Blackpool 0, Crawley Town 0: Reds claim hard-earned point at Blackpool

Joe McNerney gave away a first half penalty.
Joe McNerney gave away a first half penalty.

Crawley Town picked up a point after a hard-earned goalless draw in their first visit to Bloomfield Road.

Reds extended Blackpool’s winless run in the league was extended to six games as they were forced to rue a missed Neil Danns penalty.

The on-loan Bury midfielder stood up to take the first-half spot kick after being brought down in the box, but could only steer his attempt wide of goal.

It was one of few clear opportunities on goal from either side, with Kelvin Mellor going close late on with a deflected effort which struck the outside of the post.

However the main talking point was the low attendance, with the game being played out in front of Blackpool’s lowest home crowd of the season of 2,080 (34 Reds' fans) - and even that figure looked generous.

Not only that, the “atmosphere” was more akin to a reserve fixture or a Checkatrade Trophy tie.

Their previous low attendance was recorded as recently as Saturday, with just 2,772 watching Pool’s home game against Colchester United.

Crawley, playing at Bloomfield Road for the first time in the club’s history, put in a disciplined display but rarely threatened the Blackpool goal.

The game, rearranged following Pool’s exploits in the FA Cup, was a priceless chance to claw back some points on the top seven but one they couldn’t take advantage of.

Both sides battled for dominance in a cagey opening period, with Crawley looking to play their possession-based game while the hosts were keen to get the ball up to the front two as quickly as possible.

We had to wait 15 minutes for the first attempt on goal, with Jamille Matt looping a header harmlessly into Glenn Morris’ hands from a Jordan Flores free kick.

Crawley’s first shot on goal was a similarly weak attempt with James Collins striking an effort that bobbled straight at Sam Slocombe.

The game burst into life when Neil Danns surged into the box only to be brought down by Joe McNerney, giving the referee no choice but to award a penalty.

But in keeping with the low quality of the game, Danns side footed it a yard or so wide of the post to continue Pool’s poor record from 12 yards out.

The Seasiders were almost made to immediately rue that miss as Conor Henderson stung the palms of Slocombe at the other end with a sweetly struck volley that the shot stopper collected at the second attempt.

The game soon turned into a midfield battle on the bobbly Bloomfield Road as both sides struggled to create any opportunities of note.

Crawley’s Jordan Roberts tried his luck from range with a volley which went flying into the stands.

The few home supporters that turned up soon began to get frustrated with the stop-start nature of the game, with the man in black blowing up for every small infringement.

Crawley, utterly dominant in possession, began to pile on the pressure towards the end of the first half with the men in tangerine camped on their own 18-yard box.

Roberts tried his luck from range for the second time after riding a challenge from Jack Payne, and this attempt hit the target but Slocombe was there to collect easily.

One can only assume the Blackpool players were given a stern talking to by Gary Bowyer during the half-time break and it appeared to work, as his side came out with a far more positive mindset.

They won a free kick right on the edge of the Crawley box after Danns had made another bright break through the middle, but Glenn Morris got down well to his right to deny Andy Taylor’s set piece.

However this only spurred Crawley into life as the game began to open up a little, with Jimmy Smith only able to stab wide of goal after Slocombe had fumbled a cross into his box which caused panic among his defenders.

Jordan Flores, one of Pool’s brightest sparks, then went close with a shot from the edge of the area on his weak foot which flew narrowly over the bar.

The Seasiders continued to show more endeavour in the second period but they still found it difficult to penetrate Crawley’s stubborn backline.

The visitors continued to frustrate Bowyer’s men and won a flurry of corners, with the last one falling to McNerney who found himself presented with a free header, only to nod straight at Slocombe.

The Seasiders finally managed to get the ball into the back of the Crawley net only for the referee to rule out substitute Sanmi Odelusi’s close range effort for handball.

The enthusiastic Odelusi then raced onto a hopeful punt over the Crawley backline and managed to beat Morris to the bouncing ball, but he was unable to control his effort and it sailed harmlessly over the bar in what was the final action of the game.

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