The Reds were unable to capitalise on a first half goal from Ashley Nadesan, as they were pegged back late on at automatic promotion chasing Exeter City. Nadesan opened the scoring with his 5th league goal of the season, but a late strike from Brennan Dickenson meant the spoils were shared.
John Yems made two changes to the side that beat Stevenage last weekend, with George Francomb replacing Nathan Ferguson and David Sesay coming in for Mason Bloomfield, who missed out through injury.
In amongst the wintery showers it was the Reds who started the better of the two teams. Inside 5 minutes, after a spell of City pressure, the Reds broke on the hosts. Reece Grego-Cox drove towards the Grecian's goal and sent in a cross for Ashley Nadesan. Unfortunately, the Crawley local got the ball stuck under his feet and Ward was there to save the eventual effort and the chance went begging. Reds boss Yems was then forced into an early change with Grego-Cox being replaced by Ricardo German on the 11th minute, having failed to recover from an earlier challenge.
The Reds had certainly settled the better of the two teams, but Exeter soon began to grow into the match with Dickenson looking particularly lively out wide on the Exeter left. Nicky Law was also appearing to be a danger man for the hosts, and his quick corner almost caught out Crawley on the 25th minute, with Bowman sending his free header wide from inside the 18-yard box. German, the early substitution, then did well to win the Reds a corner, with Francomb’s long range effort blocked and cleared by Exeter. Reds then looked to be in again just shy of the half an hour mark. Nadesan and German linked up well, with Nadesan just dragging his effort wide from the right, with his blushes perhaps being spared by the linesman’s offside flag.
However, on the 34th minute, the Reds pressure told. Great work from Josh Doherty to win a 50/50 in the middle of the park resulted in the left back driving in behind the Exeter midfield. The man from Northern Ireland then sent an inch perfect through ball to Ashley Nadesan who kept his composure and was able to lift the ball over the onrushing Ward to open the scoring in Devon for Yems’ Reds.
Exeter were perhaps unlucky not to draw level just minutes later with Sweeney crashing a long-range effort off the foot of Morris’ post, with the ball then spinning behind, much to the relief of the travelling Reds fans that had congregated behind the Crawley keeper.
HALF TIME: EXETER CITY 0-1 REDS
Exeter came out of the traps for the second half strongly and again hit the woodwork with Jake Taylor’s header beating Morris, but not the frame of the goal on the 50th minute. Taylor again then went close 3 minutes later with an effort on the edge of the box, that this time evaded both Morris and the Reds goal.
In a largely uneventful second half, the Reds then went close to doubling their advantage on the 68th minute with Ricardo German showing great strength to shrug off the defender before firing straight at Ward who parried only as far as Lubala who wasn’t able to guide the snap-header on target. Goal scorer Nadesan was then replaced by Jack Powell on 68 minutes, with Panuthce Camara also replacing David Sesay on 72 minutes, perhaps signalling the Reds intent for the final 20 minutes.
Exeter were looking dangerous on their search for an equaliser, but the Reds looked equally as potent going forwards, German in particular looking menacing in-behind the Grecians backline. It was however Exeter who drew level on 82 minutes. Some patient play from the Grecians resulted in Dickenson being played in out on the wide left and arrowing an effort past Morris for the Exeter equaliser. After the equaliser, it was Exeter that went on in search of a winner with the Reds struggling to clear their lines. The Crawley defence remained resilient however and the Reds were able to grind out another deserved point on the road.
FULL TIME: EXETER CITY 1-1 REDS
Crawley Town:: Morris, Doherty, Tunnicliffe, Sendles-White, Dacres-Cogley, Bulman ©, Francomb, Lubala, Sesay (Camara 72’), Nadesan (Powell 68’), Grego-Cox (German 11’)
Attendance: 5,404 (166 Crawley Town)