Lewis Young scored his first goal of the season as Reds came from behind to rescue an important point against Macclesfield at The People’s Pension Stadium.
The defender found the target with the aid of a deflection six minutes from time after Harry Smith had headed the visitors in front just before the break.
Macclesfield were good value for their half-time advantage and although Reds had lots of possession in the second half they seemed to be running out of inspiration until Young’s welcome intervention.
Manchester United loanee Matty Willock nearly made the perfect start to his first full start for Reds. With a minute gone a run and shot was parried by Macc keeper Kieran O’Hara to Dannie Bulman. The skipper’s cross picked out Ollie Palmer but he headed over.
O’Hara made another good stop to deny Willock in the 11th minute but it proved to be something of a false dawn as far as Crawley were concerned. Once they had settled, the Silkmen got on top and the only surprise was it took them until the 41st minute to score.
In the sixth minute Smith won a far-post header to find Reece Cole but he shot into the side-netting from close range. Glenn Morris pushed out Smith’s angled effort as the visitors’ pace and movement continued to cause problems and on the half-hour Myles Welch-Hayes saw his header drop just wide.
Reds had plenty of the ball but seemed to find dead ends all the time with Palmer and Dominic Poleon well marshalled by the visitors’ defence. Palmer did get ahead of his marker to meet a good cross by George Francomb but could not keep his header on target.
At the other end Joe McNerney blocked Scott Wilson’s close-range shot and came to the rescue again when he diverted Wilson’s flick wide for a corner.
The goal that had been coming arrived in the simplest of fashion. David Sesay gave the ball away to Arthur and his far-post cross found Smith who, at 6ft 4in, out-jumped Francomb to guide a header inside the far post.
Sesay tried to redeem himself in stoppage time but his low drive from 30 yards was just off target and the half ended with Michael Rose shown a yellow card for bringing down Palmer.
The Reds’ no9 sent a looping header from Poleon’s cross over four minutes after the break then on 55 minutes home fans were convinced their side were going to get a penalty when Willock was sent tumbling in the box. Instead, Mr Young booked the midfielder for simulation.
Cioffi made his first change on the hour when Ashley Nathaniel-George replaced Josh Payne with Bulman dropping into a more defensive midfield role and ten relatively uneventful minutes later Willock made way for Panutche Camara.
In contrast to the first half Macclesfield were content to sit in and hold what they had, although in a rare raid Wilson stung Morris’s palms with an angled drive. As a resul,t Reds had a lot of possession but as the game entered its closing stages there seemed little sign of a home goal. With 13 minutes to go Poleon was replaced by Reece Grego-Cox.
O’Hara made a comfortable save to deny Lewis Young after space opened up for Young but with ten minutes to go it was hard to see where a Crawley goal was coming from. Famous last words.
With six minutes to go Camara won the ball in midfield, spread it wide to Young who advanced into the box before beating O’Hara with a low right-foot shot which took a slight deflection on its way past the keeper.
Game on. In the 86th minute Palmer showed strength to hold off two defenders and get in a shot which O’Hara grabbed gratefully and Reds pushed in six minutes of stoppage time but could not find the winner.
Reds: Morris; Francomb, McNerney, Dallison; Young, Payne (Nathaniel-George 61), Willock (Camara 71) Sesay; Bulman; Poleon, Palmer. Unused subs: Mersin, Maguire, N'Gala
Attendance: 2190 (135 Macclesfield)