Crawley Town 2 Preston North End 2: Reds stage great fightback to earn draw

Gary Alexander heads in Crawley Town's 90th minute equaliser in their 2-2 draw with Preston North End at the Checkatrade.com Stadium
Gary Alexander heads in Crawley Town's 90th minute equaliser in their 2-2 draw with Preston North End at the Checkatrade.com Stadium
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Two late second half goals by Joe Walsh and Gary Alexander earned Crawley Town a 2-2 draw at home to Preston North End.

It rounded off a thrilling fightback for Reds from 2-0 down after a poor first half

Reds made the worst possible start by going 2-0 down in the opening 15 minutes.

Gregory had experimented with a new 3-5-2 formation with Mark Connolly, Kyle McFadzean and Joe Walsh at the back and James Hurst and Mat Sadler playing as wing backs.

But the new boss soon reverted to 4-4-2 after his side conceded two easy goals.

Preston took the lead in only the ninth minute from a corner kick which was headed home by Paul Huntington.

The third-placed visitors then added a second minutes later when John Welsh fed a throughball to Josh Brownhill who beat the defence and keeper Declan Rudd.

Preston could have made it 3-0 as Tom Clarke nodded narrowly wide.

Gregory responded by taking off James Hurst and bringing on Andy Drury into midfield as three became four in defence.

Gregory had made just one change to the starting line-up with Hurst recalled in place of Drury who was on the bench.

It looked like an almost impossible task at half-time but Reds looked much better in the second half.

Walsh pulled a goal back after 65 minutes on the rebound after Mark Connolly had struck Nicky Adams’ free-kick on to the post.

Alexander had the ball in the net 17 with 17 minutes to go and although the goal was disallowed for offside, it showed they were up fighting to get a result.

In the closing stages Connolly fired narrowly wide from 20 yards, then Walsh hit the post.

A roar came from the crowd when the four minutes of added time was signalled, adding to hopes of a draw.

The second goal eventually came in the 90th minute with a well-taken back post header from a corner as Reds fans went home happy from an exciting second half fightback.

REDS: P Jones, Hurst (Drury 24), Sadler, Connolly, McFadzean, Clarke, Alexander, Walsh, Bulman, Adams, Sinclair (Proctor 77)

Unused subs: Torres, M Jones, Smith, Malins, Maddison

PRESTON: Rudd, Keane, Laird, Huntingdon, T Clarke, Wright, Humphrey (Holmes 79), Davies, Beavon (Hume 72), Welsh, Brownhill (Hayhurst 72)

Unused subs: Stuckmann, Byrom, Bucanan, Hayhurst, Kilkenny

ATTENDANCE: 2,704

REFEREE: Charles Breakspear

CRAWLEY OBSERVER MAN OF THE MATCH: Mark Connolly