Crawley Town 0-0 Swindon Town: Resilient Robins earn a point

A resilient and dogged Swindon Town side fought out a hard earned 0-0 draw against Crawley despite being reduced to ten men late on after Nathan Byrne’s dismissal, reports Andrew Steele-Davis.

Both teams headed into the Tuesday night encounter with a patchy formbook. The hosts were on a six game streak without a win with four of those games ending in defeat. Their last home win stretched back to October 19th where they defeated Bradford whilst Town on the other hand entered the game on the back of a 1-3 home defeat at the hands of Leyton Orient at the weekend and had won three but also lost three of their previous six games.

Swindon boss Mark Cooper reverted back to the 4-6-0 formation that worked wonders during the previous away outing at Colchester United with Nathan Byrne returning from illness which kept him out of the defeat to Leyton Orient to replace the suspended Jay McEveley. Louis Thompson also came into the starting eleven with Alex Pritchard dropping to the bench; whilst there was a surprise inclusion amongst the subs for Ryan Mason who had made a quicker than expected return from injury.

Crawley had the game’s first opening on goal with just four minutes played after a poor attempted clearance from Wes Foderingham fell to Nicky Adams who could only send the ball straight back into the relieved Keeper’s arms from 30 yards.

The opening fifteen minutes or so were short on any kind of quality or excitement. Swindon seemed quite content to put 11 men behind the ball and soak up any Crawley pressure whilst getting ready to catch their hosts on the break.

However, it was to be Crawley who were to have the game’s next slice of meaningful action, as Foderingham again put himself at risk of going red in the face with embarrassment with just under twenty minutes played. Kyle McFadzean pumped a long ball forward, which Foderingham completely missed as he surged out of his goal, but fortunately for Wes and Swindon no Crawley players were on hand to tap home Dannie Bulman’s cut back across the goal and the danger had passed.

Town created a rare chance on 26 minutes and thought they had nipped in front when the in-form Nicky Ajose prodded home from Massimo Luongo’s cross but Ajose was accused of handling the ball in the build-up and referee Andy D’Urso called play back.

With the game threatening to burst into life Josh Simpson tried his luck for the home side with a rasping long range effort, which Foderingham tipped wide. That was to be the last meaningful action of a very dull first 45 minutes of football as both sides went in at the break goalless.

The second half did improve marginally however as Simpson again attempted to test Foderingham from distance but this time he lashed his vicious effort just wide of the left-hand post with 50 minutes played.

Town became more adventurous in the second half with Alex Pritchard and Ryan Mason both brought on with Dany N’Guessan and Ryan Harley making way but before that Ajose came so close to edging the visitors in front. With 20 minutes remaining Yaser Kasim sent a ball over the top of the Crawley defence which Ajose latched onto and then attempted to lob Jones but watched on in agony and despair as his unlucky effort drifted just wide.

The visitors looked the better team going into the last ten minutes and it was that man Ajose again who nearly snatched victory for Swindon with 84 minutes. His initial header had come back to him but he could only prod against the post with the rebound.

With Swindon gathering steam and looking a good bet to go on and steal all three points Mark Cooper’s side were handed a blow which proved decisive. Nathan Byrne was dismissed for a second bookable offence with just four minutes left after clattering Gary Alexander. The sending-off was harsh but it was enough to curtail Town’s ever increasing dominance on the game and in the end both sides had to settle for a point.

Cooper will be frustrated with his side’s failure to capitalise on some very good chances but will be relieved after seeing his side claim their first clean sheet in seven games. Swindon fans haven’t had the pleasure of many 0-0 draws recently with last night’s being the first in a staggering 34 games.

Swindon can now look forward to the visit of Carlisle United to The County Ground on Saturday with the manic Festive Period just around the corner, albeit after a two week break following our exit from the FA Cup…

Enjoy what few highlights there are…

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