It was the host’s who started the brighter of the two sides as they looked to test Glenn Morris in the opening minutes of the game. Wes McDonald received the ball on the left-wing, he used great skill to beat his man and whip in a dangerous shot which Tony Craig dealt with relative ease.
The Reds reacted almost immediately and were almost gifted the lead after a mistake from goalkeeper Liam Roberts. Josh Doherty hit a rare strike at goal which was straight down the throat of Roberts but the Walsall goalkeeper failed to keep a hold of the ball on the first attempt. Tom Nichols and Max Watters were quick to react but Roberts was straight down to smother and avoid embarrassment.
Tyler Frost then went close with a curling effort from the edge of the Walsall penalty area, but this time Roberts held onto the ball at the first time of asking. The attention quickly turned back to the host’s as they won a freekick in very dangerous territory on the edge of the Reds penalty area. Rory Holden stepped over the ball but his effort was wild and sailed well wide.
Walsall then struck the woodwork just after the 20-minute mark as Jordan Tunnicliffe almost stuck the ball into his own net. Elijah Adebayo shrugged off Josh Doherty and fizzed a low ball into the box which cannoned off of the foot of Tunnicliffe and struck the post.
The Reds then began a series of dangerous attacks and themselves struck the woodwork. Sam Ashford floated a ball to the back post which was only partially cleared and fell nicely at the feet of Tyler Frost. Frost wasted no time in striking at goal but his effort clipped the inside of the post, the rebound fell to Jack Powell but he blazed his effort over the bar.
The Saddlers remained a threat and almost took the lead two minutes before the half time break. Adebayo neatly touched down a cross straight into the path of Caolan Lavery who struck a fierce volley at goal but he failed to get his head over the ball as his effort flew over the bar. Therefore meaning the sides went into the interval all square.
The Reds came flying out of the blocks looking to take the lead early into the second half. Archie Davies looked a real threat down the right flank linking up well with Jake Hessenthaler on several occasions.
However, it was the host’s who had the first real chance of the half. Winning another freekick on the edge of the Reds penalty area. The effort was similar to those in the first half and flew over Morris’ bar.
The Reds continued to press and looked the side more likely to take the lead. Jake Hessenthaler went close from the edge of the box as did Jack Powell. Just as the Reds looked to really get a strong grip on the fixture they were forced to make a change in the 54th minute. Goalkeeper Glenn Morris was forced off through injury and was replaced by Tom Mcgill making his first appearance for the Reds in the league.
The Reds continued to pressure the host’s as Tony Craig went close following a corner. Walsall almost caught the Reds sleeping at the back, McDonald intercepted on the edge of the penalty area and flashed a shot just wide of the target.
Despite constant pressure from the Reds, it was the Saddlers who took the lead. Dan Scarr headed towards goal from a corner, Tom McGill did brilliantly to scramble down and scoop off of the line but his save was straight into the path of former Red Matt Sadler who smashed into an empty net.
The Reds continued to look for a way back into the fixture and came so close to an equaliser in the 88th minute through Tom Nichols. The striker rose highest in the box and nodded a delightful header which had beaten Roberts but the ball rebounded off of the post and was smashed clear by a Walsall defender. The host’s then set off on a counter-attack, Adebayo’s shot was well saved by Tom McGill, Jake Scrimshaw was poised for the rebound but Jordan Tunnicliffe flew in to block and give the Reds a fighting chance in the five minutes added on.
The Reds persistent pressure was not enough as the host’s held on to claim all three points.
The Reds travel to Torquay United on Sunday for the first round of the Emirates FA Cup. The match will be streamed live on BBC Digital services kicking off at 12:45.
Crawley Town: Morris (McGill 55’), Doherty, Craig, Tunnicliffe, Davies, Ashford (Nadesan 78’), Powell, Hessenthaler, Frost (Allarakhia 78’), Nichols, Watters