After a nervy, but well-deserved win on Saturday against Tranmere Rovers pulled us out of the relegation places, we go again tonight against another of the side near the bottom of the table with a home game against Colchester United. They are currently two places and four points ahead of us in the table and have won their last two games.
We are two points ahead of Hartlepool, who we play away on Saturday, so a win tonight would be vital in the struggle to stay up. There are a full set of fixtures tonight (apart from Wimbledon and Crewe who aren’t playing), Hartlepool are away at play off place chasing Salford City, and Harrogate, who are a point ahead of us, and have drawn their last four games are playing mid table Walsall (who we play in our last home game of the season in eleven days’ time).
Our away game against Colchester earlier in the season was also played on a Tuesday night, this one in October, and after going behind on twenty minutes, goals either side of half time by Ashley Nadesan and James Tilley put us ahead, only for Colchester to equalise just after the hour mark and the game finished as a 2-2 draw. Kwesi Appiah has been on load to Colchester since the start of September and has scored three times in nine appearances for them. Elsewhere in their squad, Tom Dallison played one game for us when on loan to us from Brighton seven years ago, and John Akinde played for us for a couple of seasons ten years ago.
We’ve been in the papers again this week with a piece in The Sun about the disaster our season has been and the moronic direction the crypto bros have been taking us. Tell us something we don’t know.
Helen is recovered and we wander down in time to get a programme, a photo, and seated before kick-off. Just. Saw Al, but he was busy prowling up and down the East Marquee. It’s still light when we get there as well, it’s a reasonable evening after the grey and miserable day.
Colchester had 2 fan coaches parked up and a reasonable number of away fans for a Tuesday night, and they were playing in blue and white striped shirts, white shorts, and blue socks. The surround to the pitch looks a bit waterlogged, but the main pitch can’t be that bad as they’ve got the sprinklers going on it.
We have made a couple of changes from the starting line up on Saturday and it took us a while to settle into the game, and ten minutes to get a corner, which took an age to take with the ref stopping it to deal with pushing and shoving in the box. A couple of minutes later a well worked ball goes through to Aramide Oteh who puts the shot just wide. Then Ashley Nadesan robs a Colchester defender and puts the ball across the area, only for it to be a bit too far for Dom Telford to get a decent touch on and it slides wide.
Not long after and we get a throw on the far side of the area, and it ends up with Telford taking the long throw. Which isn’t as bad an idea as it sounds at first. It’s not as if he’s going to get on the end of it and head it is it? It comes through to Nick Tsaroulla and his shot is sliced across the area and cleared.
At the other end Colchester get a corner and it is headed onto the top of the crossbar and out. Then the absolute unit that is Akinde goes down like an extra from Platoon from a slight nudge and the free kick is given. Tsaroulla acts as the sleeping policeman behind the wall, but the shot is high and wide.
Colchester are getting more into it, and it takes a few minutes for us to get a decent chance and it falls to Tsaroulla to get a shot on target, even if it was straight at the keeper. One added minute is announced, and we get a free kick just inside the Colchester half, it’s played into the area and despite the defender trying to swap shirts with Harry Ransom, the penalty claims are waved away, and it is half time and 0-0.
Crawley start the second half better than they did the first, but the first real chance falls to Colchester and they force a good save from Corey Addai. Not long after the only ball to disappear does so from a skewed Crawley clearance out over the West Stand.
It is uncomfortable watching now. Colchester are ramping up the pressure and are being first to everything, winning every second ball. There is a brief break in play as a red smoke flare thrown from the home terrace to just behind the Colchester goal is allowed to run out of smoke and be cleared away.
Every decision is going to Colchester. It is so biased it is funny. Every throw, every fifty-fifty ball, every time to ball goes out, everything is being given Colchester’s way. For thirteen minutes not one single throw, free kick, or corner decision went to Crawley. It was unbelievable how bad the officials were. (And not for the first time this season.) Most of the second half is being played in the final third at the Crawley goal end, and it is nerve shredding, and it feels as if a penalty will be forthcoming. But fortunately, not.
The crowd is announced as 2.849 with 445 away fans. Not a bad crowd for a Tuesday night, but there definitely felt as if there were more there than that. The sponsor’s man of the match was named as Anthony Grant, which gave the guy sat next to us apoplexy. It was one of those games where they have to name someone and no one really stood out, and Grant got involved a lot, if not particularly good some of the time, but he would have been noticed on the rare occasions the sponsors were looking at the pitch. At least he is noticed on the pitch as the club still haven’t gotten around to adding his name to the squad on the back of the programmes yet. Only one more for them to try and get it right.
There are three minutes added time shown, and suddenly there is a flurry of activity by Crawley in the opponent’s box for a change. The official match stats say we only had one shot (off target) all through the second half, but there were half a dozen shots taken in a two-minute hive of activity at the end. Perhaps the stats guy had joined the sponsors in hospitality by then.
There ended up being five minutes of added time before the ref blew the whistle for the end of an interesting 0-0 and was carried off triumphantly by the Colchester players. (That last bit may not have actually happened.)
A point, and with Hartlepool losing to Salford we are now three points ahead of them going into the crunch clash against them on Saturday. We must not lose as it will put us back in the relegation places. Harrogate beat Walsall 3-0, which gives us hope for our last home game, but puts them level on points with Colchester, four ahead of us with three games to play.
It is going to the wire. I don’t have fingernails as I bite them already, but if this carries on for the last three games, I think I’m going to be mid ulna and radius by the end of the season, and might have trouble writing anything, let alone these.
Come on you reds.