Five days on from the debacle away at Barrow which saw us slip back into the relegation places, it is back to being at home on a Saturday, and we are playing against Tranmere Rovers. We are now a point behind Hartlepool, who we play away against next Saturday; three points behind Harrogate, and four behind Colchester United who we play on Tuesday night at home. But we also have the worst goal difference in the league now, so it acts as another point against us. We really need to win this one today, and then win again on Tuesday night.
Tranmere are in eleventh and in indifferent form but are still fifteen points clear of us. Besides the two games against relegation rivals mentioned above, the other two games left happen to be against the two sides directly below Tranmere in the table today. Walsall sit thirteenth, and that will be our last home game of the season, and the final game of the season is away at Swindon Town who currently sit twelfth. With our current manager and club captain, plus Dion Conroy all having come from Swindon this year, and despite them not having anything to play for, I can see them being up for that game, and so we need the points before we get there.
Of those teams around us, Hartlepool are away at Newport, who aren’t any great shakes, so I can see Hartlepool’s unbeaten run continuing. Colchester are away at play off chasing Salford City, so that may be trickier for them. Harrogate are at home against Doncaster Rovers, who have the worst form in the division. This really is a must win game for us.
We lost the away game to Tranmere 1-0 at the end of February after it had originally been postponed back in December. It could so easily have been a draw though, but Dom Telford managed to scoop one of the worst penalties ever over the bar late on. Another of many lost opportunities this season.
I was concerned that with the torrential rain yesterday and last night that the game might not go ahead. At half ten last night there was no road at the football roundabout, just a lake covering the whole surface, and everywhere I drove there was so much standing water and mini lakes appearing that with another six hours of rain after it I thought it might get pulled. Which would be the worst thing possible. But it is going ahead as normal, and the rains have subsided.
Helen is not with me today, she is ill with one of the bugs going around, and with no writing group before hand it’s a wander down to the ground by myself, arriving not as early as I usually would. I got a programme and wonder why the league table on the retro reds page bore no relation to anything in the writing. It is a warm bright sunny day, a good day for the game.
Al was propping the sign to the fan zone up, or perhaps it was the other way around. There was one coach for away fans in the car park and Tranmere were in an all-white strip. Happy to see no Caleb Chukwuemeka in the starting eleven, not sure he was even a sub. If they were short of a striker, then they would be better off playing keeper Ryan Schofield. In his one appearance he has shown he can cause utter chaos in the penalty area, and he couldn’t put in a worse performance than CC.
Crawley started well, but on seven minutes a long ball by Tranmere is flicked on and Corey Addai comes out to clear it, but slips, and he can’t handle it as he is slightly outside the area. It bounces off his chest and there is a tap in for the Tranmere striker and against the run of play we are behind 0-1.
From the kick off we are attacking again. A few minutes later Aramide Oteh is fouled on the edge of the area, but advantage is played as the ball falls to Dominic Telford who twists and turns and gets a shot away which is saved for a corner. The corner sees another chance, but it is poked just wide. Not long after there is another chance for Telford but ended up being more of a pass back than a shot.
Nick Tsaroulla in his first game back from injury, is taken out on the edge of the area by the goal line and there is a free kick and a yellow card for the Tranmere player. And a minute later it was a carbon copy apart from the yellow card. It came in but a free kick to Tranmere ended the pressure. Only for us to attack again and James Tilley gets a shot away that goes just wide.
Just before the half hour mark the ball is played into Oteh, who evades the attempted foul on him, turns and slots the ball into the side of the net and we are deservedly level, and it is 1-1. Come on.
Tranmere have a rare attack and they force a save from Addai which goes out for a corner, which when swung in he collects easily. We go down the other end and get a corner. It was a poor corner, but we managed to get another, and this one ended up with a shot from Harry Ransom being deflected out over the KRL Logistics stand for the first lost ball of the day. The corner comes in, goes back out, comes back in, goes back to the right-hand side, and is played back in and Ransom is on the end and the ball ends up in the back of the net. It is announced as a Jack Powell goal, so he must have got a touch on it on the way through. It doesn’t matter who scored it though, it is in, and we now lead 2-1.
Almost straight from the restart the ball is played over the top and Ashley Nadesan gets to it only to be unable to lift it over the keeper. It squirms out, but the Tranmere keeper gets to the loose ball before Telford could.
At the other end Tranmere got a free kick on the edge of the area but the wall does its job. There were two minutes of added time. A clearance is hoofed over the Eden Utilities terrace for a corner and the loss of ball two. Nothing comes of it and the half time whistle goes with us leaving 2-1.
Two minutes into the second half and there is a collision between two of our defenders and the Tranmere striker is through on goal, but his shot is both high and wide. Seven minutes in and ball three goes out over the KRL Logistics stand from a wayward Tranmere shot.
It took a while, but Crawley are putting the pressure back on again. There are shots from Oteh, Telford, Nadesan, and Tsaroulla in quick succession. A corner follows and there are a couple of half chances before the Tranmere keeper collects the ball.
There is a lengthy stoppage as Ransom receives some treatment. Once restarted we get a free kick in the middle of the field about twenty-five yards out. Powell hits the wall with both the free kick and the attempt from the rebound. It goes up the other end and Kellen Gordon picks up a yellow card for a foul on the touchline, but no punishment for the Tranmere player who got up and pushed him with both hands. The lack of consistency from game to game is staggering.
Not long after a penalty is awarded. It is the softest one going. Mazeeb is already on the floor when the ball is kicked at him. It hits his arm with his body behind the arm, but handball is given in yet another bullshit call against us this season.
And it is SAVED. SAVED by Addai who dives to his right and pushes the ball away, and the follow up effort goes wide and all the players from all over the pitch run to mob him and congratulate him. Justice is served.
We make a few substitutions but continue with pressure and an Anthony Grant shot goes just wide. We get a free kick when Oteh is chopped down, and another shot from Grant falls to Nadesan and we end up with a corner. The sponsor’s man of the match is announced as Oteh, which is a fair assessment.
There are seven minutes of added time (although nearer nine are played), and there is quite a bit of hack the ball clear as far up the pitch as possible, but also a good piece of hold the ball in the corner done by Oteh and Powell. It is a bit tense, but finally the whistle goes, and we have won 2-1, and the Black Eyed Peas start playing.
Attendance is 2,812 with 221 away fans (there looked to be less).
Elsewhere, Rochdale lost, Hartlepool lost, Harrogate came back form a half time 2-0 deficit to draw for the second straight game, and Colchester won again, but it is enough to take us out of the relegation places, two points ahead of Hartlepool and now on the same goal difference. A point behind Harrogate and four behind Colchester who we play on Tuesday night, another must win game for us.
Come on you reds.