A bitterly disappointing afternoon for Swindon saw them beaten by two late goals in West Sussex, as Crawley claimed all three points in a clash Scott Lindsey’s side looked the more threatening.
Despite dominating the majority of the game, Swindon failed to convert their chances before the hosts stunned the 920 travelling fans with a late double with ten minutes of the game remaining.
After a two week break from action, Lindsey made two changes to his starting eleven as he reintroduced midfielder Louis Reed in place of Ronan Darcy who dropped to the bench, while Cian Harries, injured in the defeat to Crewe in Town’s last league fixture, made way for Tom Clayton, himself returning from a spell on the sidelines.
Knowing three points could push them back into play-off contention with other results going their way, Swindon started confidently as they looked to get an early foothold in the tie.
Crawley were dealt a blow after just six minutes as Brighton loanee Teddy Jenks was forced off through injury and replaced by James Tilley, and it was the substitute who threatened to break the deadlock just seconds after coming on.
Good work from James Balagizi on the right side saw him drive into the box and pull it back to the midfielder, but his close-range effort on goal was superbly blocked by a diving Ciaran Brennan.
On fourteen minutes, Town took the initiative back and created two chances of their own.
A great through ball by Ben Gladwin, gathering the ball from a cleared corner, set Louis Reed free down the right, and his dangerous cross forced Joel Lynch into some last-ditch defending to nod the ball away from the onrushing Jacob Wakeling at the far post.
Seconds later, Wakeling broke free inside the box, but Lynch was there again to slide in and deny him a shot on target.
It was end to end stuff from then on as both sides went at each other. At the other end, good interchange play between Balagizi and Anthony Nadesan saw the latter cut the ball back across the box for Dominic Telford, but the striker failed to get a clean connection on the ball and Sol Brynn gathered with ease.
On twenty minutes, attentions turned to the other end of the pitch, as Frazer Blake-Tracy broke free from his marker down the left and drove towards goal before switching it back to Ellis Iandolo, but he miscued his first-time, right-footed effort.
On twenty-two minutes, the hosts had the ball in the net after a scramble in the Swindon area as a result of a low corner, but Ludwig Francillette’s poke in from close-range was ruled out by the linesman for offside.
As we approached the half hour mark, Jacob Wakeling took it upon himself to try and open the scoring, collecting the ball from just over the halfway line, skipping past one challenge and bursting into the box, but he was forced wide and sent his left-footed strike over Ellery Balcombe’s goal.
Crawley’s Jake Hessenthaler tried a similar feat on thirty-five minutes, hitting a sweetly-struck half-volley from the edge of the box after Town cleared a corner from the right, but it was straight at Brynn.
It finished goalless at the interval with nothing to choose between the two sides.
The second half arrived with a change to the Swindon eleven, as captain Ben Gladwin made way for Ronan Darcy in midfield, and it was the sub that had the first chance of the second forty-five as he broke clear of the Crawley backline, evading a challenge in the box, but sent a left-footed strike high over the bar, and Swindon’s tails were up for the ten minutes that followed, but the deadlock remained intact.
With Luke Jephcott looking like he’d picked up a knock, he was replaced by Tyrese Shade to bolster the frontline, but looking to catch Swindon off guard, Nick Tsaroulla tricked his way past two markers on the edge of the box before unleashing a shot at goal, but Sol Brynn was once again more than equal to it.
On sixty-five minutes, Louis Reed sent Jacob Wakeling clear down the right, and the striker did well to turn his marker and return the ball back to the midfielder, but Reed sent his first-time shot well over, and the game was becoming increasingly frustrating for Scott Lindsey’s charges.
On sixty-nine minutes, the Town boss made another couple of changes, as Tomi Adeloye and Mathieu Baudry entered the action, replacing Wakeling and Clayton.
On seventy-minutes, Crawley came close to taking the lead, as substitute Tom Fellows weaved into the area on the left and cut it back to Dominic Telford, but after taking a neat first touch, he sent his shot over the bar.
Seconds later, James Tilley tried his luck from the edge of the box, but the outcome was the same.
But then the hammer blow for Swindon on seventy-nine minutes, as Nick Tsaroulla kept his cool on the edge of the box to shift the ball onto his left and shoot low towards goal, with his effort taking a wicked deflection, leaving Sol Brynn helpless.
And Swindon’s job was made even harder on eighty-two minutes, as a mix up at the back saw Sol Brynn forced to rush out his goal to clear the ball, but it fell straight to Jack Powell just over the halfway line, and he calmly lofted the ball over the helpless goalkeeper and into an empty net.
A total of nine minutes injury time was added after a serious head injury to Saidou Khan left him needing treatment on the pitch for some time before being stretchered off by paramedics.
But Swindon were left to head home empty handed from a game they will feel they could have claimed all three points from.
Crawley Town Line-up: 4-3-1-2
- Ellery Balcombe (GK) – 6. Joel Lynch, 4. George Francomb ©, 25. Nicholas Tsaroulla, 15. Ludwig Francillette, 28. Teddy Jenks (7. James Tilley 8mins), 8. Jack Powell, 39. Jake Hessenthaler, 19. Dominic Telford (24. Aramide Oteh 74mins), 20. James Balagizi (38. Tom Fellows 53mins), 10. Ashley Nadesan.
Subs not used: 41. David Robson (GK) – 44. Mazeed Ogungbo, 5. Tony Craig.
Scorers: Tsaroulla 79, Powell 83
Yellow Cards: 6. Lynch 44mins
Red Cards: None
Swindon Town Line-up: 4-3-3
1. Sol Brynn (GK) – 34. Ciaran Brennan, 4. Tom Clayton (6. Mathieu Baudry 68mins), 20. Frazer Blake-Tracy, 2. Remeao Hutton, 5. Louis Reed, 23. Saidou Khan (22. Marcel Lavinier 90+8mins), 7. Ben Gladwin © (10. Ronan Darcy 46mins), 3. Ellis Iandolo (33. Morgan Roberts 81mins), 24. Jacob Wakeling (9. Tomi Adeloye 68mins), 15. Luke Jephcott (28. Tyrese Shade 54mins).
Subs not used: 41. Jack Copland (GK).
Yellow Cards: 5. Reed 32mins
Red Cards: None
Referee: Martin Woods
Assistant Referees: Stephen Brown & Alex James
Fourth Official: Michael Chard
Attendance: 3,230 (920 Town fans)