Crawley Town 1, Doncaster Rovers 1: Simpson injury blow as Reds are held

Josh Simpson is congratulated on his goal against Doncaster (Pic by Jon Rigby)
Josh Simpson is congratulated on his goal against Doncaster (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Crawley Town were held to a battling point by Doncaster Rovers tonight, but face losing captain Josh Simpson to a lengthy injury lay-off.

Simpson fired the Reds in front midway through the first half, but was forced to withdraw shortly before the break after being clattered in the centre circle. Initial reports suggest Simpson suffered a severe ankle injury. It was a cruel blow for the home side, for whom Simpson had been key, and they were hurt again moments later when James Husband levelled with a diving header.

Richie Barker’s men then had the better of the second half, but could not force the winner.

Against a Doncaster side who could have gone top tonight, Crawley made a bright start and enjoyed the greater share of possession and territory without seriously testing the Rovers defence. Although one Reds break on 20 minutes, which featured a sublime turn from Jamie Proctor, started to lift the hosts who went close moments later when Billy Clarke fired over.

Crawley were slowly building momentum, and 90 seconds after Nicky Adams’ shot was blocked, skipper Simpson guided a classy volley into the bottom corner after the ball fell for him on the edge of the box.

But they might have been pegged back shortly after, when James Coppinger’s toe-poke on the angle shaved the outside of the far post.

And although Crawley were rarely troubled in the first half, they were dealt a double blow on the stroke of half time.

First, the influential Simpson hobbled off after a clumsy tackle in the centre circle, and then James Husband met David Cotterill’s well-flighted cross at the far post to level the scores.

Crawley appeared to recover well from that in the opening exchanges of the second half, testing Rovers keeper Gary Woods twice on the hour mark, first through Clarke from 20-yards and then Muzzy Dumbuya after a slaloming run into the visitors’ box. The Reds continued to press, as Proctor nodded wide from Clarke’s dinked cross, and Barker’s side looked the more likely winners.

Rovers were clearly on the rack, and when Clarke darted into space he prodded narrowly wide before curling one just over, but Crawley were running out of time, and had to survive something of a late siege to make sure of the point in the closing moments.

Crawley Town: Paul Jones, Mustapha Dumbuya, Mat Sadler, Mark Connolly, Joe Walsh, Matt Sparrow, Josh Simpson, Dannie Bulman, Nicky Adams, Billy Clarke, Jamie Proctor.

Subs: Connor Essam, Sergio Torres (on for Simpson 42), David Hunt, Aiden O’Brien, Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Mike Jones, Johnny Maddison.

Doncaster: Gary Woods, Paul Quinn, James Husband, Rob Jones, Billy Paynter, David Cotterill, Tommy Spurr, Jamie McCombe, James Harper, Lee Fowler, James Coppinger.

Subs: Martin Woods, Jon Maxted, Liam Wakefield, Emile Sinclair, Kyle Bennett (on for Fowler 75), Jordan Ball, Harry Middleton.