FA Cup: Crawley 1 Bristol Rovers 1 - Ten-man Reds force replay

Crawley celebrate Billy Clifford's goal against Bristol Rovers. Picture by Phil Westlake SUS-160511-152433002
Crawley celebrate Billy Clifford's goal against Bristol Rovers. Picture by Phil Westlake SUS-160511-152433002

Crawley Town took League 1 side Bristol Rovers to a well-earned replay with a rip-roaring display.

Reds went behind after 15 minutes from a superb but controversial free-kick taken from 35 yards by Lee Brown.

Billy Clifford scores a goal against Bristol Rovers. Picture by Phil Westlake SUS-160511-152410002

Billy Clifford scores a goal against Bristol Rovers. Picture by Phil Westlake SUS-160511-152410002

But they stormed back with a 35th minute equaliser by Billy Clifford.

Crawley were reduced to ten men on 68 minutes when Andrew Blackman was sent-off for his second booking, a handball offence.

Before the sending-off Reds had enjoyed a great period of dominance during which they they pushed and pushed for a winner.

In the end they for a held on for a draw, forcing a replay.

Crawley made two changes to the side which lost 3-1 at Carlisle with Bobson Bawling and Billy Clifford replacing Aryan Tajbakhsh and Adi Yussuf who were on the bench.

Centre-back Joe McNerney missed his second game with a knee injury, giving Alex Davey another chance in impress alongside Mark Connolly.

It was good to see last season’s popular goalscorer Matt Harrold on the bench for the first time since August, having recovered from knee and Achilles tendon injuries.

Rovers made five changes from their last league game which they lost 2-1 at home to Fleetwood.

Despite Crawley making the brighter start, the visitors took the lead in the 15th minute with a stunning 35-yard free-kick by Lee Brown which flew to keeper Glenn Morris’s bottom left hand corner.

This was controversially awarded much to the annoyance of the Reds fans after Jimmy Smith was judged to have fouled Ellis Harrison.

Crawley pressed for an equaliser as Blackman crossed towrad Enzio Boldewijn but he failed to meet the header.

Then Clifford threatened with a cross to the far post which was intercepted by keeper Kelle Roos.

Reds’ endeavour paid off when ten minutes before half-time Lewis Young did some good work, Collins dummied the defence and crossed to Clifford who qualised from short-range.

The goal gave Crawley momentum and they carved out some more chances as Kaby Djalo set-up Boldewijn for a shot which was deflected wide.

Collins also had a powerful long-range shot from a counter-attack which Roos caught.

Crawley head coach Dermot Drummy made a substitution at half-time, bringing on Adi Yussuf for Boldewijn.

Reds enjoyed a superb spell of attacking football during the second half which it was surprising they didn’t manage to score from.

Collins’ cross to Bawling was headed narrowly wide, then with some great football, Clifford twisted and shot in the area just wide and over the bar.

Lewis Young crossed to Bawling in the area whose volley was saved by keeper Roos.

Then Collins poked wide after linking up well with Bawling.

Reds had to play the last 22 minutes with only ten men after Blackman was sent-off for his second yellow card after he protested against a referee’s decision.

The crowd called for the referee to send-off Harrison for a foul on keeper Glenn Morris which he needed treatment for, but he only showed a yellow card.

Morris did well to keep out a deflected shot, then at the other end, Clifford’s cross to Davey was headed wide.

REDS: Morris, Young, Davey, Connolly, Boldewijn (Yussuf 46), Smith (capt), Blackman, Bawling (Tajbakhsh 85), Clifford, Collins, Djalo

SUBS: Mersin, Arthur, Harrold, Banton, Pappoe

Bristol Rovers: Roos, Brown, Lockyer, Hartley, Clarke, Harrison, Taylor (Montano 60), Easter (James 72), Sinclair (Moore 60), Roberts, Boeteng

Unused subs: Leadbitter, McChrystal, Gaffney, Hodges

Referee: Darren Deadman

Attendance: 2,281 (518)

Man of the Match:

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