Crawley return to West Sussex with a point this afternoon, having come back from behind against a strong Bradford side. Dion Pereira put the home side ahead in the 55th minute before James Tilley fired Crawley level with a sweetly struck free-kick moments later. A draw was probably a fair result as both sides had chances to take all three points.
Bradford made a very bright start at the University of Bradford Stadium and perhaps should have taken the lead through the usually clinical Andy Cook. Harry Chapman made a very direct run from his own half and managed to get all the way to the Crawley area. Chapman picked out Cook with an accurate through ball, but Cook uncharacteristically fired an effort wide.
Crawley responded with some chances of their own inside the first ten minutes. The in-form Ashley Nadesan had a chance to let fly after being found by Tom Nichols in space. Nadesan took one too many touches and was dispossessed by Romoney Crichlow.
Crawley had been the better team during the first 30 minutes, and the crowd at the University of Bradford Stadium was getting restless as their side continued to make sloppy errors.
Both sides had chances to take the lead before half-time. Mazeed Ogungbo flashed an effort over the bar after a nifty piece of footwork inside the Bradford area. In a similar fashion, Tyreik Wright squandered an effort at the other end of the pitch. The Bradford man had acres of space but took the shot early and failed to trouble the returning Ellery Balcombe.
The first ten minutes of the second half were a continuation of the first half. Crawley were making chances and playing well, but Bradford had the majority share of possession.
Bradford’s slow build-up was rewarded with a goal in the 55th minute. Dion Pereira scored his first goal of the season with a neat, dinked effort. Wright capitalised on a mistake in the Crawley midfield and slid in the Luton loanee. Pereira saw the oncoming Balcombe and gently lifted the ball over the Reds’ goalkeeper.
Bradford’s lead was short-lived, as James Tilley fired Crawley level with a sweet free-kick. Nichols won the free-kick after a sloppy Bradford pass was intercepted. Tilley and Powell stood over the ball, which looked a little too close to curl over the wall. Tilley opted for power and blasted the ball past Harry Lewis on his near side.
Tony Craig showed why he has made nearly 700 EFL appearances with a heroic piece of defending to keep the score level. A pin-ball like sequence unfolded in the Crawley penalty area before the ball broke cleanly to Alex Gilliead. The Bradford man looked set to stroke the ball into the back of the net, but Tony Craig flew in to make a crucial block.
Balcombe was then forced to make a very good save when the home side looked set to score. Scott Banks had plenty of space in the box after a solid spell of possession from his side. Balcombe was alert to tip around the post.
Crawley survived a late onslaught but had chances to win the game themselves. Overall a point was probably a fair result in what was an excellent advert for League Two football.
REDS XI: Balcombe, Tsaroulla (Fellows 59’), Craig, Francillette, Francomb, Powell, Hessenthaler, Tilley (Jenks 68’), Ogungbo (Telford 81’), Nichols, Nadesan