The Reds began the new decade with a point on the road at play-off chasing Colchester United. The U’s took the lead against the run of play in the 64th minute before Ollie Palmer levelled for the Reds just over 5 minutes latter, bundling over Ashley Nadesan’s cross.
Reds boss John Yems made two changes to the starting 11 that gained a battling point on the road at Grimsby Town on Boxing Day. Tom Dallison & Josh Dacres-Cogley returned to the side, replacing Lewis Young & Panutche Camara respectively, with Yems opting for a wing back system for the Essex tussle. The home side made 3 changes to their side boasting ex Red Luke Gambin with Ryan Clampin, Luke Prosser & Frank Nouble all coming in.
It was the Reds who were fastest out the blocks at a wintery JobServe Community Stadium. Good interplay between Palmer & Lubala resulted in the ball being played out to the returning Dacres-Cogley on the right. His ball into Palmer was a good one, but the Reds striker was unable to guide his effort goal bound, with his blushes potentially being spared by the linesman’s offside flag. Reds looked full of ideas going forward, particularly down the U’s right with Lubala looking his menacing self. It was the former Birmingham man who was the architect of the Reds next chance on the 7th minute, flashing in a cross that was cleared as far as Ferguson who cracked an effort wide of Gerken in the hosts goal. Reds were certainly looking the more likely to score out of the two sides and after Doherty’s cross could only tipped behind for a corner, McNerney was next to test Gerkin with a looping header that was again tipped over. Having already applied pressure on the U’s keeper, Gerkin was again called into action coming out smart to deny Palmer after the striker had taken down a cross on his chest and unluckily fired straight at the on rushing Colchester net keep – a good opening 15 minutes for the Reds.
Colchester had their first attempt on the 23 minute. After a long throw was partially cleared by the Reds, the ball was picked up by ex Red Devil Gambin. His effort from 20 yards or so was bouncing right in front of Morris in the Town goal, but the man donning the keeper’s changed yellow strip was able to gather at the second attempt. After the flurry of early attacking intent, the remainder of the half was far more pedestrian with Reds pushing Colchester high up the pitch with a good press, and the press nearly came to fruition on the stroke of half time. Palmer did well to initially bring the ball down and inadvertently latch onto his own through ball. With the angle tightening Palmer’s finessed effort was smartly saved before the on rushing Nadesan blazed over the rebound.
HALF TIME – Colchester United 0-0 Crawley Town
First chance of the half went to the hosts. Gambin picked the ball up on the edge of the Reds area and drove in. With the defenders scared to make the tackle in the area, Gambin fed in Pell but Morris was smart off his line to smother at the feet of the U’s man. Head Coach John Yems made his first change on the 50th minute with Jamie Sendles-White replacing captain Dannie Bulman. However, after all the Reds pressure had in the fist half it was the hosts that took the lead against the run of play on the 64th minute with Nouble rifling home from the edge of the Reds box after good work out wide from the U’s. Reds reacted by immediately sending on David Sesay for Tom Dallison and then Nathaniel-George for Dacres-Cogley in the 71st minute. To their credit, the Reds kept plugging away and got the goal they deserved in the 72ndminute. Nadesan picked the ball up on the shoulder of the Colchester defence and fired a effort across the face of the U’s goal and after a bit of a scramble, it was Ollie Palmer who wheeled claiming the equaliser having bundled the ball over the line. Once on level terms, Reds then kicked on looking for a winner with Lubala hitting a dipping effort that just evaded the back of the Colchester net on 79 minutes. The fourth official indicated 4 minutes of additional time and as anticipated, on came the Colchester onslaught, but the Reds stood firm to gain a valuable point on the road at the start of 2020.
FULL TIME - Colchester United 1-1 Crawlwy Town (Palmer 72')
Crawley Town: Morris, McNerney, Tunnicliffe, Dallison (Sesay 64;), Doherty, Dacres-Cogley (Nathaniel-George 71’), Bulman© (Sendles-White 50’), Ferguson, Lubala, Nadesan, Palmer.
Attendance: 3,729 (160 Crawley Town)