More Cobblers

The fixtures fall thick and fast this early in the season. Hot on the heels of our first trip to a Crawley away game is a Tuesday night home fixture against Northampton Town. We start the game having not scored a league goal yet, but we got a point at the weekend to drag ourselves off the foot of the table, up to the dizzying heights of 21st.

Northampton Town won at the weekend to make it two wins and a draw in their first three games. They sit on seven points and in fourth place, just outside the automatic promotion places on goal difference.

Our home fixture against them last season was also our fourth game of the season and that finished 0-0. We beat them in the away fixture back in January 1-0 with a goal from Tim Nichols.

A goal and a win tonight would be good, and a welcome kick start to our season.

After thunder lightning and rain during the day it is another lovely evening in Crawley as we wander down to the ground. It is our second trip to the stadium today as we headed over at lunchtime to buy tickets for next Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Fulham.

I get a programme and check; they have altered the format of the league table, so we actually appear in it. Always a bonus. We are also better prepared for the late evening low sun, and we can actually see without squinting and makeshift shades from the sun. Not that it is an issue for very long.

Al is there and he’s working the terraces of the Eden Utilities stand again tonight, but the last time he was stewarding we won a game. That was this time last week against Bristol Rovers in the Carabao Cup. Hopefully more of the same please.

Northampton Town are in white shirts with maroon sleeves and shorts, the inverse of their usual home kit, and not the baby pink number that half their fans appear to be wearing.

There are a few changes to the line compared to Saturday, although a couple of them are enforced due to injuries picked up. There is good energy from the crowd straight from the kick off, and some positive play. And in the fourth minute decent work from James Tilley sees the ball go through to Tom Nichols who plays a delightful ball through to Ashley Nadesan on the right-hand side of the area, and he crosses it for James Balagizi to prod home from four yards out. Crawley’s first league goal of the season, and we lead 1-0.

Within five minutes of that we nearly gift them the equaliser, pressured as we do the now familiar fannying about at the back, Tilley plays it to a Northampton player on the edge of the area, who thankfully couldn’t shoot straight and hits it over. But the respite didn’t last long. A throw comes in on the edge of the box, it gets nodded across and from just outside the left-hand side of the D, Northampton’s number seven takes a shot which goes through a sea of bodies and into the bottom corner. 1-1.

Over the next ten minutes Northampton have more of the ball, and in the twenty-fourth minute they get a somewhat dubious free kick on the right-hand edge of the area, and their number seven steps up and just strokes it into the near bottom corner. 1-2. And neither of their goals seem to have come with any real effort. It is somewhat frustrating. The rest of the half goes by with Northampton more on top, and after three minutes or so of injury time the ref blows for half time.

And it is déjà vu all over again at half time, the same playlist is juggled around, and the opposition are out for the second half a good couple of minutes before Crawley appear, the usual shenanigans then. Looking out to either end of the ground is strange to the north over the KRL Logistics stand it is a clear bright night with no cloud. To the south over the Eden Utilities stand it looks like there are a couple of hundred mothers of people called Bill, it looks black as pitch and as if it is raining.

The second half begins with a flurry of disappearing balls. After none in the first half, two minutes in, Northampton’s number seven’s shooting boots fail him, and he flays one over the KRL Logistics stand. We go up the other end from the restart and one of their defenders hoofs it over our East stand. Not content with that, a couple of minutes later and ball three disappears out over the main West Stand.

Thirteen minutes in to the second half and Ashley Nadesan is put through on the keeper, he steadies himself and then shoots straight at the keeper. But he claims some redemption a couple of minutes later when he is played in from out own half, he turns one of the Northampton defenders so inside out that he picks up and injury and is subbed off a few minutes later, and plays the ball across to Balagizi, who takes a touch and then finds the back of the net to make it 2-2.

As the half goes on, Crawley are getting to be more on top, and in a couple of minutes at the midpoint of the half Northampton manage to whack ball four out over the West stand, and then hack a shot out over the KRL Logistics stand.

On the half hour mark of the second half, another lovely through ball is put through to Nadesan for another one on one with the keeper, and he produces an even lamer effort than the one earlier and it looks like a pass back to the keeper more than a shot. He lies in the area pretending to be injured after that and is soon subbed off.

Crawley have been cranking up the pressure as the half went on and are looking for the winning goal when the board is put up to say five minutes of injury time. So, of course a minute later there is a rare attack from Northampton and their number nineteen shoots and scores to a very loud chorus of groans, and it is 2-3.

Northampton ramp up the time wasting, Smacking another ball out over the East stand, lying around pretending to be injured; all kinds of shithousery from their number ten for which he picks up a booking about twenty minutes after he should have done. And after a couple of non-awards of free kicks, the referee blows for full time without any additional time added to the injury time already indicated, despite the goal celebration and refusal to give the ball back, the substitution, the ‘injury’ to a Northampton player and the blatant timewasting.

We haven’t been particularly good in league games so far this season, but we were much better today, and overall were the better side in this game, so it makes the loss even tougher to stomach.

The crowd was announced as 2,471 with there being 355 away fans, so over 2,000 home fans again, going in the right direction. The sponsors man of the match was no surprise, two goal hero James Balagizi, the obvious and deserved decision.

The referee wasn’t as dreadful as the clown on Saturday at Harrogate (who got a seven out of ten rating by the Football League paper – which I assume was a point for each finger on the right hand of the match reporter), but there are still too many dubious decisions going against Crawley. Seriously, whoever is doing it, stop defecating on their pre match meal.

And yes, we were lots better today, but for the love of Bod, if Jack Powell keeps hitting the first man, or drifting it over everyone on the pitch, then take him off free kick and corners duty.

The loss sees us drop a place to twenty-second, and the win saw Northampton go up a place to third. Time to regroup, we have AFC Wimbledon at home on Saturday. Let’s get some points there, no thinking about Fulham next week until that one is done.

Come on you reds.

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