Goals from Paddy Madden and Lyle Taylor weren’t quite enough to earn the Iron three wins on the bounce after a 2-2 draw on Saturday afternoon in Sussex.
A goal midway through the first half from Irishman Madden and a strike from Taylor ten minutes into the second half were cancelled out late on by Dean Leacock and a penalty from Izale McLeod.
After a 13 day break without a competitive fixture, Mark Robins made three changes to the Iron starting line-up. With Eddie Nolan and Isaiah Osbourne missing out through injury, there was a recall for Terry Hawkridge at right back and a debut for West Brom loanee Liam O’Neill in central midfield. Luke Williams, who was ineligible for the FA Cup tie at Forest Green, took the place of Hakeeb Adelakun on the wing.
Scunthorpe started the brighter of the two sides, with Taylor causing problems up front and Hawkridge overlapping well on the right hand side. However it was the Red Devils who fashioned the first chance, with Gwion Edwards slipping through Bawling on the right, but glancing his header well over after connecting with the strikers’ cross.
A few moments later the Iron created their first chance of the game. Taylor held the ball up well deep inside the Crawley half before teeing up Luke Williams for the strike, but the Middlesbrough loanee’s effort whistled just over Lewis Price’s goal.
With both sides trying to gain authority in the game, Gary McSheffrey played a quick one-two with Hawkridge from a corner, but his dangerous whipped in cross could only be glanced across goal by Miguel Llera, who took a minor blow in the process.
The visitor began to turn up the pressure on the Sussex side, with a succession of corners and a well blocked strike by McSheffrey causing issues, and the goal seemed imminent.
With that in mind, the deadlock was duly broken on the 26th minute. Luke Williams capitalised on a slip by Sonny Bradley and sprinted down the left side of the pitch before cutting it back to McSheffrey. McSheffrey in turn knocked it down to Paddy Madden, and the Irish forward’s strike squirmed under the legs of debutant goalkeeper Price and rolled over the goal-line, giving the Iron the deserved lead.
Delight then turned to grimace a few minutes later, as a crunching 50-50 tackle between Llera and Edwards left the Spaniard in a lot of pain on the floor. With the injury looking too serious to allow the centre-half to continue, he was replaced by Shaun Brisley, as Mark Robins was forced into an early change.
Moments later, Crawley carved an opening for themselves, with an out-swinging corner from Jimmy Smith which was met by Bradley, but his header looped over the bar and on to the roof of Sam Slocombe’s net.
With Crawley chasing an equaliser before the break, they came very close to doing so in the first minute of the seven minutes of stoppage time. Scunthorpe failed to clear their lines from a corner, and the ball fell to Dean Leacock in acres of space, however the defender in unfamiliar territory could only blaze the volley wide of the mark.
Scunthorpe managed to pepper the Crawley box with a few dangerous before the whistle went for half time, with the travelling fans looking happy with what they’d seen in the first half of an entertaining first 45 minutes.
The second half kicked off with John Gregory’s men back on the hunt for a goal, with Gwion Edwards wriggling through the Iron’s defence before dragging his shot wide of Slocombe’s right hand post. McSheffrey in turn then delivered a floated corner right in front of the Scunthorpe faithful; however Andrew Boyce’s header narrowly squeezed past the post.
Another threatening chance for Scunthorpe came after another poor pass from Bradley picked out Madden, and his superb pull back at the by-line found Luke Williams, whose shot was well tipped round the post by Price.
Scunthorpe found their second goal of the afternoon through striker Lyle Taylor ten minutes into the second half. McSheffrey played a wicked ball across the face of goal from the left, and Taylor snuck in between the two Crawley defenders to flick home the Iron’s second as they chased down their fifth game unbeaten away from home on the bounce.
A period of pressure from Crawley meant that the Iron had to stand firm at the back, and that they did with some huge blocks by Marcus Williams and Shaun Brisley keeping the Red Devils at bay. A change for either side with Myrie-Williams replacing the impressive Luke Williams, while Crawley changed formation by bringing on midfielder Luke Young (brother of Manchester United winger Ashley Young), for the struggling Sonny Bradley, who didn’t have the best of afternoons in a red shirt.
Slocombe was finally called in to action again on the 72nd minute, after palming away Crawley top scorer Izale McLeod’s driven effort away, after the former MK Dons man jinked inside Hawkridge and unleashed a powerful shot.
Crawley’s pressure finally paid off, as Scunthorpe struggled to clear a corner from the right, and a lump back into the Iron’s box Ryan Dickson was met by Leacock’s head. The ball flew over Slocombe’s outstretched hand and into the top left hand corner of the net.
With only three minutes passing since Crawley reduced the deficit, the home side were awarded a penalty after Dickson was adjudged to have been fouled in the area by substitute Myrie-Williams. McLeod stepped up to draw the Reds level, side footing his penalty high and to the right to set up a tense final ten minutes.
With the wind in their sails, Crawley almost rounded off the come-back six minutes from time, as Bawling was put through by Gavin Tomlin, but Slocombe got both hands behind the ball to push it into the air, as the strikers’ effort was straight down the keepers’ throat.
With stoppage time approaching, Scunthorpe had their best chance since their own second goal, with the scorer Taylor acrobatically getting a shot away that forced Price to back pedal and tip his effort just over the bar.
Both sides pushed hard for the winner, with Scunthorpe perhaps a tad unlucky not to be awarded a penalty themselves after Myrie-Williams was knocked over side the area. With neither side able to get that last gasp goal, the referee blew full time on what had been a very eventful afternoon at the Checktrade.com stadium.
TEAM LINE UPS
Crawley Town: Price, Dickson, Leacock, Bradley (Young 69), Edwards, Smith, McLeod, Walsh, Keane, Bawling (Elliott 89), Tomlin.
Substitutes not used: Jensen, Henderson, Banya, Richefond, Isaacs.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe, Hawkridge, Boyce, Llera (Brisley 35), M.Williams, McSheffrey (McAllister 86), O’Neill, Bishop, L.Williams (Myrie-Williams 69), Madden, Taylor.
Substitutes not used: Olejnik, Sparrow, Adelakun, Kee.
Attendance: 2,178 (226 away).