Our Milkshake Brings All The Points To The Yard

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.

Expect Fireworks, Get A Damp Squib

It’s FA Cup round one weekend, and we got a home tie against Accrington. Being creatures of habit, we got tickets for the seats we always sit in, and for only a tenner. Accrington are in League One, just a place above the relegation zone there. We haven’t played them in the league for a few years now, and first played them in 2004 back in Crawley’s first season in the Conference (as it was then), and we’ve had varying levels of success against them over the years.

It’s a rainy day after the brief respite on Friday, the cold November rain continues apace. We get to the ground in plenty of time, I’m surprised there is no away fans coach in the car park, I didn’t think we were that early. I get a programme, and it takes only a few seconds to spot this editions proof reading issue. It says it is issue 11 on the front of it, which means we get two issue 11’s this season, as the last programme for the win over Mansfield Town was already issue 11.

Since the Mansfield game we have had two away games. There was Colchester United on the Tuesday after Mansfield, and then the WAGMI Derby against Bradford City last Saturday. We drew both games. Two decent away points and we now are four games unbeaten in the league and have dragged ourselves up to nineteenth in the table, although still only three points above the relegation zone.

And last Tuesday we were knocked out of the Papa Johns Trophy without kicking a ball. At full time the remaining group game was a draw, which was enough for Portsmouth to go above us on goal difference, and to top it off they won the penalty shootout as well to get the extra point. Of course, it may be churlish to say, but you have to wonder just how much effort already qualified and recent rivals, Wimbledon put in to trying to win the game.

It doesn’t look as if Accrington have brought many fans with them. With no coach in sight, there are only a few pockets of fans huddled together at the back of the away terrace avoiding the rain. Obviously despite it being November the fifth, they aren’t expecting fireworks from their team.

The Sidemen thing has been rumbling on in the build up to the game. The bloke who formed the sidemen and two of his brothers have been training with the team this week. An interview with him was interesting and threw a lot more light on what the owners are trying to do. WAGMI had given a large donation to the Sidemen’s charity game a month ago, and on the back of that they have been happy to do promotional work with Crawley Town. They felt it was a great opportunity to train with professionals, and in no way were they expecting to be anywhere near the game, but it would be good if they could be.

When the teams were read out pre kick-off, they weren’t included, so it would appear that particular promotional episode is over for the time being.

Accrington turned out in white shirts and black shorts, and it was most disappointing to see that none of the players listed in their squad on the programme (a squad even bigger than Crawley’s) were called Stanley. I think they need to try harder.

As do we. First minute and we are jittery, Ellery Balcombe miscues his first touch high over the west stand, not even at the half way line. A second ball appears rapidly, and we appear to still be asleep, as Accrington slip the ball into the box, and their striker shoots, and draws a save from Balcombe, but it comes straight back to one of their players who tucks it in, and we are behind 0-1. Only the 88 minutes to sort a comeback out.

We do just about wake up and have a bit of pressure, but when we get near their penalty area, we turn into late Arsene Wenger reign Arsenal and look to be trying to walk the ball in. About twenty minutes in we get a free kick in a decent position, and it is well taken by Jack Powell (no, not a misprint, but it is his first decent touch of the game, the only one to go to a red shirt so far) and a header is deflected over. The corner sees a deeper ball from Powell which clears everyone, only for an Accrington defender to inexplicably head it back across the six-yard box and for Jake Hessenthaler to nod in to make it 1-1.

Crawley seemed to have settled down, only for five minutes later what appeared to be a nothing ball floats over defenders in our box and a simple header from the same Accrington player sees their lead restored. 1-2.

There is some back and forth play for the rest of the half, although on the balance of things, Accrington look a better side from a higher division, it’s not that Crawley are playing badly, they just find themselves under more pressure. Although Accrington are already resorting to timewasting.

Just before the end of the half Accrington get a corner, and they play it along the ground to the edge of the penalty area where a first time shot beats the hand out from Balcombe and makes its way into the top corner to make it 1-3.

Two minutes of added time are shown although it is easily double that as Tony Craig gets treatment for an injury, and we head into the break behind.

Yes, it was the usual playlist, but the entertainment was enhanced by Helen coming back to our seats, but in a world of her own she goes up the steps to the block before ours, only to then look around and not recognise anyone there before seeing me a block over, and having to go back down and around. And for a change it is the Crawley players out first before the opposition and officials.

We make a couple of half-time subs, and it is an indication of how he was playing that the biggest cheer (after the goal) so far is when it is announced Jack Powell has been subbed off. The second substitution was Joel Lynch coming on, although he may have been putting a bit much into leg day, as everything he hit early doors went far too far and far too quickly. We had some decent early pressure, a couple of shots on target and a corner.

But it is all in vain. The scorer of Accrington’s first two goals gets the ball played through to him, and he runs through and scores. The only issue being is he looks at least twenty yards offside. And not only is it allowed, and the score is now 1-4, but Lynch picks up a booking for remonstrating with the linesman, quite understandably. He’s not the only one to remonstrate with the linesman, as a fan trots down the steps and leans over the fence to have a few words as well.

Twenty minutes later the same linesman does put his flag up for an offside and it draws the biggest cheer of the day from the crowd (yes, even bigger than the goal). And the same bloke pops down to have a few more words with the lino, who seems to celebrate with a big roar and arm pumps as he runs down the line.

The crowd is announced as being 2,770, with 149 away fans, which causes a lot of people to stand up and look at the away end, where there are 30 fans tops in the terraces. Although leaning forward more we can see the away seating area is nearly full, still doesn’t explain the lack of coach though.

There are three minutes of added time put up at the end. The ref is really just making sh1t up by this point. As this is after two bookings for Accrington players for timewasting, four physio visits to the pitch and six substitutions. There should have been at least 8 minutes, although with the result a foregone conclusion and the relentless rain it’s probably doing all concerned a favour by bringing it to a premature end.

The FA Cup run is over for this year. Before it even got a chance to get going. Another cup game on Tuesday, away at Burnley in the Carabao cup, let’s hope we can avoid going out of all three cup competitions in the same week.

Come on you reds.