It’s the final game of the four home games in eleven days, and this time it’s Bristol Rovers, a game postponed from December 29th due to Covid. When the game was originally due to take place, we were one place and one point behind them, with a game in hand. They lost their next game, and we leapfrogged them in the table. Ten weeks later, and they come into tonight’s game six points and four places above us, with a defeat on Saturday being their first loss since New Year’s Day. It’s all about timing.
We had bought extra tickets for Ciaran and Nathan the night before, and I was dropped off on the way home from work to collect the tickets. I also took the opportunity to get a programme, as I knew it was going to be tight for getting back to the game on time. The programme was a bit surprising, it was the one originally made for the postponed game. The date was the same, the reports in it were from games in December, the table was from December, and the squad hadn’t been updated with January moves. I did feel a bit seen off.
Anyway, Bristol Rovers, known as The Gas, but for some reason I seem to remember them being referred to as The Pirates as well. An eye patch is probably a pre-requisite for their players when their manager is around. Joey Barton being well known for having stubbed a cigar out in a team mate’s eye whilst at a Christmas party back in his Manchester City days. (Perhaps that was the reason for the December postponement – they didn’t have enough players who could see at the time).
We weren’t quite as late to the game as we had been last Tuesday, we heard the whistle for kick off, but it takes two minutes to get all the way around the ground to where our turnstile is. We get in as there is a decent chance and a shot just over the bar from the captain. And there is another chance a couple of minutes later. A promising start.
There are a lot of away fans, and as we were walking around the stadium, we could hear them chanting, “we want to go home, we want to go home, Crawley’s a shit hole, we want to go home.” Well, feel free to fuck off any time you want.
A blocked shot during a sustained period of pressure from Bristol Rovers spins out over the Ryan Cantor Club stand for ball loss number one of the day. And we get a breakaway, and Nadesan is through one on one with the keeper only to hit it straight at him, the ball to bounce back and hit Nadesan in the face and go out for a goal kick.
The next time we attack a few minutes later it finishes in a dreadful wayward shot that soars out over the KRL Logistics stand. When (or if) it landed it may well have joined the big red and white concrete football on the roundabout.
There was an injury to a Crawley player in our own penalty area, but even when escorted off the play didn’t restart, and all the players were milling about before the announcement came that there was a delay due to the ref being replaced as he’d injured himself. Cue the biggest cheer of the night from all sides of the ground. The substitution that took place for us saw the return from a long period of injury of Jake Hessenthaler.
In the 39th minute ball number three sailed over the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand from a miscued (and a half) clearance. And then came the breakthrough. The defence went to sleep expecting an offside call, but the ball was picked up by a player coming from deeper and they ambled into the box and shot past Morris to make it 1-0 to Rovers.
There were eight minutes of injury time indicated at the end of the first half, but more were played, and with it came some of the best Crawley pressure since the early chances at the beginning of the half. For most of the time in between, Rovers had shown why they were on such a good run, and making us look a bit bad.
There was another trip to Redz bar at half time, anything to avoid the imbecilic same playlist coming out of the tinny speakers. And Crawley make another substitution at half time, and it is another return after a long time out with injury, this time it’s Kwesi Appiah, which did add another song to the chanting repertoire for the second half.
We are much more in the game in the second half and it’s a really good game. Twenty minutes into it there’s a poor pass on the edge of the Rovers’ area and they break and score to make it 2-0.
But less than five minutes later we have one back. A corner comes in and bounces around before being poked home by (according to the bloke on the tannoy) Jake Hessenthaler, but what looked to be suspiciously like an own goal from where we were sat.
I said there looked to be a lot of away fans, and this was confirmed by the crowd announcements, there was a crowd of 2,223, with 556 of them being away fans. No wonder they were able to make so much noise. At least Al wasn’t on away fan patrol all game tonight.
A couple of games ago, Morris got a booking for time wasting, but we’ve seen some dreadful time wasting from away teams, especially keepers, and there is no hint of a booking. Rovers’ keeper was just taking the piss for the whole of the second half.
With five minutes to go, ball four finds its way out over the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand after a clearance from a corner. We get a free kick a few yards outside the penalty area and Powell hits the bar with his only good delivery of the night. Despite all the time wasting, numerous injuries and substitutions there are only three minutes of injury time. But what were we left to expect from the ref who blatantly body checked a Crawley player two yards away from being able to make a tackle, and then when the ball hit him, didn’t restart with the required drop ball, but instead passed to a Rovers’ player and waved play on?
Perhaps we should stop laying on the spread of food for the officials before the match and tell them to fuck off and buy their own down the Barton.
The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as Will Ferry. And then the twat in charge of music played “Boys Don’t Cry” again. Perhaps we ought to chip in a few quid for him to buy some new tunes.
We have an away game this weekend, and then we are going to miss the following weekend’s home game against Swindon Town as we will be in Budapest, so the next game will be against Rochdale at the end of the month.