The Reds battled for a point against Walsall this evening. A Tom Nichols penalty in the 96th minute ensured the points were shared at The People’s Pension Stadium.
Walsall started much the brighter side as they looked to end a miserable run of form under new Manager Brian Dutton. George Francomb was forced to defend smartly against Josh Gordon after he got the better of Joe McNerney. Gordon was able to tap the ball past Joe and drive towards goal inside the Reds penalty area, Francomb sensed the danger early and swiftly came across to clear.
Despite the early pressure from the visitors, the Reds came agonisingly close to taking the lead through Ashley Nadesan. Tom Nichols fired at goal from inside the box on the half-volley as former Red Mat Sadler blocked the attempt, the rebound fell to Nadesan, who was just unable to direct his effort goalwards.
The Saddlers right-back Cameron Norman looked very sharp on the right-wing and was able to deliver several dangerous balls into the Reds penalty area. Crawley duo Joe McNerney and Jordan Tunnicliffe dealt with Norman’s crosses brilliantly, leaving striker Caolan Lavery no chance in the air.
Walsall goalkeeper Liam Roberts was then forced into a very smart save as Ashley Nadesan looked poised to score a rare header. Francomb delivered a pinpoint cross with his weaker left foot, which Nadesan met brilliantly, Roberts reacting quickly to tip over the bar.
Tom Nichols then won a free-kick in dangerous territory on the edge of the Saddlers penalty area. Jack Powell’s initial effort was poor and crashed into the wall of yellow shirts, the loose ball fell to McNerney, who clipped a delightful ball towards the back post where Jordan Maguire-Drew headed just wide.
The first chance of the second half fell to Walsall’s frontman Lavery. A long throw-in was hurled into the Reds penalty area as Lavery attempted an audacious bicycle-kick, the effort looping onto the crossbar. Tilley then went close on the counter-attack, his header saved well by Roberts at the back post.
Walsall were then awarded a penalty as Jordan Tunnicliffe was judged to have unfairly fouled Josh Gordon in the penalty area. Emmanuel Osadebe stepped up and cooly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.
Maguire-Drew delivered an accurate cross into the Walsall penalty area as the Reds looked to mount a comeback. The cross fell to Nichols, who was just unable to get the ball under control.
The Reds earned one final chance with just 30 seconds of the additional five to play as James Tilley did excellently to win a free-kick. Jack Powell delivered to the back post where Jordan Tunnicliffe lied in wait, Tunnicliffe rose highest and was clattered by goalkeeper Roberts resulting in a penalty being awarded. Tom Nichols stepped up and smashed the ball into the top corner to earn Crawley a point.
REDS XI: Morris, Francomb (J.Wright 71’), Tunnicliffe, McNerney, Davies (Craig 45’), Powell, Hessenthaler (82’), Maguire-Drew (Tsaroulla 71’), Hesketh (Tilley 21’), Nadesan, Nichols