Stop Me If You’ve Seen This One Before

Some misappropriated cheerful Smith’s lyrics this time around, others may pop up as I continue on in this vein as Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.

After three consecutive away games it is back to home action in the second of the two for two-pound games. The away fixtures saw six points from nine, with a 4-0 win at Newport County, a 4-1 win at Mansfield Town (with a very nice photo on the back of the Crawley Observer of the team celebrating the second goal with Helen and I just above their heads), and then a 4-1 defeat Tuesday night at Wrexham, where the atmosphere was amazing and there were people roping others into coming to the Sutton United away game next week as they travelled back from Chester on the Wednesday afternoon.

After staying in Chester after the Wrexham game, today’s opponents are Colchester United, who currently sit in the relegation places, albeit with games in hand on Sutton and Grimsby Town above them. We beat them 2-1 in the away fixture back in December. And there was the saga regarding Matthew Etherington and his contract clause from when he managed us the previous season, which delayed his appointment. Some of their fans may be wishing they never bothered as his tenure there was only just longer than his with us, and the results were even worse there before he was sacked.

We go into the game in seventh and the final play-off spot. And with there being a chasing pack it is a game we need to win, so Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want This Time. With there being a chasing pack, let’s hope there isn’t the same kind of stage fright as there was with the last sell out of the two for two-pound games against Doncaster Rovers, nor the other two sellout games of the season against AFC Wimbledon and Wrexham. That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore.

The game is a sell out and Colchester have sold a thousand tickets, so there is no pocket of home fans in the corner of the north terrace today. I arrive early to beat the rush, not to get a programme (I might let this go in a couple of years or so). But it does point me back to the one picked up at Wrexham, as the piece on Crawley in their programme was excellent. I hadn’t ever stopped to consider how the club badge was made up, so their part-by-part explanation of it was an eye opener for me. I stick my head into the club shop and sigh, but at least they finally have some of the green third kit shirts in stock after months of none being available, and there is a new plain white T with just Crawley Town in black writing across the chest. These Things Take Time.

There are two coaches and a double decker bus of away fans parked up when I arrived, and I bumped into Paul on the way into the ground and had a chat, and then saw Al the steward and had a quick chat with him before making it to the seat in the east marquee.

Colchester are in yellow shirts, blue shorts, and white socks, so remarkably similar to the outfit we faced last weekend at Mansfield.

We have some good early pressure, and the crowd appear to be up for this one, and there is a Jack Roles shot over the bar. Harry Forster is taken down on the edge of the box. The free kick is crossed in, and Lawrence Maguire gets a head to it, but there is little power in it, and it deflects into the keeper’s arms.

At the other end Colchester create a chance, Corey Addai saves for a corner, which is nodded out for another, and the volley from that one sails out over the Eden Utilities Stand for ball loss number one of the day.

Forster is hacked down again, this time near the halfway line, but there is no sign of a yellow card this time either. A couple of minutes later we work a throw from near the box to Roles, and his shot clips the top of the crossbar and goes out over the KRL Logistics stand for ball loss number two.

Colchester attack and the defence seems to be Asleep as the ball is played across the box two yards out and requires a simple tap in to make it 0-1.

We attack and get a free kick for a pull back on Klaidi Lolos about twenty-five yards out. A Roles shot hits the wall and goes out for a corner. The ball is played in, a shot is cleared, we attack again, and it is cleared again. From the next attack Lolos brings a ball down in the box but can’t quite find Danilo Orsi to get a shot away.

At the third time of asking, a hacking down of Forster brings a yellow card, if there had been one for the first hack the latter ones might not be taking place. We work it down the left, the ball comes back to Roles and his shot is deflected for a corner. It is worked to Roles again and his latest shot is blocked, and the second ball in is deflected for another corner, which is worked into the box, but Maguire’s header is wide.

The Colchester defence throw us a Rubber Ring with a poor pass out from the back straight to Forster, he cuts inside, and his shot is half blocked and falls to Lolos who slots the ball in and makes it 1-1 a couple of minutes before half time.

I have to Ask what happened straight away at the other end. An absolute omnishambles. A defender tried to leave the ball to run back to Addai, but there was some Panic and it ended up being passed to a Colchester attacker who rolled it across the box to an unmarked colleague in the middle of the six-yard box who made it 2-1. Stupid, stupid, stupid. They Paint A Vulgar Picture.

There are three minutes of added time. We get a free kick about thirty yards out and after a meeting of minds over the ball Will Wright puts far too much pace on his attempted through ball to Orsi and it rolls out for a goal kick. We get a corner and have enough time to take it this week, but as it is headed out to the edge of the area the half time whistle goes with us down 1-2.

I’m walking back from a half time pitstop as the second half begins, and it looks as if we are going Nowhere Fast, as from the kick off, Colchester play keep ball in our half and have it in the net for 3-1 as I’m passing behind the other goal. Perhaps There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, but it feels as if the one on this game is about to.

It is all Colchester early on in the second half. Crawley can’t seem to get out of their own half, and there is another Colchester shot which is only narrowly over the bar. We finally make it out of our own half but Maguire’s through ball has just too much on it and the Colchester keeper just gets to it before Orsi. And from that Colchester go up the other end and get a corner.

The final ball for us just isn’t happening. It is all over the pitch, we are just off it, like they’ve Started Something they Couldn’t Finish. Forster is still going though, and he wins a corner as his cross is blocked out and over the Eden Utilities Stand for ball loss three of the day. Colchester break from the corner and are fortunately offside.

There is some decent work down the right by Ade Adeyemo who has just come on as a sub, and Forster’s shot is just high and wide. Another Forster shot soon after is headed clear. The Colchester keeper goes down with a spurious timewasting injury which allows Colchester to have a team talk as Crawley have just woken up from their slumber.

Forster is dragged down again near the edge of the box, and it draws another yellow card. The free kick bounces in and the Colchester keeper makes a meal of it, and it goes for a corner, which he then catches easily. We make another substitution and Jeremy Kelly wins a corner straight away, it is cleared and a clash of bodies on the edge of the area sees more blatant timewasting. Another J Kelly shot ricochets to the keeper, although there are shouts for a handball amongst the ricochets, which are ignored.

Colchester break again and win a corner, which Addai punches away for another. The ball comes in and is in the net, but as the Colchester players celebrate, we take the free kick the linesman has flagged for before the ball went in, which may have been a bit lucky. We break, get a corner, and there is a melee in the box before it is cleared.

We keep playing balls in and they are being hoofed away, or there is contact, and the Colchester players are falling to the ground like extras from Platoon. A Liam Kelly corner hits the first man, and there is a mention of Jack Powell from behind me.

Off the ball Maguire is on the ground after a clash with the Colchester number nine. For once an official sees something and the linesman is in the ref’s ear and a red card is produced and Colchester and down to ten men. It was all kicking off in the tunnel as they left the pitch.

There are seven added minutes, the first two of which Colchester spend wasting even more time. More hoofs away, more falling over. We get a ball into the box and a Lolos header is tipped over the bar for a corner. A J Kelly shot is saved for another corner, and there is a booking for the Colchester keeper for timewasting. There are shouts for a penalty as Orsi goes to ground in the box, but they are ignored, but a cross comes in and Forster heads it in to make it 2-3.

There is just time to win the ball back, attack again and get a corner. Addai is up in the box for this, and it is just over his head and Maguire’s header just drops onto the top of the net instead of into it and the final whistle goes with it being a 2-3 loss. It could have been better, but We Just Haven’t Earned It Baby.

The crowd was announced as being 5,223, with 965 away fans, and the sponsors’ man of the match was Harry Forster, which means at least the sponsors were watching the game for a change.

Despite the loss we stay seventh, and it is still in our own hands, so What Difference Does It Make? For Colchester, definitely some, as the win takes them out of the relegation zone and puts next weekend’s opponents Sutton into it.

There is no let-up in the games now. Next up is Barrow on Tuesday night, a rearranged game from the beginning of March when our pitch was waterlogged, before the final away game of the season next Saturday at Sutton.

Come On You Reds

(Fifteen Smiths titles crammed in there somewhere.)

Enough To Drive Us Round The U(‘s) Bend

After a nervy, but well-deserved win on Saturday against Tranmere Rovers pulled us out of the relegation places, we go again tonight against another of the side near the bottom of the table with a home game against Colchester United. They are currently two places and four points ahead of us in the table and have won their last two games.

We are two points ahead of Hartlepool, who we play away on Saturday, so a win tonight would be vital in the struggle to stay up. There are a full set of fixtures tonight (apart from Wimbledon and Crewe who aren’t playing), Hartlepool are away at play off place chasing Salford City, and Harrogate, who are a point ahead of us, and have drawn their last four games are playing mid table Walsall (who we play in our last home game of the season in eleven days’ time).

Our away game against Colchester earlier in the season was also played on a Tuesday night, this one in October, and after going behind on twenty minutes, goals either side of half time by Ashley Nadesan and James Tilley put us ahead, only for Colchester to equalise just after the hour mark and the game finished as a 2-2 draw. Kwesi Appiah has been on load to Colchester since the start of September and has scored three times in nine appearances for them. Elsewhere in their squad, Tom Dallison played one game for us when on loan to us from Brighton seven years ago, and John Akinde played for us for a couple of seasons ten years ago.

We’ve been in the papers again this week with a piece in The Sun about the disaster our season has been and the moronic direction the crypto bros have been taking us. Tell us something we don’t know.

Helen is recovered and we wander down in time to get a programme, a photo, and seated before kick-off. Just. Saw Al, but he was busy prowling up and down the East Marquee. It’s still light when we get there as well, it’s a reasonable evening after the grey and miserable day.

Colchester had 2 fan coaches parked up and a reasonable number of away fans for a Tuesday night, and they were playing in blue and white striped shirts, white shorts, and blue socks. The surround to the pitch looks a bit waterlogged, but the main pitch can’t be that bad as they’ve got the sprinklers going on it.

We have made a couple of changes from the starting line up on Saturday and it took us a while to settle into the game, and ten minutes to get a corner, which took an age to take with the ref stopping it to deal with pushing and shoving in the box. A couple of minutes later a well worked ball goes through to Aramide Oteh who puts the shot just wide. Then Ashley Nadesan robs a Colchester defender and puts the ball across the area, only for it to be a bit too far for Dom Telford to get a decent touch on and it slides wide.

Not long after and we get a throw on the far side of the area, and it ends up with Telford taking the long throw. Which isn’t as bad an idea as it sounds at first. It’s not as if he’s going to get on the end of it and head it is it? It comes through to Nick Tsaroulla and his shot is sliced across the area and cleared.

At the other end Colchester get a corner and it is headed onto the top of the crossbar and out. Then the absolute unit that is Akinde goes down like an extra from Platoon from a slight nudge and the free kick is given. Tsaroulla acts as the sleeping policeman behind the wall, but the shot is high and wide.

Colchester are getting more into it, and it takes a few minutes for us to get a decent chance and it falls to Tsaroulla to get a shot on target, even if it was straight at the keeper. One added minute is announced, and we get a free kick just inside the Colchester half, it’s played into the area and despite the defender trying to swap shirts with Harry Ransom, the penalty claims are waved away, and it is half time and 0-0.

Crawley start the second half better than they did the first, but the first real chance falls to Colchester and they force a good save from Corey Addai. Not long after the only ball to disappear does so from a skewed Crawley clearance out over the West Stand.

It is uncomfortable watching now. Colchester are ramping up the pressure and are being first to everything, winning every second ball. There is a brief break in play as a red smoke flare thrown from the home terrace to just behind the Colchester goal is allowed to run out of smoke and be cleared away.

Every decision is going to Colchester. It is so biased it is funny. Every throw, every fifty-fifty ball, every time to ball goes out, everything is being given Colchester’s way. For thirteen minutes not one single throw, free kick, or corner decision went to Crawley. It was unbelievable how bad the officials were. (And not for the first time this season.) Most of the second half is being played in the final third at the Crawley goal end, and it is nerve shredding, and it feels as if a penalty will be forthcoming. But fortunately, not.

The crowd is announced as 2.849 with 445 away fans. Not a bad crowd for a Tuesday night, but there definitely felt as if there were more there than that. The sponsor’s man of the match was named as Anthony Grant, which gave the guy sat next to us apoplexy. It was one of those games where they have to name someone and no one really stood out, and Grant got involved a lot, if not particularly good some of the time, but he would have been noticed on the rare occasions the sponsors were looking at the pitch. At least he is noticed on the pitch as the club still haven’t gotten around to adding his name to the squad on the back of the programmes yet. Only one more for them to try and get it right.

There are three minutes added time shown, and suddenly there is a flurry of activity by Crawley in the opponent’s box for a change. The official match stats say we only had one shot (off target) all through the second half, but there were half a dozen shots taken in a two-minute hive of activity at the end. Perhaps the stats guy had joined the sponsors in hospitality by then.

There ended up being five minutes of added time before the ref blew the whistle for the end of an interesting 0-0 and was carried off triumphantly by the Colchester players. (That last bit may not have actually happened.)

A point, and with Hartlepool losing to Salford we are now three points ahead of them going into the crunch clash against them on Saturday. We must not lose as it will put us back in the relegation places. Harrogate beat Walsall 3-0, which gives us hope for our last home game, but puts them level on points with Colchester, four ahead of us with three games to play.

It is going to the wire. I don’t have fingernails as I bite them already, but if this carries on for the last three games, I think I’m going to be mid ulna and radius by the end of the season, and might have trouble writing anything, let alone these.

Come on you reds.

New Year New Attitude?

2022, a new year, and it seems like a year since we were last at a game – the disappointing 2-1 defeat to Mansfield Town at the end of November. Since then, Crawley have only played two away games, a midweek 1-1 draw against Walsall followed by a 2-1 win against Leyton Orient, some payback for the 4-0 thrashing they gave us in the Papa Johns Trophy (albeit with vastly changed sides), and the first time we had scored more than one in a game since the end of September.

We were due to be playing Oldham Athletic on the 18th, which we had planned to miss so we could get up to London with enough time to be sorted ready for the Madness and Squeeze concert at the O2, only for the game to be postponed due to Covid protocols. As were the away game at Stevenage on Boxing day and the home game against Bristol Rovers on Wednesday night.

After a week of rain, we woke up this morning to sunlight, and confirmation that the game against Colchester United would be going ahead. We started the game two places and three points above them in the league and having won the corresponding away fixture earlier in the season. We also kicked off having games in hand over every team above us in the league apart from the leaders Forest Green Rovers.

Of course, by the time we set off for the game the sun was being hidden by lots of grey miserable clouds. Not only that, but we were running late as I had been fannying about trying to find the name of the actual song that the “Da da da da da da Kwesi Appiah” chant had come from. It had been playing over the radio at some point during the couple of weeks we’ve been off work, and both of us – although being in separate rooms – had both sung the chant when that particular horn bit had been played. Then both laughed at each other about being saddos for doing so. It had been three quarters of an hour with no joy, and so we were scurrying to the stadium.

It did look like no one else was heading there. We saw no one on Wakehurst Drive but did see some people when we got to the underpass. Ten minutes before kick off and there wasn’t a programme to be found, and we didn’t stop to get a drink before heading to our seats, and so we were there before the players came out, a fact Al took great delight in pointing out, asking if being on time for games was a New Year’s resolution. There looked to be more in the ground than the parking and footfall would have suggested, though for some reason part of the seating in out stand was covered up.

Crawley started quickly with some early pressure and a couple of chances. Drummers were in full effect, with the usual one in our stand in competition with the one in the terraces and the one the away fans had brought with them. Colchester meanwhile were wearing their puke green and black away kit and were going one letter on from our chant with their own. Us chanting CTFC and them chanting CUFC.

The first of many balls to leave the ground came on 9 minutes as a clearance flew over the KRL Logistics stand, surely leaving a dent in someone’s car in the car park. Three minutes later we got into a great position, only for the attempted cross to be skewed wide and high over the same stand. From the restart ball three went over the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand, and if it carried on at this rate we would be running out of balls before the end of the game.

And then it was 1-0, Tom Nichols crossed from the left and Ashley Nadesan headed home. We followed this up a few minutes later with another couple of good chances with a couple of good saves from Colchester’s keeper in quick succession keeping the score at 1-0.

Just past the halfway point in the first half ball number four sailed out of the ground over the Ryan Cantor Club stand. Not long after it sounded as if there was a steam train chugging along the A23 behind our stand. Turned out it was a steam engine, some kind of tractor that we could see the smokestack of as it went around the roundabout.

37 minutes in and it’s 2-0, a corner comes in, goes back out, in, out, everything bar the hokey cokey before Francillette prods it forward and Joel Lynch fires in from close range. An almost unheard of two goal lead this season. It stayed that way until half time. A half which I think was out best performance of the season so far. It seemed as if the three weeks off had done the team the world of good.

The rain arrived with the half time whistle, and there were some really dark ominous clouds around the ground. The phrase “it’s black over Bill’s mother’s” is one I use a lot. Well today, it would certainly appear that she lives in Broadfield.

Colchester started strongly in the second half, whether that was due to a kick up the backside at half time, or their New Year’s Eve hangovers wearing off was hard to tell. But it didn’t last long, in the 55th minute it was 3-0, Ashley Nadesan scoring his second of the game after decent work and a good cross from Kwesi Appiah. The first time in over a year we had scored three at home in a league game, only the second time this season we had scored three (the other was in a 6-3 away loss to Forest Green Rovers back in September).

Half an hour into the second half and we get a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, which Jack Powell powered against the top of the crossbar and the post, causing ball number five to fly over the top of the Ryan Cantor Club stand.

A few minutes later and Colchester pulled one back to make it 3-1, a bit of pinball in the penalty area and a shot ricocheted off the post and into the back of the net. It would lead to somewhat of a nervous end to the game for the Crawley players and fans. A couple of substitutions were made to freshen up the tiring players, and the third sub was made when they put the board up for five minutes of injury time.

The sponsor’s man of the match was unsurprisingly named as two goal “hero” Ashley Nadesan, and the crowd just managed to scrape over the two thousand mark at 2,022, with 332 of them being away fans.

Injury time brought about ball number six leaving the ground, this time over the KRL Logistics stand as Colchester threatened again. But the general nervousness came to an end when the ref blew for full time, and we could celebrate a 3-1 victory. The first win of a season that wasn’t by a single goal margin, and one that lifted us four places in the league to a much more respectable 14th place.

A good start to the new year, and hopefully one that can be continued into the second half of the season.

And typically, five minutes after getting home (after a very nice curry stop at The Downsman), I found the song that had delayed us getting to the game. The chant for Kwesi Appiah is to the music from Kungs vs Cookin’ On 3 Burners’ “This Girl”.