Crawley Town 1-1 Stockport County

The Hatters’ longest-distance assignment of the campaign on the road brought with it a first-ever point at the Broadfield Stadium, as they shared the spoils in a Monday evening contest at in-form Crawley.

The result from a match which had been moved from its more conventional Saturday afternoon slot, following the rescheduling to the previous Thursday of County’s televised meeting with Salford, also put the Hatters a point clear back in second place.

But it will also have been tinged a tad with disappointment, given that County had led from the hour-mark through Antoni Sarcevic, before conceding late on, 27 minutes later, and having to settle for a draw that now leaves the Hatters four points behind leaders Mansfield (albeit with a game in hand).

The Hatters took to the field on a mild, cloudy night in West Sussex, where they showed three changes from their initial line-up at Salford’s Peninsula Stadium four days earlier – with a trio of substitutes who had done much to help shift the momentum in County’s favour on that occasion – namely, Todd Kane, Rico Richards and Ibby Touray – earning starts (first ones, in the case of Kane and Richards). They replaced the injured Ethan Bristow, as well as Lewis Cass and skipper Paddy Madden – both of whom were named among the substitutes, along with Manchester City loanee-striker, Ben Knight, who was included in a County squad for the first time. In Madden’s stead, Kyle Wootton took the captain’s armband for the first time as a Hatter.

Wootton marked the occasion by being the first player to execute an attempt on target, with just over a couple of minutes on the clock – heading on Odin Bailey’s corner from the left, and into the arms of home goalkeeper Corey Addai.

The play-off-chasing hosts, topping the current form table with five wins in their last six games, were presented with an unexpected half-chance five minutes later, as a Ben Hinchliffe clearance from the left of goal was picked up by Harry Forster – but the winger skewed his looping shot well wide of an empty net from distance.

Some end-to-end fare ensued, as Sarcevic fired narrowly over the home crossbar, and Laurence Maguire – younger brother of Manchester United’s Harry – headed beyond the near post after connecting with a cross from the right by Kellan Gordon.

Wootton then tested Addai again with a low shot from the edge of the box – and, as the first half approached its mid-point, Callum Camps, having earlier teed up his skipper, grazed the outside of the left upright with a similar strike of his own.

Danilo Orsi fired goal-wards from the County ‘D’ with six minutes of the half remaining – but Hinchliffe was equal to the effort, diving at full stretch to parry it around the right post. And one minute before the break, Camps, after cutting in from the left, drilled narrowly shy of the corresponding stick at the home end.

HALF-TIME: Crawley 0, County 0. 

The Hatters started brightly upon the resumption, as Richards was played through on goal by Sarcevic – only to be denied by both an Addai save and a flag for offside – and the home ‘keeper was shortly afterwards  called upon twice more in quick succession, using, respectively, his legs and hands to keep out Wootton and Tanto Olaofe.

But cometh the hour, cometh the man – as Sarcevic rose highest beyond the far post to meet Kane’s corner from the left and head home his sixth goal of the campaign to put the Hatters in front.

Bailey fired narrowly over, as County looked to build on the lead – and, with the tension not letting up, Crawley boss Scott Lindsey was shown a yellow card. But the home manager’s frustration would have been tempered when, with seven minutes to go, Greek striker Klaidi Lolos latched on to an Orsi flick and fired in the equaliser.

The hosts’ skipper Jay Williams then went close to scoring in his own net, courtesy of a volleyed clearance that flew a whisker wide of the right post – and, following the resulting corner, Addai caught a header by Wootton.

Five minutes of time were added on – during which the best chance fell in a crowded County area to Maguire, who skied the ball over and out of the stadium from 12 yards.

FULL-TIME: Crawley 1 (Lolos, 83), County 1 (Sarcevic, 60).

Team (4-1-2-1-2): Hinchliffe; Kane (Cass, 81), Horsfall, Pye, Touray; Camps; Sarcevic, Bailey (Byrne, 77); Richards (Madden, 61); Wootton (Capt.), Olaofe (Lemonheigh Evans, 81).

Unused Subs: Smith, Hippolyte, Knight.

Booked: Pye.

Attendance: 3,339 (451 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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