Hatters Off To Everyone

Another blast from the past this time around as it is an early sixties Del Shannon hit I am mangling. If it had been Lawrence Maguire responsible for the outcome, then it would have been so near to the proper title of Hats Off To Larry. The sponsors thought so as they named him man of the match. Not entirely sure they were watching the same game as us.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a game. The last one was the rip roaringly load away win against AFC Wimbledon. I did finally get copies of the programme for the AFC game. It was the first programme of the season. And I had written the away team season so far piece that appeared in it.

And it’s been over a month since my last home game against Forest Green Rovers. Part of this is due to poor planning, as I was away in Sevilla last week for our last home game, the come from behind win against the fast-fading Notts County. But the other home game wasn’t me. Our game against Barrow at the start of the month being called off due to the unceasing rain that had fallen for seemingly months before it.

Including the AFC game, with the Barrow game called off, there was a run of four straight away games. The third of those at Morecambe midweek was a disappointing 1-0 defeat despite bossing the game. Either side of that though were two wins, the first against Accrington Stanley, and the latter being another come from behind win at Harrogate Town.

We go into tonight’s game in tenth in the league, with at least one game in hand on everyone above us in the table except tonight’s opponents. And we are only two points off that last playoff place, currently held by AFC. In addition we currently have the best form (based on last six league games played) in the division. The opponents are Stockport County who currently sit second in the league, twelve points ahead of us.

Our away fixture against them came at the start of September and was a 3-3 thriller (one of our rare draws) and came just before they went on a massive winning streak that saw them ten points clear at the top of the league at one point.

This game was originally due to be played on Saturday, but Sky TV came along and screwed all that up by moving Stockport’s midweek game to Thursday night so they could televise them playing Salford City. The game couldn’t be moved to Sunday, as Brighton Ladies were already contracted to play their ‘home’ game yesterday, so it is a Monday night game now. Which I’m not happy about as I’d got tickets to go to another of the wonderful Crawley WORDfest events this evening, their ‘Noir at the bar’. It is a bit of a rush to get to the game as early as I want to be, as I needed to be in the office today in Hove, and due to other circumstances, I don’t have the car today. So being able to get home, feed myself, sort away coach travel for the Sutton game and get to my seat well before kick off feels like quite an achievement.

There was a slight panic at home. I had taken the season ticket out of my wallet before going to Sevilla, but couldn’t remember where I’d put it and had a bit of a frantic search. And I thought that Kev as a name wasn’t difficult to decipher, especially when spelling it out, but there was Ken, Keb, Ked, and Kef written down before Kev was.

Had the chance to have a chat with Al. he’s had a busy week stewarding; Roma fans to deal with Thursday night, Brighton Ladies yesterday and us today. Keeps him out of mischief I suppose. Plenty of Stockport fans have made the trip down, and there were two coaches parked up before the game. Stockport were in blue shirts and socks and white shorts. There was a surprise when Paul, who I know from writing had a ticket for a seat near me instead of his usual terrace corner.

Crawley start well and have some early pressure; decent cross is collected by their keeper who inexplicably boots it against the back of the retreating Danilo Orsi, and it spins back towards the goal. Stockport start to get into the game and have a couple of corners, but we press well, and they play it all the way back to their keeper who passes it straight to Harry Forster, whose attempted shot from distance with the keeper stranded out of the area is a bit sliced and goes out for a throw in on the opposite side. The biggest surprise was there was no comment from Rick behind me along the lines of Jack Powell would have scored that.

We break again and the ball is worked across and through into the box. A shot is saved, and we think it’s a corner, but the flag has gone up for offside. And there is another decent possession and cross into the box, but this one is headed over. We get a free kick in a decent position not far outside the left-hand side of the box, but it gets played across and wasted and we are lucky there wasn’t a two on one break on for Stockport.

There is a lot of back and forth, and a couple of times in quick succession, their number 3 takes Kellen Gordon out, and is lucky to escape getting a booking. Orsi has a decent shot well saved for another corner, the third in quick succession, and third time lucky for those who like to see corners played into the area straight away. There follows another good right-wing attack and Gordon’s cross cum shot is kept out by the keeper’s feet.

Meanwhile the Stockport number 10 is looking dangerous, he has the third run and shot from the edge of the area and each of them is closer than the last. There is one minute of added time, in which nothing happens, and it is half time with the game goalless.

The second half sees a brisk start, but Stockport have come out firing on all cylinders. They have a shot which Corey Addai saves well, only for the offside flag to go up. They are definitely having the better of the exchanges and are first to all the second balls. There are more shots, and that man Addai is showing why he was player of the month for February with another string of good saves. Even if his kicking is a bit skew whiff this evening.

We have an attack and win a free kick. The ball is played into the area, and there are claims from most of the players for a handball by Stockport, but the claims are waved away, and Stockport end up getting a free kick themselves. At the other end Stockport get a corner, and as it comes over there is a Crawley defender shoved to the ground, which is ignored and there is no one marking their number 19 at the far post and he heads it down into the bottom corner beating Addai at the post, and it is 1-0 to Stockport.

At this point it seems to be all Stockport. They are pressing well, and we are finding it difficult to get out of our own half.  The crowd is announced, and they say it is 3,339 PLUS 451 away fans (not including as usual), so will be interested to see whether the total crowd is 3,339 or 3,790.

But we have come to life a bit. A long ball by Joy Mukena is played down the channel, Ade Adeyemo gets there, and it is deflected into the box. Orsi gets to it and lays it back to the onrushing Klaidi Lolos who takes a touch and smashes it into the net for the equaliser. 1-1.

A couple of minutes later and Lolos is down off the ball near the edge of the area. But as is usual when there is an off the ball incident with a Crawley player down, none of the officials have seen a thing, and play continues without any cards appearing. At the other end there is a bit of confusion from a Stockport cross, and it nearly ends up being an own goal, but Addai keeps it out again.

There are five added minutes shown on the board, and Stockport celebrate this by launching a clearance over the west stand for the first ball loss of the day. Which is quickly followed by ball two. We work the ball well and it falls to Maguire on the edge of the box, and he hoofs the potential moment of glory high and wide over the Eden Utilities Stand and probably into the Fan zone. There is one more chance as we break down the right again, but the cross is too high and too deep and goes out the other side for a throw and the final whistle is blown with the final score 1-1.

Only our fifth draw of the season, and the second against second place Stockport. The point takes us up one place to ninth in the table, behind Walsall on goal difference with a game in hand on them, and a point behind AFC in seventh (and the play off spots) with two games in hand on them.

Next up are Tranmere Rovers away on Saturday, a team in decent form themselves.

Come on you reds.

Cherry Oh (Yeah) Baby

I’m mangling UB40 this time (although it was a cover of an Eric Donaldson song – also covered by The Rolling Stones). It could have been different as it was tempting to take one of the artists on Cherry Red Records instead and have The Dead Kennedys and Too Drunk To (Give A) Fuck as the title.

Another Tuesday night, another game, an away one this time, with the relatively short trip over to the Cherry Red Records Stadium to face rivals AFC Wimbledon.

The game follows hot on the heels of a welcome win and clean sheet on Saturday against Forest Green Rovers. Going into the match we are seven places behind AFC, but only four points, as it is still ridiculously close from the last playoff place down to nineteenth, with only three wins separating the lot, and only two points separating seventh from fourteenth, and a win tonight would put us into that group as well.

Our last game against AFC was the Friday before Christmas where we fell to a 1-2 defeat in a game we should have got something out of, and marked by individual errors to give them both goals (have we heard that before this season?) This game is rearranged from January when they had a frozen pitch. They were busier than us in the transfer window, but disappointingly still haven’t signed a Bulgarian uncle.

It is our third away trip of the season, and it is the first time we have gone on one of the GH Travel supporters’ coaches. It means sloping off work early so we can get to the Broadfield Stadium for 5pm.

The game will be the first chance this season to get a programme (yes, I’m still banging on about programmes). And I’m aiming to get a few, not to make up for the lack of them over the rest of the season, but because I’ve got some writing in the programme, as the away fan’s perspective section of it. Always good to have copies of stuff that make it into print.

There were two coaches for this trip. And they were both quite full. Have I mentioned I don’t travel well on coaches. It is slow going pretty much from turning off near Coulsdon South station to the ground, and the access road in to park the coach isn’t a reversing job I’d particularly want to do in my car. I’m glad to be off the coach and in the fresh air. I don’t think coach travel to long distance games is for me.

I haven’t been to this ground before, and never made it to the old Plough Lane ground either, so went and found the Wimbledon FC monument whilst getting some pre match food. Aptly it is only fifty meters away from the Wimbledon cemetery.

I got into the ground after food, about fifteen minutes before kick-off and there were no programmes, they had all sold out just before I got there, so I didn’t get one, let alone a few. But the guy who collates them for the club is going to get a copy sent to me.

The stewards didn’t seem able to cope with the volume of the fans trying to get into the stand through just the one opening. In both senses of the word, the number of fans, and the sound. There is a lot of noise being generated by the Crawley support, a hell of a lot more than by the AFC support, something which carried on all game.

Crawley were in their all-white kit, and Corey Addai was in a striking pink and purple outfit. AFC were in their all dark blue kit with the one large yellow stripe.

Most of the early going is AFC Wimbledon pressure and it takes nearly ten minutes for us to get into the game at all. We have an attack and the ball bounces around in the box though we have difficulty getting a shot off in the box before one is attempted and skied over.

There is a clash on the edge of our D and Jay Williams is penalised. The free kick to AFC is dead centre, and the attempt is on target to the top right-hand corner, but Addai saves it, and it goes for a corner. A few minutes later an AFC player goes down on the edge of the area claiming an elbow. He gets a free kick but there is no booking for Williams but it’s his final warning from the referee.

After some more AFC pressure, we get some of our own at the other end and win a corner. We have a couple of shots and then win a free kick on the edge of their area which amounts to nothing. AFC attack again and Dion Conroy is only inches away from deflecting the cross into his own net.

Towards the end of the half Crawley are beginning to get on top. There is one added minute before the half ends with the score at 0-0.

Random half time observation. So, on one side of the ground there are flats overlooking the ground. What is amusing (to me at least) is the number of lights on with closed curtains. Why move to a flat overlooking the ground if you don’t like football?

AFC start the second half quicker than Crawley again and get an early corner which is cleared. Ball 1 sails over the flats’ side stand from an AFC clearance. Then we give another free kick away on the edge of our area it is crossed but the shot is sliced high and wide. We attack and Ronan D’Arcy has a shot from outside the box but it’s an easy save for their keeper.

There is more AFC pressure, the ball goes back and forth across the goal area and the final shot forces a great save from Addai. And from the resulting corner there is another shot which is straight at Addai. There was a flurry of subs on both sides, and we seemed to pick up our play almost immediately.

Kellan Gordon looks like he was brought down in the box, but penalty appeals are waved away. Our next attack sees Adam Campbell try and lift the ball over the keeper, only for him not to get enough power on it and for it to drop into the keeper’s hands. We have another attack and there is a Klaidi Lolos shot which goes wide from the edge of the area.

Another good spell of pressure follows, and a ball comes into the area and an AFC player slices it across the front of the six-yard box and Danilo Orsi is there to turn it in and we lead 1 – 0. Cue mass celebrations, a large number of worried looking stewards, and the inevitable idiotic flare going off. When everyone has returned to their seats (to stand in front of), one of the stewards was then laughing and pointing out to a colleague that there was a Crawley fan with their top off in the stand.

We keep attacking and another Lolos shot is easily saved. There are three added minutes which start with a Nick Tsaroulla shot over the stand we are in, and it is ball loss number two of the evening. The added time sees AFC pumping the ball into the box, but Addai is collecting everything, falling to the floor, and taking his time. The full-time whistle goes and it’s a 1-0 win for us.

Another flare is thrown onto the pitch as part of the post-match celebrations, and the police get involved and there looks to be a couple of arrests.

The win moves us up one place to fourteenth we are now only two points behind the final play off place. Next up Accrington Stanley away a team only a point ahead of us.

Come on you Reds.

Won In A Forest Green Rovers

If the club keep playing Cure songs post-match, then it was only a matter of time before I shoehorned some of their approximated lyrics into one of these blog titles.

It is another home game in quick succession after a rare draw on Tuesday night at home against Walsall. A better performance than some of late, but still a frustrating result and one that left us fifteenth in the table (but still only seven points off the playoff places and with a game in hand — I can always hope). The opponents today are Forest Green Rovers, who having been relegated from their only season in League One, are in the relegation places coming into today’s game, having dragged themselves off the foot of the table Tuesday night after a surprising 2–1 win away at Barrow.

The corresponding fixture was at the end of our terrible October and after taking an early lead we ended up losing 1–2 to them. Although that wasn’t as bad as the previous time we had played them back at their place two seasons ago where we lost 3–6 in their League Two winning season. But we did beat them in out last home game against them in that same season, taking a two nil lead and holding on to win 2–1. Part of the crowd in the east marquee had been telling their defender Bernard to pull his shorts down as they were in a proper eighties’ short shorts style. Of course, he scored their goal that day.

The Stockport County game, which was due to be on Saturday the sixteenth of March, but as Stockport are now playing a game on the Thursday due to the wankers at Sky moving it to put it on telly, it’s now going to be on the Monday night, the eighteenth. Why can’t you leave the fucking fixtures where they are you Sky twats. Why the Monday? Why not Sunday? Other teams can play Thursday night, Sunday afternoon, what’s so fucking special about the Stockport twunts that they can’t, instead of wasting my money. Deliberately book things so they won’t clash with games and Sky come along and fuck it all up. They should be forced to pay anyone with tickets compensation. What to miss? The game or the other thing I have booked.

For once there was no writing group on the Saturday morning before the game, and so it was an unusual daylight stroll along Wakehurst Drive and through the underpass to get to the ground. I wasn’t there quite as early as I usually am, and wasn’t waiting for the turnstiles to open.

Outside the ground I spotted quite a few FGR fans wandering around with a burger in their hands, obviously surprised that we still sell meat products at the ground. Inside the ground and we find Reggie is back in action after a couple of games off for good behaviour.

FGR are in mainly black kits with some turquoise patterned striping on it. Bernard is still with them, but only on the subs bench, but as the subs were out keeping warm at half time, I can confirm he is still wearing the same ridiculous short shorts.

It’s a slow start to the game and the first decent attack for us is down the right wing, where Nick Tsaroulla’s cross is hooved out over the east marquee and onto the A23. Again, there is work down the right-hand side of the pitch, and the ball is worked across the edge of the area, only for Ronan Darcy’s shot to be deflected out for a corner, which was easily cleared.

At the other end, in typical fashion Dion Conroy loses the ball in the middle of the half and it takes a last-ditch tackle for a corner to prevent a shot on goal. The corner is cleared.

Meanwhile the crowd around me are shouting book him after a FGR player commits a foul in midfield. I am adding the word Danno on the end of that shout in my head. Which gets me to wondering are there any referees called Dan or Daniel, and if so after they make a booking should they play the Hawaii-5-O theme music?

There is some good, sustained pressure from Crawley now, and Tsaroulla dribble through a couple of players in the box, but the ball just gets away from him and the FGR keeper collapses on it and so it comes to nothing.

With a few minutes to go to half time there is a lot of good pressure down the right, some good interplay involving Tsaroulla, Liam Kelly, and Adam Campbell, and it ends with Tsaroulla to the byline and a cross and there is Danilo Orsi to flick the ball past the FGR keeper and into the net and we lead 1–0.

From the restart there is a FGR attack, and they have a shot which is over the bar. Then we attack down the left wing and Darcy cuts inside into the box and his sharp shot is well saved. The board goes up for one added minute and the half ends with Crawley leading 1–0.

In the second half the first real chance falls to FGR when they break but the shot is easily saved by Corey Addai, and we counterattack and win a corner. From which there are claims for a penalty when Jay Williams goes down in the area, but they are waved away.

There are a flurry of substitutions made and then we attack down the right, the ball into the box comes to Klaidi Lolos who can’t find the space for a shot and passes it to Harry Forster, only for his shot to be blocked. He picks it back up and gets a cross in, but the FGR keeper collects. At the other end Orsi blocks an attempted cross out over the KRL Logistics stand for a corner and ball loss number two of the day.

Crawley are pressing well and putting good pressure on the FGR defence. Forster and Lolos win the ball back in the box and pass it between themselves, but the final ball eludes Forster and goes out for a goal kick.

FGR are attacking a bit more, and it is mainly down the right wing. They get another shot off that is straight at Addai, and for some reason after the ball is caught their number 46 throws one of our defenders to the floor and the shouts of ‘book him’ are obliged by the ref. there was no Hawaii-5-O theme played.

Another left wing move see Lolos and Forster link up again and Forster’s cross just evades all the Crawley players in the box, but it is turned back in from the right, and FGR just about manage to scramble the ball clear. Then Kellen Gordon intercepts a ball just in his own half and gallops down the right wing and crosses it in; Lolos attempts a scissors kick, but it comes off the side of his boot and is cleared.

FGR attack down the right again, get to the goal line and cross, and it deflects for a corner, but they are claiming it hit a hand and should be a penalty, but the ref ignores them.

Crawley attack down the left again and Forster crosses, but the ball is cleared out as far as the right wing where Gordon takes it and crosses it back in and Lolos slams it home to make it a 2–0 lead.

The board goes up to indicate four minutes of added time, and after a bit of FGR pressure, we have another attack down the right, Jack Roles cuts in and takes a shot which hits Lolos on the side of the head and puts him down. The pressure is sustained, and the ball comes back to Lolos who has got back to his feet and his shot comes off the post and Forster follows up only for his shot to be saved for a corner.

A late Will Wright clearance sails well over the east marquee and heads towards the A23 again, for the third ball loss of the day. FGR are trying more now than at any point in normal time and get a deep cross in and there is a header on target which Addai just manages to push away. They keep the ball and the pressure on, but a shot comes in and goes wide which gives the signal to the ref to blow the full-time whistle and it is a 2–0 win for Crawley.

The win sees no change in league position for us, and as the two teams above us both won as well, we are still three points adrift of fourteenth, but we are now only five points off the playoff places, and we have a game in hand against all the teams above us in contention apart from Morecambe (who are technically that game in hand).

And next up is one of those in contention teams, as we play our rearranged fixture away to AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night, where I know I will be able to get my first programme of the season.

Come on you reds.

Side Saddle Up

Going for a bit of a mash up this time around, taking Russ Conway and David Christie and smashing them together (as opposed to most people who would have just smashed their records).

A Tuesday night game is going to be commonplace for the next couple of months, as there are both originally scheduled games to play, plus a plethora of rearranged postponed games. Tonight is a home game against Walsall.

Since I last wrote there has been the single game, a narrow away 0–1 loss to high flying Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. A loss that saw us drop to fifteenth in the table, one place and one point above tonight’s visitors.

Our return fixture against them back in October was the last of the only three draws we have had in the league this season, where Danilo Orsi scored a ninety-fourth minute equaliser to give us a 1–1 draw, in a match that was also a Tuesday night game (one of three teams where both fixtures were scheduled to be night games along with MK Dons and Notts County, though with a postponement, we are now going to play both games against AFC Wimbledon as night games as well).

They are managed by the almost appropriately named, ex-Crawley player, Mat Sadler, and are on a similar run of poor form to us. So here’s hoping that continues for them and we can find winning ways again.

We have additional numbers with us on the way to the ground as for some reason our neighbours have asked to come as well. Must be a slow night on the telly. I’m not in the ground as early as I usually am before Saturday home games, but still in plenty of time to get settled before kick-off.

Walsall are in their all-white away kit. Walking around to the east marquee having come in on the west side, we can see the apron of the pitch is waterlogged and has puddles, but the actual pitch looks incredibly good considering the seemingly endless rain.

Early on there is lots of effort but very little quality from either side. There wasn’t a lot happening and my mind was wandering. I had a couple of minutes thinking that if the Walsall number nine had a very shiny shirt, would he need to change his name from Matt to Gloss?

It takes nearly fifteen minutes for the first proper shot of the game, Klaidi Lolos from distance has one that is just wide. Up the other end Walsall get a corner and there is a bit of a scramble in the six-yard box before Corey Addai collects the ball.

An unnecessary foul by Dion Conroy gets a yellow card and give Walsall a free kick to the right-hand side of the box, but thankfully it is easily blocked. Then some lax play gives the Walsall number eight (former Crawley player Isaac Hutchinson) a shot on target which Addai just tips around the post for a corner.

After a few games without a disappearing ball, we lose one over the KRL Logistics stand from a blocked cross. We are trying to walk the ball into the net again. Ronan Darcy is played through into the box, but he takes it wide and to the byline before crossing, instead of having a shot, and the cross evades the Crawley players and is cleared.

Ten minutes before the break and Walsall get a penalty for a foul in the box. Hutchinson calmly slams it into the corner sending Addai the wrong way, and we are behind 0-1.

At the other end, another blocked cross goes out over the west side of the KRL Logistics stand and that is a couple of balls gone. Back at the other end there is another Walsall shot which is well saved by Addai. There are three minutes of added time before the break, and as the half time whistle goes there are, if not boos, then certainly groans as the players go off, and the ref gets a warm reception. Hopefully, there will be stern words at half time, as the last ten minutes was pretty painful.

There may well have been as we come out quickly for the second half and get an early corner, which comes in and bounces in the six-yard box before being cleared. We then have two blocked shots in quick succession (from Lolos and Darcy). Then more pressure and another blocked shot, this one from Danilo Orsi. We have free kicks from about twenty-five yards out from both sides of the area one after the other, but there is no shot from either.

Nearly twenty minutes into the half and there is some good play in the middle of the park, and the ball is played into the area, Orsi wins the ball and lays it back to Liam Kelly who slams in a shot for the equaliser, and it is 1-1.

There is a flurry of subs from both teams, and Jack Roles who came on as one of them has a shot which goes wide left. But Walsall do some attacking of their own and have a couple of corners which are just about hacked away. Then there is more Crawley pressure, a corner comes in and the header is saved, and the ball is hacked away before another Crawley player can get to it.

Ball three of the night disappears way out over the KRL Logistics stand
again from a Crawley clearance. That definitely would have left a dent in
someone’s car. And Crawley keep applying pressure. There are two more blocked
shots, and one just wide right following a corner. The board goes up to say
four minutes of added time. We get a corner, another corner, both wasted. Another
attack brings another corner, cleared, played back in, punched out, and the
shot is then blocked before Lawrence Maguire goes down with an injury. After a
delay there is another attack and another corner, it is initially cleared and
comes out to Harry Forster and his shot trickles agonisingly inches wide. The
final whistle is blown as the resulting goal kick is in the air and the game
finishes 1-1, our first draw in the league since the last time we played

The crowd wasn’t announced, not was the sponsor’s man of the match (always
assuming there was a match sponsor). A point sees us stay in fifteenth, but now
three points away from the team above us. It was a bit of a crazy night for scores
in our division, the only two teams not to score were the two Dons, and
Mansfield beat Harrogate 9-2. Next up are bottom of the table Forest Green
Rovers at home on Saturday, another one we really have to win.

Come on you reds.

How Do You Like It? More, More, Morecambe

Some classic seventies disco to apologise for this time around in the shape of the Andrea True Connection.

Back to action after what seems like an eternity. Last time out was the away defeat to Peterborough United in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy eleven days ago. Our last game in the league was three weeks ago in the disappointing home loss to Salford City. In between our game away at AFC Wimbledon was postponed due to a frozen pitch, and the one away at Wrexham was postponed as they were getting thrashed in the FA Cup fourth round.

So, that should have given us plenty of time to get some work done in the transfer market. And so, we waited. We saw some loanees get recalled by their parent clubs, and we waited. And waited a little bit longer just for good measure. And then as if by magic, an hour before the transfer window closed there was some action.

First up was American attacking midfielder (subject to work permit) Jeremy Kelly who has been employed, if not necessarily playing a great deal, in the MLS for the last seven years. And what’s the first thing that pops into my head when I see his name? Game For A Laugh. I hadn’t ever thought of that TV show for nearly thirty years and then. Pow. Just like that it appears as my mess of a brain automatically mashes up presenter names to arrive at Jeremy Kelly. Then I remembered there were two hosts with the surname Kelly on the show, so it could well be much like our midfield will be soon.

Then, announced after the window closed, we have signed Mustapha Olagunju on loan from Huddersfield Town for the rest of the season. He is a central defender who has played even less than Jeremy Kelly and who had been on loan at Ebbsfleet United until this week. His name flagged idiot neurons in my brain as well. I must have a word with myself.

There was also an attempt for a third player, Donovan Wilson, a (some would say) much needed additional striker, to come in on loan from Grimsby Town, but that last minute deal fell through as Grimsby failed in their own last-minute bid to get a striker in from elsewhere themselves.

Anyway, today’s opponents are Morecambe, the only team we haven’t played in the league so far this season. The away game back in October was postponed due to their international call-ups and has only recently been rearranged to play on March the fifth. What would have been a weekend away visiting my mum in Morecambe and five-minute walk to the ground is now likely to be a game I won’t be at.

We go into the game having only dropped a place in the league to twelfth since we last played despite other teams playing one, two, or three times in between times. But we are now five points off the play-off places, albeit with a game in hand against all teams above us in the league apart from Wrexham. Morecambe are two points and three places behind us in the league in fifteenth.

The postponed AFC Wimbledon game was rearranged for the twentieth of February, and I’ve booked Helan and I onto the fan coach to the game, so I will get there, get a programme, and see myself in print.

As with a lot of home games, it was straight to the ground from writing group, to get there, pay for the coach, and get in nice and early through bag check, ticket scan, second ticket check, and past the newish steward who always wants to have a conversation with everyone, before getting to the usual spot in the east marquee.

As I was stood waiting for the turnstiles to open, I really noticed the smell of fresh, hot doughnuts. More than I had on previous occasions. Probably because they will now rank quite high on a list of foods which I shouldn’t be touching with a bargepole. Walking alongside the east marquee I can see there are only two people in the stand before me. Typically, they are in the two seats next to where I sit.

The team lineup shows rare starts for Harry Forster and Klaidi Lolos, and new signing Mustapha Olagunju is on the bench, and we have a proper keeper on the bench as well. Morecambe are in white shirts with black sleeves, black shorts, and white socks.

It takes a few minutes for the game to settle down, but then we work a chance from a free kick, but Harry Forster’s volley is wide. We have lots of possession but Morecambe pressing deep and quickly and break and force a good save from Corey Addai.

On seventeen minutes we win a ball back from a Morecambe throw, Klaidi Lolos chests it down and plays it across. Adam Campbell keeps it moving on to Forster who takes it into the area, and his shot goes into the bottom corner and it’s 1-0.

Morecambe play a ball through, and their number 9 is in one on one with the keeper, but Addai saves well again. Up the other end a Forster shot is just wide. And then some decent work from Nick Tsaroulla sees him get a cross in and the header from Danilo Orsi is on target, but easily saved. Tsaroulla drifts across to the left, picks the ball up, dribbles past a couple of players into the box, but his shot is just wide.

And just like that it’s 1-1, a long cross goes all the way across the box and is played back in and their number 9 just flicks it past Addai and a defender for the equaliser.

Back on the attack and Orsi is nudged in the back and goes down in the box but as usual where Orsi is concerned, nothing is given. Two added minutes are shown and there are half chances at either end before the half time whistle goes.

It doesn’t take long for Morecambe to have the first chance of the second half, and it requires another good save from Addai. There is a little spat between Dion Conroy and their number 9, who gets nose to nose with Conroy and pushes him, both hands in the chest, but there is no card given.

We get a bit of pressure and Lolos gets contact on a ball, but it is blocked in the box and just won’t fall for a Crawley player. At the other end Morecambe get a free kick which is played into the area and back across like for their goal, and the ball is bundled in, but fortunately the flag goes up for offside and the scores stay level.

There is more great work from Lolos in the attacking third, and Morecambe are having a hell of a time trying to get the ball off him, and the resulting Campbell shot is blocked for a throw. The game is going back and forth now. Morecambe get a dubious free kick on the edge of the area and the shot goes over the bar. Campbell has another shot blocked for us. Morecambe get a corner and a shot goes wide, and then it’s back up the other end and another Campbell shot is saved and goes out for a corner, and another corner.

The game descended into a lot of stop and start, mainly because Crawley players were down on the ground. One was an obvious challenge straight through the back of Kellen Gordon, which may have won the ball but was a dangerous off the ground challenge with nothing given. Gordon again, then Will Wright and Tsaroulla were felled in off the ball challenges with nothing ‘seen’ or given. Liam Kelly is felled on our next attack on the edge of the Morecambe box, the ball had gone to Campbell who was pushed off it with nothing given. Morecambe break, there is a foul, the ref blows up and books the Crawley player. The shot that followed went over.

We are attacking more, but that final ball isn’t quite there, and it is frustrating. A long clearance from Morecambe is brought down by their number 9, who looks a few yards offside, and he controls, runs to the box, drifts through Conroy’s attempted challenge and curls it past Addai into the corner to make it 1-2.

Gordon is felled again on the right wing, but the free kick comes to nothing. We have the ball ready to attack again but the ref brings play to a halt. There is a red smoke flare on the pitch. For once though, it has been thrown on by the Morecambe fans. None of the stewards want anything to do with it and eventually Addai trots over, picks it up and throws it off the pitch.

There are five minutes added time announced as that is happening. And the Morecambe number 19 who came on just before the board went up seems to have come on with the sole purpose of running around and blatantly kicking as many Crawley players as possible. His fifth connection gets him a booking.

The final whistle goes, and it is a 1-2 loss. Very frustrating as we resorted to trying to walk the ball into the net, and we really get no protection from referees. As in so many games this season, the opposition have the game plan to kick and manhandle us at every opportunity, safe in the knowledge they are unlikely to get pulled up for it. Yet if we look funny at one of their players the yellows come out.

Leaving the ground was amusing. The away fans’ minibus was getting ready to go and was being escorted by a plethora of stewards. There were more stewards surrounding the minibus than there were people on it.

It is a loss which sees us slip two places to fourteenth in the league and puts a bit of a dampener on the post-match curry. We are away at high flying Crewe Alexandra next Saturday, a tricky one at best, but we need some away points to make up for our sudden poor home form.

Come on you reds.

Travelling Solo

It feels strange to be travelling alone. I don’t mean for journeys like the commute to work, that is different. But to be on a train going somewhere for the day and I’m sat by myself. It doesn’t take long for it to kick in that there is something missing. Well, not something, but someone. There is no Helen sat beside me. No little conversations, no little observations, no pointing out interesting objects out of the window. It is rare for us not to be travelling together, and now I am on the second such journey in four days.

Saturday I was off up to London. I had a full medical check up at the Euston BUPA site. A direct train to St Pancras. A journey made more times than I could accurately count. I used to travel everywhere by myself. Headphones in and left to my own devices. But I’ve gotten used to the interaction and now it doesn’t feel right to have replaced it with the headphones.

The medical was somewhat less than optimum, but I haven’t unpacked that all yet. Something for another piece on another day, I think. So much so that I didn’t even notice anything on the journey back to Crawley.

Now it is Tuesday, and I am back on the train and on the same route again. Only this time I am bypassing St Pancras and carrying on to the end of the line – Peterborough. I’ve switched my non-working day so I can go to the rearranged game against Peterborough United. Instead of it being the middle of a week off where we have leisurely driven there and stayed in a hotel overnight before and after the game, it is a there and back in the same day trip this time. Not something Helen is up to at the moment.

And so I am a solo traveller again. And it doesn’t feel any less weird than it did on Saturday. I am left to look out of the window across fields, at trees and bushes, at walls and fences, or to overlook people’s back gardens, see the activity around factories and warehouses, trundle past the death-defying feats required to get the graffiti in that particular spot. How every glance up and out is a different snapshot, a different vista.

I turn to point something out to Helen, forgetting I am by myself. And now I turn back to the window and study my own reflection as we pass through a tunnel, and everything is black outside. And I look old and tired. And sad.

Just Go For It, Go For The Second Time

There was the temptation to have more Chitty Chitty Bang Bang lyrics, but instead it is Kim Wilde who needs apologies this time out.

Following the disappointment of the postponed away game at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, another game lost to a frozen pitch, it is déjà vu all over again as I return to Peterborough to play United just under a fortnight since the original fixture was postponed for the same thing.

Only this time it is the usual Tuesday night midweek game for us instead of the Wednesday night the original was scheduled for. To recap (or blatantly copy what I said last time), this one is a cup game, a third-round tie in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy. Yes, the one that has had more names over the years than I’ve had hairstyles. It is the first time Crawley have reached this stage of the competition.

It is the first time we have played Peterborough since a 2–0 loss against them in the Carabao Cup at the start of the 2015–16 season. They are going well in the league this season, and now sit second in League One, and in the automatic promotion slots after winning both their league games since our cup tie was postponed.

What we don’t know (as I write this part of this up anyway) is how seriously both sides are going to take this game. We have already had wins over two League One sides this season in the competition without playing our full-strength side, and I’d expect a similar strength side again today. As for Peterborough, it is difficult to say how they will treat it. Flying high in League One they could look at this as a serious trophy winning opportunity. On the flip side they might want to rest players so they can push on for promotion to the Championship.

Meanwhile, we have had a disappointing loss at home to Salford City in a game reminiscent of the Alamo. And then the postponed game on Saturday (a double disappointment as I was to have a piece in the programme for that game – I’m not sure what is happening now, though I suspect they had already printed them before the postponement and it will be out of date by the time the game goes ahead now).

But with last weekend’s game off, and next weekend’s game away to Wrexham also postponed due to their participation in the fourth round of the FA Cup, it does mean we can have a pretty much free swing at this game and go all out to win it. Which would then mean the quarter finals for us and a home tie against AFC Wimbledon next Tuesday.

This time around I have come up by myself on the train and got here in daylight in lots of time. I can work out how long it takes to get from the station to the ground (ready for the quick march back after the game), and to take some pictures in the light. There may well be further sightseeing involved before the game.

It was a bit damp on arrival in Peterborough, but I stuck to the plan and timed how long it took me from platform to outside the away stand. So, I had a baseline for how fast I had to scuttle back for the direct train depending on what time the game finished.

I had a look around the ground and took some photos in the light.

And of the statue to Chris Turner.

I also went in to have a poke around in their club shop. Which is quite impressive for a League 1 side. So many different items to buy. If our club shop had a quarter of what was on offer at Peterborough, I’d be a pauper within a couple of months. It does seem like a massive, missed opportunity.

Then it was back to being a tourist for a couple of hours, taking black and white pictures this time around. Then a late lunch / early dinner (should that be a lunner or a dinch?)

I went into a charity shop to look at records and must have the look of a charity shop worker as people kept asking me where stuff is. It was difficult resisting the temptation to send them on a wild goose chase.

Then an hour in Charters nursing a non-alcoholic sugar-free drink before heading to the ground nice and early to take floodlit photos.

I was trying to count how many Crawley fans were coming in. I got into the seventies before kick-off.

Crawley were in white shirts, black shorts and socks, and Peterborough were in blue shirts and shorts, and white socks. And despite having a bag full of stuff with me, I failed to bring my glasses, so it wasn’t the clearest view of things.

We started brightly and had racked up a corner and a shot on target in the first minute. Another shot on target from the halfway line had the Peterborough keeper scrambling back but dropped into his arms a yard out. There was good early pressure on the ball as Peterborough played it around at the back.

There was nothing of note for nearly twenty minutes until a good move down the right ended with an Ade Adeyemo shot. Quickly followed by another attack and a shot from the edge of the D by Nick Tsaroulla went into the bottom corner and we lead 1-0.

Soon after we break down the left, Adeyemo turns on the halfway line and leaves his man for dead, plays it to Adam Campbell on the overlap, the cross goes into the box and Danilo Orsi is dragged down right in front of the referee, who sees nothing wrong, and waves play on. Peterborough break down the left and a cross is deflected and loops over Corey Addai and into the net to equalise. 1-1.

Two minutes later they go down the left again and another shot goes just wide. Peterborough’s left winger is having a field day.

We have some good play, but then comes the standard poor / lackadaisical ball to no one across the front of our own box and the Peterborough striker gladly accepts the gift and slots it in and we are behind. 1-2.

They have a penalty shout which is waved away, and Duncan Ferguson loses his shit in the technical area.

There are three added minutes, and their left winger is off again. They get a corner, and the header from it goes just over and the ref blows for half time.

We start the second half brightly and have an early corner again. All the early pressure is ours, but the final ball / shot is just off.

A free kick on the left side of the box is played in. There is a scramble in the six-yard box and the ball comes back to Adeyemo only for his shot to go over the bar and run all the way up to the top of the stand behind the goal before coming back down onto the pitch.

Peterborough start to have more of the ball and a break down the left ends up with a shot which Addai gets a hand to it and a defender clears it off the line. They get a corner; the wind takes it long and it is headed back across where the shot smashes against the underside of the bar and is cleared.

It is a frustrating watch and period of play. Now stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there is too much sideways and backwards passing, especially in our own half.

We get a free kick on the edge of the area, and it is wasted. And there is no urgency. There are only a couple of minutes of normal time left. However, there is an attack down the left and a shot is saved for a corner. But it is cleared.

There are three added minutes. We attack down the right and an appeal for a free kick is waved away and Peterborough break down the left. The cross is put wide by the striker and the referee blows the final whistle and that is it.

We are out of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy. So, no game next Tuesday against AFC Wimbledon. And with no game on Saturday that’s it for January. Our next game is the third of February at home to Morecambe.

I easily scuttled quickly enough to make the train, despite stacking it on the gravel of the stadium car park whilst failing to multitask and walk and text at the same time. But it is still tomorrow when I get home and publish this.

Come on you reds.

Taken Down By The Salford City

Very loose lyric links again today, apologies to Guns ‘n’ Roses for mangling Paradise City.

It’s home game time again, and it has been a very Crawley Town week for us. There was the great away win last Saturday over Bradford City, and four nights spent in Bradford, then onto Peterborough United, where the game was off, undecided, on, and off again over the space of six hours, and the Bristol Street Motors Trophy game is now rearranged for the twenty-third of January. It also meant we were in last night’s quarter final draw where if we win, we will be at home against AFC Wimbledon. Again.

Back at home on Friday, the first order of business was to get to the stadium and get tickets for the AFC Wimbledon game next Saturday. Then we went into town and to the Museum. It was my third look at the Crawley Town exhibition there, but Helen’s first. Well over an hour later, we’d had a thorough look, and I saw things I hadn’t really noticed before such as the clip below. The exhibition is only on for another two weeks, so if you haven’t had the chance to have a look then do so whilst it is still there, it really is worth it.

Anyway, back to the current, and today’s game against Salford City. We go into the game in ninth place in the League Two table, level on points with both the MK Dons and the AFC Wimbledon Dons, but well behind on goal difference. A win for us and a failure to win by both of the Dons would see us in the play-off places, and nose bleeds all around.

Meanwhile Salford are having a similar kind of season to the one we had last year. They currently sit twelve places behind us in twenty-first and fifteen points behind us on twenty-four points, and they are only two places and six points above the relegation places. Which could make things interesting as they should be fighting for their lives, making it a difficult game for us. So, no room for any complacency. And hopefully the midweek shambles wasn’t too much of a distraction.

The transfer market has been quiet, with only changes to the goalkeeping corps. Luca Ashby-Hammond was recalled from his loan by Fulham, due to lack of playing time, and immediately loaned out to Notts County. We had secured the signing of Ryan Sandford from Dartford before the recall was enacted. But for some reason we had no keeper on the bench.

I got to the ground straight from writing group and was in through the turnstiles at two on the dot, and the first one into the east marquee.

I also found out why there are additional ticket checks to get into the marquee, as some of our more moronic support had been wandering down from the terrace to block B of the marquee to goad away fans.

There was one coach for away fans parked up when I got there, I’m assuming most of them stayed on the coach huddled together for warmth right up until two minutes before kick-off. It is a frigid day, but at least we are going ahead unlike the Wednesday night game at Peterborough. Apart from the goalmouth I’ve mentioned before, the rest of the pitch is in good condition, the only worn parts are where the linesmen run up and down and wave their white sticks about. And if we wonder why it’s so drafty in the marquee, there might be a hint and a half captured on the trees behind it.

Salford are in an all-white kit, and they enforce the change of ends before the kick-off.

The first real action of the game sees a good save from Corey Addai, and the follow up was hoofed over the KRL Logistics stand for ball loss number one of the day. Another save follows not long after. Salford have started the better, and it took us more than twenty minutes to get a decent chance, and Harry Ransom has a shot that just goes wide. There was an obvious deflection off a Salford defender, but it is given as a goal kick.

Danilo Orsi is getting the treatment from the Salford defenders, he is hauled down twice in quick succession, but nothing is given (apart from the license for the two centre backs for Salford to do whatever they want).

Up at the other end another Salford shot sees the striker try and lob Addai; he succeeds but it comes back off the bar and is cleared. Only to get another chance which they thankfully blast over the bar from over six yards out. We are really living on the edge. There are more and more Addai saves, and a Salford shot is wide, but miraculously gets given as a corner. Which is turned out for another corner, which in turn is headed wide.

Orsi is dragged down again when past the last defender and through on goal, but again there is nothing given. Salford get another corner, but they wanted a penalty as the ball hit a defender’s arm to go out for the corner. From the corner we break, have a bit of pressure around the edge of their box, but get flagged for offside. There are some ironic cheers when finally, Orsi gets a free kick for being pulled back.

Salford are attacking again straight after though and force another good save out of Addai. And our best move of the half comes from this, we work the ball well up the right-hand side and get the ball across, but Adam Campbell’s shot is just wide. It is a brief respite as we are under the cosh again, more desperate defending, some blocks and another Addai save. We have a free kick in midfield, it is worked well, but the final shot is wide. We are just not quite with it so far.

Ball two disappears over the KRL Logistics stand from yet another Salford shot. In added time (no board went up or announcement was made of how long it would be) we have a long throw, a shot, an appeal for handball on the line, another effort bounces out off a defender and Liam Kelly’s final shot is wayward. (at best).

The half time whistle goes with the score at 0-0. Absolutely no idea how. I don’t even want to look at the first half stats for that. Although if I had been Orsi, I’d have taken my shirt off and offered it to the Salford number 42, who appeared to be wanting to swap shirts all through the half.

The second half starts is the same fashion. More Salford shots. We get out first shot on target a few minutes in. a quickly taken Jack Roles free kick from his own half looks to try and catch the keeper out, but it hasn’t got the legs and falls into the waiting keeper’s hands six yards out.

After a challenge in midfield the Salford captain is down on the floor pretending to be injured as play goes on. Roles walks past the player, who kicks out at Roles and puts him on the deck. He gets back up and appeals to the ref and linesman, who apparently haven’t seen anything. It would appear that Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles are officiating today’s game.

There are substitutions made by both sides. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to change all ten outfield players and made do with two changes. It is still Salford having shots, not so many on target until one is and Addai makes another good save. The resulting corner is cleared. We don’t seem to be able to string three forward passes together, and the sideways and backwards ones aren’t too great either.

Some bad control and a poor pass sees the Salford number nine through one on one with Addai, who makes another great save, but there are three Salford players in the box, and they finally get the goal all their shots deserved, and we are losing 0-1.

We finally get another chance, but Orsi’s shot goes wide. There are six added minutes announced, the first of which is taken up by Salford making more substitutions. We get a corner, but it is played short and easily cleared, and Salford break and get another shot in. Nothing is sticking for Crawley, and Addai is called upon to make another save.

The final whistle goes, and it is a 0-1 defeat in one of our most pitiful displays of the season. Not the way to celebrate a year of Scott Lindsey being our manager. The crowd was announced as being 2,970, with 95 away fans. The sponsor’s man of the match was Corey Addai, as if it could have been anyone else. I did brave the post-match stats. Thirty-five shots Salford had, no wonder it felt like the ruddy Alamo.

It makes me wonder about the effect changing ends before the kick-off seems to have on the team. It’s like some kind of Jedi mind trick. “This is not the direction you wanted to be kicking.”

The result drops us two places in the league to eleventh, three points outside the play-off places. Salford didn’t move in the table but increased the gap to the relegation places to eight points. And as an added bonus three of their players were named to the next Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic diving squad.

Next up is the away game at AFC Wimbledon, who we lost at home to just before Christmas. And in typical fashion, Network Rail are going out of the way to make it difficult for us to get to the game, as they have closed the line between Gatwick Airport and Purley, meaning there are no direct trains from Crawley / Three Bridges to East Croydon. But we will get there somehow. And I will get the first programme of the season. I’ll probably get a few as I am going to have a piece on our season in it.

Come on you reds.

Oh The Posh Posh Travelling Life, The Travelling Life For Me

Hot on the heels of the brilliant away win against Bradford City on Saturday afternoon, we have another away game. On a Wednesday night instead of a Tuesday night instead. This one is a cup game, a third-round tie in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy. Yes, the one that has had more names over the years than I’ve had hairstyles. It is the first time Crawley have reached this stage of the competition.

And we are in Peterborough to play United. The first time we have played them since a 2-0 loss against them in the Carabao Cup at the start of the 2015-16 season. They are going well in the league this season, and are third in League One, just a couple of points off the automatic promotion slots.

However, they did take a bit of a beating in the FA Cup at home to Leeds United on Sunday (3-0, now, where do we recognise that score and Leeds United in the same sentence from?) whilst we were winning 4-2 and boosting confidence in the ranks. What we don’t know (as I write this part of this up anyway) is how seriously both sides are going to take this game. We have already had wins over two League One sides this season in the competition without playing our full-strength side, and I’d expect a similar strength side again today. As for Peterborough, it is difficult to say how they will treat it. Flying high in League One they could look at this as a serious trophy winning opportunity. On the flip side they might want to rest players so they can push on for promotion to the Championship.

We have travelled to Peterborough straight from Bradford after spending a couple of extra days after the game and got here yesterday. I used to come to Peterborough a lot when I was a kid living in Leicester as it was the end of the line for the Birmingham to Peterborough train, it is a lovely place to look around, and the Cathedral is spectacular. So, a day to have a look around is always worth it.

I can’t take their nickname of ‘The Posh’ seriously. That’s because I spent far too many hours watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a kid (and even now as an adult if I see it’s on), and now can’t even say the word posh without imitating Lionel Jeffries playing Grandpa Potts and carrying on the lyrics of the song “with a capital P. O. S. H. posshh”. Hence the title of today’s piece.

The leisurely amble into the centre of Peterborough for sightseeing is interrupted by the announcement there will be a pitch inspection at 12:30. Which was inconclusive as another was scheduled for 14:30.

This seems odd as having stayed in Peterborough overnight, there hasn’t been a frost, the ground isn’t that solid, and around the hotel it doesn’t seem sodden either, there’s been no rain here for thirty-six hours. So not sure what the pitch is being inspected for.

14:39, and it’s on. Woo hoo, not a wasted trip then. After some lunch we have a wander around, and the west frontage of the Cathedral looks good in the setting sunlight.

Then, as we sit in Charters bar on the River Nene, we overhear Peterborough fans on the next table saying the game is off. An hour before kick-off the match ref has done another pitch inspection and deemed it unplayable. Change the woo to a boo then. The Peterborough fans aren’t happy as they’ve travelled from all over to get to the game, but they cheer up when they realise the side will get more time to prepare for their difficult league game on Saturday. But their chat soon turns racist, and we get out of there so as not to listen to any of that mess.

Coming out of the bar we can’t see the ground in the dark. There was certainly no time wasted turning the floodlights off then. They were on when we went into the bar.

I got a picture of the Cathedral in the dark on the way back into town, and then a bus back to the hotel. (They are still running now, so no post-game taxi needed now.) I can see why they don’t run very late at night, as we are the only passengers on the whole journey.

All that is left now is to find out when the game gets rearranged for. The quarter finals were due to be played week commencing the 29th of January. So, it should be in the next two weeks then. Not sure I can wangle the time off for a Tuesday night trip in those weeks but will try as don’t want to waste the tickets.

And if we can win when the game is eventually replayed then we know the possibilities for our opponents in the quarter finals. One of; AFC Wimbledon, Brighton and Hove Albion under 21s, or Wycombe Wanderers. Come on you reds.

We Got A Win At The Valley

Apologies to the often-forgotten Sabrina Johnson whose lyrics have been stretched past credulity to try and cram something song related into the title.

After the great win to start the new year on Monday against Swindon Town, it’s time for my first away game of the season. Circumstances have meant I’ve missed a lot of good opportunities, and this certainly wasn’t a planned (or even thought of) game to come to. In fact, I was supposed to be on the way to Seville, but with Helen advised not to fly, that trip has been postponed until March (much like the Morecambe game we were going to go to back in October) this week. So, I’ve taken the opportunity to take advantage of the already booked annual leave and head north.

And so, today’s game is something of an epiphany game for us. (Yes, that’s a poor joke, but as it’s the only date I can use it, it could be years before another game falls on the sixth of January.)

Today’s game is against Bradford City, in the WAGMI derby. We played them in our first game of the season and won 1-0, with Will Wright scoring one of his now trademark thunderbolts. Which continued our good record against them. And had the bonus of making Mark Hughes lose his shit again. There is no Mark Hughes to annoy today as he has got the push because Bradford weren’t doing very well, especially for a club of their size and expectations.

Going into today’s game we sit twelfth in the League Two table. One place above our opponents, and two points ahead of them. So, managing to avoid defeat would keep us above them in the table. Always good. We are only three points off a play off place (although there is a lot of goal difference to make up, so effectively four points).

We got here yesterday afternoon, chilled last night and then spent the morning sightseeing. We could see the stadium from the back windows of our hotel.

Some people may scoff about being able to sightsee in a northern industrial city such as Bradford, but we found lots to take photos of. In fact, we were so busy we didn’t get to any of the pre-match drinking establishments. The inside of the Waterstones is just mental.

And someone had put a Bradford City scarf around the neck of the statue in there. It could have been replaced with a Crawley Town one, but I wouldn’t have made it up there and back down in one piece. They had books on Bradford Park Avenue as well. It’s hard to think they were replaced by Cambridge United on election to/from the league about a month before I was born in 1970.

The plan was for me to get my first programme of the season. Little things and all that. Only Bradford have completely doing programmes as well. So, I have to make do with a photo of the picture in the foyer of our hotel with a selection of their programmes over the last century.

The team coach still had its engine running as we passed it coming down the hill to the ground, perhaps planning a fast getaway.

Meanwhile the fan’s coach was parked behind the other side of the ground and had emptied and had its engine off.

Their pitch is looking quite threadbare – or should that be grass bare? I thought us having sand in one goalmouth was bad enough. If you put sand on their pitch in all the bare spots it would rival Camber Sands for the beach.

The ball was delivered to the centre circle by a little remote-control vehicle. A gimmick left over from noughties Premier League games. Perhaps we could get a little robot on a tricycle to do a similar thing for us?

We are in our nice mint green third kits, which I went to get one of when I got tickets for this game earlier in the week, only for them to have only young child sizes left. Bradford were in their traditional amber and maroon stripes. A guy sits down behind us and promptly points past my ear and tells his wife “I built that stand,” which sounded impressive until his wife replied, “Yes, I know, you tell me that every time we come here” in a thoroughly disinterested voice.

An early chance is dragged wide by Danilo Orsi, in a slow start to the game. Followed not long after by an impressive effort from Corey Addai to launch a ball over the stand we were sat in, for the only ball loss of the game.

There is some decent work after some sustained Crawley pressure, Liam Kelly plays a great ball through to Nick Tsaroulla, whose first time cross from the byline in is headed in from two yards by Orsi to make it 1-0.

Just after the half hour mark there is a ball played over the top of our defence. It looks miles offside, but the lino keeps his flag down and runs with the play. The Bradford striker puts it in to the back of the net, only for the linesman to then put his flag up for the offside. FFS, we haven’t got VAR, put the flag up as soon as they touch the ball instead of giving us all heart attacks.

Bradford are coming forward more and more and five minutes before the break they are one on one with Addai again, the flag doesn’t go up, and Addai makes a great save. Bradford are getting away with a lot more roughhousing now. Half of this team wouldn’t be out of place playing at the Odsal instead.

There are two added minutes at the end of the half, and then the half ends with us leading 1-0. The Bradford sound system seems to have unplugged and speakers near the away end, as we are only catching whispers from the announcements in the home parts of the ground.

The second half starts, but it takes a long time for Crawley to join in. Bradford get a couple of corners, a near miss, Addai goes down needing some treatment, and the ref appears to be turning into a bit of a homer. He has an inane grin plastered to his face as if he is just pleased they’ve let him out on day release. The pressure continues. There is a free kick, a long shot, another Addai save for a corner, Bradford players have taken to throwing themselves to the ground at every opportunity to win something. It certainly wouldn’t be an academy award.

Then we have a breakaway, Tsaroulla is played through by Orsi as he lies in the centre circle, but with a defender chasing him down he goes to the right-hand side of the box before shooting and his shot ends up going straight at the keeper.

Fifteen minutes into the half, the continued pressure from Bradford tells, their number three crosses from the left and it deflects off a Crawley defender and loops over Addai and into the net to make it 1-1. It has been coming.

We have a couple of chances not long after, a Tsaroulla shot is straight at the keeper, and a trademark Will Wright thunderbolt from thirty-five yards out goes over the bar.

The crowd is announced early on, 16,919, with they say 103 away fans. Who the hell was counting us in, Stevie Wonder? There were at least fifty more of us than that.

With seventy-eight minutes gone, there is some messing around trying to clear the ball out from the goal line, a bad touch sees the ball run away, and a Bradford player takes the opportunity to do a running dive over the outstretched leg of a Crawley defender and a penalty is given. Which Addai saves but can’t keep hold of and the taker bundles the rebound in, and we are now losing 1-2. No more than we deserve really for the terrible second half performance so far.

But the goal seems to wake us up. Orsi is in on the keeper and tries to dink it over him to get onto only for the covering defender to clear the ball away. We are trying much harder, but the ball doesn’t seem to stick or fall for us.

Only for there to be some great play from the left-hand side, through the centre of the park, and over to the right where a cross is put in which falls to Adam Campbell and he smacks it in for an equaliser, and it’s 2-2.

Near the halfway there is what looks to be a two footed lunge on Lawrence Maguire, and he is down for a couple of minutes injured. But the decision given by the officials is for a Bradford throw, and then there are three phases of play before the ref waves Maguire back on.

There are eight added minutes, with injuries and goals that isn’t a surprise. And we take advantage. We get a penalty, Tsaroulla is tripped in the area after a ball was played to him by Campbell. It looked soft, but I’m not complaining after some of the other dire decisions the officials have made today. Orsi takes, ignoring all the gamesmanship from the Bradford players, and strokes it into the bottom corner to give us the lead again 3-2. Cue scenes in the away end.

Bradford go down the other end and get a corner and there is breath held, the eight minutes are more than up, and in the ninth minute of eight Crawley break. The decision making is good, the passes are accurate and Klaidi Lolos has a shot which takes a bit of a deflection and goes into the top corner of the net to make it 4-2. Utter pandemonium and delirium in the away end.

The final whistle goes not long after and Crawley has won 4-2. Oh my days. It is the first sway win I’ve been in attendance for, and what a last fifteen minutes of play. A shame much of what went before was pony. But who can’t fail to be overjoyed with a 4-2 away win.

A win that puts us back up to ninth in the table, on the same points as both of the Dons, and only out of the play-off places on goal difference. Get in there.

All that is left now is to find somewhere to get the traditional post-match curry. Which as we all know will be extremely difficult in somewhere like Bradford. (We went to supposedly the oldest curry house in the UK, very nice and ridiculously cheap, starters, mains, and soft drinks for less than £25 for the two of us.)

And then next up is Peterborough United away on Wednesday night in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy. We have a couple of more nights in Bradford before heading down to Peterborough on Tuesday. Let’s get one step closer to Wembley.

Come on you reds.