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Nadesan equaliser as Crawley end the year with a point

29 December 2019

A well-taken goal by Ashley Nadesan – his third of the season – earned Reds due reward as they ended the year and the decade with a battling point.

Blundell Park has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for Crawley, who have never won there, and when Jake Hessenthaler gave the Mariners an early lead the 38 travelling fans probably feared the worst.

But Crawley worked their way back into the contest and Nadesan produced a composed finish with the outside of his right foot to level things up eight minutes before half-time.

The visitors rarely looked like adding to it in a scrappy second half but Glenn Morris had little to do either, making one save from Charles Vernam at full stretch and watching Luke Waterfall’s header from a corner go wide.

But four points from two Christmas games is a good return for John Yems’ side, who are back on the road on New Year’s Day when we face Colchester United for the third time this season.

The Head Coach not surprisingly named the side which thrashed Northampton 4-0 on Boxing Day, although George Francomb replaced Tarryn Allarakhia on the bench.

Reds made the worst possible start when they conceded after two minutes. Vernam was allowed space on the left to cross and Max Wright’s clever flick wrong-footed the defence and Hessenthaler gave Morris no chance from close range. Incredibly, it was their first League goal at home since September 21.

Morris made a good save to deny Matt Green as the Mariners looked for a second but Reds began to get a grip on proceedings with home keeper James McKeown making an important save to keep out top scorer Bez Lubala’s free kick in the 25th minute.

The equaliser came after excellent work by Nathan Ferguson. He played a one-two with Nadesan on the edge of the box and Nadesan then adjusted his feet well to steer the ball wide of the onrushing McKeown to make it 1-1.

Josh Doherty wasn’t far away with a volley as Reds ended the half on top.

The second half, in truth, was a very scrappy affair. Grimsby – now without a win in 15 games in all competitions - tried to hit their front men – they had three strikers on the pitch at the end – early which wasn’t a bad tactic on a pitch which started to cut up through the middle.

But Reds defended solidly and Yems injected some more pace into the side by bringing on David Sesay in a left-sided midfield role and then Ashley Nathaniel-George in the closing stages.

Waterfall headed wide from Vernam’s left-wing corner before Vernam cut inside and forced Morris to push away his left-foot shot from just inside the box.

At the other end little McKeown had little to do but Reds squandered a good chance on the break in stoppage time. Nathaniel-George led a counter-attack and found Ferguson but the midfielder’s attempt to produce a return pass on the edge of the box fizzled out when Reds had men over on the right.

Crawley finished the game with ten men after Lewis Young went off with what looked like a shoulder injury, all three subs having been used.

But Reds saw it out comfortably enough and will be happy with a point from one of their longest trips of the season. They finish 2019 in 15th place in the League 2 table.

Crawley Town: Morris, Young, McNerney, Tunnicliffe, Doherty, Camara (Sesay 57), Bulman (Francomb 85), Ferguson, Lubala (Nathaniel-George 77) Nadesan, Palmer. Subs: Dallison, Galach, Luyambula, Bloomfield.

Attendance: 3612 (38 Crawley fans)

Pictured: Ashley Nadesan equalises for Reds with his third goal of the season. Photo by Stan Boardman, Telephoto Images

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