All Bets Are Off

It’s the first game since the 0-0 draw against Gillingham two Tuesday nights ago. And lots has happened since then. Last Sunday saw the announcement that Lewis Young had parted company with the club. Which to me meant one thing; he wasn’t going to be made the permanent manager of the side, and so finally he’d had enough of being messed about and was off, hopefully to find somewhere he would be appreciated.

An hour later came the announcement that Matthew Etherington was to be the new manager. He was the under-23 coach for Peterborough and had briefly been the interim manager there last February. The announcement included the words data driven, which went down like a bag of sick with the fans on the forums. There were mini meltdowns as it has all the hallmarks of a Kevin Betsy Mk II. Only this time with a Tottenham background instead of Arsenal.

In fact, I can remember seeing Matthew Etherington and his assistant Simon Davies playing for Tottenham back in the early noughties. Back in the days when I was a Tottenham fan before the whole Mourinho and European Super League debacle.

Some wags have said Matthew Etherington’s appointment is somewhat of a gamble, in a less than subtle dig about his well-documented gambling issues and the £1m plus that he blew. Though somehow, I’m drawn to wondering what the odds are on him lasting the season.

There was no game last weekend as we’d been knocked out of the FA Cup by Accrington. So, it’s back to league action today and next up this week are Swindon Town. I have it in mind that it is imperative to get to the ground early, as this was one of two fixtures last season where all the programmes were sold out by the time I got to the ground and I’ve still not been able to get a copy of. (The other was the Sutton game.)

Swindon Town sit just inside the playoff places in seventh place, twelve places and thirteen points above us in the league. Even with a win we can’t climb the table, but all points are good points, and it would be great to get off to a winning start under the new manager. Plus, we’ve done quite well against clubs in the playoff places so far this season.

By the time we kick off over half the games in the division will be over, three moved to Friday night, three had 12:30 kick offs, and one had a 13:00 kick off as clubs have moved games to avoid potential World Cup clashes, as if England had finished runners-up in their group they would have been playing at the same time as we were today.

It’s a cold day, so plenty of layers, and we amble down and get there in plenty of time, possibly the earliest Helen has been in her seat before a match. So early in fact, that Helen is possibly developing a Herbert Lom style twitch as it isn’t the last possible moment.

I got a programme. There is the usual sloppy blatant error included. This time there is a double page spread of photos, and down the right-hand side of the pages it says Barrow Vs Crawley Gallery. Only for all the pictures to obviously be of training this week, as they include the new manager, and assistant, and not an opponent in sight. It’s just sloppy.

There were three coaches parked up for the away fans, and the away end is looking full well before kick-off, and the Swindon Town fans are making lots of noise. They are playing in a green and white kit, diagonal checks on the front, green back, arms and socks, and white shorts, looking like some kind of Ireland youth side. They usually play in red as we do, but it took their fans about quarter of an hour to stop chanting come on you reds.

There is no Harry Ransom in the squad for us today, which means he won’t be playing against the side he’s captained for most of the two previous seasons.

We saw Al as we walked round for the match, he was chatting away to another steward in the car park. He’s on duty on our West Stand today, where there seems to be a dearth of Stewards. The club put out a statement that they were short staffed everywhere today, and they weren’t joking. The programme has adverts for all types of game day staff.

Five minutes in and we are having to make an injury substitution. Teddy Jenks pulls something with no one near him, and James Tilley comes on in his place. All in all, it is a jittery start from Crawley. But we get a shot away in the ninth minute. If we were playing rugby, it would have been worth three points as Jack Powell belts it out over the bar and over the KRL Logistics away terrace.

On twenty-one minutes we have the ball in the net. There is a scramble from a corner and the ball is poked in, but the celebrations are short lived as the linesman has his flag up for offside.

Just after the half hour mark ball two disappears, this time over the Eden Utilities home terrace, again from a wayward shot, this time by a Swindon Town player. There aren’t a great deal of chances for either side and the first half slips away in a midfield mire, and after three minutes of injury time the half time whistle goes with the score at 0-0.

From somewhere the half time playlist has found a new song, but I’m not convinced that McFly is a great addition to the playlist. And for a change both sides come out together after the half time interval.

There are a few more chances in the second half, and Crawley seem to be a lot less jittery. We make another early in the half substitution. James Balagizi goes off after a decent fifty or so minutes in his first game back after injury. Nineteen minutes into the second half and ball three of the afternoon disappears out over the KRL Logistics away terrace, with another wayward Swindon Town shot.

In the thirty-fourth minute of the half a free kick into the box is headed out as far as Nick Tsaroulla a few yards outside the penalty area, and he fires in a shot, which takes a wicked deflection, wrong footing the Swindon keeper and it is 1-0 to Crawley.

Less than five minutes later and Oteh is chasing a poor Swindon back pass. The Swindon keeper rushes out of the area and slides in to get the ball first, it goes to Jack Powell, who hits it towards the open goal from forty yards out. For once he doesn’t hit the first man and it goes in and we lead 2-0.

Swindon hit the post with a speculative shot, and then not long before the end of full time they hit the post for a second time. Just not with the ball this time, one of their players smacks into the post headfirst and bounces off and goes down. There is a lengthy stoppage for treatment as stretchers are called for. During the stoppage it is shown there will be nine minutes of injury time, but it ends up being nineteen minutes as it was another ten minutes before the player was wheeled from the pitch.

The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as being Nick Tsaroulla (not even a forty-yard goal is going to swing it for Jack Powell). The attendance is announced as being 3,230, with 920 away fans.

Eighteen minutes into injury time and ball four is hoofed away over the west stand by Ashley Nadesan. A minute later the final whistle goes, and Crawley win 2-0. And here comes the Black Eyed Peas.

There is no position climb for Crawley, but we now have three teams above us within a win of us, and we play bottom of the league Hartlepool next. Swindon dropped two places and out of the play off places. Their sixty-one percent possession not converting into shots on target, as they had none (even if they did hit the post twice – but only once with the ball).

Come on you reds.

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