John Yems' Crawley Town played out a goalless draw for the second week running, as they were held at home by Port Vale this afternoon (Saturday, December 14).
After a difficult week at the club off the pitch, there was speculation the game would be played behind closed doors.
The game did go ahead as normal though, albeit in front of far fewer fans (only 1,944).
Port Vale had started the quickest putting Reds under some early pressure with numerous shots on goal and had 64 per cent of the ball in the opening 20 minutes.
However, the game soon became an end-to-end affair, with Nathan Ferguson and Ollie Palmer coming desperately close to giving the hosts the lead before the break.
Crawley were the stronger of the two sides in the second half, with Ashley Nathaniel-George and Palmer both missing one-on-one chances but Vale held on as Reds played out another goalless draw.
Vale dominate possession but Reds come closest
Taking charge of a home game for the first time in his second spell as boss, John Yems made one change from the side which drew 0-0 at Stevenage last week. Nathaniel-George started ahead of Ashley Nadesan, who dropped to the bench.
Port Vale were out of the traps the quickest, putting Reds under pressure from the first whistle.
First, Rhys Browne fired wildly over after seven minutes before a goalmouth scramble resulted in a goal-saving block by Jordan Tunnicliffe before Glenn Morris made a brilliant save to deny the follow up.
However, The Valiants, who have conceded the most goals in the top half of the table (26), looked weak at the back and it was Crawley who came closest to taking the lead against the run of play when Nathan Ferguson struck the crossbar.
Vale quickly were back on the front foot, though, with Browne and Tom Pope linking up well before David Amoo had a header turned away for a corner.
Crawley hit them on the break again and perhaps should have taken the lead when Ferguson wasted a golden opportunity after being found by Nathaniel-George's fine cross.
Reds, now with a firm grip on the game, came agonisingly close yet again minutes later when Ollie Palmer rounded the keeper before being dispossessed as he lined up a shot into the empty net.
In an end-to-end period of the game, Nathaniel-George fired wide of the post before Port Vale midfielder Cristian Montano fired a dangerous ball across goal towards Pope but Josh Doherty came to the rescue to head behind for a corner.
With the game approaching half-time, Nathaniel-George put a great ball in the box for Bez Lubala, who came inches short of making a connection.
Wasteful Reds are held
Crawley made a confident start to the second half, seeing much more the ball. They came close to breaking the deadlock as a result, when Nathaniel-George drifted past two men with ease, leaving himself with only the keeper to beat, but his effort was straight at Scott Brown.
On the hour mark, Dannie Bulman found himself in on goal but his effort was well saved before Lubala's strike was deflected out for a corner.
Up the other end, Browne teed up Jake Taylor on the edge of the area but his goal-bound shot was well saved by Morris.
Yems brought off the ineffective, and unusually quiet, Reece Grego-Cox for Mason Bloomfield as Reds chased a winner.
With the game approaching the final 20 minutes, Reds' fans screamed in vain for a penalty when Nathaniel-George's chipped cross seemed to hit Nathan Smith's hand.
Browne, the visitors' best outlet, skipped past two Crawley defenders before being tackled expertly by a sliding Tunnicliffe before, on the break, Lubala had an effort saved.
In one of Crawley's best chance of the game on the 80th minute mark, Crawley found themselves two-on-one. Instead of shooting, the unselfish Bulman played in Palmer who was again thwarted by the keeper.
Vale were still a danger up the other end, though, and Pope headed inches wide of the far post.
After, Lubala and Bloomfield both passed up further opportunities to win the game, Vale won a very dangerous free kick just outside the box but it was clipped wastefully wide by Taylor — an effort which summed up a game full of poor finishing.
Crawley: Morris, Young, Tunnicliffe, McNerney, Doherty, Lubala, Bulman, Ferguson, Nathaniel-George (Camara 84), Palmer, Grego-Cox (Bloomfield 68)
Unused subs: Nadesan, Francomb, Sendles-White, Galach, Luyambula
Port Vale: Brown, Gibbons, Legge, Smith, Montaño, Burgess, Joyce, Taylor, Amoo, Pope, Browne
Unused subs: Atkinson, Cullen, Evans, Bennett, Lloyd, Archer, Maddison
Attendance: 1,944 (241 away)