Chesterfield‘s first ever visit to the Broadfield Stadium and their first ever match in West Sussex ended in a 1-1 draw with both teams down to 10 men after a last-minute clash.
Since then Paul Cook’s Spireites have drawn two and lost four of their travelling games but after coming into a bit of form, culminating in the 2-1 win against Barnsley last weekend, the visitors are in the right sort of shape where they can go into the game expecting some sort of positive result.
John Gregory’s Crawley Town, six places and three points behind Chesterfield, have drawn their last four league games, they were two down at home to Scunthorpe United last week, whilst interspersed in that run, they’ve lost in two cup competitions.
Cook made one change to his starting 11; Sam Morsy, suspended last week, replaces Ollie Banks who’s gone on loan to Northampton Town. Spireites’ boss had tried to bring in a couple of new faces on Thursday’s deadline, Wolves’ ex-Owl Leon Clarke and current Owl Paul Corry were believed to have been two men close to moving to the Proact side, but the manager was unable to complete any move so has to go into the festive season with what he’s got; Sam Hird will rejoin the squad next week after injury.
The Red Devils signed former Blades striker Shaun Murphy on loan this week but he was named on the bench whilst former Bramall Lane man Izale McLeod leads the line.
Crawley have seen crowd levels drop by a third this season, their 2400 home average is 1100 below any other League One side, and that’s been a contributory factor in Gregory putting five men on the transfer list. Matt Harrold, Josh Simpson, Brian Jensen, Conor Henderson and Lewis Young have been deemed surplus to requirements whilst keeper Jamie Ashdown was released this week.
Referee Mr Horwood comes into the game having last week passed five years of league games during which he’s booked at least one player in every game. November 21st 2009, Northampton 2 Crewe 2, was the last time he failed to book anyone in this competition!
There were no goals in the first half and whilst Chesterfield had the bulk of the play, Crawley came closest to scoring – Jimmy Smith received from Bobson Bowling and his rising shot from the right side of the box thumped the upright.
After a first half that saw Spireites marginally the better side but Crawley twice hit wood, GARY ROBERTS drove in a low left footer from the corner of the 18 yard box on 59 to put Chesterfield ahead, it was his 4th goal of the season and it came about after the effervescent Jimmy Ryan won the ball in midfield from Keith Keane.
The lead lasted just 11 minutes when GAVIN TOMLIN was presented with a one on one with Tommy Lee after three visiting men went into the same challenge but none of them made it. The striker, who at 0-0 failed to get a shot in when all on his own on the edge of the six, lifted the ball over the keeper for his first goal of the season.
Lewis Price made a stunning save to keep out Roberts’ wonderful left footer, easily the beat save of the afternoon, and the game looked to be petering out when, right on 90, Dan Jones and Izzy McLeod tangled, blows were thrown and both men were red carded.
The result was Crawley’s 5th straight league draw and Spireites 5th unbeaten game in all competitions, and 1-1 just about reflected the balance of play.
Crawley: Price, Oyebanjo, Dickson, Leacock, Walsh, Bawling, Keane, Smith, Tomlin, McLeod. Subs: Henderson, Bradley, Young, Banya, Miller, Elliott, Jensen
Chesterfield: Lee, Darikwa, Raglan, Evatt, Jones, Ryan, Morsy, Clucas, Roberts, O’Shea, Doyle. Subs: Wright, Margreitter, Humphreys, Gardner, Boco, Gnanduillet, Ariyibi.
Ref: Graham Horwood (Luton).