Apologies to Reverend And The Makers of course, and in reality, I could never have been a bantamweight, as the only time I was ever that weight I was far too young to be boxing professionally.
Here it is, the new season is here. It is the first time our first league game of the season has been at home for exactly six years since the 5th of August 2017. Since then, our first game has been away, at Cheltenham, Carlisle, Port Vale, Hartlepool, and Carlise again, and we lost all of those apart from the Cheltenham game.
We are playing Bradford City (hence the bantamweight reference). Our two games against Bradford last season were both draws. 1-1 away in October in the midst of a five-game unbeaten run, our equal longest run of such of the season. Then on Good Friday it was 0-0 at home, just after our other five game unbeaten streak, but sandwiched between 4-1 and 4-0 away whuppings at Mansfield and Barrow. Apart from scraping a draw against the promotion chasing Bradford team, the biggest surprise of the day was it took until the eighty-seventh minute for one of them to get sent off, as they’d been sent out with the instruction to kick anything that moved apart from the ball.
Going into the game we are a very healthy sixth in the table, on the same points as Bradford and only two places behind them. I for one would be happy to take the table at this point and move straight to the playoff games against Colchester. And always worth a screen shot of table with us so high up in it.
The new home kits went on sale at 10am this morning, and for the first 500 kits it came with the option of an arm badge of our new sleeve sponsors Brick Borrow. They are something to do with Lego, and not as I had assumed something related to the government’s house building policy.
The first question for me today was how early to get to the ground? I don’t have programmes to worry about now. As missing out on them at a few games last season due to last minute arrival meant I was usually at the ground before two and waiting for the turnstiles to open. So that early is only required if I’m going to do the new season, new shirt rush, and to have a wander around and see what changes have been made to the Fanzone and elsewhere. And check out the food and drink outlets. As long as they haven’t replaced Pepsi with the evil empire of Coke, I’ll be fine. (I’m not fine, they have done exactly that, so I need to remember to get drinks before getting to the ground from now on.)
As it was the weather making the decision, no one needs to be out extra early in that kind of torrential downpour.
My new season preview may only have been done two days ago, but we have two new signings since then. One on loan from Charlton, and a year contract for ‘an experienced’ striker, who appears to have had more clubs than Tiger Woods, and joins us from non-league. Good luck to both of them, although the small print of the striker signing said subject to EFL approval, which doesn’t sound good.
I need to get organised and print off and laminate a player to shirt number list so I’ve got some idea of who is who for the first dozen games or so, as I can’t just whip the programme out and check. (I will try to make that the last moan about no programme but can’t promise more won’t slip out.)
It did stop raining long enough to be able to walk into town and pick up When Saturday Comes (they were the same as Four Four Two and have us finishing rock bottom, only going down with Harrogate instead of Sutton), back to book a table at the Downsman for the traditional post-match curry, and to get new shirts for the new season, which had the Brick Borrows patches on them regardless. Only for the rain to start again in earnest when queuing to get through the turnstiles. At least the tickets and season tickets for the east marquee have on them for people to use turnstiles 7-12 and not just 11-12 this season.
Saw Al and said hello. Not sure which of the stands he was stewarding today, but we didn’t see him again all game or even leaving afterwards.
Bradford were in all white kits and appear to have been on HGH in the off season, they all looked effing massive. It only took thirty seconds for the first injury treatment of the season as there is a clash of heads between Kellen Gordon and one of the Bradford players. Gordon is bleeding and off for longer, but somehow the ref gives it as a free kick to Bradford, and not a drop ball.
Ten minutes in and there have been signs of life. There have been two bookings already, and the second gives us a free kick in a decent position. Time to see who’s taking over the dead ball duties. Recent signing Will Wright steps up and bang. It’s in. From a direct free kick, the get hell in there. 1-0. He seems to have the (w)right stuff.
The free kick is the only decision to have been given to us. Bradford have had a couple of chances, and we had a couple of breakaways, but with no end product.
Bradford, despite being built like brick shithouses are falling over in even the slightest breeze. There have been three blatant dives to try and win penalties. I’m assuming the muscle mass must affect people’s balance.
We go on a breakaway and the ball comes across to Gordon, who cuts inside, only for his shot to be blocked for a corner. It’s well worked, and it comes out for Liam Kelly to have a shot that is well saved, but it was called back for an offside. Even the Bradford bench are getting in on the yellow card action in the first half booking spree that is going on, with two of their number getting them.
Will Wright also appears to be a long throw specialist, and we win a corner from one of them. It is cleared, but played back in and the shot is just wide. The ref bottles a blatant yellow card for a Bradford defender for dragging down Ronan Darcy on the halfway line. Bradford get the ball back quickly and attack and get a corner and Corey Addai is forced into a couple of decent saves.
The reprieve for the Bradford defender didn’t last long, he hauls Danilo Orsi down near the edge of the area and picks up the second yellow he should have had five minutes earlier. The resulting free kick’s chance is headed over.
Gordon is playing more as an old school inside right and has another couple of shots that end up going wide. As expected under the new directive there is a lot of added time with eight minutes shown for the first half. And Bradford, despite being down to ten men have ramped up their kick the shit out of Crawley players. And just before the half time whistle a Darcy shot hits the crossbar and the follow up shot is saved, and with that the half time whistle is blown and we lead 1-0.
Is that a different song being played? I think it is, even if it is sampling the hook from Bittersweet Symphony. In fact, it appears to be a whole new half time play list, let’s just hope its not repeated at every game.
There are two half time subs made, and it is sensible as we replace two of the players who picked up bookings in the first half, don’t want to risk giving that man advantage away. We get an early free kick on the left-hand side of the box, but it is easily cleared.
We have a lot of slow build possession, as you might expect with a man advantage against a team of thugs, but occasionally we do speed it up and play a ball through, but the shot in the end is invariably wide.
Substitute, Klaidi Lolos looks to be willing to shoot from anywhere, something we were sorely missing last season. And the other sub, the last minute loanee from Charlton, Aaron Henry has a pop as well, and quickly follows it up with another from play after a free kick.
It is a bit nervier than it should be with a man advantage and the play is a bit back and forth. Bradford make a flurry of subs, and one of whom is Derbyshire. Which seems a bit desperate to have to be bringing on a whole county to try and get a result.
There are muted penalty appeals as Orsi goes down in the area after claiming he had his heels clipped. Not long after the first and only ball to disappear out of the ground happens as a Dom Telford shot flies out over the Eden Utilities south terrace after a period of decent play that had forced a rare save from the Bradford keeper. We are having more counter attacks, and the ball is played through to Orsi, but his early shot only hits the side netting.
The crowd is announced as 3,883, with 1,037 away fans, not bad, but the ground does look and feel like it had more in it than that. And before the added time of six minutes goes up, the sponsor’s man of the match is announced as Will Wright.
In added time there is another blatant full-length dive from a Bradford player trying to win a penalty, but their pressure continues until Addai saves and collects from an attempted acrobatic shot on target.
We keep having breakaways where its two on two, or two on one, or three on two, and every time we stuff it up with a poor final ball through. If we can get that right, then then this would not have been so tense towards the end and there would have been a decent goal tally. But as it is the game finishes, and we win 1-0.
The post-match music hasn’t changed though, Black Eyed Peas followed by The Cure. It was a satisfactory performance all round, lots better than much of what we saw last season. Let’s hope we can keep this level of performance up, as it looks promising for us if we can.
The post-match curry was good as well, but ordering it was painful, and we wonder if the Downsman has been taken over by some group of crypto clowns as well.
I don’t understand the league table though. We have the same points, goal difference, and goals scored as Gillingham and Harrogate, but for some reason the alphabetical order has been thrown out of the window and we are showing as down in ninth. The anti-Crawley agenda by the media has started.
Come on you reds.