What Have We Done-Caster To Deserve This

Yes, still trying to shoehorn names into lyrics where they don’t belong, and apologies to the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield this time around.

Since out last home game, the battling 1-1 draw against a very good Stockport County side, we have had the tricky away game up at Tranmere, where we came away with a 3-1 victory. A result, which combined with others on the day, saw us jump up two places in the league and into…. Drumroll please…… the playoff places. Yes, we are in seventh place and have two games in hand on the two teams directly below us in the league.

And it isn’t a Saturday afternoon game, because it’s Easter weekend, and therefore it’s a double header of games, with this one being the Good Friday fixture, at home to Doncaster Rovers.

We lost to them at their place earlier in the season, a 2-0 defeat that was the start of our dreadful October run of one point from five games. A result which prompted one of their eight-year-old troll fans to bring some glorious primary school ‘banter’ to the forum. The kind that makes poor old crawley57away look like a total amateur.

Anyway, going into today’s game Doncaster sit eleven places behind us in eighteenth, but only ten points behind us. And they have the same form as us over the last six games of four wins, a draw, and a loss, so it may well be a tougher game than the league positions would suggest.

It is the first of the two for £2 games this season (the second being the Colchester game in just over two weeks’ time). And it is a sell-out. All the usual home areas sold out earlier in the week, and so the club have made part of the north terrace available to home fans to try and cram another 550 of us in.

And as such the ground is remarkably busy. An early approach was required, as there was the need to get tickets for two upcoming away games, and getting in early was going to be the best policy, as the queues were going to be mental, especially for the inadequate number of turnstiles for entry to the east marquee.

At the ground there were four away fan coaches lined up, more than I had seen at a game since I’ve been going to matches. Redz bar and the Fanzone were rammed, and the club had opened the turnstiles before 2pm for this one to try and help with the queues.

The pitch looks in terrific condition despite all the rain, but the apron to it is somewhat waterlogged. It is surprise when they turn the sprinklers on to water the pitch before the game and at half time. It is very breezy out there, which could make things interesting.

Doncaster are in blue and white hooped shirts and socks and blue shorts. The game may well have been a sell-out, but there are some no shows with empty seats dotted around, including ones both sides of us, perhaps me scribbling away during the game is off-putting.

We have some good early pressure, get a corner, win a free kick, have a shot, and for a few minutes all looks good as we prevent Doncaster from getting out of their own half. But the game turns scrappy quickly. There are a lot of misplaced passes from both sides, and the wind is not to blame as most of them are along the ground.

Then there is some decent play down the right wing and a Ronan Darcy shot goes just wide. Doncaster break and get a low shot away which Corey Addai tips just round the post for a corner. From it Doncaster get a free kick not far outside the box in a central position, which comes to nothing.

After lots of nervy play, we get a break, Klaidi Lolos is through one on one with the keeper, but his shot is saved, Danilo Orsi’s follow up is blocked (some suggestion of it being so by a hand), and the ball gets cleared. On the other side of the pitch a Will Wright free kick from the wing eludes everyone in the box and the keeper scrambling but it goes past the far post.

Crawley appear to be getting back on top now and work another chance with a shot from Darcy from just outside the area which is deflected for a corner. A long clearance from Addai gets taken by the wind and only just skips wide. I wonder if that counts as a shot on goal?

Doncaster have a bit of pressure and get a couple of corners in quick succession, only for ball one to disappear out over the Eden Utilities Stand from a wayward shot.

One minute of added time is indicated, and we have a free kick in a promising position, which we waste, and the whistle goes for half time with the score 0-0.

Helen has mentioned to me that their player Ironside has been getting a bit of a tough time. To which my initial response was that he’s not doing badly seeing at the last time I saw him on telly he was in a wheelchair.

The second half starts and there is an early corner for us again, it goes to the far post and is headed back and it looks like it has gone in from where we are as people are on their feet and cheering, but it’s another corner, which again is deep and Orsi’s attempt to head it back across floats onto the top of the net.

And with their first attack of the second half Doncaster gallop down the other end and score. Which seemed all too easy. From seemingly out of nowhere we are behind 0-1. It is nearly two a couple of minutes later, but Addai tips another effort round the post for a corner.

There is a late tackle on Orsi near the halfway line in our own half. The ref plays advantage, and the play carries on for thirty seconds. Lawrence Maguire is screaming at the lino. When play does stop the ref sends the Doncaster defender off. It is all a bit bizarre. If it was a sending off offence, then surely stop the game immediately. There is some argy bargy between the players and Addai sprints the length of the pitch to drag Lolos away from a confrontation. There is a pause in the play, and it eventually restarts with a free kick back where the foul took place, after some treatment to the Doncaster keeper (the first of many spurious ‘injuries’ to Doncaster players, most of which the ref just ignores, or tells them to get up).

We aren’t really making the extra man count. Jack Roles has a shot on target. A clearance from Doncaster sails out over the east marquee for ball lost two of the day. Jay Williams gets a shot away from the edge of the area which is deflected for a corner, and Roles has another shot which goes just wide.

But Addai is having a bit of a brain freeze at the other end. He throws a clearance straight to a Doncaster striker, but fortunately they couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo and the shot is high and wide.

Another Roles shot goes for a corner, which we don’t cross, but fanny about trying to work the ball across midfield, only to lose it and have Doncaster bearing down on Addai with two strikers and not a Crawley defender in sight. But once again the cow’s arse is safe, and the shot is wide.

A Nick Tsaroulla shot takes a deflection, and the keeper spills the save but dives on it at the second attempt. A ball is worked through to Orsi, but his shot is wide. The Doncaster keeper is booked for timewasting. Another Tsaroulla shot is blocked, there are claims of by a hand again. A follow up shot is saved, and a third shot goes wide.

But the ball is cleared, and who the fuck knows what Addai was doing, but the ball comes to their number 36 – who to be fair has been playing the lone target man role really well – and he has an easy tap in to make it 0-2. Cue the fire drill and mass exodus towards the exit.

The final whistle comes not long after and it is a very disappointing 0-2 loss. The team just weren’t on it in front of a bumper crowd of 5,436 (with 625 away fans). Before the game Rick, who sits behind us, and another long time Spurs fan said he was hoping Crawley weren’t going to go a bit Spursy. But it feels exactly like that. When we lost to Doncaster earlier in the season, we were second and then went on a bad run. Today we started in the playoff places and lost. Let’s hope a bad run doesn’t follow.

Especially as next up are three consecutive away games. Easter Monday sees a trip to South Wales to play Newport County, followed by visits to two of the top three, first, Mansfield Town next Saturday, and then the rearranged away game at Wrexham the following Tuesday. A road trip has been arranged for the latter two of those games, with some relative visiting added in there as well. Tough games, but points are possible.

The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as Ronan Darcy. Which led to a bit of head scratching. But as the match sponsor’s were a firm called Rhino.Bet it does beg the question on whether there was a beneficial betting market on who was going to be named as the sponsor’s man of the match.

Anyway, the result sees us drop two places, back to ninth, but we still have two games in hand on Gillingham and AFC Wimbledon, who scraped past us in the table with draws. So, there is still hope, but there will need to be better performances than this. It was one of those frustrating afternoons, so much so I left writing this up until this morning.

Come on you reds.

Only Half Don

It’s the first of three home games in eight days. A Tuesday night in March and a rearranged fixture against Doncaster Rovers which was originally postponed due to a waterlogged pitch back in January. After our fine win in our last home game against Harrogate, last weekend saw our first away win of the season in a tense low quality affair against recent rivals AFC Wimbledon, where an early Ashley Nadesan goal saw us win 1-0. It also saw us climb out of the relegation places and are now in twenty-second, a point above Hartlepool, and now four points behind Colchester United with two games in hand (the first of which is tonight).

Doncaster start the night just inside the top half of the table in twelfth, then places and eighteen points above us, but with the third worst recent form guide in the division having only taken four points from their last six games, only Colchester and AFC Wimbledon have worse recent records. The away fixture played at the end of September saw one of our most dismal performances of the season where there was a total capitulation in the second half and a 4-1 loss.

This isn’t one of the games included in the two at two pounds promotion, and with it being a not so warm evening it remains to be seen what kind of crowd there is going to be, we haven’t done great numbers for crowds for evening games in the league this season.

We were a bit last minute dot com getting to our seats just as they were swapping ends after Doncaster had obviously won the toss and were attempting to pull a Carlisle on us. We’d had a chat with Al as we were waiting to get in through the turnstiles. There were four coaches parked at the away end, the most coaches I’ve seen from an away team at the ground, but the away end wasn’t as packed as it has been for some other games this season. Doncaster were in all black apart from the green front of their shirts.

I’d just about managed to get a programme, where we are now on issue 24 having jumped from the number 22 the last two had been. I was half expecting it to be number 18, as that was when we were due to play them, and the programme numbers did jump from number 16 to number 20.

Anyway, the match. We were having some decent early pressure, and there was some nice composed play, but there wasn’t much in the way of clear cut chances. Joel Lynch had gone down injured and had treatment and didn’t seem himself as he booted ball one out over the east stand half way through the half. Ball two disappeared via ricochets over the turnstiles at the north end of the west stand a couple of minutes later.

The ref stopped play continuing at free kicks a couple of times to check on Lynch, and could be seen washing something off the pitch with a water bottle, unsure if it was blood or puke, and then finally he is subbed off, which should probably have happened the first time he went down if it was, as it looked, concussion related.

It was a surprise there were only five minutes of added time at the end of the half. Straight away we have a decent free kick that their keeper only really flaps at and it somehow manages not to go in. Doncaster get a dubious looking free kick over on the left wing. The ball is floated in, their striker misses the intended header, despite having the freedom of the penalty area, but it hits his shoulder and goes in the corner of the goal, and with their first shot Doncaster lead 0-1. There is barely time for the restart before the whistle goes for half time.

During which the DJ has found some different tunes to play.

The second half nearly starts the same way as the first half ended. A dubious free kick on the left wing goes in, there is a bit of panic and it comes out to the edge of the area, where thankfully the shot taken is closer to the corner flag than the goal.

After that though Crawley start to build a bit of pressure, they are taking shots, getting corners from saves, taking more shots, but there is still a lack of urgency and they are slow getting the ball forward. Kellen Gordon may have well been invisible for the first twenty minutes or so of the half, virtually by himself down the right wing, he was ignored time and again. And when they finally noticed then our attacking intent increased.

Doncaster are time wasting from the outset of the second half. They can’t have been doing their endurance training either, having had one player subbed with cramp, there is another player down in midfield acting as if he has cramp as well. The ref ignores him, and play continues. A shot is pushed back out of the area and comes out to Rafiq Khaleel who smashes a low shot into the corner of the net to make it 1-1 with nine minutes of normal time left.

Two minutes later Khaleel leads another break, the ball keeps getting played forward and I have no idea how we didn’t score. It is played through to Jack Powell who is standing on the goal line inside the near post and he attempts to control, turn and shoot. It is knocked sideways and the shot from Ashley Nadesan is somehow kept out and booted away as their keeper ends up claiming injury lying on the ground in the six yard box.

With a minute to go we have the ball in the net. A shot by Aramide Oteh is parried away by the keeper and Ashley Nadesan is on hand to put the ball into the net, and the celebrations start. And stop quickly. The flag has gone up for offside.

The crowd is announced as being 2,815 with 307 away fans, but the sponsor’s man of the match announcement is drowned out by cheers as the fourth official puts up the board for five minutes of added time.

Most of which is spent camped in the Doncaster half trying crosses, shots and anything to grab the win at the death, but the final whistle goes and it ends 1-1.

The prick DJ is back and playing ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ again. It isn’t needed after a draw, especially after one of the better all round performances of the season. Three points would have been better, but a point is better than nothing, and it moves us another point clear of the relegation places, with a game in hand on the teams directly above and below us, and another home game to come on Saturday against bottom of the league Rochdale.

Come on you reds.

A Wash Out

It’s been just over two weeks since we last went to a game, the insipid (on pitch) away loss to Stevenage on the Friday before new year. And so this is our first game of 2023, and it will be our only January game as it will be nearly a month before we get to another game due to being in the States. We will miss two home games, Grimsby Town, a rearranged game that should have been last Saturday, but they were still in the FA Cup, and the one against Salford City. Out trip abroad also wipes out the chance to get to two easy to get to away games with Sutton United and Gillingham being either end of the trip. The fixture list has not been kind to us. We had booked the US trip before the fixtures came out and other games were moved.

Anyway, in the time since our last game, there was an away game where we threw away a 2-0 lead with less than ten minutes to go away against Newport County, and then ex Newport striker Dom Telford missed a late late added time chance to get himself a hat trick and us all three points. Plus out latest temporary manager Darren Byfield managed to get himself sent off. Preston Johnson was advised not to travel to this game and definitely not to go and sit in the dugout again after the reaction at Stevenage.

Off the pitch is still an omnishambles. Last Sunday’s Dilbert cartoon seemed very apt with our Crypto owners


And a comment calling our other co-chairman Eden Smith, Ebeneezer Goode prompted me to write a whole new lyric set to Ebeneezer Goode called Eben Eezer Dick.


It’s amazing what a bored mind can do when there’s no football to watch for a weekend.

Then in the last week the links to Scott Lindsey leaving Swindon Town to become out latest permanent (a very loose wording for us this season) manager, became reality and he was announced as such on Wednesday. Much to the delight of Swindon fans and on the whole to the horror of ours. He leaves Swindon after a poor run of results (including of all things a loss to us) saw them drop out of the playoff places.

OK, he has League 2 experience, something I was calling for in my last post, but he seems to want to play the same kind of football we started the season playing under Kevin Betsy, which as we saw, is neither use nor ornament to us.

It would seem that the co-chairmen are determined to shoot themselves in the feet. But, like much else they have tried this season, they were off target, and can still walk. (But definitely not run.)

Anyway, today’s opponents are Doncaster Rovers who sit tenth, eleven places and sixteen points above us. With us not playing last weekend, and others around us doing so we have dropped a place to twenty first, just two places and three points above the drop zone.

We need a win.

Not only is it Scott Lindsey’s first game as out manager, but Doncaster Rovers also arrive with a new manager. Almost as if managers were being snapped up in the January Sales.

And speaking of sales there have not been any incoming players. Glenn Morris did come back from his loan period, only to then be let go, and then sign for Gillingham on a permanent contract and link back up with Tom Nichols. And with Tony Craig, George Francombe, and Jake Hessenthaler not being included in the last couple of game day squads, I think some of the younger players need to watch out. If I were them I wouldn’t be announcing I’d found any grey hairs. Though if someone wants to photoshop any pictures of Jack Powell with a full head of grey hair……

I was going to be going straight to the ground from my writing group, and before I’d headed out this morning I’d checked about any postponement with the non-stop torrential rain for the last week, but there was nothing. I must have logged off seconds before the cancellation of the game was announced at 8:50. Fortunately another member of the writing group is also a Crawley fan and had been on the forums before arriving, so I found out before I made my way to the ground.

There is the whiff of whether the pitch has been left uncovered on purpose to take advantage of the weather to buy us some time, but the underpass to the ground is flooded as well, so it’s not just the pitch, as it would make it dangerous for fans trying to get to the ground.

In some ways it is annoying, as this was going to be the only game in January we could get to, but it does mean that the new manager gets some time to work with the players.

And so, I’m sat at home watching Soccer Saturday. Four of the teams around us in the relegation danger zone are playing each other. Gillingham are hosting Hartlepool, and Rochdale are playing Colchester. And I’m hoping that they all lose (or as that’s impossible, at least draw with each other). It is no surprise that Tom Nichols manages to score for Gillingham on his debut and they beat Hartlepool 2-0. FFS. Meanwhile, Swindon Town, who’d been on a bad run, suddenly put a 5-0 performance together now that Scott Lindsey has left and joined us. Colchester’s good run continued as they beat Rochdale. We stay twenty first despite not playing, and we now have games in hand on everyone apart from bottom of the table Gillingham, and Newport lost and Harrogate drew (can’t rely on Stevenage for anything) as well to keep us in touch with them.

No game for us until February then, and as it stands, no idea which random Tuesday night we’ll end up playing Doncaster now.

Come on you reds.