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Reds suffer from a late comeback but claim a point at Rodney Parade.

2 January 2023

The Red Devils picked up a point on the road this afternoon as they drew 2-2 with Newport County. Crawley will travel back to Sussex with the thought that they could have been going home with all three points, having led by two in the 65th minute. Dom Telford extended his goalscoring run with goals in both halves, but Newport conjured up a late comeback to ensure the points were shared in Wales.

Crawley started the game well and had a chance to take the lead in the opening five minutes. A good sequence of play resulted in Aramide Oteh trying to find Caleb Chukwuemeka inside the box. The pass was cut out, which saw the ball fall fortunately to Tsaroulla, who failed to find the target from 20 yards out.

Newport responded with a chance of their own as Will Evans raced through on goal. The striker looked set to score, but Ellery Balcombe quickly rushed out and blocked Evans’ effort to ensure the score remained level.

It was a fairly even opening to proceedings at Rodney Parade, with both sides creating chances in the opening twenty minutes. Evans had another opportunity for the hosts but fired a shot wide of the target from range, and Brandon Mason fired a fierce shot a few inches over the bar for the Red Devils.

With just over ten minutes to go in the first half, Crawley took the lead. A corner was only half-cleared by the Newport defence, which allowed Oteh to drill the ball back into the danger area. The ball appeared to take a couple of deflections, but it was the former County man Dom Telford who got the final touch to send his side ahead.

In truth, Crawley should have been more than one goal ahead at half-time. Tom Fellows, who had been excellent for the Reds in the first 45 minutes, had two chances to double his side's lead. The first chance was more clear-cut as he only had Joe Day to beat in the County net but failed to divert past the Newport shot-stopper. The second required some brilliant individual skill, but again Day was on hand to keep the score at 1-0.

Newport were much better in the opening stages of the second half and had a good chance to draw the game level in the 52nd minute. Substitute Offrande Zanzala produced a lovely piece of footwork to beat his marker in the box and create room for a shot. Balcombe reacted well and smothered the effort which was creeping in at the near post.

Crawley still looked bright going forward and were creating opportunities in front of goal. Oteh made a chance for Telford, who saw his effort comfortably saved by Day. 

Newport, however, were by far the better side and looked certain to find the net before the end of the game. Ellery Balcombe showed all of his worth to produce a world-class save that kept the score level. Aaron Lewis struck a powerful effort towards the goal, which looked certain to find the back of the net. Balcombe’s extended arm beat away the effort.

Crawley’s defensive persistence paid dividends as the Reds were awarded a penalty in the 65th minute. It was a carbon copy of the incident at Stevenage on Friday evening as Tsaroulla beat his man in the box and was hauled down by his marker. Telford took the responsibility and cooly dispatched his effort, sending Joe Day the wrong way.

Newport responded with a goal in the 82nd minute. A dangerous ball was whipped into the Crawley penalty area, and it was Dolan that rose highest to power a lovely-headed effort into the top corner. A nervous ten or so minutes for the Reds followed.

The inevitable soon happened as Newport equalised from a corner in the 91st minute, and it was Zanzala who scored the goal that drew the game level. The substitutes header gave Balcombe no chance, as Crawley had a few minutes to survive. 

Temperatures were rising at Rodney Parade, and both managers were dismissed by the referee. Only a few minutes remained at this point, and despite being two goals ahead, Crawley were now the side on the back foot. 

The referee eventually blew the full-time whistle to end what was a brilliant, drama-filled, game of League Two football. Crawley may be disappointed to not take all three points but can be proud of the efforts put in at Rodney Parade this afternoon.

REDS XI: Balcombe, Tsaroulla, Francillette, Ransom, Mason, Balagizi, Jenks (Khaleel 62’), Oteh (Powell 61’), Fellows, Telford, Chukwuemeka (Davis 81’)

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