Crawley Town withstood a siege of second-half Harrogate attacks to secure a point with the help of goals from Joel Lynch and Sam Ashford.
The visitors took an early lead through Luke Armstrong who lost his marker too easily and headed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of Glenn Morris’ net, leaving the experienced ‘keeper helpless with just 80 seconds on the clock.
Under the lights, the Reds held firm against wave after wave of Harrogate attacks until they fashioned their own chances with a few minutes left of the first half. Lynch netted the Reds’ equaliser, poking home Jake Hessenthaler’s knockdown with just two first-half minutes left to go.
The game was then turned on its head just moments later when Tom Nichols went on a brilliant run and put in the perfect cross from the byline for Ashford to slot home and give the Reds a halftime lead.
Crawley’s lead was short-lived as Archie Davies poked Jack Muldoon’s cross past his own goalkeeper and draw the visitors level in the 52nd minute.
Crawley Town manager John Yems named an unchanged starting eleven, repaying those who earned the Reds’ first away win of the season away at Colchester United last time out. However, two changes were present on the bench as Owen Gallacher was replaced by Rafiq Khaleel and new signing Mark Marshall came into the squad in hopes of making his debut.
The curse of conceding early reared its ugly head once again as loose marking from the first corner of the game allowed Armstrong to head home and give Harrogate an early lead under the lights.
It was almost two within a few minutes as Simon Power powered past George Francomb and put in a dangerous low cross that somehow snuck through to the back post without a touch.
The visitors were in unquestionable control in the opening 15 minutes and went close again on that mark; Joel Lynch put in one incredible block and managed to get enough on the follow-up to take the sting out of the shot which was then flicked away by the outstretched Morris.
Crawley clawed back some of the dominance as the game crept towards the half-hour mark, but had still failed to trouble Mark Oxley in the Harrogate net; Sam Ashford’s blocked effort ranking as the Reds’ best chance of the opening 30 minutes.
This remained the case until the 42nd minute when the ball dropped to Tom Dallison’s right boot 12 yards from goal, but heroic Harrogate defending saw his shot deflected over the bar and out for a corner kick. Jack Powell then swung the ball in from the right-hand corner flag and onto the head of Jake Hessenthaler. The central midfielder put it back across goal and into the path of Lynch who poked home from close range.
The quick turnaround was completed when Ashford latched onto Nichols' low cross and diverted the ball into the same left-hand corner of the net Lynch had found just moments earlier.
The Reds were blasted by a wall of noise as they left the tunnel and entered the pitch ahead of the second half. Buoyed by a thrilling end to the first period, an unbroken wall of loud support filled the stadium for the opening 15 minutes of the second half.
Even Harrogate’s equaliser couldn’t dampen the spirits of those cheering the Reds on. It came in the 52nd minute and was a carbon copy of Crawley’s second: great run down the right-wing, low cross, ball ends up in the bottom left-hand corner. This time it was Muldoon to the unfortunate boot of substitute Davies, who could do nothing more as he tried to prevent Armstrong from adding his second of the game.
The Reds were reduced to ten men a further eight minutes later when halftime substitute Ashley Nadesan saw red following an off-the-ball altercation with Harrogate’s Connor Hall.
Crawley were left to hold on for the next 20 minutes, facing wave after wave of attacks from the visitors, but defending resolutely. Lloyd Kerry was the only player to call Morris into action in that time, shooting from the edge of the box but straight down the Cat’s throat.
This proved to be the last action of the game as the Reds’ held firm with ten men and earn a point at home.
Attention now turns to Saturday afternoon’s fixture at the People’s Pension Stadium as Crawley Town host Bradford City.
REDS XI: Morris, Francomb (Davies 38’), Dallison, Lynch (Nadesan 46’), Tsaroulla, Ferry, Payne, Hessenthaler, Powell, Ashford (Marshall 80’), Nichols
UNUSED SUBS: Jones, Bansal-McNulty, Khaleel, Appiah
Attendance: 1791 (72)