Despite Cockups and Muscles, We’re Still Alive Alive-o

A lot of people have done versions of Molly Malone, but none have been mangled as much as I’ve just done in this title. If I had to pick a version then I would go for The Dubliners, after all, I heard a lot of that as a child. And it’s used as there aren’t a lot of barrow mentions in other songs, with or without wheels.

Without much time to rest and recuperate it is another home game tonight. After the error strewn disappointment of Saturday’s loss against relegation threatened Colchester United, we are back in action against Barrow, in a rearranged game as the original due to be played on March 2nd was postponed due to our pitch being waterlogged. And although there was some biblical rain yesterday, there has been high winds and sunny spells to ensure the pitch is playable for tonight.

We go into the game in the final playoff spot, and are two points behind our opponents tonight, so a win would see us leapfrog them into sixth, even if they do have a game in hand after another of their recent games was postponed due to their pitch being waterlogged. And it has been hotting up behind us. There are five teams within three points of us, with Doncaster Rovers now only a single point behind us and on a run of wins that looks like it would take some stopping. But it is still in our own hands, win the last three games and we will be in the playoffs regardless of what anyone else does.

It is a hell of a trip down from Barrow on a Tuesday night, but they have brought a coach, some cars and eleven long haired friends of Jesus in a chartreuse microbus in a convoy. And they’ve brought Dom Telford with them for his first Broadfield Stadium action since missing a penalty against Gillingham at the start of the season before he was sold to Barrow.

We arrive as the sun is setting over the corner of the KRL Logistics stand, and it is a totally different sky depending on whether you look north (lovely),

Or south (welcome to Mordor).

Despite the nice sunset it did rain on us all the way to the ground. Barrow are in white shirts with blue arms, blue shorts, and socks.

It is a cagey start, and it takes a while for the first shot to come, and it’s Jay Williams from about thirty yards out and it goes just over the bar. The ref has got his book out early on and there is a booking for each side for their first heavy challenge. Only for him to calm down and let a few more robust ones go (including a couple on Harry Forster again). There is a free kick on the wing, but Will Wright’s free kick is straight into the keeper’s arms.

Barrow attack and a shot is blocked, there is a Dom Telford miscue (where have we seen that before?) and a Corey Addai save before a cross goes wide. At the other end Ade Adeyemo gets a shot on the edge of the area but it is blocked within a couple of yards.

There is a lot of nothing going on for quite some time. Then we work it forward and Adeyemo has it in the box, his shot is blocked, hits a defender in the face and the keeper has to save it. Most of our good play is from getting it to the two wing backs high up the pitch, but we don’t do this anywhere near often enough. Lots of slow possession, and each backwards or sideways pass is getting met with groans.

Ten minutes before the break, Adeyemo tries to prevent to ball going to their winger but at full stretch just slows it down for him, the cross goes into the box, over the defence and their number 20 is at the back post and his header can’t be kept out by Addai and we are down 0-1.

It’s a while before our next attack, but a Wright ball finds Klaidi Lolos in the box and his shot is force over the bar for a corner. Which we waste. There are three added minutes at the end of the half. Enough time to get a cross in from the left wing which Adeyemo heads just wide at the back post. And the half time whistle goes with it 0-1.

The second half starts with a wasted free kick early on. Then an attack down the right and the cross is turned behind for a corner, which is headed clear, it comes back, and a shot is blocked, reclaimed, and then passed all the way back to Addai.

Another attack sees who knows what going on. We have a shot; it is blocked and there are claims for a penalty. It is cleared, put back in, there is another shot, and it bounces around and the keeper claims it. Then the ref points at the spot and we have a penalty. Was it for the handball? Who cares, even if it took an age to give. Danilo Orsi has the ball, and the Barrow players are taking as long as possible to allow the penalty to be taken. Their goalie is booked after coming back out off his line after everyone has lined up outside the box. Orsi ignores it all and sends the keeper the wrong way and it is 1-1.

Barrow have a bit of pressure, a corner is turned behind for another, from which Addai makes a great save, and there is a third corner which we eventually clear. We attack and there is clever work from Adeyemo down the right, it goes to Liam Kelly and his ball into the box finds Lolos and his shot is cleared by a defender after beating the keeper. We work it back across the field to the left and win a corner, and an Adam Campbell shot is beaten away and the follow up goes wide right.

At the other end a corner is half cleared, and played back in, a header comes out off the post and their shot is well saved by Addai, and the third effort is also stopped by Addai before the ball is cleared away. Barrow play a long ball over the top and it is taken down in the area by their striker, but one on one with Addai it is saved and cleared.

Lolos wins a free kick on the right-hand edge of the area about twenty-five yards out. The cross is headed out for a corner, which is wasted once again. Barrow attack, their cross is headed back to someone in the box, but their shot is over the bar. Then Barrow have the ball in the net, but the ref had blown for a free kick for handball before it was.

There are six added minutes. In which we huff and puff a bit. A Campbell cross is headed wide by Orsi, and there is a Dion Conroy shot from distances which is just wide, but the final whistle goes, and it is a 1-1 draw.

The crowd was announced as being 3,155 with 108 away fans, and the sponsors’ man of the match was Will Wright. Not sure why.

The draw doesn’t do us any favours. We stay seventh, a point ahead of Walsall who won tonight, and two ahead of Doncaster Rovers who have a game in hand against Colchester United next Tuesday night. It is no longer in our own hands, we are going to need help from somewhere, but we still have the right position, and all we can do now is go out and win those last two games.

Next up is out final away game of the season with a fairly local game against Sutton United, where the away tickets had sold out, but they have released another 450 this afternoon.

Come on you reds.

A Barrow Load Of Excrement

After a hard fought, and hard fighting, goalless draw on Friday at home against Bradford City, it is away against another B today, this time Barrow, and what has been said to be the furthest away trip of the season (which I’ll come back to).

It is Helen and I’s third away game of the season, and we have a base of operations in Morecambe to travel to Barrow from today, as we have taken the opportunity to visit my mum here whilst on our travels. We are twelve miles away from Barrow as the crow flies straight across Morecambe Bay. But the drive around the bay is considerably further at about forty-five miles. We had considered getting the train around, as the trip from Lancaster to Barrow-In-Furness is one of the most scenic rail journeys in the country. But engineering works means it is rail replacement bus services all over the Easter weekend and the road journey isn’t the same, and I might as well drive it myself.

And speaking of driving, I know full well Barrow is closer to Crawley than Carlisle is. I’ve driven from Morecambe to both and the journey to Carlisle is at least twenty miles longer, and as the journey up to the point those journeys separate is only five miles from Morecambe, it’s not possible for it to be further to Barrow unless you get lost. (I looked it up when I was in Barrow, Carlisle is twenty-five miles further away, Edwin Starr is happy about that.)

Anyway, if it were a clearer day and there wasn’t a bit of a hill in the way we would be able to see Barrow from the front at Morecambe as we start our journey, instead of just vaguely seeing the outline of Piel Castle through the haze at full zoom.

We hadn’t been into the centre of Barrow before, the closest was going to Furness Abbey and Piel Castle a few years ago, so we went for a look around. It was shut. The main central car park looked like it was from Get Carter before Alf Roberts was pushed from the roof. The rest of the town was deserted. Which does seem a bit of a shame as it has some lovely looking Victorian red brick buildings. Wetherspoons for lunch and the retail park near the ground were the only places open.

Barrow started the game in 9th, thirteen places and twenty points ahead of us, but on a poor run of form, and have dropped out of the playoff places recently. We start the game just out of the relegation places on goal difference ahead of Hartlepool. Oddly, despite the difference in places and points we go into the game having scored more goals in the league this season than Barrow. In fact, we’ve scored more goals than a lot of teams above us, it’s just stopping them at the other end that is the issue.

There was a GH away day coach coming up with an overnight stop for some Crawley fans, but anyone trying to train it up were being hampered at every turn. Euston was shut to anything going north, so it was alternative routes to Milton Keynes to try and get north from there, only to be met by the aforementioned rail replacement once getting to Lancaster.

There was no sign of any programme sellers at the ground, and the turnstile for the away fans was not signposted. We did nearly a lap of the ground before being sent back to somewhere we had passed before. I didn’t think it was possible to be less organised than at Crawley, but they were giving it a good go. And inside the ground it is just strange. I may say about us sitting in the east marquee, but we can have fans all around the ground and there aren’t so many view blocking metal posts. Plus, their pitch looks atrocious, making ours look like a crown green bowling lawn.

Our game at home earlier in the season had ended with us winning 1-0 after an early Ashley Nadesan goal despite an abysmally biased referee performance. (Something I might have said about today until about the eighty fifth minute.)

The rain of the day had finally stopped about ten minutes before kick-off, and despite being under a stand it was difficult to find any dry seats. Barrow were in white shirts with what looked like a drunken paint brush stripe of light blue down the middle, blue shorts, and white socks. We were in all black, as if dressing for a funeral.

We settled better and ten minutes in we got a free kick on the edge of the area, and Jack Powell had a shot that was deflected for a corner, from which Barrow went up the other end and won a free kick of their own. Which fortunately made some of Jack Powell’s efforts over the season look world class.

Eighteen minutes in, there is a Barrow counter attack through a gap in the middle of the field, the ball is played out to the right wing and crossed in for their number ten to slam in and we are behind 0-1, There is nothing wrong with Barrow’s PA system and it blasts out The Dave Clarke Five’s “Glad All Over” when the ball goes in.

On twenty-five minutes Barrow have the ball in the net for a second time, only for it to be ruled out for a blatant handball, so it stayed 0-1 and their player got a booking for their troubles as well. On half an hour, Barrow get another free kick on the edge of our box, but it is just wide and the ball heads off down the tunnel.

So, Caleb Chukwuemeka started. I don’t know why, I’m not sure anyone else watching knows why. He is useless, doesn’t try, and has a worse pass completion percentage than good old Jack. Is there a clause in his loan deal that the club have only just noticed that he must play a certain number of games or minutes, and that if he doesn’t, we have to shell out a load of money for the loan deal? Surely that can be the only explanation for why he’s even anywhere near the squad, let alone playing and his sudden reappearance.

As the board goes up for two added minutes, it stays up to bring about CC’s substitution, which brings about the biggest cheer of the day from the travelling support, as he is replaced by Dom Telford. And at half time substitution two is made to bring on Atamide Oteh for Jack Roles, another one who did nothing and shouldn’t have started.

Two minutes into the second half, before everyone has got settled there is a free kick from the far side, and it comes across to Barrow’s number ten and he heads in to make it 0-2. Not the start to the half we wanted or needed.

Eight minutes into the half came a stupid and totally unnecessary push in the back from Travis Johnson on a Barrow player and the ref has no hesitation pointing to the spot. Although Corey Addai gets a hand to the penalty, it goes into the side of the net and Barrow are 0-3 up and their number ten completes his hat trick.

It takes a while to get a couple of attacks going. Twenty-five minutes in fact. A shot is deflected foe a corner, which ends up starting a counterattack and a shot on goal by Barrow. A couple of minutes later Brandon Mason is taken out on the halfway line and a yellow card is given, but it looked more of a mid-shin stamp, and it should have been a straight red. Not that playing against ten men would really have helped today.

With less than ten minutes to go and after a few sorties forward there is another super-fast break and the Barrow striker is one on one with Corey Addai, who saves well, but the ball bounces out and he can’t get back up to stop the follow up header looping over him and into the net to make it 0-4.

The crowd is announced as being 3335, with 87 away fans, which brings the second loudest cheer of the day from the away contingent.

With less than five minutes to go Oteh is fouled again in midfield and loses the plot as he gets up and pushes the Barrow player over. He is extremely lucky to only get a yellow card for that, which is a bonus as it will mean he doesn’t miss the next three games.

There were four added minutes, during which we were mainly thankful that Barrow didn’t make it five before the final whistle was blown.

It was dire today. We lack pace all over the pitch and it is becoming more and more obvious with each passing game. Our defenders can’t cope with it, and our strikers aren’t quick enough to go past people. And the pace of play is glacial. It is terrible to watch. It was good to see Nick Tsaroulla back on the bench, but part of me is glad he wasn’t thrown back in today, as we have had the tendency to rush people back from injury doing us no goo in the long term (Ashley Nadesan isn’t really the same player since his injury earlier in the season).

And results elsewhere didn’t help matters, Rochdale, Hartlepool, and Harrogate all drew, and Colchester somehow managed to win 4-0. We have slipped into the relegation places again, a point behind Hartlepool, three behind Harrogate and four behind Colchester, and we have worse goal difference (lots worse in some cases) than all of them.

It is now back to home fixtures with Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, a game we really have to win now. Hopefully, we should be home by then to watch it.

Come on you reds.

Through Streets Broad And Narrow

These match reports appear to be getting later and later after the match. It’s not that I’m delaying writing them as they get written live in situ. It’s my apathy to type stuff up that is holding the process up, I need to pull my finger out and get back to typing them up the same night instead of fannying around playing games.

It is back to league action today after a cup interlude. Last weekend’s defeat in the FA Cup to Accrington was written about. Then came Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to Championship Burnley in the Carabao Cup, and with that Lancashire double whammy it saw out interest in cup competitions come to an end for the season.

We are playing Barrow, who start the game in fourth place in the league; a single place outside the automatic promotion spots. It will be the third game out of four that Crawley have played against the team occupying that spot at kick off. Our last home league game against Mansfield saw them start there (and we won). Our last league game against Bradford City saw them start there (and we drew). So, a similar result again today would be most welcome.

We start twentieth, sixteen places and seventeen points behind Barrow, and a place lower than we were at the end of our last game. Rochdale have won a game at some point since we last played in the league.

It’s a sunny day, but I have layers with me, and a hat and gloves, just in case; as I am going straight to the game from writing. And I’m very early. So much so that the turnstiles weren’t even open when I arrived. But it did give me a chance for a chat with Al before they opened. He’s stewarding the home terrace today, and sounded thrilled about the prospect.

I have plenty of time to read the programme, and I could find no obvious typos for a change, and after two issue elevens it had issue thirteen on this time around. The music starts early and is loud, and it is a varied playlist which begs the question of what the hell happens at half time.

The sun is bright, and low, and I rang Helen to ask for sunglasses and a cap, as it would help being able to see what was going on. The Barrow supporters’ coach was here when I got here, and according to Al had arrived just before 1. They must have left Barrow when it was still dark, if not when it was the dark ages. It is a trek and a half down here for them.

As the teams come out, Barrow are in white shirts, black shorts, and white socks. Exactly as Accrington were last week, and I’m thinking I hope they don’t play like them. It is remembrance weekend and there are two minutes silence between two playings of the last post. The silence is immaculately observed, and as I look up for the start of the game, Barrow have changed shirts and are now wearing black shirts. Meanwhile the officials have come dressed like a pack of Stabilo Boss highlighters.

Both teams feel their way into the game, and just after five minutes in there is a great clearance from Ellery Balcombe, it is touched on down the wing by Nick Tsaroulla, Dom Telford takes it on and crosses it, and Ashley Nadesan slides in to tap the ball in to the net at the far post and we take an early 1-0 lead, with only eighty odd minutes to hold on to it.

Five minutes later ball one disappears over the east stand on a miscued clearance from Balcombe. Unlike last week, the opposition don’t score with the new ball straight from the restart. Always a bonus.

The first half sees a lot of back and forth without a great deal of chances for either side. Meanwhile it would appear that the highlighters must have been gotten at a bargain price from Poundland, as they are uselessly biased, and are working on the assumption that red = bad, and black = good.

There are two minutes of added time, which is just enough to see ball two spectacularly hoofed over the west stand, and the whistle goes for half time with us still leading 1-0. Read any previous match blog to see what happened at half time.

A quarter of an hour into the second half there are two penalty shouts for Barrow in the space of ten seconds, and neither are given in the first decisions to go Crawley’s way all game. They were hopeful shouts in the extreme, but you understand why Barrow would appeal. They had been given everything else up to that point. And to add insult to their feigned injuries, they pick up two bookings for arguing about the decisions. And the Barrow bench reacts by subbing both of them before they can argue their way to red card upgrades.

Two minutes late ball three disappears over the KRL Logistics away terrace from a wayward Barrow shot from about forty yards out.

The crowd is announced as being 2,588 with 150 away fans, and the sponsor’s man of the match is given to Joel Lynch.

Four minutes of added time are announced, halfway through which ball four goes out over the corner of the away end next to the west stand, and the Murray’s are off in force. This despite the fact that Crawley are defending so deep they are out in the car park. The Barrow keeper spends the last two minutes of advertised injury time, and the additional two minutes the ref pulled from out of his backside, in or around the Crawley penalty area. Thankfully all to no avail.

FFS that was a tense final few minutes, but the final whistle goes, and Crawley win 1-0. Another good result against the team in fourth place. The win, alongside other results in the division sees us jump up two places to eighteenth, and the result saw Barrow drop to fifth place.

There were muted chants of ‘can we play you every week’ during the second half. I’m not sure about that, but with recent results I’d be quite happy to play fourth place every week.

And that’s it for home games in November. The world cup will be in full swing before I’m back again.

Come on you reds.

She Wheeled Her Wheel Barrow

It’s game day, and it’s a strange one. The original plan would have seen us being away this weekend and missing the game against Barrow as we would have been in Leicester preparing for a Paul Weller concert at De Montfort Hall, a perfectly acceptable reason to miss any home game. Plus, a weekend in Leicester would have meant meeting up with old friends, and we’d also got a Van Gogh immersive experience at All Saints church booked in (me more for the chance to nose around inside the medieval church than for Van Gogh).

Instead, I’ve got the lurg, which meant we cancelled the entire trip to Leicester. And not wanting to cough over anyone (I’m mainly thinking of the two Murray Goldbergs who sit in front of us), plus still not feeling great, I decide I’m not going. Helen is umming and aahing and makes the decision to go by herself late on. I doubt she would have made it in time for the kick off, and all the programme sellers will have disappeared.

Since our last game, there was a mid-week defeat away to Salford City, and our scheduled away game to Sutton United was postponed as they’d made it to the Papa Johns Trophy final. Inaction coupled with other results saw us slip back into the bottom half, and we start the game in thirteenth, eight places and fourteen points ahead of our opponents today, opponents who are only three points above the relegation places.

And so, I’m at home “watching” the game with Gillette Soccer Saturday on the TV, and BBC live feed on the laptop, and it doesn’t have the same feel to it. There is no random drum beating and basic chanting. There is no telling from the very ‘just the facts’ text updates if the ball has gone sailing out over the stands. There is no knowing whether the manager has shat upon the officials’ lunch again and the decisions are all going one way. (Although the post-match debrief from Helen suggested the latter may have been the case in the first half.)

There doesn’t seem to be much action at all. The sun isn’t in my eyes at home, no need for a cap, and even though I’m not there I know what songs are being played over the PA at half time when it eventually comes after six minutes of added time. But at least I can see ours is not the only game goalless at half time in the division, it’s one of nine of them.

A different text report (from Helen) suggests the game is comedy gold. I suppose it doesn’t always translate. The BBC text show a flurry of early pressure from Crawley, but not quite a breakthrough. The excitement was getting too much for the cat and he’s curled up and gone to sleep on the pouffe.

It’s the text from Helen which wins the race to tell me Crawley have scored, Soccer Saturday came second, and it was Kwesi Appiah. And then three minutes later BBC catch up. There is more pressure, but not a second goal.

Then there’s the nervous period where a few chances are shown for Barrow, and a late save, and it’s Soccer Saturday that sneaks the final score in first, then a text from Helen to say it’s official. Not the score, but the fact that I’m the jinx. And about five minutes later BBC confirm full time. Even watching by text when Crawley are trying to hang on to a lead is stressful. Watching through my fingers again.

Helen reports back that Al asked where I was, it’s good to see he’s concerned that he wouldn’t be getting a mention in the latest blog.

With a Hartlepool draw, the win sees us jump back above them and back into the top half of the table, only the eight points behind eleventh place.