Kelis is the one getting apologies this week.
Hot on the heels of a Tuesday night victory against the Aston Villa under 21s in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy, it is back to league action today, seven weeks after my last league game, the great 3-0 win over Sutton United, our last league clean sheet.
We are playing Accrington Stanley. Who? Exactly. I hated that advert, but mainly due to hating the stupid accent used, plus I never drank milk at that age, it was only ever used for pouring over cereals. I was going to dredge up some Accrington Stanley history, but Mick Fox has done a much better job in his latest CTFC history blog published by the CTSA.
Going into the game Accrington Stanley are five points and seven places above us in the league two table, but we do have a game in hand on them. They currently occupy the last playoff spot and have been on a decent run of form in the league, which is more than can be said for us.
They were relegated from League One last season, but we did play them last season, pretty much a year ago this week as we had them as opponents in the FA Cup first round last year. That didn’t end well, as it was one of our most lacklustre performances of the season that was a damp squib more than any sparkling display on bonfire night.
It feels good to be back into the Saturday match day routine. I had writing group at the library in the morning, got to the ground nice and early, had a poke around in the shop, went to get a programme (still not happy about that not really being the case anymore), said hello to Al, bag check, and then settled myself down in my usual east marquee seat waiting for Helen to arrive, and with the joy of the post-match curry to consume at The Downsman. Although stopping to get some fresh sugar ring doughnuts sounds (and tastes) like something that could easily be come tradition. Yum Yum.
Last time I was at a league game, Reggie the Red’s wasn’t there, and the time before that his head looked worse for wear with an ear hanging off. But he was there today, and they have fixed the ear issue. By removing them completely.
Pregame the Last Post was blown, with veterans and army cadets on the pitch and two minutes silence, which was a bit confused as it was blown for, then the horn was blown some more, and there was clapping, but all in all it was well observed.
Accrington Stanley were in an imitation Argentina kit with pale blue and white striped shirts, and we were hoping they weren’t going to play like them. There didn’t look to be many Stanleys in the away terrace, and it looked as if those who had made the journey down from deepest darkest Lancashire weren’t friendly with any fans who hadn’t come down in the same car as them, as they were stretched out across the whole terrace.
After all the rigamarole of remembrance day, Stanley enforced the change of end before kick-off and it flummoxed us as within two minutes, they had waltzed down the right wing, passed the ball into the box and a shot went straight through Luca Ashby-Hammond’s legs and it was 1-0 to Stanley. Not the start wanted or needed.
And there was more early pressure from Stanley, a couple of corners, and a bit of danger before we had a bit of settled possession, from which Klaidi Lolos played the ball through to Danilo Orsi who slotted it in, and it is 1-1 within ten minutes. Ay ay ay ay Orsi indeed.
There were some good chances at either end, but it is very bitty. There are a lot of niggly fouls and general moaning from Stanley. Just before the half hour mark a wayward Stanley shot goes way over the KRL Logistics stand. It looked as if it would have cleared the car park as well.
We are living dangerously at the back again, and we nearly fumble it into the goal. And shortly after a free header in the box from Stanley’s scorer goes over, only for the offside flag to belatedly go up.
There are four added minutes at the end of the first half and Stanley have the ball in the net, but the flag goes up for offside to save us again, but it was far too easy though. And the first half finishes 1-1.
The start of the second half is the polar opposite from the start of the first half. We get a free kick on the right side of the penalty area, which is cleared out on the left. A throw is worked back up the field and passed to Will Wright in the middle of the pitch. He turns and runs ten yards before unleashing a shot from about twenty-five yards out which arrows into the bottom corner and we lead 2-1.
And we nearly have another straight from the kick off, as a cross from the right-wing pings off a Stanley defender and hits the keeper in the middle of the goal and it is cleared away. There are some afters after the ball is cleared which ends up with Lolos picking up a booking after the Stanley keeper was on the ground.
There is quite a bit of pressure from Stanley and there are some good saves from Ashby-Hammond, and another off the ball incident that leaves one of our players down in our box, which miraculously the officials didn’t seem to see and there is no further action. And the next shot from Stanley flies over the Eden Utilities stand for missing ball number two of the day.
Crawley head up the other end and the ball is played through and Orsi is past the last defender who is pulling at Orsi for about twenty yards before he finally drags him down in the area and we are given a penalty, and the Stanley defender sees a red card. Orsi steps up to take the penalty himself and buries it for his second of the day and to extend our lead to 3-1.
Again, straight from the kick off we are away again down the left wing, the ball comes across and Kellen Gordon’s shot hits the side netting.
The man advantage is showing, as is the rise in Stanley’s frustration and pushing and shoving is breaking out all over the pitch. And the tackles flying in from Stanley are getting dirtier. Just before the end of normal time ball three is hoofed over the west stand by the Stanley keeper. They bring on a sub with the surname of Gubbins, whose first involvement is to be the latest dirty Stanley player to kick a Crawley player. Definitely a case of by name and nature.
There are nine minutes of added time, and for a change the lead feels comfortable, and the best action is Gordon driving down the right wing and his cross is just inches from Orsi’s head and a chance for him to get his hat trick.
The full-time whistle goes, and it is a 3-1 win for Crawley. It sees us climb back up into the top half of the table as we finish the day eleventh.
Stanley may have come dressed as Argentina, but after the second minute they didn’t play the kind of free-flowing world cup winning football. But they were certainly the match for them when it came to moaning, cheating, and being dirty fouling bastards. They were lucky to still have ten men on the pitch at the end, they could easily have had more sent off if the ref wasn’t so weak.
The next game is away at Barrow. I’m not going to be making the trip up there this year for that one, but let’s keep this new winning run going.
Come on you reds.