Crawley fight back to salvage point against Walsall

First published in Crawley Town by

Crawley twice came from behind to earn a point against struggling Walsall at Broadfield Stadium.

Reds produced a flat performance and can consider them slightly fortunate to extend their unbeaten home run to five games.

They will also be without Joe Walsh for the next three games after he was sent off late on for bringing down Febian Brandy.

It was Brandy who had given the Saddlers the lead after 14 minutes when he punished Reds for giving the ball away deep inside their own half.

Billy Clarke levelled with his fifth goal in six games eight minutes later after good work from Jonathan Forte.

Ashley Hemmings restored Walsall's lead in the 74th minute after Paul Jones had parried a shot from Sam Mantom.

Crawley responded again with Forte heading home a cross from Josh Simpson before Walsh was sent off.

Claude Davis was also booked which will rule him out of Tuesday's home game against Yeovil Town meaning Reds will be desperate Kyle McFadzean recovers from the flu which ruled him out today.

Walsall went into the match looking for their first win in 12 games but a positive 4-4-2 line-up suggested they were not simply coming for a draw.

The visitors made a good start, too, with Will Grigg heading wide from six yards after Andy Taylor had cut Crawley apart down the left.

Reds did not heed the warning and found themselves behind after 14 minutes following a sloppy piece of defending.

Joe Walsh did exceptionally well to get back and tackle Brandy as he burst into the box but Crawley gave the ball straight to Jamie Paterson who slipped Brandy back in to shoot into the far corner.

The home fans had been very subdued up until that point but finally got something to cheer as Clarke equalised in the 22nd minute.

Jonathan Forte, in the final game of his loan spell, picked up the ball midway inside the Walsall half before driving at the opposition defence. The Southampton striker slid a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Clarke who hit it first time from the edge of the area into the top corner to give Aaron McCarey no chance.

The goal briefly roused the home side with Mike Jones seeing a header hit a defender on the line shortly afterwards and Forte having a shot blocked as the ball fell to him six yards out.

Reds lost their way again for the rest of the half though and their play was as flat as the atmosphere inside the Broadfield Stadium.

Things did not improve in the second half either with the visitors looking the most likely to take control of the game.

The impressive Paterson rattled the crossbar with a curling shot from 20 yards and then forced Jones to claw a clever chip away as it headed for the top corner.

The goal Walsall deserved eventually came in the 74th minute. Sam Mantom's 20-yard effort was parried by Mike Jones and the ball fell kindly to Hemmings to fire a composed finish into the far corner.

Reds boss Richie Barker threw on Gary Alexander and Nicky Ajose and switched to a 4-3-3 formation in a bid to get back into the game again.

The home side got back on level terms with nine minutes to go when Forte's header from a Josh Simpson cross looped over McCarey and into the far corner.

Reds' hopes of pushing for a winner were hit almost immediately when Walsh was shown a straight red card for bringing down Brandy as he burst clear.

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