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Crawley denied by last-gasp equaliser
Crawley were cruelly denied a fantastic win at Rotherham United as Kieran Agard grabbed a 95th minute equaliser at the New York Stadium.
Goals from Matt Tubbs and Josh Simpson looked to have earned Crawley a superb win over high-flying the high-flying Millers.
But Agard broke the hearts of the travelling Reds fans when he scrambled home his second of the match to rescue a point for the home side.
Tubbs had given Reds the lead midway through the first half on his return to the club where he spent the first half of the season on loan.
Agard equalised from the penalty spot 12 minutes before half-time following a clumsy challenge by Joe Walsh but Simpson restored Crawley’s advantage when he fired home his first goal of the season in the 65th minute.
Even after Agard had equalised for the second time Crawley almost won it with Millers goalkeeper Adam Collin making a fine triple save to deny Andy Drury, Gary Alexander and Billy Clarke in quick succession.
It was role reversal for Crawley who had grabbed two late goals at Coventry in their last match to earn a point and left them in 15th place in League One.
New signing Gary Dicker has to be content for a place on the bench as boss John Gregory stuck with the quartet who drew 2-2 at Coventry City two weeks ago.
That meant Billy Clarke started up front alongside Tubbs – rather than on the left-wing – on his return from suspension with Gary Alexander dropping to the bench.
That was the only change to the side which fought back to earn a point against the Sky Blues but there is one intriguing omission on the Crawley bench.
Striker Emile Sinclair is not listed among the substitutes amid speculation he is about to sign for Mansfield. Alex Malins replaces him on the bench.
Rotherham hand a debut to Richard Smallwood in midfield following his arrival on loan from Middlesbrough this week. Lee Frecklington is the man to drop out while Iceland international Kari Arnason returns from injury in the heart of the defence.
Former Reds trio Scott Shearer, Claude Davis and Wes Thomas were all on the bench for Steve Evans’s side.
Rotherham started brightly with Arnason nodding just wide from a corner and Alex Revell shooting straight at Paul Jones from the edge of the area.
The Millers went even close in the 21st minute when Revell was inches away from getting on the end of a low cross from the dangerous Agard.
Reds had created little going forward but took the lead against the run of play in the 23rd minute. There seemed little danger when Nicky Adams played a low cross into the six yard box but Adam Collin diverted the ball straight to Tubbs who reacted well to stab home from close range.
The lead only lasted 11 minutes as Crawley were made to pay for some sloppy defending. A poor clearance from Joe Walsh from a corner went straight to Ben Pringle who compounded the error by bringing down the Rotherham midfielder, with Agard making no mistake from the spot.
Evans showed his displeasure at his team’s performance by hauling off strikers Alex Revell and Tom Hitchcock and bringing on Wes Thomas and Haris Vuckic in the second half.
The Millers had no intention of settling for a draw as they pushed men forward and it made for a very open second half.
Mark Connolly fired a volley wide for Reds while Clarke wasted a good opportunity when put through by Tubbs while at the other end a header from Thomas was blocked on the line.
Crawley got their noses in front for the second time in the game in the 65th minute with a move right out of the top draw.
Clarke cut in from the right and picked out Tubbs with a low ball into the box and his instant touch was perfectly in the path of Simpson to fire under Adam Collin from close range.
Pringle went close to equalising when his shot from the edge of the area fizzed narrowly wide of a post while at the other end Mike Jones shot into the side netting when he had Tubbs screaming for the ball in the middle.
Some brilliant defending – from Kyle McFadzean in particular – looked to have earned Crawley the win but it was not to be.
Paul Jones got down well to push a long-range effort from Haris Vuckic around a post but from the resulting corner Agard fired home at the fire post.
Reds went up the other end and so nearly won it. Drury’s initial shot was pushed out by Collin to Alexander who was denied by the goalkeeper again and when the ball fell to Clarke his shot was stopped by Collin.
Rotherham (4-4-2): Collin; Tavernier, Arnason, Addison, Skarz; Agard, Milsom, Smallwood, Pringle; Revell, Hitchcock. Subs: Brindley, O’Connor, Shearer, Bradley, Thomas, Vuckic, Davis.
Crawley (4-4-2): P Jones; Connolly, McFadzean, Walsh, Sadler; Adams, Drury, Simpson, M Jones; Clarke, Tubbs. Subs: Maddison, Essam, Torres, Proctor, Dicker, Alexander, Malins.
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