Welcome clean sheet and point as Crawley draw 0-0 at Newport County
Reds stopped the rot after a run of four successive defeats with a hard-fought point at Newport County in the final Sky Bet League 2 game of 2018.
It wasn’t a classic by any means. Neither side created many clear-cut chances and although the hosts, particularly in the second half, dominated territory the visitors stood firm with David Sesay making a composed League debut.
Crawley’s best moments in front of goal came from set-pieces with headers from Reece Grego-Cox and Mark Connolly in the first half testing Joe Day. After the break Panutche Camara went close and Dominic Poleon was frustrated when appeals for a penalty late on were ignored by the referee.
The headline team news was a first League start for right-back Sesay, with George Francomb moving into central defence. There were recalls for Dannie Bulman, who was named captain, and Grego-Cox while Luke Gambin, Bondz N’Gala and Nathaniel George dropped to the bench.
After a cagey start Grego-Cox had a chance in the 14th minute but his closer-range header, after Francomb found him from a corner, was straight at the keeper.
The defender’s delivery from set-pieces offered Reds a threat throughout the first half. Another corner was met by Connolly in the 27th minute but again the save was comfortable enough for Joe Day.
At the other end Glenn Morris was called into action for the first time on 31 minutes when he held a header from Padraig Amond, after good work by Dan Butler. Morris denied the striker again four minutes later but this was another fairly routine stop, after Robbie Willmott’s cross had found Amond.
But the Newport no.9 had a great chance to break the deadlock on 41 minutes. There was suspicion of a foul on Josh Doherty when Jamille Matt won the ball in the box and teed up Amond 15 yards out but he fired well over the top.
Sesay and Grego-Cox linked up well in the first period and there were no signs of nerves from the former Watford youngster in the opening 45 minutes.
The second half followed a fairly similar pattern. Reds looked the better team for 15 minutes or so and Camara’s chance came when another Francomb corner dropped to him on the edge of the box but his volley was straight at Day.
Newport began to get on top in the closing third of the contest. On 69 minutes Willmott’s excellent cross produced a scramble in the six-yard box but neither Amond or Matt could get a decisive touch. Willmott then headed a great cross by Amond wide when he would have been looking to at least test Morris.
But Reds were convinced they should have had a penalty in the 81st minute. Poleon went down under a challenge from Mark O’Brien but the referee waved away Reds’ appeals. The home side’s late thrusts carried an air of desperation and Reds saw the game out comfortably enough with a first clean sheet in a month another welcome statistic. Their determination was epitomised by Connolly, who had his head swathed in bandages during the second period after a clash of heads in first-half stoppage time.
Now Crawley will be hoping to build on this result in back to back home games, starting against Colchester on New Year’s Day.
Reds: Morris; Francomb, Connolly, McNerney; Sesay, Bulman, Payne, Camara, Doherty; Grego-Cox (Gambin 77), Poleon. Unused subs: Mersin, Maguire, Nathaniel-George. Allarakhia.
Attendance: 3166 (80 Crawley)