The John Yems’ era began with a first clean sheet since September as Reds drew 0-0 at lowly Stevenage.
It wasn’t, truth be told, a classic but Crawley had the better chances with Ashley Nadesan and Bez Lubala wasting one-on-one situations either side of half time.
Reds certainly carried more of a threat when they switched to 4-2-3-1 with the introduction of Mason Bloomfield while Joe McNerney made an excellent return in central defence but it wasn’t a game that will live long in the memory.
For his first game in charge, Yems made three changes one of them enforced. Joe McNerney made his first League start of the season with Tom Dallison suspended, Josh Doherty returned at left-back and Nathan Ferguson came into central midfield.
Reds have had only one away victory so far this season and it is fair to say the first half took a long time to spark into life. Crawley looked to hit Ollie Palmer at every opportunity and play off the no.9 but it was his strike partner Nadesan who had the best chance of the first half after 28 minutes of low-quality football.
Reece Grego-Cox’s ball forward was missed by a home defender and suddenly Nadesan was in on goal. He elected to take the shot early and Paul Farman made a comfortable save.
Six minutes later Nadesan linked up with Bez Lubala for a shot on the turn which was blocked then Lubala cut inside in the 38th minute onto his favourite left foot and Farman was beaten by his shot, which went a yard wide.
Stevenage threatened for the first time just before the break when Glenn Morris produced a fine save to his left to push away Jason Cowley’s shot but it was a rare moment of excitement in a tepid first half.
The first stages of the second period were not much better but Reds ought to have taken the lead on 64 minutes. Grego-Cox and Palmer combined and Palmer played a great ball into the path of Lubala, who rounded the keeper but then fired horribly wide from six yards as the away fans behind the goal got ready to acclaim a net-bulger for their side.
Bloomfield had come for Nadesan and the switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation at least got Reds passing the ball a bit more.
Lubala went close again when he cut inside but fired into the side netting then McNerney picked up the scraps at a Crawley corner and fired the ball across the face of goal, but Scott Cuthbert intercepted in front of his own net.
At the other end the hosts had offered little apart from a low drive by Elliott List which Morris saved comfortably.
Both sides huffed and puffed in their search for a late winner but had to settle for a point apiece.
Reds: Morris; Young, Tunnicliffe, McNerney, Doherty; Grego-Cox, Ferguson, Bulman, Lubala; Nadesan (Bloomfield 56), Palmer.
Picture: Ashley Nadesan tests Stevenage during the first half. Photo by James Boardman