Ullo John, Got A New (Bristol Street) Motor?

Apologies this time around to Alexei Sayle and his shaped picture disc novelty single from 1982.
After missing the whole of October it’d good to be back at a game, even if it is only an EFL Trophy game against one of the Under 21 sides. Since I was last at a game the form hasn’t been good. After the impressive performance in the 3–0 win against Sutton United at the end of September, there was an away loss midweek to Doncaster Rovers. Then I missed the home game and narrow 1–0 defeat to Wrexham, and the away draw/penalty loss to Sutton in the EFL Trophy due to a family birthday gathering in Warwickshire. I was due to go to Morecambe away, slotting in a family visit to my mum, but the game was postponed due to their international call ups. Then I got Covid and missed the home game 4–2 loss against Crewe Alexandra. Watched the Walsall 1–1 midweek draw and 2–1 loss away to Forest Green Rovers through the lens of a time delayed BBC page. I was due to be in Leicester last weekend, which would have been ideal for a quick nip over to Nottingham for the Notts County FA Cup thriller (even if it were a 3–2) loss, but didn’t end up going to Leicester as still not fully post Covid fit. Oh, and there was a Sussex Senior Cup debacle away at Worthing to add in there somewhere as well.
And pretty much all of that has happened whilst speculation of Scott Lindsey moving on to his hometown club of Gillingham has been going on. Which must have been unsettling for the squad. But he is still with us as Gillingham (finally) announced Stephen Clemence as manager. And it appears we have also lost ellywelly16 off the forum as a deleted user. For which I am grateful as no one needs that much sneering, condescending, “I’m a friend, but not an insider”, “I know better than any of you”, line of chat.
So, it is a phased return to live action for me tonight and the final EDL Trophy group stage game against Aston Villa U21s. A game where avoiding a straight loss (a penalty loss will give us the point needed) will be enough to see us progress to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2016–17 season (the first one where the stupid under 21s sides were added to the competition and there was a group stage) where we finished second in the group and then lost to eventual winners Coventry City in the second round. We played the same under 21 side in our group last season and ran out 5–2 winners. You do wonder what having the under 21s in the competition gives it apart from playing time for overly rich clubs’ academy players, as they don’t seem to take the competition seriously either. Only one U21 side has made it as far as the Semi Finals.
Even the FA don’t seem to take the competition seriously. Until I looked it up, I had no idea that the sponsors for this year’s competition (and the next two years) is Bristol Street Motors. Adding their name to an illustrious list of former sponsors and names; Football League Group Cup, Associate Members Cup, Freight Rover, Sherpa Van, Leyland DAF, Autoglass, Auto Windshields, LDV Vans, Johnstone’s Paint, Checkatrade, Leasing.com, and Papa Johns. I suppose it’s going back to the tradition of car and van related sponsors the competition had for the first twenty odd years.
Unlike for the games last season, the east marquee isn’t open for the EFL Trophy games this year, and so it is a forced migration into the west stand. On Sunday night there were five of us going to the game (including a Villa fan), but by Tuesday morning it is down to two, only for it to go to just me so it was going to look as if I smell with an exclusion zone around me. But I thought it would help with the pathetic legroom in the west stand. Then in the last hour before the kick off I managed to find people who wanted two tickets, and as I was dropping them off in Redz Bar, I bumped into Grant who sits behind us in the east marquee at normal games and he hadn’t got tickets yet so the other two spares were used as well.
I got the tickets online and downloaded the pdf. Under the barcode it says not to fold where the barcode is. Of course, when you print the pdf off, the bar code is exactly halfway down the page where you would fold a sheet of A4 in half. You couldn’t make this shit up.
Very nearly as close to the halfway line as our usual seats, but a bit higher up, which means you just see the whole pitch over the top of the dug outs, but as the stand is steeper there is nowhere for feet to go in front of me, and being packed in, my knees are gone to hell by half time.
The Aston Villa under 21s are in a strip of white shirts and socks and pale blue shorts, and their fans are all seated in the corner block of the east marquee, with the usual away terracing being out of bounds. There again the rest of the east marquee is supposed to be as well, but there were four randoms sat in block C of there unmolested.
It only took three minutes before a ball was hoofed out over the Eden Utilities stand by Crawley for a corner. But it was the only ball to disappear for the whole game.
Seven minutes in and on our first proper attack, there is some nice play in and around the box and the ball comes to Jack Roles who calmly curls it over the keeper and into the net to make it 1–0 to Crawley.
And seven minutes later it got better. There had been a bit of Villa pressure, but Crawley broke quickly down the left-hand side and the ball was crossed in and Kamarai Swyer was on hand to bundle it into the corner of the net for a 2–0 lead. All good stuff.
The game went back and forth, and there had been decent chances at both ends and Corey Addai had made a couple of decent saves. With less than five minutes to half time Villa play a ball through into the box and Addai sells himself a bit and the ball is taken past him and slotted in to make it 2–1.
There were four added minutes at the end of the first half, and in that time, Crawley had a decent breakaway, but after a great through ball the shot ended up going over the bar and into the empty KRL Logistics stand.
After a decent stretch of the legs to get the circulation back at half time, the second half started with Villa on the front foot. An early corner had pinged about in the box and caused chaos and was only just hacked away for a corner. The next corner appeared to be cleared only for the ball to come back in and a Villa player calmly lobbed it over Addai and into the net to make it 2–2.
It was very nearly a lot worse straight after the kick off. A long punt from the keeper was allowed to bounce and the Villa striker was clear, but we were fortunate that the ball just ran through to Addai before they could get to it.
But we calmed down a bit and on fifty-four minutes there was some great quick passing forward and a nice one-two on the edge of the Villa box saw Roles one on one with the keeper and he calmly slotted the ball home to restore the Crawley lead and make it 3–2.
As the half progressed, I put my gloves on. Not because my fingers were particularly cold, but mainly to stop me biting my fingernails. We were really living on the edge at times with the passing the ball around at the back and were lucky on numerous occasions not to get intercepted with a Villa player bearing down on goal. It was a relief to get a breakaway and a corner, even if the corner was wasted.
After a lot of Villa pressure, we got two really good chances in succession. First Swyer was bearing down on goal having beat the last defender, but tried to take it round the keeper when a shot would have been a much better option. And then straight after the ball fell to Roles about thirty yards out with the keeper well off his line, but the attempted shot from distance to complete his hat trick went wide.
There were three added minutes for me to bite the tips of my gloves’ fingers before the full-time whistle went and a 3–2 victory was confirmed. It means that we finished top of our group and have progressed to the second round of the competition.
The crowd was announced as being 865 with 99 problems, sorry Villa fans tucked away in the corner. I’m quite impressed with that. Villa are the northernmost team in the southern section (and have played in the northern section in some years, harking back to the days when there was Division 3 North and South and teams like Walsall and Coventry ended up playing in both), but they brought 99 fans to a reasonably long away trip on a Tuesday night to watch under 21s in a third rate competition. I don’t think that’s bad going. The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as being Jack Roles for his two goals.
Being sat in the west stand, and there being a much smaller crowd than usual I could hear Scott Lindsey chuntering away at the team for the whole match. Lot’s of encouragement being shouted. Something missed sat in the east marquee with a fuller stadium. Plus I could see the whole of the scoreboard from my seat, not just thirty five percent as usual, but even with my glasses on it was still hard to make out the white on red lights.
And so, it is back into home league action on Saturday with the visit of Accrington. With the winless run at an end, let’s hope we can start a new winning one.
Come on you reds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *