goal.
One goal kick from Morris blew out of the stadium and an advertising board was uprooted and flew across a corner of the pitch before the hosts began to get on top.
Morris pushed Smith’s header, from Rose’s free kick, around the post before defender Fiacre Kelleher’s close-range header bounced up and onto the roof of the goal.
Morris made another good save to thwart Smith before Macclesfield struck on 32 minutes. There seemed little danger when Bondz N’Gala’s header found Durrell 30 yards out but he struck a volley first time which picked up pace and beat Morris inside the right-hand post.
Reds rallied and had three openings before the break. Poleon outpaced Kelleher as he got on the end of Josh Payne’s pass but found the side netting from a tight angle before N’Gala stretched to meet Payne’s free kick but couldn’t get enough on it. The best chance, however, fell to Gambin in the 35th minute when Grego-Cox’s cross picked him out unmarked at the far post but he got his header horribly wrong and the ball went wide of the upright.
Three of the floodlights went out at half-time but power was eventually restored and the game re-started at 4.15pm and with the elements in their favour Reds duly started to press.
Danny Whittaker headed George Francomb’s inswinging corner over from under his own bar before Panutche Camara rolled an inviting ball across the face of goal with no-one able to get a decisive touch. Then on 57 minutes Grego-Cox squandered a wonderful chance when he was found by Gambin’s cross eight yards out but his right-foot shot flashed wide when he had the whole goal to aim at.
Reds had created some good openings but they still hadn’t forced Kieran O’Hara to make a save of note.
That changed on 61 minutes when Gambin cut in from the right and his curling effort was brilliantly tipped over by Kieran O’Hara before Morris was called into action to save the dangerous Durrell’s shot after the winger had burst into the box.
Payne was next to try his luck but his shot flew over and with 22 minutes left Ashley Nathaniel-George came on for Grego-Cox.
But Macclesfield continued to defend doggedly and with six minutes to go the hosts doubled their lead when Michael Rose picked out Smith with an excellent cross from the left which the striker headed past Morris and into the bottom corner. Morris got a touch but not enough to stop it going into the bottom corner.
Reds: Morris; Francomb, N’Gala, McNerney, Maguire (Doherty76); Bulman, Payne; Grego-Cox (Nathaniel-George 68), Camara, Gambin; Poleon. Unused subs: Mersin, Sesay, Vincelot, Young.
Attendance: 1362 (63 Crawley)
Dominic Poleon and Reece Grego-Cox on the attack for Reds at Moss Rose. Photo by Steve Lawrence