Crawley Town 0-0 Swindon: Third straight League One draw for Barker’s Reds

Crawley boss Richie Barker, who has today been heavily linked with the Portsmouth job
Crawley boss Richie Barker, who has today been heavily linked with the Portsmouth job
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For the second time in four days Crawley were held to a 0-0 draw as a cautious Swindon took a point away from the Broadfield.

Apart from the odd flash of excitement it was a largely drab encounter as Reds’ troubles in front of goal continued despite being far more positive of the two teams.

Richie Barker’s side have now gone more than six hours without a goal at home and have scored only one in their last seven League One matches.

They again looked solid at the back and passed it around well but created little against a visiting side who got men behind the ball and could have won it when Nicky Ajose struck a post late on for the Robins, who had Nathan Byrne sent off late on.

Barker made only one change from Saturday, skipper Josh Simpson back in midfield with Mike Jones dropping to the bench. Luke Rooney had returned to Swindon after Reds cut short his loan, though wasn’t involved.

Swindon made two changes from the defeat against Leyton Orient.

Crawley were making the early running in the opening 20 minutes, enjoying nearly all the possession, though Swindon, deploying a 4-6-0 formation looked to break at any opportunity with the pace of Ajose, who had a loan spell at Reds last season on the left causing one or two problems to the home defence.

A hopeful ball over the top from Kyle McFadzean looked to be drifting out but Andy Drury got to it to hook it right across the Swindon goal line, though no Crawley player was anywhere near to turn it home.

On 27 minutes Massimo Luongo skipped past Connolly and crossed low for Ajose, who spun and found the net but had controlled the ball with an arm.

Straight down the other end Reds defender Connolly tried his luck from fully 30 yards but a sprawling Wes Foderingham dived to keep it out of the bottom corner.

A drab first half spluttered into some life in the final five minutes. First Simpson and Nicky Adams combined for the Reds skipper to flash a shot across goal only just missing the far post.

Then Billy Clarke picked out Andy Drury and from the left of the box, beat a defender coming inside and slammed his shot into the net, only to see the offside flag raised.

The pattern of Reds probing without much threat continued at the start of the second half until Simpson took matters into his own hands, winning the ball back and from 20 yards firing in a shot which flew just wide of the top corner. Proctor then tricked his way into the box but his pullback couldn’t find either of two Reds shirts in the box.

Hopes that Reds would push on from there were tempered by a dismal spell where even simple passes were misplaced, Drury the biggest culprit with three errors in as many minutes before he was replaced.

The Robins had been kept quiet but a ball over defence found Ajose and his first time lob drifted over Paul Jones as well as the crossbar.

With 20 minutes remaining Reds carved their best opening, Adams beat his man on the right and crossed low for Drury, who spun his man but fired into the arms of goalkeeper Foderingham.

With seven minutes remaining Ajose so nearly came back to haunt Reds when he steadied himself from a cross from the left but blasted against the base of the near post.

Full-back Byrne was another to have a loan spell at Reds last season, and his evening was ended three minutes prematurely when he was shown a second yellow card, perhaps harshly for catching Adams.

With a minute left to play Clarke controlled a Sadler cross well inside the box and on the spin managed to get his shot away, but again straight into the grateful arms of Robins ‘keeper Foderingham.

The draw lifted Reds up to 12th in the table as their search for a first ever league victory against Swindon continued.

REDS (4-2-3-1): P Jones; Sadler, Hurst, McFadzean, Connolly; Simpson, Bulman; Adams, Drury (Sinclair 72), Clarke; Proctor (Alexander 72).

Subs: Torres, Alexander, Walsh, Sinclair, Jones, Smith, Maddison.

SWINDON (4-6-0): Foderingham; Thompson, Byrne, Hall, Ward; Luongo, Harley (Mason 73), N’Guessan (Pritchard 67), Thompson, Kasim, Ajose.

Subs: Mason, Pritchard, Storey, Barthram, Belford, Branco, El Gabas.