Not Boxing Clever

It’s a lovely bright and sunny Boxing Day afternoon and football is back to bring some normality to the Christmas lunacy. Apart from having an afternoon kick off on a Monday obviously. It’s been seventeen days since Crawley’s last game, the freezing Friday night horror show against then bottom of the league Hartlepool, which we lost two nil, and lost two players to eight-week injuries.

Last weekend’s game away at Tranmere Rovers was called off due to a frozen pitch, as were the majority of games in League two, so although we don’t have Ashley Nadesan and Joel Lynch back, the rest of the team should be appropriately rested. During the time off it was announced that what should have been the first game of the new year, home to Grimsby had been postponed due to the fact that the black and white mariners show had made the third round of the FA Cup. The annoying thing is the game is now on a Tuesday night when we are away in America, meaning we now miss two home games instead of just the one, added to the fact that the period away also encompasses two easy to get to away games at Wimbledon and Gillingham.

We are playing Sutton United today, so out closest neighbours in league two terms at only seventeen miles away. They are in their second season in the league, and the home game against them last season saw our biggest home league attendance of the season and was the second of two games I didn’t manage to get a programme for. I was tempted to get to the ground extra early and be queuing for a programme at 4am like a typical Boxing Day sale, but Helen said that was a bit over the top. So, five past… two I was there having wandered down early leaving Helen and Nathan to catch up later, I got a programme and had plenty of time to proofread it. The results and fixtures pages are still an utter shambles, apparently there were no Crawley scorers in the Barrow, Walsall, or Swindon games. But the rest was OK apart from the truly dreadful double page spread of Guess The Santa.

Anyway, back to the match today. Sutton sit sixteenth in the league, three places and five points above us in the league (but we do have a game in hand on them), and they have the same form guide over the last five games as we do; two wins, two losses, and a draw. Our home game against them last season saw them beat us 1-0, which was better than our away 3-0 loss to them. So, any points today against them will be a vast improvement on last season. Although it was difficult playing against a team that appeared to be made of six foot plus tall brick shithouse cyborgs. Hopefully there will be less HGH on display today,

I didn’t see Al before the game being early, but Helen did on the way in, and he started on patrol along the East stand today, before moving over to the home terrace for most of the game.

It was No Home Kit day across the EFL to raise money and awareness for homeless charities, and so, Sutton were wearing their all green third kit, and Crawley were wearing their all white third kit, which being all white with three Adidas black stripes along the shoulders they looked like a Real Madrid throwback kit. Shame they played like Real Plonkers.

Part of the away terrace was covered up with canvas, but not sure whether that was because Sutton didn’t sell that many tickets, or whether Sutton didn’t sell so many tickets this time because the part of the away terrace was covered up and so a reduced amount of tickets were on sale (which would seem a stupid thing to do from an income point of view). The sun was low, so it was really a cap I needed and not sunglasses.

It didn’t take long for the home crowd to get on at Rob Milsom, with the cries of Crawley reject, a perennial figure of fun. Well, the crowd needed something to keep themselves entertained as there was very little going on on the pitch. Until the 34th minute when a wayward Sutton shot went out over the Eden Utilities stand for ball loss number one. And then it was half time after a couple of minutes added time.

Half time was the usual shit show of the same tunes, but it was a good time to add the hat and gloves required now the sun was below the level of the stand.

The half time break didn’t appear to do anyone any good, and five minutes in we were treated to the worst corner I’ve seen Crawley take. Nick Tsaroulla sliced it out towards the halfway line instead of into the box, Jack Powell just about stopped it going out for a throw in at the halfway line and passed it back to Ellery Balcombe in goal, only for him to slice it out for a throw in at the halfway line. It was one of many balls he kicked straight out for throw ins in the second half.

Fifteen minutes into the second half and Sutton got a corner, it bounced around without a proper attempt at a clearance and an overhead shot came back in, forcing a save from Balcombe, but it dropped to a Sutton striker who poked it in for them to lead 0-1.

Crawley made two subs before kicking off, though they had been lined up well before the corner. Perhaps putting them on before the corner might have been a better idea than after the goal.

Ten minutes later a very high ball into the box was allowed to bounce, and bounce again after another hoof, and no one even made an attempt to deal with the bouncing ball. Fuck knows what Balcombe was doing apart from just watching it in the air without a thought to catching it or punching it despite it being two yards in front of goal. Instead, Tony Craig collided with a Sutton player who went down like an extra from Platoon and a penalty was awarded along with a yellow card for Craig. And Rob Milsom of all the pains in the arses in the world scored the penalty to make it 0-2.

And as with the first goal we responded with another substitute. Half an hour into the second half and ball two disappeared out over our east stand from yet another woefully miscued clearance from Balcombe.

One of the subs to come on was James Balagizi, but he still looks as if he isn’t fully fit and appeared to be limping around rather than walking or running and was misplacing passes all over the place. Almost as if Jack Powell were rubbing off on him, as he does it so often, I have to wonder if he’s colour blind.

The crowd was announced as 2,926, with 464 away fans, a dip of 600 from the corresponding fixture last year, and the sponsor’s man of the match was named as Ludwig Francillette, as I suppose they have to give it to someone.

There were five minutes of added time (very lenient given how much fannying about the Sutton players were doing, and four minutes into it Crawley play the ball into the box and Aramide Oteh puts it in the net to make it 1-2. They raced the ball back to the halfway line for the kick off, but it wasn’t quick enough to get the ball back and make an attack, and the final whistle went with the final score 1-2, which led to the inevitable sounds of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry”.

After the result Crawley dropped a place to twentieth in the table, whilst Sutton went up a place to fifteenth.

And next up is an away trip to our twin town Stevenage, which will be our second away game of the season.

Come on you reds.

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