Crawley Town 2 MK Dons 2: Harrold the hero in thrilling draw

Izale McMcLeod scores his second goal for Crawley against MK Dons (Pic by Jon & Joe Rigby) SUS-151001-182413002
Izale McMcLeod scores his second goal for Crawley against MK Dons (Pic by Jon & Joe Rigby) SUS-151001-182413002

A 96th minute goal by MK Dons’ Dele Ali denied Crawley Town a fantastic win against the odds.

Izale McLeod gave Reds a 2-0 lead with a goal early in each half.

Matt Harrold striker turned goal keeper for Crawley Town V MK Dons (Pic by Jon & Joe Rigby) SUS-151001-182438002

Matt Harrold striker turned goal keeper for Crawley Town V MK Dons (Pic by Jon & Joe Rigby) SUS-151001-182438002

But Crawley were dealt a massive blow five minutes before half-time when goalkeeper Brian Jensen was forced to leave the pitch with a dislocated finger.

As Crawley have no reserve goalkeeper it came to striker Matt Harrold to come off the bench and fill the gap.

A heroic display in goal by the makeshift custodian nearly pulled off a fine win against the fourth-placed promotion-chasers.

However MK Dons came back with two goals in the last 15 minutes to secure the 2-2 draw.

New signing Darren Ward made his debut as Dean Saunders made four changes to the side which draw with Colchester.

Lanre Oyebanjo and Sonny Bradley were back from injury while Gavin Tomlin returned upfront alongside Izale McLeod.

Shaun Miller had returned to Rotherham at the end of his loan and Lewis Young and Bobson Bawling were on the bench.

MK Dons had a full strength line-up featuring former Reds favourite Kyle MacFadzean in the centre of the defence.

Crawley took the lead from the penalty spot in the 14th minute calmly put away by Izale McLeod.

This followed a needless foul on the Reds’ topscorer in the box by former Crawley defender Kyle McFadzean, just as he had done in the reverse fixture.

MK Dons went on the attack when a cross from the right was headed down on target by Samir Carruthers and easily taken by Jensen.

At the other end Gavin Tomlin should have done better when he hit a shot into the side-netting.

Jensen made a good side to bravely grab from the feet of Carruthers but in the course of doing so got injured.

After receiving treatment on the pitch ‘The Beast’ was forced to go off with a damaged finger, leaving the Reds scratching their heads as to would go in goal as they do not have a substitute goalkeeper.

It was an unusual situation for a League 1 club and in the end striker Matt Harrold came off the bench to keep goal.

Seeing the unlikely site of an outfield player in goal revived memories of when Dannie Bulman went in goal at Stevenage in the Conference in 2007-8.

Harrold was then given a huge cheer by the fans when he saved a free-kick.

He came out in full goalkeeping kit for the second half and looked the part with his height being well over six feet tall.

Jensen stood behind in the stand behind the Crawley goal shouting instructions to help the makeshift stopper.

Reds came out with urgency for the second half and McLeod increased their lead in the 48th minute with his second goal of the match and 11th of the season.

Starting with his back to the goal he turned his marker and struck a deflected shot into the net through the legs of a defender.

After his promising start between the sticks, Harrold dropped the ball from a cross but his team-mates scrambled the ball away.

Harrold then nearly gave away a goal in comical style when he hit opposing striker Grigg on the back with a goalkick and the ball looped agonisingly backwards toward goal but he managed to get back to catch it.

MK Dons pulled a goal back with 14 minutes to go when Reeve’s cross was headed into the net by Grigg.

MK piled on the pressure in the last few minutes and Lanre Oyebanjo kept Reds in the lead with a 90th minute headed clearance off the goalline.

Just as it looked like Crawley would going to held on for an unlikely victory, MK equalised in the 96th minute, scrambled in by Ali to the relief of the travelling supporters.

REDS (4-4-2): Jensen (Harrold 40), Oyebanjo, Henderson (Young 25), Bradley, Edwards (Anderson 68), Smith, McLeod, Walsh, Tomlin, Ward, Elliott.

Unused subs: Young, Banya, Bawling.

MK DONS (4-4-2): Martin, Lewington, McFadzean, Kay (Hitchcock 86), Potter, Reeves, Grigg, Spence, Baker, Alli, Carruthers (Bowditch 51)

Unused subs: Hodson, Green, McLoughlin, Powell, Baldock

REFEREE: Graham Salisbury

ATTENDANCE: 2,465 (424 away)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Matt Harrold