Crawley Town 1, Walsall 1: Nichols salvages a point for Reds with injury time spot-kick

It was a tale of two penalties as Tom Nichols rescued a point for Crawley Town in stoppage time against Walsall.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 9:15 pm
Tom Nichols places the ball before scoring the equaliser. Picture by UK Sports Images Ltd/Jamie Evans

Following a goalless first-half, it was Walsall who drew first blood, when Jordan Tunnicliffe prevented Josh Gordon from reaching a cross, with Emmanuel Osadebe slotting in his first league goal for the Saddlers from the spot.

With Crawley throwing the kitchen sink at Walsall, they were given one final chance to rescue a point. Tunnicliffe, who conceded the penalty, had now won one for the Reds when he challenged for a high ball with Saddlers keeper Liam Roberts, with Roberts bundling over Tunnicliffe whilst trying to punch the ball clear. Tom Nichols stepped up and showed brilliant composure to rescue a point with the last kick of the game.

Walsall had the first meaningful shot of the game when Cameron Norman’s long throw was headed back out to him. Norman fired a fierce volley back across goal which was headed away from danger by Joe McNerney.

Crawley had a good chance to open the scoring when Tom Nichols picked up a loose ball and fired a deflected shot across the face of the goal but Ashley Nadesan, under pressure, couldn’t turn in from close range.

A while later Crawley were kept out by a good save when George Francomb’s delightful left-footed cross was met strongly by Nadesan, but Liam Roberts did well to tip the forward’s header over the bar.

Joe McNerney recycled a free-kick well with a dangerous ball to the back post which Jordan Maguire-Drew headed across goal, but there were no Crawley shirts to turn the ball in from point-blank range.

In the second-half the Saddlers nearly stunned Crawley when the ball sat up for Caolan Lavery who, with his back to goal, sent a fantastic overhead kick against the bar.

Ashley Nadesan wins a header. Picture by UK Sports Images Ltd/Jamie Evans

Soon after Walsall were given a great chance to open the scoring when Josh Gordon was brought down in the box by Jordan Tunnicliffe, with the referee awarding a penalty. Emmanuel Osadebe stepped up and made no mistake, rolling into the bottom corner, sending Glenn Morris the wrong way. The Saddlers with the advantage, after 55 minutes.

Maguire-Drew came close to levelling scores when he showed great feet to work the ball onto his left foot, with his in-swinging cross-shot nearly catching Roberts out, with the keeper diving towards his own goal to hold the winger’s effort.

It looked like the game was heading towards defeat for Crawley until Nick Tsaroulla lifted the ball into the box with Roberts coming out to punch the ball, also taking out Tunnicliffe who was contesting. Nichols took the spot-kick, and showed nerves of steel, blasting into the top corner to rescue Crawley a point deep into added time.

Crawley: Morris, Francomb (Wright 72’), McNerney, Powell, Nadesan, Davies (Craig 45’), Nichols, Tunnicliffe, Hesketh (Tilley 21’), Maguire-Drew (Tsaroulla 72’), Hessenthaler (Rodari 82’)

Walsall: Roberts, Norman, Melbourne, Sadler, Clarke, Sinclair, Kinsella, Lavery (Osei-Yaw 90’), Gordon (Wright 90’), Osadebe (Bates 76’), White

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