Crawley 1, Sheffield United 1: Reds extend unbeaten run with workman like display

Crawley goalkeeper Lewis Price
Crawley goalkeeper Lewis Price

Crawley stretched their unbeaten run to three games with a creditable 1-1 draw with promotion chasers Sheffield United.

Former Sheffield Wednesday centre-back Richard Wood netted his first goal for Reds, who were pegged back by a second-half Marc McNulty penalty from their visitors.

It was a well-earned point from another organised Reds’ display against an inform Blades side, who were unbeaten in five with four wins in that run.

Dean Saunders named an unchanged side from the team that grabbed a last-gasp win away to Swindon last week.

Brian Jensen returned to the Reds bench after six weeks out with a thumb injury, while Darren Ward was also named amongst the substitutes after being ineligible against his parent club last week.

The game started with a good tempo in front of vocal home and away support and it was Reds that created the first real opportunity.

Mathias Pogba drilled at goal from a good 25 yards after teeing himself up and Iain Turner pushed over the bar on nine minutes.

The visitors had the ball in the net on 17 minutes but the linesman’s flag was up for offside.

Blades looked dangerous coming forwards but once again found themselves up against a resolute Reds’ defence.

On 24 minutes, Sonny Bradley was alert to block a dangerous-looking Pauls Coutts ball from the right behind after he ghosted towards the edge of the box.

At the other end, Pogba found himself a yard just inside the area and hits goalbound shot was blocked behind for a corner.

The visitors should have taken the lead on 37 minutes as good work on the right by Ryan Flynn saw him cut the ball back to Jamie Murphy, but his shot was well saved by Lewis Price and the follow-up was turned over the bar from close range.

United took the upper hand in the closing stages of the first half, but for all their possession, failed to break through the Crawley backline.

The second half started as the first finished with the travelling side in the ascendency.

Price was down well to block John Brayford’s shot from just inside the box and Jamie Murphy was flagged offside as he tried to get on the end of the follow-up

Reds, however, took the lead on 63 minutes as a teasing Anthony Wordsworth delivery from a softly-awarded free-kick on the right was neatly flicked home by the head of Rotherham loanee Wood.

Home supporters felt aggrieved on 75 minute as Izale McLeod, who was bearing down on goal, went down under a challenge by Jay McEverley, but referee Charles Breakspear was unconvinced in what would have been no doubt a red card for the centre-back had it been a foul.

It continued to be a possession game for the visitors as they had plenty of the ball, but were restricted to shots from distance with Price rarely troubled.

The leveller came on 82 minutes as Matt Done got the wrong side of the Reds’ defence in the box and was bundled over by a clumsy challenge from behind by Ryan Dickson.

Wood was booked for his protests and Dickson also saw yellow for the foul as Blades substitute Marc McNulty sent Price the wrong way from the spot.

Blades almost pinched all three points with two minutes left as Dickson lost the ball and the visitors broke only for Lewis Young to blocked away a driven shot.

The home side held out a nervy five minutes of injury time and threw on an extra centre-back in Darren Ward to hold out for a well-earned point.

Crawley: Price, Young, Wood, Bradley, Dickson (Edwards 90), Edwards, Wordsworth, Fowler (Smith 57), Tomlin, Pogba (Bawling 83), McLeod. Unused subs: Jensen, Morgan, Anderson, O’Connor.

Blades: Turner, Harris, Brayford, Basham, Flynn (McNulty 73), Doyle, Murphy, Done, Coutts, McEveley, Kennedy (Freeman 34). Unused subs: Willis, Davies, Reed, Adams, Calvert-Lewin.

Attendance: 3320 (983 away).

Referee: Charles Breakspear.