Crawley suffered late heartbreak at the Broadfield Stadium this evening as a 90th-minute goal from Northampton Town snatched a point out of the hands of the Red Devils. James Balagizi scored two very well-worked goals, but after a real graft in the second half, Crawley’s hard work was undone as Kieron Bowie blasted the ball past Corey Addai in the 92nd minute.
It was an incredibly fast start to the tie, and it took only five minutes for Kevin Betsy’s side to take the lead. It was a great move from the Red Devils as Ashley Nadesan was picked by his strike partner Tom Nichols on the wing. Nadesan picked out James Balagizi inside the box, who tucked home under the goalkeeper to score his first professional goal.
The lead, however, did not last long as Sam Hoskins pulled the game level in the eleventh minute. A long throw-in was cleared to the edge of the penalty area where Hoskins was waiting. The Northampton talisman swept the ball into the back of the net at the first time of asking to level the score.
Northampton were ahead shortly after. Brandon Mason was penalised for what appeared to be a clean tackle on the edge of the Crawley box. Hoskins stood over the ball and curled it over the Crawley wall and beyond the reach of Addai. Crawley’s energetic start was crushed in the space of 15 minutes.
Hoskins was running the show for the visiting side and could have easily set up a third Northampton goal had it not been for the offside flag. Ben Fox was played through by the Cobbler's number seven and was bounding towards Addai when the offside flag was raised.
The Cobblers controlled the remainder of the second half and went into the half-time break ahead by one goal.
The Reds began the second half a lot better than they finished the first and were rewarded with an equalising goal in the 60th minute. The ball broke to Nadesan on the wing, who sat his defender down and immediately took off towards the goal. The striker looked up and picked out Balagizi for the second time, and just like he did in the first half, the Liverpool loanee cooly slotted past Lee Burge.
Crawley’s second goal awakened the Broadfield Stadium, which was now in great voice as the Red Devils pushed for a winning goal.
Nadesan had a great chance to put his side ahead after Balagizi set the striker through. Nadesan had only Burge to beat but opted to strike the ball early and only stung the palms of the Northampton goalkeeper.
Kwesi Appiah was introduced shortly after to give the Red Devils’ attacking line some fresh legs. Crawley’s number ten was given a big round of applause as he left the pitch. The striker may not have left with a goal but did claim two very important assists.
The Reds dominated the latter stages of the game, but a 90th-minute goal from Kieron Bowie sealed Crawley’s fate. A rapid counter-attack from the hosts resulted in Bowie being slid through on goal. The substitute took the ball forward and thundered a strike past Addai into the roof of the net.
Heartbreak for Crawley, who sit in 22nd place in Sky Bet League Two. AFC Wimbledon visit the Broadfield Stadium on Saturday 20th August.
REDS XI: Addai, Tilley, Adebowale (Ransom 79’), Craig, Ogungbo, Mason, Powell, Hessenthaler, Balagizi, Nadesan (Appiah 79’), Nichols
Attendance: 2471 (355 away)