Crawley Town left to rue host of missed chances at Harrogate Town

Crawley Town were left to rue a host of missed opportunities as they ended up with just a point to show for their efforts on the road at Harrogate.

Saturday, 14th November 2020, 6:22 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th November 2020, 6:26 pm
Max Watters

The Red Devils could have been out of sight by the time their hosts staged a second-half fightback, failing to build on Max Watters' 27th-minute opener in North Yorkshire.

The home team were missing their manager - boss Simon Weaver forced to self-isolate as a Covid-19 precaution, but still began proceedings brightly.

The Sulphurites were however indebted to goalkeeper James Belshaw for an important one-on-one save to deny in-form Watters inside the opening five minutes after the Crawley striker strolled in behind.

Less than 60 seconds later, Josh Falkingham drilled an effort narrowly wide at the other end of the field, then Brendan Kiernan saw a strike on the turn which looked destined for the back of the net deflected behind for a corner.

Town came closer still to breaking the deadlock when Falkingham delivered a low ball into the six-yard box and the stretching Jack Muldoon was denied by a decent bit of goalkeeping by veteran custodian Stuart Nelson.

The hosts will have felt that they were just about shading proceedings by the midway point of the half, but then fell behind on 27 minutes following a defensive horror show.

Tom Walker twice gifted the ball to Crawley players inside his own half and, although it seemed as if the initial danger had passed, when two home defenders left the ball to one another in the penalty area, Tom Nichols was able to cut back from the byline for Watters to stab home.

The goal seemed to rattle Harrogate, and Belshaw was required to make another one-on-one stop by Nichols, while Ryan Fallowfield was in the right place at the right time to hack a Watters strike off the goal-line.

Belshaw was at it again just moments into the second period, diving low to his left to push away Jack Powell's swerving long-ranger then reacting superbly to get up in time to thwart Watters on the follow-up.

It was after this point that the tide began to turn, 39-year-old Nelson almost letting Lloyd Kerry's shot from distance squirm beyond him and into his net.

From the resulting corner, Lawlor's downwards header was cleared off the line, then George Thomson's stinging drive was blocked.

Connor Hall then rose well at another set-piece, only to nod straight down the throat of Nelson, before the Harrogate centre-half planted a header from substitute Dan Jones' long throw-in narrowly the wrong side of the upright.

And, it was from a trademark Jones throw that Town would eventually get their reward, Martin meeting a mammoth 85th-minute delivery from the right and heading into the path of Muldoon, who could hardly miss from just a couple of yards out.

The hosts kept coming in the closing stages with Crawley hanging on and seemingly happy to time-waste. Scenting blood, Harrogate almost nicked maximum points in stoppage-time, Jones whipping in a deep left-wing centre that beat everyone and thudded back off the far post.

A draw leaves John Yems' team ninth in the League Two standings.

Harrogate: Belshaw; Fallowfield, Lawlor, Hall, Burrell (Jones 76); Thomson, Falkingham, Kerry (Kirby 76), Walker (Martin 46); Muldoon, Kiernan. Unused substitutes: Cracknell, Beck, Stead.

Crawley: Nelson; Davies, McNerny, Craig, Doherty; Allarakhia (Dallison 78), Nichols, Powell, Hessenthaler; Watters (Frost 58), Nadesan. Unused substitutes: Morris, Adebowale, Sesay, Ashford, Galach.

Referee: M Coy.