Morais on target again but Reds are pegged back
Filipe Morais scored for the second successive home game but Reds had to settle for a point from a pulsating Broadfield encounter with second-placed Exeter City.
Morais broke the deadlock with his fourth goal of the season in the 61stminute - a superb finish from outside the box - but Exeter drew level through Lee Holmes 12 minutes from time at a time when Gabriele Cioffi’s side were pressing for a second goal.
Both sides had chances to win it in the space of a minute late on. Romain Vincelot hacked Lee Martin’s goalbound shot off the line and Reds broke quickly. Lewis Young’s cross was pushed out by Christy Pym but Ashley Nathaniel-George’s follow-up effort was held by the Exeter keeper when any shot either side of him would have brought a winning goal.
It was a slow-burner of a game which came to life in the second half when the action raged from end to end. Reds looked like getting a second when Exeter drew level but it is now seven games unbeaten at home for Crawley, who gave a good account of themselves in front of an appreciative Broadfield audience.
Reds not surprisingly were unchanged from the side that beat Newport 4-1 but it was Exeter who threatened first after two minutes when former Crawley loanee Jonathan Forte fired over from 25 yards.
After a cagey start, which saw Luke Gambin booked, the home side began to dominate possession with the visitors happy to sit in and try to counter-attack.
There were some good passages of play by Reds and they remained patient as they tried to find space with Young seeing plenty of the ball down the right-hand side.
But it wasn’t until the 44thminute that Crawley seriously threatened the visitors when Young’s corner found Vincelot in precious space inside the six-yard box but he couldn’t keep his shot at the far post on target. The French defender had earlier been booked for a foul.
Pym was finally tested in the 50thminute when he got down to his left to hold Panutche Camara’s shot from outside the box.
The deadlock was broken 11 minutes later. Ollie Palmer held off his marker to find Morais about 20 yards out and he curled a delightful right-foot shot past Pym inside the far post.
Exeter had brought on top scorer Jayden Stockley by then and the striker was denied an equaliser two minutes later by Glenn Morris’s instinctive save after Lee Martin dug out a teasing cross.
Stockley then headed wide at the far post under pressure from Lewis Young before Exeter drew level. Reds lost the ball carelessly deep inside their half and Dean Moxey’s long ball forward allowed Holmes to outpace Vincelot and steer his shot past Morris.
Both sides went hammer and tongs for the winner in the closing stages but it finished 1-1 which, on reflection, was probably a fair outcome.
Reds: Morris; Young, Francomb, Connolly, Vincelot, Maguire (Doherty 64); Payne (Bulman 89), Camara, Morais; Gambin (Nathaniel-George 70). Unused subs: Mersin, McNerney, Poleon.
Attendance: 2095 (379 Exeter)