REPORT | Dominant Town draw at Crawley

Grimsby Town were made to pay for missed chances as Crawley Town grabbed a late equaliser to deny them all three points at the Broadfield Stadium.

The Mariners produced an excellent performance as they dominated the contest in West Sussex and they took a deserved lead when Harry Clifton struck three minutes before half-time.

Town remained in control after the break and had several opportunities to add to their score, with George Lloyd hitting the post before Clifton was denied a second goal by home keeper Corey Addai.

But with the clock ticking down, the hosts were given a route back into the game when Niall Maher was adjudged to have brought substitute Tom Fellows down inside the penalty area and striker Dom Telford equalised from the spot.

Town boss Paul Hurst continued with his squad rotation policy for what was the fifth long-distance away game of March, as four changes were made from the team that began Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Walsall.  Josh Emmanuel, Clifton, Alex Hunt and Otis Khan all came into the starting XI, with Michee Efete, Luke Waterfall, Kieran Green and Ryan Taylor making way.

Max Crocombe started in goal, with Emmanuel, Andy Smith, Maher and Danny Amos forming the defence.  Clifton, Hunt, Bryn Morris and Khan made up the midfield, with John McAtee behind Lloyd in attack.

Green was named on the bench, where there was also a return from injury for Owen Gallacher alongside Anthony Glennon, Gavan Holohan, Mikey O’Neill, Danilo Orsi and Sean Scannell.

Crawley came into the game having won three of their last four Sky Bet League Two fixtures, including a 2-0 home success against Rochdale on Saturday.  That run had seen them climb out of the relegation zone and they would be aiming to continue their good form with another win to put further distance between themselves and the division’s bottom two.

Manager Scott Lindsey named former Mariners winger James Tilley in his starting XI, with strikers Ashley Nadesan and Telford also looking to cause problems for the Town defence.


An early McAtee cross from the right was caught by keeper Addai, before a ball into the box from Ben Gladwin at the other end was comfortably claimed by Crocombe.

Three offside decisions in the opening five minutes stopped the home side from getting any momentum but it had been a composed start by Town, who were moving the ball around nicely.

A foul on Smith gave the Mariners their first opportunity to put pressure on the Crawley goal and after the free kick was played short for McAtee down the right, Hunt went on to win the game’s first corner.  The ball from the flag was driven to McAtee on the edge of the box but he was unable to turn it into a chance.

After keeping possession, Town worked an opening on the right when Emmanuel found the overlapping Clifton.  He then pulled the ball back for McAtee but it bobbled in front of the attacker and he could only send a weak shot wide of the far post.

Tilley won the home side’s first corner on 14 minutes and it led to Mazeed Ogungbo firing a low shot from 25 yards, which Crocombe got down to stop.

Nobody was able to get on the end of a Clifton cross after a quickly-taken free kick had been worked to the right, then Lloyd almost beat Addai to a back-pass from Aramide Oteh but the keeper just got to the ball first.

Oteh was shown the evening’s first yellow card on 19 minutes when he tripped Emmanuel as the right-back went on a run through the middle.  The free kick was played short to Khan but his ball into the box went through to Addai.

A low shot by Emmanuel was blocked after he had cut inside from the right two minutes later, then Morris brought the ball forward after a home counter-attack had been stopped and when it broke for Khan, he curled an effort wide.

Town continued to come forward and an Emmanuel cross was deflected behind for a corner on the right.  Hunt played the ball from the flag low to Khan and he helped it on to Morris, who fired narrowly wide of the target from 25 yards.

Khan was shown the yellow card for bringing midfielder Jack Powell down but the free kick caused no problems as the offside flag went up against the hosts.

A home corner came on 37 minutes when a cross from Ogungbo was blocked by Emmanuel, although again, Crocombe was not troubled as the ball was flicked wide of the near post.

Town had been on top for the majority of the game so far and three minutes before the break, they got their reward with the opening goal.  Amos went on a driving run from the left which took him to the edge of the box and after the ball ran through to CLIFTON, he produced a great finish from a narrow angle.

Crawley’s response came immediately and saw Crocombe called into action to tip a 20-yard Telford shot around his post for a corner.  Another flag-kick followed soon afterwards but the pressure was relieved as the referee blew for a foul on Amos.

Two added minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further chances coming in that time, Town took a one-goal lead into the dressing rooms at the interval.


No changes were made by either side before the restart and Town were inches away from doubling their lead two minutes in.  Lloyd did well to win the ball on the right, race clear and cut into the penalty area before hitting a shot which beat Addai but bounced back off the far post.

After a slip by Emmanuel went unpunished by Telford at the other end, another chance for Town fell for Khan but his shot was saved.

A good challenge inside the penalty area stopped Lloyd from having a further shooting opportunity, before Emmanuel did well to win the ball and keep it in on the right but Town were unable to turn the position into a chance in front of goal.

Rafiq Khaleel replaced Tilley in the game’s first substitution, before Hunt was narrowly wide with a first-time strike from 25 yards as Addai scrambled to get back following a quickly-taken throw-in.

Khan escaped a second booking after catching Travis Johnson with his arm on the hour and soon afterwards, he was replaced by Scannell in Town’s first change.

Clifton beat three defenders on a run down the left but his cross was cleared, then a cross from Kellan Gordon at the other end was headed away by Emmanuel and a penalty appeal for handball when the ball was played back into the box was waved away by the referee.

Town were still in control and Amos won a corner on the left after a brilliant cross-field ball from Smith was chested down by Clifton, although the flag-kick did not cause any problems.

O’Neill replaced McAtee on 69 minutes and his first involvement was to play a low ball across the six-yard line from the right which Lloyd turned wide of the near post for a goal kick.

Town were pushing for a second goal and they could have had it when Lloyd played a first-time ball across the penalty area for Clifton but the midfielder’s shot was saved by keeper Addai and the resulting corner was dealt with by the home defence.

Morris threaded a great ball through for O’Neill soon afterwards but he was crowded out on the edge of the box as he tried to work the space for a shot.

Fellows came on for Gladwin in Crawley’s latest substitution on 78 minutes, before Khaleel won a corner on the home left.  They were unable to make it count as Morris brought the ball clear, then threaded it through for Clifton to break over the halfway line.  The midfielder took it into the box but side-footed wide of the far post from a narrow angle.

Lloyd was replaced by Orsi and Gallacher came on for Hunt with nine minutes to go, then O’Neill lifted an attempt over the bar from 18 yards as the away side kept striving to put the result beyond doubt.

Instead, the home side were given a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser with three minutes to go when Maher brought  Fellows down inside the box at the other end and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.  Crocombe was booked for his protests before TELFORD stepped up to level the scores, despite the keeper getting a hand to his shot.

Town were given an immediate chance to respond when O’Neill was brought down on the edge of the Crawley box.  Morris stepped up to take the free kick but he sent the ball over the bar.

Four added minutes were played at the end of the game, with the hosts now pushing for an unlikely winner.

Town also went forward in a bid to restore their advantage but it was not to be and they were forced to leave with only one point to show for what had been a dominant display.

Despite the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser though, the Mariners’ unbeaten run in the league now stands at six games and they will look to make it seven without defeat when they travel to Bradford City on Saturday.



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