Wasn’t quite The Style Council song title, but, as it’s a home game, Milton Keynes must come to us instead.
It’s been nearly five years since the Milton Keynes Dons last played here, and that did not end well for us, with them running out 4-0 winners.
We go into game three of the season in sixth place, one of nine unbeaten teams in the division so far. The MK Dons are top after two games and one of three teams with 100% records.
Since our home game on the opening day of the season we have had two away games. The first was in the Carabao Cup against League One Exeter City. We took a first half lead with a much-changed side from our opening day win. But Exeter came back with two second half goals to knock us out 1-2. There will be no Carabao Cup run this season for us.
Then at the weekend we were away at Salford City, who had also won their first game of the season. Again, we took a first half lead, and an excellent first half saw us hit the woodwork four times, but we were unable to extend the lead as our play deserved. And two minutes after half time Salford equalised, and the game finished as a 1-1 draw.
It was a decent away point against one of last season’s play-off teams. In fact, four points from our first two games, both of them against last season’s play-off teams – and teams tipped to be there again this season – is a great start. It took us eight games to get four points last season.
In the last few days Joel Lynch has left the club by ‘mutual consent.’ (As someone who works in HR, this is a term used to cover a whole multitude of sins.) and he’s very nearly the last man out (only three left now) since WAGMI’s takeover. The last couple of months have reminded me of lyrics in New Model Army’s ‘Green And Grey’ – “And tomorrow brings another train, another young brave steals away.”
And speaking of WAGMI, all may not be well in the crypto clown’s world, several posts have been seen showing unrest against the very NFT buying crowd they were so proud of this time last year, with their communications with investors something akin to the communications they have had with the fans.
Tuesday nights are always a bit of a rush to get back from work, eat, and get back to the ground for the game. Especially as I like to be a bit early. Not to get a programme this season (yes, I might have lied about now mentioning it again last time out), but I am early so I can find Steve Leake and get a copy of his third book from him – ‘Tinpot And Proud.’
But I was too late to find him in Redz bar, but fortunately did see him as I walked past the end of the terrace and got my copy.
The MK Dons have a reasonable number of fans for a Tuesday night away game. The team are in all white kits, and after a bit of fannying around the ref blows for kick-off a couple of minutes late. The good thing about early season games is its still daylight at kick off, it doesn’t feel as overbearing.
The first ten minutes of the game are quite cagey, some decent possession play but not much cutting edge. But then the game springs to life, certainly from a Crawley perspective, Kellen Gordon breaks down the right into the box, and his cross is blocked, and Will Wright’s follow up shot blazes over the top of the KRL Logistics away terrace, and probably puts a dent in the away fans’ double decker coach.
And again, a couple of minutes later, another cross from Gordon comes to Liam Kelly on the edge of the box and his shot is just tipped over the bar for a corner. Which is cleared, but the ball is pumped into the box and there are half-hearted appeals for a penalty as a man goes down, but they are waved away.
A few minutes later and there is good play down the left wing, Danilo Orsi gets the ball and holds it up and passes to Kelly, who pings a ball into the box that Nick Tsaroulla gets on the end of. He takes his time and puts the ball in the top corner for 1-0.
Not long after we get another corner. It is certainly noticeable that the players aren’t scared to take a shot like they were last season. It is good to see, after screaming ourselves hoarse last season for the players to shoot. Five minutes later we nearly lose ball two over the west stand, but it hits the stanchion of the middle floodlight and bounces back on the pitch.
A poor pass out of defence is intercepted, and suddenly MK have a two on one, they fashion a shot which Corey Addai gets something on, but it trickles past him slowly and agonisingly into the back of the net and it is 1-1.
Crawley go straight up the other end and get a corner, there is a bit of a scramble in the box from it, and the ball is hacked clear off the line, only for it to be put back in and for MK to win it and break and get a corner of their own, followed by a shot on target.
The last five minutes of the half see two misfired shots over the Eden Utilities stand, and another out over the west stand, also from a MK boot. The multi-ball system implemented for this season is keeping the game flowing though compared to previous years where they would have to dig a ball out of a vault somewhere to get things started again. Someone is too efficient at chucking the balls back over the Eden Utilities stand and we end up with multi-ball on the pitch as well. We find out the blokes who sit behind us and slope off to the bar just before half time were responsible for chucking the second of them back over and onto the pitch.
There are only two minutes of added time at the end of the first half. And we think we are through on goal only for the ref to pull it back and penalise Dom Telford for a foul when he was the one thrown to the ground.
The half time whistle goes, and it is 1-1, and the club turn the sprinklers on at the exact moment the officials and the head steward are walking under their trajectory. That gets nearly as big a cheer as when the MK player just fell over his own feet with no one within ten yards of him. It’s good to see (well, hear) there is different music at half time again.
The second half is only two minutes old when Gordon picks up an injury and needs to be substituted. We are having a decent amount of good, patient possession. And one move ends with a Tsaroulla shot being tipped round the post for a corner. From the corner it is played out up the wing, but some neat play sees the ball played through to Orsi and he slots it into the corner to make it 2-1. I start my own chant.
Ay ay ay ay Orsi.
Ay ay ay ay Orsi.
Ay ay ay ay Orsi.
Scoring goals again.
No one else joins in.
Twenty minutes into the half and we get a free kick out on the right-hand side, the ball is whipped in by Wright and Orsi’s header hits the bar, and the follow up shot is blocked.
There is a bit of a lull, but we pick up again a few minutes later with a decent spell of pressure, corner, long throw into the box, another corner. MK then have a bit of pressure, but we break and have another good attack which ends with a shot from Adam Campbell which goes just wide.
I moaned about Bradford being desperate and bringing on a whole county against us as a sub in Derbyshire, but MK went one step further and brought on a whole country when they brought on their sub Holland (yes, I do know the correct name for the country in the Netherlands).
We have a breakaway and Klaidi Lolos looks to shoot but passes it across to Orsi whose shot takes a deflection and is saved.
The crowd is announced as 3,282, with 505 away fans, which is only forty-nine less than at the first home game of the season, which seemed a lot more crowded than this game did. The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as Danili Orsi, which I can’t disagree with. It seems the sponsor’s might actually be watching the games this season. And there are seven minutes of second half added time.
It’s a bit nervy, but we don’t really look like conceding, but when one of the MK players goes down in the penalty area there is a sharp intake of breath, but the ref waves play on.
A long ball comes down with snow on it, but Campbell takes it down brilliantly on the edge of the MK area, and his shot just creeps wide.
The final whistle goes, and it is a 2-1 win. There is a little bit of handbags after the final whistle from one of the MK players, but it calms down soon enough. And there is something else playing apart from the Black Eyed Peas. Expanding horizons and all that.
We knew a win would leapfrog us over our opponents, but it has done more than that. We are up to third in the table, just behind Barrow on goals scored, and two points off the leaders Gillingham who picked up their third 1-0 win of the season, and the second on the trot with a Nadesan goal assisted by Nichols. And we play them at home this coming Saturday. I’m sure not many people would have had that down as a top of the table clash at this point in the season. Crawley are in the automatic promotion places. Who would have thought it.
Come on you reds.