Home Disadvantage

If it only seems like a week since I last wrote about Crawley Town, then that would be because it is. Back again hoping there will be no repeat of throwing the win away in the last minutes to draw with a side below us in the league at home this time.

There was a midweek game away to Harrogate Town to add into the mix, a team we were level on points with, but three places behind in the league due to goal difference. A good second half saw us take and keep a 3-1 lead with no injury time giveaways. The win saw us leapfrog our opponents and so coming into today’s game we are back in the top half of the table in twelfth.

Our opponents today are Hartlepool, who we played and lost to 1-0 away on the first day of the season. As it stands, we sit three places and six points above Hartlepool in the league, though they have a game in hand on us.

Here’s hoping that gap extends, and we give Jeff Stelling something to moan about on Soccer Saturday.

It’s an early wander down to the ground for me, and I remembered my glasses, got a programme, and had a chat with Al, who’s recovered from Covid and is back Stewarding this week, and then goat seated whilst the players were still warming up. It’s a lovely sunny afternoon and it feels as if I’ve overdone the layers to start with. I got there before they turned the sprinklers on. Another new earliest arrival.

Hartlepool are playing in their traditional blue and white vertical stripes and not some ridiculous dayglo away kit for the monkey hangers. Crawley start like a house on fire, a first minute corner sees a header come back off the crossbar and get cleared. Less than two minutes later we get a free kick about thirty yards out which is tapped to Jack Powell who thunders a shot in which comes back out off the angle of the cross bar and post.

Ball one disappears out a couple of minutes later as the Hartlepool keeper slices a clearance out over the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand under pressure. Another Crawley corner sees a Hartlepool breakaway and Morris backpedals from the middle of our half and saves down low, and then gets lucky as the rebound comes back to him off the knee of one of our defenders. A foot either side could easily have been an own goal. And on ten minutes we lose another ball, this time from a clearance from Glenn Morris over our People’s Pension Stadium.

A couple of minutes later we see physios on the pitch as Payne is injured from a challenge which sees a Hartlepool player booked. Just after halfway through the first half Will Ferry is substituted. Not sure whether it was that him injured himself with all the theatrical tumbles to the ground he was making, or whether he was hooked because he was playing like a chocolate teapot.

The physio was back on the pitch three minutes later after Ashley Nadesan went down after injuring himself crossing the ball. The Hartlepool fans showed what scumbags they are as they booed and taunted him as he was receiving treatment.

Then on thirty-nine minutes Hartlepool take the lead against the run of play after a free kick leads to a shot which is blocked, followed by a second blocked shot before the third attempt went in. The rest of the half is a bit ragged. There isn’t enough pressure on Hartlepool when they have the ball, allowing them to make easy passes, whereas there are far too many sideways and backwards passes from Crawley.

Three minutes into the second half and a clearance from a Hartlepool defender smacks James Tilley in the face and he collapses to the ground. The physio is called on quickly and then the paramedics are on, and finally the stretcher before he is taken off with a head brace on some nine minutes later, and we make our second substitution.

Halfway through normal time in the second half we make our third and what I thought was our final substitution. The Hartlepool keeper was doing more timewasting than a student doing an assignment. Even so, there’s no need to be throwing coins at him. A pound coin and ten pence piece apparently.

The crowd was announced as 2,228 with 278 away fans – away fans who spent the last part of the game leaning over and banging on the advertising hoarding in a concerted effort to wreck them. With more than ten minutes to go in normal time, plus injury time (lots of injury time) to come the sponsors’ man of the match was announced as Jack Powell. I will assume that either the sponsors are blind, drunk, or only watched the first three minutes when he hit the bar and then had a snooze for the rest of the game.

Then we made our fourth substitution, which confused the hell out of me. So, I had to look it up, only to find that the EFL had changed the substitutions rule for this season to allow up to five substitutions per game. If this is the case, then why the hell have we only been making three per game when we’ve been playing like spanners so many times this season. Make wholesale changes when we are struggling for crying out loud.

Eleven minutes are flashed up on the board for the amount of injury time to be played. Eleven minutes of much bluster, but no quality, and no real hint that we might be able to score. If I’m honest we might have struggled to score in one hundred and eleven minutes of injury time. And after the final whistle blew, John Yems managed to pick up a red card for something he said to the ref (who had been barracked by the Crawley fans to the sounds of ‘Who ate all the pies,’ and ‘you fat bastard’). And whichever halfwit plays the music at the stadium thought it would be a good idea to play The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” as we got up to leave. They aren’t funny.

As I mentioned at half time, there were far too many sideways and backwards passes from us during the game, as if we were some kind of demented colony of crabs. There needs to be more quick forward passes. On the ground, especially when we have short players.

We are away next week, which based on the way the season has been going is probably better for us seeing as we have been not much better than useless at home. Something which needs to change seeing as we have a run of four home games on the trot after next weekend.

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