On to home game two of four in eleven days. This time against Oldham Athletic on the first of the month and Pancake Day. The post pancake clean up took longer than planned and so we were later leaving, and the steady rain seems to make us walk slower. By the time we arrive through the turnstiles, the guy is getting ready to close them, and we’re into the eighth minute of the game, the latest I’ve got there all season.
There was no need to try and pick up a programme, as the one from Saturday covered both that and tonight’s game. We see Al who is stewarding tonight with no Brighton game to worry about, and unsurprisingly he has a few words to say about our tardiness. But at least we are there, most of our row is empty, and the row in front of us is completely empty. We missed the pre-game warm up this evening, but I can safely say I doubt the sprinklers were needed today.
On out walk around the outside of 80% of the ground we heard a big cheer, that became muted quickly. Initially I thought it might have been a goal, but the scoreboard said 0-0. It wasn’t until looking at the match report after the game that we found out we had had a goal disallowed for offside.
We were originally due to be playing Oldham at home back on the 18th December, a game we would have missed totally if it hadn’t been postponed due to Covid protocols. We were up in London getting ready for the Madness and Squeeze gig at the O2. At that point Oldham were adrift at the bottom of the table and looking odds on favourites for the drop. However, they start tonight’s match out of the drop zone and are one of the form teams in the division. We start thirteenth after out good win against Forest Green Rovers at the weekend.
I can remember Oldham being one of the founders of the Premier League; and I’ve been to Boundary Park a couple of time. Just never to watch a game, only to go in the social club there, as a friend I worked with elsewhere had a part time job in the bar there.
It was a quite entertaining first half. Despite the weather conditions there was some slick passing and good movement, but the final ball or shot is letting Crawley down time after time. We have a lot of the ball, but need to be quicker at getting that ball through.
They may have re-jigged the running order, but the songs in the half time play list never change. Meanwhile, the longer the season goes on, the more it seems that whoever (or whatever) tells the teams it’s time to come out for the second half must tell the away team a couple of minutes before telling Crawley.
Again, Crawley start the second half brightly, with lots of pressure, but eleven minutes in there is a breakaway, and a ball through to Oldham’s centre forward who looks at least three yards offside is taken on and he curls it into the top corner for a lead for Oldham.
With the non call of the offside, the linesman got an increase in grief from the crowd. They’d been giving him grief for all sorts in the first half. It was only finding out about the marginal offside call he did give early in the game that made me understand why he was being targeted. When he eventually raised an offside flag against Oldham with only a few minutes left it got nearly as big a cheer as the goals.
After Oldham had taken their time celebrating the lead, we kicked off and pretty much just ambled down and scored an equaliser with Ashley Nadesan scoring to make it 1-1.
Three minutes late he did it again. He broke away (and didn’t get called for offside) onto a lovely through ball from Tom Nichols and slotted it away nicely and just like that we were leading 2-1.
Some more pressure followed and again a better final ball or shot was all that was keeping us from extending that lead. Only for another half breakaway to be cleared and their number 28 to score with a shot from outside the box that bounced in off the post to make it 2-2.
Helen had commented on how fair the ref was being, which was probably the kiss of death, as he turned into some kind of Crawley hating psychopath for the last twenty minutes of the game. Tom Nichols was booked for winning the ball, a follow on from two such bookings in the game on Saturday. Half a dozen blatant fouls on Crawley players around the Oldham box were waved away, whereas Oldham were now getting free kicks if someone sneezed in their direction.
Four minutes of injury time were brought up, but it wouldn’t have mattered if we’d have got the ball in the net, the ref would have disallowed it, he’d obviously decided that Crawley weren’t going to win tonight. He did have time to book our manager twice and send him to the stands (for the second time in three games). If he was complaining about the decisions being made, then he’d have been sent off for telling the truth.
The sponsors’ man of the match was announced as Ashley Nadesan, which was something even the RNIB could have predicted. The final whistle went as we were attacking the Oldham area, and it finished 2-2. The crowd was announced as 1,927 with 248 away fans, both of which were higher than they looked to be, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been announced as around 1,500.
The point took us back into the top half of the table, and with other results it saw Oldham drop back into the relegation zone. Four days until the next one.