Games Are Longer Than Eighty Minutes

It’s the penultimate home game of the season. Walsall. Just don’t call the Brummies. Since the las home game, we’ve only had the one game, away on Good Friday to Newport County, where we managed a 2-1 victory, which consolidated our twelfth place in the league, still eight points behind eleventh, but now four points above Hartlepool in thirteenth. And with a game in hand. It also managed to knock Newport out of the play off places. If we can’t make the playoffs ourselves, then wrecking other teams’ chances in the run in seems a perfectly acceptable alternative.

Today’s opponents sit three places and seven points behind us in the table. And we come into the game with the third best form in the division, after the teams in second and third in the table (Exeter City and Port Vale). Let’s hope we can continue that.

As for most of the Easter weekend, it looks sunny out there, and I’ve been and searched (successfully) for my prescription sunglasses for the game, something I could have done with for a few of the previous games.

It does seem strange to be playing on a Monday afternoon, but there is no rushed feeling on a Bank Holiday, and we amble to the ground with plenty of time to get there. There weren’t very many cars parked along Wakehurst Drive as we walk to the ground and precious few people walking in our ground. There were lots of parking spots available, usually unheard on match days.

We see Al before we even get to the programmes, but he did sound as happy as Larry.

There was soe seating confusion around us. A family of five arrived and plonked themselves down next to us. Only for another bloke to turn up and have a ticket for one of the seats they were sat in. Turns out the family of five should have been in row E, not F. Only when they moved forward a row, they still weren’t right as one of the five seats belonged to a season ticket holder. But they shuffled across one. Personally, I’m not sure they had the right stand.

Walsall were playing in an all-green kit, and they started well and had the ball in the net within the first four minutes. A deflected shot fell to a Walsall player who turned it in. it looked offside and there was a nervous ten seconds before the linesman put his flag up.

And breathe.

Halfway through the first half and there is a disappearing ball, out over the corner of the KRL Logistics stand after Nadesan kicked a ball away after being called for a foul. After a few warnings to players from both sides about ‘stealing’ yards at throw-ins, the referee decides he’s had enough and penalises Walsall by giving a throw the other way after another yard stealing attempt.

Ten minutes later there is a strong penalty shout, as Sam Matthews appears to be wrestled to the ground with an arm around his neck, but the referee waves play on.

The half time whistle goes. There has been some decent play, but it’s the final ball in again. Case in point is a corner in the final minute of the half, we send everyone up for it, and then take it short, fanny about with it before putting in a belated cross which is easily cleared.

We have new owners, hopefully the DJ will be one of those to go in the inevitable shake up. And if not, then at least buy him some new tunes.

Just before a quarter of an hour into the second half a Walsall corner doesn’t get cleared and a Walsall player slides in to shoot, and the shot hits the post and then it bounces into the grateful arms of Glenn Morris.

Halfway through the half ball two disappears after a huge hoof from the Walsall keeper flies over the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand. The ball is only just back in play when there is some great work down the left from Joel Lynch, Mark Marshall has a shot blocked and Isaac Hutchinson rifles in from outside the area to give Crawley the lead.

With a few minutes left Morris launches a ball over the People’s Pension Stand, in what seems a deliberate time-wasting ploy. Whilst the ball is out, the sponsor’s man of the match is named as Will Ferry, and the crowd was announced as 2,258 with 264 away fans, and so we just missed out on two thousand home fans.

There was lots of late Walsall pressure, nothing new for late in Crawley games. And with a minute left of normal time Walsall hit the crossbar after another poorly defended corner.

The board goes up for four minutes of injury time, and with it up pop Murray and Murray Goldberg in front of us to head for the car park to beat the rush.

The final whistle goes and puts us out of the tense misery of defend, defend, defend.

We stay twelfth, as we knew we would, but are now five points behind eleventh (Swindon Town) and also five points ahead of thirteenth (Leyton Orient – who we play in our final home game). Before then we have two away games, both against playoff chasing teams, with Mansfield Town on Saturday and Sutton United next Tuesday. Let’s see if we can throw some more spanners in the works in those two games.

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