A World Championship Bantamweight Clash

Ten days on from Crawley’s last home game, a battling draw on a Tuesday night against Grimsby Town had left us five points clear of the relegation zone and some sighs of relief. But last weekend didn’t go well. The Crawley defence were outstanding against Mansfield last Saturday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t defending they were outstanding at. I have to assume that collectively they are now the new undisputed world champions at musical statues.

It was a 4-1 thumping, and it could have been worse as Mansfield hit the woodwork twice in the latter stages of the game as the defence consolidated their world championship.

This coincided with Hartlepool coming back from being behind to win with two late goals against Swindon Town. Manager Scott Lindsey and captain Ben Gladwin’s old side doing us no favours at all, and probably had a moment where they thought, what are we doing, let this lot win and we can screw the deserters over good and proper.

All of this means that coming into today’s game against Bradford City we are now only two points ahead of Hartlepool and the relegation zone. Which means if things go badly today as well then come five o’clock we could be taking their place in the relegation zone.

And of course, it is the WAGMI derby. The incompetent American crypto clowns tried to take Bradford over before moving onto the next letter in the alphabet and swooping in on us. A lot of fans must be wishing they had connected with their original target.

Going into today’s game Bradford City sit sixth in the table on sixty-four points and in the play-off places and are unbeaten in their last six games. That is just the sixteen places above us and twenty-seven points ahead of us. The only solace I can draw before the game is that we have a decent record against sides in the playoff places at kick-off this season. Let’s hope that continues.

Our only other Friday game this season was the terrible Friday evening loss to Hartlepool at the back end of last year when they were bottom of the table. But this one will be played in daylight, and it looks to be bright sunshine out there as well.

I stroll down to the ground early enough to get myself a programme and to try and avoid any scrum and queues to get through the wholly inadequate two turnstiles into the east marquee.

It’s always difficult to tell what kind of crowd there will be for a Good Friday game, with it being school holidays there are people away, but at the same time, not a lot of people are working so it could attract casual support, especially with the sun shining.

There are two coaches for the away fans in the car park and decent numbers of away fans as they are spread out across the whole of the away end, and there look to be decent numbers all round the ground, which is always good.

The programme is not just pretty much error free, but after forty or so games they’ve finally sorted out the issues with the fixtures and results page.

Al is on duty in the east marquee, looking hot and bothered in lots of layers in the sun. He was trying to help ease the congestion on the turnstiles into the east marquee before the game, but not many people in the queue were paying much attention to him.

Bradford are wearing their away fit of black and white vertical striped shirts and white socks and shorts. And the officials have come dressed as yellow Stabilo Boss highlighter pens.

There is some nice early pressure from Crawley who settled in very well, and Ashley Nadesan just missed getting on the end of a ball put in from a corner. There are a flurry of early corners to us, and from one Atamide Oteh has a shot on target which is pushed out for a corner. Which we do nothing with.

It takes less than quarter of an hour to lose ball one over the top of the west stand from a Bradford clearance. But Bradford are getting a foothold in the game. There is a fairly long stoppage after a clash of heads with Harry Ransom needing glue and a headband to continue afterwards. Not long afterwards Bradford get a dubious looking free kick on the edge of the area, which fortunately leads to nothing.

Not long after Ransome goes into the book for a nothing challenge in midfield, and from the resulting free kick the Bradford number nine is allowed time and space to waltz through on goal, but Corey Addai makes a great save.

We lose the second ball of the game, but not over one of the stands for a change. A blocked shot on the edge of our area sees the ball go over the goal but not bounce much after it as it is deflating. With less than five minutes of normal time in the half there is a scuffle in midfield after a foul and yellow cards are given to both sides. Then there is a booking for a Bradford player straight from the restart for that. It is all getting a bit feisty. At this stage it looks like you’d get good odds on this finishing with eleven on the pitch for both sides.

Seven minutes of added time are shown but there are more goings on in that, so we end up playing just under ten, a very long half of football. Well, some football anyway.

And in the added time there is an off the ball incident and Kellen Gordon is down prostate on the pitch. We didn’t see hat happened, and none of the officials saw what happened. There is a lot of this with Gordon. Without having seen exactly what happened it is difficult to say, but there does seem to be a somewhat theatrical side to his game and judging by the lack of action from the officials a few times since he signed, he may well have a bit of a reputation with them.

There was a chance as well in that added time and fraughtness, Oteh puts a decent cross in, but Nadesan can’t get the right touch on the end of it.

Half time. You know by now what goes on. Playlist and late back.

Four minutes in to the second half, and no it isn’t a goal conceded, we seem to have got past that part of the season, instead it is the second ball to clear the west stand, from another Bradford clearance.

Bradford have started the second half better and there are a couple of chances for their number nine. He puts then both well wide, but it is worrying as he is getting a lot of space in the penalty area. I suppose it is a good job he couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.

In a reversal of fortunes, we get a free kick near the edge of the penalty area and Jack Powell takes a strange curling run up to it and hits it low into the shins of the wall at low pace. Not his best effort. And we get a breakaway a couple of minutes later, a great ball is played across by Mazeeb, but it just kind of bounces off Oteh and out for a goal kick.

We are making subs, and off goes Dom Telford, which means that we have the scourge of the River Mole, Captain Jack Powell again. And straight after that we try to gift the ball through to the Bradford strikers in the box twice, but Addai collects the ball and we all breathe again.

Straight back up the other end and Nadesan just beats the defender and keeper to a bad back pass by just manages to flick it onto the keeper’s shin and it falls to a Bradford player. We get a couple of corners back to back not long after, which come to nothing again. Then a free kick wide on the right hand side goes over to the left of the area and a Nadesan shot is tipped over for another corner which Ransome heads high and wide.

The crowd is announced as 3,664 with 809 away fans, a bit disappointing as there looked to be more Crawley fans there than that.

Another round of subs and Captain Jack’s reign of terror is short lived as he is hooked off. Just before the end of normal time Tom Fellows puts a ball down to line for himself to chase only to be stopped by a blatant body check and a second yellow card for Bradford’s number five. We didn’t end the game with the full compliment of players, but the second half was a lot calmer than the first.

Four minutes of added time are announced, and Crawley are trying to make the man advantage count, there is a lot of pressure, but no one seems to want to take a shot. We hadn’t seen Caleb Chukwuemeka since the turn of the year, and we thought for good measure, but he had replaced Dom Telford earlier in the half. Turns out he is still as useless. He’s not as fast as we need, and as a striker he really shouldn’t be afraid of taking a shot. To be fair to him, most of the rest of them are shot shy as well, it seems shooting is a last resort, and then the chances they have end up going high wide and not very handsome.

The sponsor’s man of the match is announced as Corey Addai, which for once suggests the match day sponsors may well have been watching the game. There is a late corner, and it does lead to a shot. Guess where it went?

Full time whistle goes on the goal kick, and it finished 0-0

That puts us on 38 points and we stay in twenty second place, just a point behind Colchester and two behind Harrogate. But Hartlepool put in their best result of the season with a 4-1 away win at Grimsby Town, and are now on the same points as us, and only one behind us on goal difference. Plus, Rochdale won their second game on the trot. There are very worried looks over our shoulders now with only six games to go.

Outside there were arrests, or at least one. Not sure whether which set of fans it was, but there was an arrested fan, a load of police, and then a load more fans baying at the police. Neither of the away coaches had left by then, which is unusual by the time we eventually get out of the east marquee and all the way around to the underpass.

We go again on Easter Monday, the longest away trip of the season at Barrow, and we will be there, using the Easter break to go up and see my mum in Morecambe and take the away game in. I’m writing this up late in a Holiday Inn off the M6 as the journey has started.

Come on you reds.

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