Crawley Town 2, Shrewsbury Town 2: Simpson at the double for Reds

Josh Simpson’s brace earned Crawley a point at home to Shrewsbury today as Crawley came from behind for a 2-2 draw.

Shrewsbury looked to be heading for a first away win of the season after first half goals from Matt Richards and Jon Taylor had cancelled out Simpson’s first minute opener and Crawley were second best for long spells before the break and struggled to create in the second half,

But when the Reds’ midfielder picked his spot late on for his fifth of the season, Crawley had rescued the point.

Reds enjoyed the perfect start, when Josh Simpson’s left foot shot whistled into the bottom corner with less than a minute on the clock after Hope Akpan’s neat work from a Nicky Adams free kick.

That set the tone for the opening spell, as Crawley swarmed all over a sorry looking Shrewsbury side, who are yet to win a League One game on the road this season.

But just as the Reds scored with their first attack, Shrewsbury responded in their first in the 13th minute. Taylor’s cross was not fully cleared when Paul Jones punched, and captain Richards pounced to guide a finish home from 12 yards.

That gave the Salopians a much needed confidence boost, as until that point Graham Turner’s men had been overrun, and Crawley struggled to rediscover the tempo of the opening few minutes.

Taylor, whose cross led to the leveller nodded just over, with Jones already committed after Reds defender Mark Connolly was out-muscled by Marvin Morgan.

Crawley were now struggling, and were made to pay 12 minutes before the break. Taylor ran on to his own pass as the Reds tried to play offside, and left the defence trailing before planting a confident finish beyond Paul Jones.

The Reds tried to lift it towards the end of the half with Simpson’s low shot well held by Chris Weale in the Shrewsbury goal.

There was a lot of huff and puff from the Reds at the start of the second half, and they started to gain the upper hand with longer spells of possession minus the cutting edge.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury looked to capitalise on Crawley’s vulnerability at the back, and Luke Rodgers’ first-time shot was well saved by Jones, while Luke Summerfield volleyed just over from 25 yards.

For all Crawley’s prompting in the second half, John Akinde and Dannie Bulman were thrown on with 20 minutes remaining, they did not work Weale in the visitors’ goal.

But they finally broke through, and it was Simpson again, Hope Akpan got the better of Darren Jones down the left hand side, and prodded a ball into the middle, which midfielder Simpson met with a clinical first time shot.

That saw Crawley up the tempo again, and Akinde saw a penalty shout waved away, and Adams curled one wide. It turned into a frantic finish as Reds poured forward, an heroic block from right-back Jones denied Adams, and the pressure was cranked up again.

Barker’s men could not find a winner however, and there was a late scare when Shrews substitute Tom Bradshaw was inches away from connecting with a Luke Rodgers cross.

Crawley Town: Paul Jones, Mat Sadler, David Hunt, Mark Connolly, Claude Davis, Hope Akpan, Sergio Torres, Josh Simpson, Nicky Adams, Nicky Ajose, Gary Alexander.

Subs: Conor Clifford, Joe Walsh, Dannie Bulman (on for Torres 67), John Akinde (on for Ajose 67), Nathan Byrne, Mike Jones (on for Adams 88), Michel Kuipers.

Shrewsbury Town: Chris Weale, Jermaine Grandison, Joe Jacobson, Luke Summerfield, Darren Jones, Mark Wright, Matt Richards, Marvin Morgan, Jon Taylor, Connor Goldson, Luke Rodgers.

Subs: Rob Purdie, Tom Bradshaw (on for Rodgers 75), Asa Hall, Ryan Noble, Paul Parry (on for Wright 28), Aaron Wildig, Joe Anyon.