Bridges scrapped their way through to the preliminary round of the FA Cup but Crawley Down deserve credit for making life difficult with a stubborn defensive display.
The first half was mainly spent in the Anvils’ half and Andrew Greaves was called into early action as he held onto Jamie Taylor’s shot following good work by Alex Laing.
A superb cross by the excellent Nathan Simpson was then headed on by Trevor McCreadie but Laing’s finish was both high and wide.
A shot from distance by Liam Collins was safely held by the busy Greaves, but the home side’s hopes suffered a blow after just 15 minutes when Sonny Barton was cautioned for a foul on Laing.
Barton thought he was the innocent party and sarcastically applauded referee Jonathon Wilks, who promptly showed him a second yellow for dissent.
Greaves was called into action again five minutes later, making an excellent block to deny McCreadie, and Crawley Down’s keeper showed his worth five minutes on as he blocked Laing’s final shot after a brilliant turn and run by the Bridges newcomer.
Lee Hall came close with a back heel from Laing’s corner, but Bridges had nothing to show for their first half domination.
Within a minute of the restart, the visitors at last broke the deadlock when new signing Taylor won the ball and forced his way through before netting into the far left corner of the goal.
But the expected opening of the floodgates did not materialise and the Anvils started to create a few openings of their own.
But this was their third game of the season without a goal to their name and Bridges ‘keeper Kieron Thorp didn’t have a serious shot to save all afternoon as Bridges progressed.
Much of this was due to solid defensive work by the likes of Bradley Peters and young new signing Tad Bromage, who had an outstanding debut for the side.
He looked cool and untroubled throughout as the home side tried to shake off the fact that they were down to ten men for so much of the game.
Two minutes into added time came the save of the match as Greaves dived across goal to palm away a fiercely driven free-kick from 25 yards by substitute John Lansdale, but it was a rare highlight of a disappointing second half by for the travelling Three Bridges.
Crawley Down Gatwick: Greaves, D.Sullivan (Croal 82), Barton, Brown (Wraight 46), Martin, Pelling, Thomas, Belli, N.Sullivan, Leslie (Steers 62), Cane.
Unused subs: Bradford, Packham, Goodwin.
Bridges: Thorp, Peters, Simpson, Hall (Lansdale 76), Collins, Grant, McCreadie (Naranjo 90), Berry, Taylor, Bromage, Laing (Folkes, 56). Unused subs: Gallagher, Doughty, Glloga, Da Costa , Silva.
Crawley Down Man of the Match:
Bridges Man of the Match: