Scunthorpe United 2 Crawley Town 2: Lubala has late penalty saved as Reds draw

Crawley Town head coach Gabriele Cioffi. Picture courtesy of Getty Images
Crawley Town head coach Gabriele Cioffi. Picture courtesy of Getty Images

Bez Lubala had a late penalty saved by keeper Rory Watson as Crawley Town drew 2-2 at Scunthorpe United in League Two this (Saturday) afternoon.

Lubala had given the Reds the lead on 16 minutes before Rory McArdle equalised for the Iron on 33 minutes. Matty Lund then put Scunny in front nine minutes into the second half but Nathan Ferguson levelled things up on 74 minutes.

Crawley then won themselves a spot-kick 12 minutes from time but Watson superbly kept out Lubala to see the points shared.

Head coach Gabriele Cioffi handed a competitive debut to right-back Josh Dacres-Cogley while forward Ashley Nadesan, fresh from netting in the Reds' Carabao Cup win over Walsall on Tuesday, was handed his first league start.

There were also recalls for Glenn Morris, David Sesay, Dannie Bulman, Ferguson, Reece Grego-Cox and Lubala.

The visitors had the first chance of the game just a minute into the game. Scunthorpe's Watson made a great block with his body to put Nadesan's shot out for a corner. From the resulting set-piece Tom Dallison was inches wide from heading Crawley in front.

Ten minutes later and slick work from the Reds carved open the Iron defence. Nice interplay between Grego-Cox, Ferguson saw them release Lubala in the box but the striker blazed his attempt over the bar.

On 13 minutes Grego-Cox cheekily nutmegged a Scunny player before winning a corner. The corner came out to Panutche Camara but the midfielder skewed his shot wide.

Crawley's strong start finally got its reward as they opened the scoring on 16 minutes. Nadesan was brought down on the edge of the Scunthorpe area by Andy Butler. Dacres-Cogley laid the free-kick off to Lubala and the Congolese forward fired through a sea of bodies to net his third goal in three games and give the Reds the lead.

Despite going ahead, Morris was forced into a great save two minutes later as he saved Matty Lund's left-footed shot.

On 24 minutes Nadesan did well to flash a cross-turned-shot across the face of the goal but the striker couldn't find anyone in a Reds shirt.

Scunny had a great chance to equalise on 28 minutes. A pinpoint delivery from Adam Hammill found Kyle Wootton but he could only head over the crossbar.

The Iron had ramped up the pressure on the Red and won a succession of corner. And they were to find the equaliser from a set-piece on 33 minutes. An Iron corner found McArdle at the front post and the defender did well to head the ball past Morris.

The remainder of the half saw both sides cancel each other out as the half-time whistle blew. Crawely could be heartened that they looked a real threat on the counter but they were having to withstand some serious Scunthorpe pressure.

Cioffi made two changes at the break. Targetman Ollie Palmer came on for Camara and Josh Doherty replaced Sesay. And the pair both played major parts in almost sending the Reds ahead five minutes into the second half.

Doherty's cross from the left found the head of Nadesan and the Crawley number ten forced Watson into a fine save. The rebound fell to Palmer but the substitute couldn't quite follow up as Watson produced another top-draw stop.

But Scunthorpe went ahead on 54 minutes after a wonder strike. The Reds failed to clear from Hammill's cross and the ball fell to Lund on the edge of the area. The Northern Irishman let fly and the ball rocketed past Morris to make it 2-1.

The Iron were now well on top. Hammill unleashed a 35-yard thunderbolt on 59 minutes but it went straight down the throat of Crawley stopper Morris.

On 72 minutes substitute Filipe Morais free-kick was a whisker wide from from Watson's left-hand post.

But this missed chance was quickly forgotten as the Reds levelled a minute later. Dacres-Cogley's whipped corner was cleared back to him and the right-back played the ball back into the box. Ferguson timed his run to perfection to glance home at the far post to net his second goal in two games and make it 2-2.

Crawley now had the bit between their teeth. Grego-Cox and Morais buccaneered forward on the break on 77 minutes but the Irishman couldn't quite pick out Palmer at the far post.

A minute later the Reds won themselves a potentially game-winning penalty but goalscorer Lubala saw his penalty superbly saved by Watson.

And the Scunny keeper produced more heroics with ten minutes of the game remaining. Grego-Cox fired from the outside the box but Watson did so well to tip the midfielder's shot away.

Watson was called on again to produce another stunning stop on 82 minutes. Lubala looked certain to seal the three points but Watson managed to push the ball onto the post and keep the scores level.

Referee Christopher Pollard added three minutes of added time to the second half but neither side could find the winner as the points were shared.

Crawley Town: Morris, Dacres-Cogley, Tunnicliffe, Dallison, Sesay (Doherty 46), Bulman, Ferguson, Grego-Cox, Camara (Palmer 46), Lubala, Nadesan (Morais 61). Unused: Luyambula, Payne, Nathaniel-George, Galach.

Referee: Christopher Pollard

Attendance: 3,186