What Have We Done-Caster To Deserve This

Yes, still trying to shoehorn names into lyrics where they don’t belong, and apologies to the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield this time around.

Since out last home game, the battling 1-1 draw against a very good Stockport County side, we have had the tricky away game up at Tranmere, where we came away with a 3-1 victory. A result, which combined with others on the day, saw us jump up two places in the league and into…. Drumroll please…… the playoff places. Yes, we are in seventh place and have two games in hand on the two teams directly below us in the league.

And it isn’t a Saturday afternoon game, because it’s Easter weekend, and therefore it’s a double header of games, with this one being the Good Friday fixture, at home to Doncaster Rovers.

We lost to them at their place earlier in the season, a 2-0 defeat that was the start of our dreadful October run of one point from five games. A result which prompted one of their eight-year-old troll fans to bring some glorious primary school ‘banter’ to the forum. The kind that makes poor old crawley57away look like a total amateur.

Anyway, going into today’s game Doncaster sit eleven places behind us in eighteenth, but only ten points behind us. And they have the same form as us over the last six games of four wins, a draw, and a loss, so it may well be a tougher game than the league positions would suggest.

It is the first of the two for £2 games this season (the second being the Colchester game in just over two weeks’ time). And it is a sell-out. All the usual home areas sold out earlier in the week, and so the club have made part of the north terrace available to home fans to try and cram another 550 of us in.

And as such the ground is remarkably busy. An early approach was required, as there was the need to get tickets for two upcoming away games, and getting in early was going to be the best policy, as the queues were going to be mental, especially for the inadequate number of turnstiles for entry to the east marquee.

At the ground there were four away fan coaches lined up, more than I had seen at a game since I’ve been going to matches. Redz bar and the Fanzone were rammed, and the club had opened the turnstiles before 2pm for this one to try and help with the queues.

The pitch looks in terrific condition despite all the rain, but the apron to it is somewhat waterlogged. It is surprise when they turn the sprinklers on to water the pitch before the game and at half time. It is very breezy out there, which could make things interesting.

Doncaster are in blue and white hooped shirts and socks and blue shorts. The game may well have been a sell-out, but there are some no shows with empty seats dotted around, including ones both sides of us, perhaps me scribbling away during the game is off-putting.

We have some good early pressure, get a corner, win a free kick, have a shot, and for a few minutes all looks good as we prevent Doncaster from getting out of their own half. But the game turns scrappy quickly. There are a lot of misplaced passes from both sides, and the wind is not to blame as most of them are along the ground.

Then there is some decent play down the right wing and a Ronan Darcy shot goes just wide. Doncaster break and get a low shot away which Corey Addai tips just round the post for a corner. From it Doncaster get a free kick not far outside the box in a central position, which comes to nothing.

After lots of nervy play, we get a break, Klaidi Lolos is through one on one with the keeper, but his shot is saved, Danilo Orsi’s follow up is blocked (some suggestion of it being so by a hand), and the ball gets cleared. On the other side of the pitch a Will Wright free kick from the wing eludes everyone in the box and the keeper scrambling but it goes past the far post.

Crawley appear to be getting back on top now and work another chance with a shot from Darcy from just outside the area which is deflected for a corner. A long clearance from Addai gets taken by the wind and only just skips wide. I wonder if that counts as a shot on goal?

Doncaster have a bit of pressure and get a couple of corners in quick succession, only for ball one to disappear out over the Eden Utilities Stand from a wayward shot.

One minute of added time is indicated, and we have a free kick in a promising position, which we waste, and the whistle goes for half time with the score 0-0.

Helen has mentioned to me that their player Ironside has been getting a bit of a tough time. To which my initial response was that he’s not doing badly seeing at the last time I saw him on telly he was in a wheelchair.

The second half starts and there is an early corner for us again, it goes to the far post and is headed back and it looks like it has gone in from where we are as people are on their feet and cheering, but it’s another corner, which again is deep and Orsi’s attempt to head it back across floats onto the top of the net.

And with their first attack of the second half Doncaster gallop down the other end and score. Which seemed all too easy. From seemingly out of nowhere we are behind 0-1. It is nearly two a couple of minutes later, but Addai tips another effort round the post for a corner.

There is a late tackle on Orsi near the halfway line in our own half. The ref plays advantage, and the play carries on for thirty seconds. Lawrence Maguire is screaming at the lino. When play does stop the ref sends the Doncaster defender off. It is all a bit bizarre. If it was a sending off offence, then surely stop the game immediately. There is some argy bargy between the players and Addai sprints the length of the pitch to drag Lolos away from a confrontation. There is a pause in the play, and it eventually restarts with a free kick back where the foul took place, after some treatment to the Doncaster keeper (the first of many spurious ‘injuries’ to Doncaster players, most of which the ref just ignores, or tells them to get up).

We aren’t really making the extra man count. Jack Roles has a shot on target. A clearance from Doncaster sails out over the east marquee for ball lost two of the day. Jay Williams gets a shot away from the edge of the area which is deflected for a corner, and Roles has another shot which goes just wide.

But Addai is having a bit of a brain freeze at the other end. He throws a clearance straight to a Doncaster striker, but fortunately they couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo and the shot is high and wide.

Another Roles shot goes for a corner, which we don’t cross, but fanny about trying to work the ball across midfield, only to lose it and have Doncaster bearing down on Addai with two strikers and not a Crawley defender in sight. But once again the cow’s arse is safe, and the shot is wide.

A Nick Tsaroulla shot takes a deflection, and the keeper spills the save but dives on it at the second attempt. A ball is worked through to Orsi, but his shot is wide. The Doncaster keeper is booked for timewasting. Another Tsaroulla shot is blocked, there are claims of by a hand again. A follow up shot is saved, and a third shot goes wide.

But the ball is cleared, and who the fuck knows what Addai was doing, but the ball comes to their number 36 – who to be fair has been playing the lone target man role really well – and he has an easy tap in to make it 0-2. Cue the fire drill and mass exodus towards the exit.

The final whistle comes not long after and it is a very disappointing 0-2 loss. The team just weren’t on it in front of a bumper crowd of 5,436 (with 625 away fans). Before the game Rick, who sits behind us, and another long time Spurs fan said he was hoping Crawley weren’t going to go a bit Spursy. But it feels exactly like that. When we lost to Doncaster earlier in the season, we were second and then went on a bad run. Today we started in the playoff places and lost. Let’s hope a bad run doesn’t follow.

Especially as next up are three consecutive away games. Easter Monday sees a trip to South Wales to play Newport County, followed by visits to two of the top three, first, Mansfield Town next Saturday, and then the rearranged away game at Wrexham the following Tuesday. A road trip has been arranged for the latter two of those games, with some relative visiting added in there as well. Tough games, but points are possible.

The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as Ronan Darcy. Which led to a bit of head scratching. But as the match sponsor’s were a firm called Rhino.Bet it does beg the question on whether there was a beneficial betting market on who was going to be named as the sponsor’s man of the match.

Anyway, the result sees us drop two places, back to ninth, but we still have two games in hand on Gillingham and AFC Wimbledon, who scraped past us in the table with draws. So, there is still hope, but there will need to be better performances than this. It was one of those frustrating afternoons, so much so I left writing this up until this morning.

Come on you reds.

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