SWINDON and Crawley drew one-all after Nathan Byrne’s goal shortly after half time was equalised by Matt Tubbs, writes Adrian Smith.
Mark Cooper made five changes to the Town starting line-up with Luongo, Archibald-Henville, Murphy, Rossi-Branco and Reckord dropped from the starting 11. In their place
Town started a little nervously in defence but Nathan Byrne had Town’s first shot in the 4th minute but his 20 yard effort went wide of the right hand upright. Two minutes later Crawley’s Michael Proctor tried his luck with a shot which was deflected for a corner and Town were awarded a free kick for a foul when the ball was crossed.
Ryan Harley started a good move in midfield ghosting past several opponents and laid the ball off to Byrne who earned a corner for Town but the ball was eventually cleared by the visitors only for Micky Jones to fall theatrically on the half way line when challenging for the ball but the referee allowed play to carry on after having a quiet word with the Crawley player.
Town were awarded a corner in the 16th minute after some good play by Smith down the right wing saw his cross deflected behind and when the ball was crossed to McEveley who could only head the ball backwards away from goal and the chance was gone.
The visitors were looking comfortable in possession and were pressing forward at every opportunity while Town preferred to try and play their short passing game and finally managed to set up a shooting chance for Harley but his goal bound effort struck a defender and the ball was cleared.
Andy Drury was cautioned in the 27th minute for a late challenge on Nathan Thompson and the Town player had to leave the field after receiving treatment but was able to rejoin play after a short spell on the touchlines. Drury was replaced in the 32nd minute by Sully Kaikai after injuring himself.
Crawley appealed strongly for a penalty in the 35th minute when Ward appeared to clip the ankles of Proctor in the penalty area but the referee S Rushton allowed play to continue which angered several of the visiting players.
Michael Smith set up a good attack for N’Guessan in the 38th minute but his effort was deflected for a corner and when the ball was crossed, N’Guessan sent in a good shot which the visiting keeper Paul Jones tipped over for another corner.
Swindon were still getting plenty of possession without threatening the Crawley goal as the half wore on and they were guilty of overplaying the ball between themselves in midfield which meant that the forward pair of Smith and N’Guessan were seeing little of the ball.
Jack Barthram went on a 50 yard solo run in added time to end a Crawley attack but he was eventually halted by a Crawley defender and the half ended with Town on the attack.
Town kicked off the second half playing towards the Town End but it was Dickers who had the first shot of the half when he fired wide of the Town goal.
Swindon took the lead in the 49th minute after a bright start when Barthram did well to outpace a defender and his cross from the right wing was touched home from close range by Nathan Byrne for his 4th goal of the season.
Crawley responded through a corner in the 53rd minute after a cross was deflected behind and when the ball was crossed, it was deflected behind for another corner but Town managed to clear the ball downfield for some respite.
Dannie Bulman replaced Proctor in the 55th minute while play was held up for a corner and when the ball was crossed, they earned another corner when the ball was headed behind.
Swindon’s response after clearing the corner saw Byrne set up N’Guessan for a shooting chance but his effort flew wide of the upright.
Gary Dickers was shown a yellow card for fouling Kasim near the halfway line in the 59th minute.
Louis Thompson sent in a shot wide of goal shortly afterwards which was only just missed by Michael Smith who was trying to get a touch to the ball.
Tyrell Belford made a fine save in the 64th minute from a close range header by Dickers with the young Town keeper catching the ball cleanly.
Jacob Murphy replaced Michael Smith in the 66th minute and he was immediately involved in attack for the Robins.
Ryan Harley set up Jacob Murphy in the 75th minute with a superb reverse pass across the pitch to the on-loan forward but his effort struck a defender and the ball was cleared by the Crawley defence.
The Crawley equaliser in the 80th minute came straight after Murphy’s shot had been cleared by the keeper and the Crawley midfield picked up the loose ball before it was crossed by Simpson to Matt Tubbs who touched home from six yards.
Murphy tried his luck from 20 yards for Town but his weak effort was easily gathered by the visiting keeper to his right.
Tijane Reis replaced Barthram in the 89th minute as Mark Cooper elected to continue with three at the back for the Robins.
Crawley were awarded a free kick for a foul 30 yards from goal as the match entered three minutes of added time but the ball was cleared by N’Guessan downfield to Reis but he lost possession.
Town attacked through Murphy but he lost possession outside the penalty area and although the ball fell kindly for the Robins, they were unable to get a shot on goal before the final whistle.
Town now move onto 46 points from 32 matches with their next fixture being at Crewe Alexandra away on Saturday 1st March.
Swindon Town: Belford, Thompson N, Ward (C), McEveley, Barthram, Kasim, Thompson L, Harley, Byrne, N'Guessan, Smith
Subs: Bedwell, Branco, Reis, Cox, Barker, Gladwin, Murphy