Quite rightly, apologies to Donovan, who would be turning in his grave, if he were dead, as Sutton are anything but mellow.
It all kicked off, both figuratively and literally, the moment we left the country. Dom Telford went from being rumoured to be leaving to having signed for Barrow in about twenty seconds of Facebook scrolling. The final image of him is one of another terrible penalty attempt (though not as bad as his scooped effort against Tranmere last season). And two other players went out on loan.
We did sign Lawrence Maguire, Harry’s brother, whose wiki page had been put together by the work experience tea bag. It had Chesterfield (who we signed him from) as being League 1, and not National League, and that he had scored twenty-two own goals in seventy-six appearances, which would make Jonah sound like an able seaman.
The following day came a trip to Swindon Town, of whom we have a contingent of exes from. It didn’t go well. A second half capitulation saw a 6-0 defeat, a plummet down the league table, and a big negative to our goal difference.
Next up were Stockport County, one of the pre-season favourites for promotion, and there were six more goals scored in that one. At 2-0 down in the first half it looked like it was going to be another difficult day, but Crawley turned it around and were leading 3-2 only to concede an 89th minute equaliser. Which was a big disappointment, but a point away at Stockport before the game would have seen your hand snatched off.
Then it was into the EFL trophy, and a much-changed side to face League One Charlton Athletic’s much changed side, and the goal tally went up in this one. A seven-goal thriller which went back and forth but ended up with a 4-3 win for Crawley.
Back to the league, next up were Newport, who were going well in the league. A fifth minute opener for us had a tenth minute equaliser for them. But three second half goals saw a 4-1 win for Crawley, a climb back up into the top half of the table and leapfrogging Newport in the process, and some of that goal difference clawed back.
Another week flew by, and it was another home game, this time against Tranmere Rovers. Despite lots of possession, there were no shots until late in the first half and we were trailing 1-0 at half time. We got an equaliser only for a group of morons in the south terrace to throw smoke flares and loads of cans and bottles at the Tranmere keeper, the game wasn’t far off being abandoned, but there will be a fine incoming. Momentum was lost and Tranmere retook the lead a few minutes later, only for Crawley to equalise for a second time a couple of minutes after that, and then for Klaidi Lolos to get a 96th minute winner in another five-goal thriller.
An away game at Cleethorpes against Grimsby followed. And it was another five-goal thriller, with us going two down only to be level before half time and for it to be Danilo Orsi with the 96th minute winner to bump us up to fourth in the table and get our goal difference out of the negative.
And so, the last Saturday in September rolls around and it is a home game against Sutton United, who stopped their seven-game losing streak with a draw last weekend, and they sit bottom of the table after nine games. Since Sutton were promoted, we have played them four times and lost the lot. Here’s hoping we can break that sequence.
Speaking of sequences, since our last game before being out of the country for a month there have been 6, 6, 7, 5, 5, and 5 goals scored in our games. Let’s also hope that carries on, and in our favour.
The Thursday before the game saw an announcement that bag and person checks were being toughened up. No rucksacks and only bags up to A4 size and carrier bags allowed. I can understand why it is being done, but having the announcement on the website only is a disgrace. What’s the point of giving the club our e-mail addresses on the season ticket application if they don’t use them. Lots will have been caught out by it.
As it was, I was caught out by changes in the check policy, and it was a change that wasn’t included in the online statement (again poor communication). No canned soft drinks allowed in anymore, and PET bottles are only allowed in if you leave the lid behind. Which I misunderstood as not being able to bring the bottle in at all and was therefore attempting to chug my Pepsi before security intervened and said the bottle is fine as long as they have the lid.
We had a couple of extra people with us as Helen’s sister and brother-in-law are over from Australia and have come to the game.
Sutton were in all white, not their yellow kits (so no yellow to be mellow anyway), and the tossers enforced a change of end before kick-off.
Crawley were having some nice early pressure and it paid as after five minutes the ball was worked across the edge of the box and Adam Campbell sweeps it into the corner to make it 1-0. Which prompted at least one if not two red smoke flares from the fucking halfwits in the terrace.
Our good play continued pretty much until we lost ball one over the Eden Utilities Stand for a corner from a Sutton clearance. From then on, the rest of the half wasn’t great. A few minutes late a Sutton corner was headed goalwards and turned in by one of their players, who thankfully was in an offside position.
There was a big penalty shout a couple of minutes later, but that was mainly from the Sutton fans behind the goal. More Sutton pressure followed, and more corners, Crawley just couldn’t seem to get out of their own half. It was looking like giants against men when Liam Kelly, Campbell, and Nick Tsaroulla were close together and next to some of the Sutton HGH experiments. The ball was bundled into the net for a second time by Sutton from another corner. Only for us to be saved for the second time by the linesman raising their flag. There were no deep guttural shouts of ‘lino’ from three rows in front of us this game.
Only one minute was added at the end of the first half, and I was glad for the half time whistle and the release of the pressure, and we go into the break with a 1-0 lead.
The second half was barely underway when the Sutton keeper managed to injure themselves taking a kick and had to be substituted. And pretty much straight from the restart Crawley win a free kick on the left wing, the ball is flicked goalwards, and the Sutton keeper makes a good save, but it comes out to the right of the area and Ronan Darcy crosses it back in and Laurence Maguire slams it in to give us a 2-0 lead.
Sutton have a chance almost straight from their kick-off, but Corey Addai makes a good save. But on the whole Crawley are now on top. And twenty minutes into the second half, there is clever work down the right-hand side and Kelly plays a through ball to Darcy who crossed it, and Ay Ay Ay Ay Orsi was there to be scoring goals again and it is now 3-0.
And not long after Orsi was involved again, this time by hoofing ball number two out of the ground over the east marquee. By now Sutton had reverted to type and were spending more time kicking Crawley players than the ball, and after another attempted leg break led to a booking, Dion Conroy takes a free kick from just inside his own side of the centre circle. He’s spotted the Sutton keeper off his line and the shot just drops and skims the back of the crossbar and ripples the net. It looked suspiciously like it should have been a corner as well.
There is a flurry of subs as we take key players off with one eye on our Tuesday night game away to Doncaster. It doesn’t detract from our good play, if anything we seem to be playing better than at any point in the game, lots of passes, plenty of shots, and more corners. There is a breakaway after a rare excursion into our half by Sutton and Rafiq Khaleel lets fly with a shot that is tipped onto the post and away for a corner.
Unfortunately, Khaleel’s next attempt wasn’t quite as accurate as it flies over the KRL Logistics stand to lose ball three of the day.
The crowd is announced as being 3,559 with 456 away fans, the sponsor’s man of the match is announced as Liam Kelly just after he picked up a booking, and the officials put up seven minutes of added time.
It is probably the most comfortable seven minutes of added time I’ve experienced since becoming a season ticket holder, we didn’t look in danger of conceding possession let alone a goal, and the final whistle goes to signal a 3-0 victory.
A win that takes us up to the dizzy heights of second in the table, off the top by virtue of goal difference only.
I’m happy that the return to watching live action hasn’t stopped the winning streak, even if the goal count in the game was lower than when I was away. The next game is Tuesday night away against another of the division’s strugglers, Doncaster Rovers. I’m going to miss another home game next Saturday as there is a family get together and so we will miss the visit of Hollywood FC. Morecambe away might get postponed due to international call ups as their last game in an international break was. So, it’s likely my next game will be in three weeks’ time against Crewe.
Come on you reds.