See You Later Harrogater

Apologies to Bill Haley & His Comets this time around.

Two weeks on from our last home game, the excellent 3-1 win against Accrington Stanley and the Milk Marketing Board, it is back to home league action again today. Since that victory we had one of the longest trips of the season up to Barrow. I didn’t go this season, but we scored nil again, and Barrow won, but only 1-0. And Scott Lindsey was less than happy about the officiating in the build up to the goal, but at least he didn’t have a full Arteta style breakdown about it.

That result saw us drop back to twelfth in the table, a place that sees us two places and a point (and four goal difference) ahead of today’s opponents Harrogate Town who we managed to beat in the same game last season. A repeat of that would be good.

In the meantime, since the last game, I’ve been drawn into watching the Welcome to Wrexham docu-series. Now I’m too tight to pay for Disney+ and wasn’t bothered about it, but the other half has friends with sign on details, and so it’s been on. I am doing other things, writing, and surfing the net, etc. but I’ve been sucked into watching and now I’ve seen the first series, and we are about half a dozen episodes into the second.

It is fascinating viewing. I understand why there are people who denigrate it, calling Wrexham, Hollywood FC, saying they have thrown money at it, and they’ve bought promotion to the league. (Something Crawley were accused of not so long ago as well.) But it shows just how much money is needed to run a club, even in the National League. And of course, some of the people in the series are utter bell ends, but you get that at any club (including our own if we are honest).

But I like what they are trying to do with including the community, and that they went for a club with history to build on. Rob and Ryan may come over as not being overly serious, but they certainly appear to be going about a lot of things in the right way. Perhaps if WAGMI has bought the club eighteen months later than they did, they could have used it as a how to guide.

As a kid I used to look out for Wrexham results, the name was interesting, and there was the solitary Topps football card from the 1976-77 season – Arfon Griffiths, with the unusual colours for the team and player name. it’s strange what you remember.

Speaking of history, Thursday night saw a fundraising and preview event at the ground for the forthcoming exhibition at Crawley Museum of the history of Crawley Town FC. It is being curated by Steve Leake and Mick Fox, and some of the items that will be in the exhibition were on display at the ground.

The map with all the locations of the former grounds is fascinating (to me at least, I love maps), and the finished version is something I’d like a copy of myself.

The exhibition starts on Thursday 7th December and runs through to the end of January, with the family fun day on Sunday 17th December being a day that shouldn’t be missed.

I wander down to the ground straight from writing and it’s a lovely sunny afternoon as I get there. The Harrogate Town team coach brings back memories and the phrase ‘Heavens to Murgatroyd’ means I have a snippet of a song in my head. The phrase is from Snagglepuss, but the clip is from a late eighties house music track, and I can’t for the life of me drag it out of my memory what the track is, and I can’t find it on Google either. It will come to me, probably some time in February.

As soon as the turnstiles opened, I was in, and had a quick chat to Al who was getting himself a cup of tea before starting on the business of stewarding for the day. I really need to remember to bring a cap and sunglasses for these late autumn and winter games when the sun is out. I’m happy to sit in the sun warming up as much as possible like a lizard, because out of the sun it is freezing. It did look like the sun was shining out of the terrace’s arse.

Grant, who sits behind us, has his son Finn as one of the mascots for the day, and looks like he is having the time of his life running around on the pitch before the game.

Harrogate Town were in an all bright blue kit, so back to the table football classic of red versus blue for the day. Crawley have the better of early exchanges, but Harrogate get the first shot on target, which is saved for a corner, and Luca Ashby-Hammond is called into action a few times in the first twenty minutes of the game.

And then, almost out of nothing the ball is played to Ben Gladwin in the middle of the park about thirty yards from goal. He has a touch to steady the ball and then lets a grass cutter of shot fly and it rolls straight into the bottom corner of the net and we lead 1-0.

A minute late Harrogate have the ball in the net, but the offside flag was up well before it was, and most players have stopped playing before the shot is taken. We go straight back up the other end and a Kellen Gordon cross is headed by Danilo Orsi, and he just fails to add to his season’s goal tally as he hits the post, and it comes out and is cleared.

Just as we are getting some momentum Jay Williams is injured and needs treatment on the pitch, and no sooner does he get off the pitch then a Harrogate player goes down and needs treatment themselves, before being substituted.

Thirty minutes or so in and we lose ball one of the day as a wayward Harrogate shot flies over the Eden Utilities terrace and probably ended up in the five a side court. From the restart Williams gives away a free kick on the edge of the area. The attempt hits the wall and the follow up shot goes wide.

There are seven minutes of time added on, mainly due to the injuries. We get a couple of corners and some decent pressure only for a Liam Kelly shot to poleaxe a Harrogate defender and we lose momentum again.

Harrogate get a corner late on, which Crawley gave away quite easily thinking it was going to be a goal kick when they could have easily got to the ball and prevented it going over the line. The corner comes in and the Harrogate player jumps at least two foot above anyone else and nods it in to make it 1-1 just before the half time whistle goes. There was some joking preseason about us signing Billy the Fish, but it looks as if Harrogate must have signed him up with that kind of leap.

In the second half it is Harrogate who start better, and they have some early chances, but ball two is chipped out over the bar and over the top of the KRL Logistics stand. It’s turning into a bitty game and Harrogate have resorted to throwing themselves to the ground to try and win free kicks and get our players booked. The most blatant being their number 24, who seconds after Williams is booked, he’s grappling with him and throws himself to the floor claiming Williams has done it in an attempt to get him a second booking. It’s good when 24 finally gets a booking for falling over and moaning at the ref about not getting free kicks.

At the other end Nick Tsaroulla beats a player on the way into the box, and there appears to be contact and then goes down, but the ref waves away penalty shouts, but doesn’t seem interested in a booking for diving either. Strange all round.

And finally for the second half there is a bit of quality down the right-hand side and Ade Adeyemo crosses it, the ball comes all the way over and Tsaroulla’s shot is well saved at the near post. This leads to some concerted pressure and another corner is swung in and Klaidi Lolos rises and heads in to give us the lead again. 2-1.

It’s a bit nervy, and Ashby-Hammond is forced into a couple of decent saves. At the other end Orsi is denied again by a decent save from the Harrogate keeper. There are four added minutes at the end of the game which Crawley see out and they take a 2-1 victory.

The crowd was announced as being 2,829 with there being 93 away fans huddled together for warmth in the away terrace. And the sponsor’s man of the match was named as being Liam Kelly.

The win only improved our league position by one place to eleventh, but only two points off the playoff places. And a win will make the post-match curry at the Downsman taste better.

The next game is away at Notts County on Tuesday night, and some better defending than in the FA Cup game could see us come away with something from that one before a return to home action in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy a week on Monday.

Come on you reds.

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.

Ullo John, Got A New (Bristol Street) Motor?

Apologies this time around to Alexei Sayle and his shaped picture disc novelty single from 1982.
After missing the whole of October it’d good to be back at a game, even if it is only an EFL Trophy game against one of the Under 21 sides. Since I was last at a game the form hasn’t been good. After the impressive performance in the 3–0 win against Sutton United at the end of September, there was an away loss midweek to Doncaster Rovers. Then I missed the home game and narrow 1–0 defeat to Wrexham, and the away draw/penalty loss to Sutton in the EFL Trophy due to a family birthday gathering in Warwickshire. I was due to go to Morecambe away, slotting in a family visit to my mum, but the game was postponed due to their international call ups. Then I got Covid and missed the home game 4–2 loss against Crewe Alexandra. Watched the Walsall 1–1 midweek draw and 2–1 loss away to Forest Green Rovers through the lens of a time delayed BBC page. I was due to be in Leicester last weekend, which would have been ideal for a quick nip over to Nottingham for the Notts County FA Cup thriller (even if it were a 3–2) loss, but didn’t end up going to Leicester as still not fully post Covid fit. Oh, and there was a Sussex Senior Cup debacle away at Worthing to add in there somewhere as well.
And pretty much all of that has happened whilst speculation of Scott Lindsey moving on to his hometown club of Gillingham has been going on. Which must have been unsettling for the squad. But he is still with us as Gillingham (finally) announced Stephen Clemence as manager. And it appears we have also lost ellywelly16 off the forum as a deleted user. For which I am grateful as no one needs that much sneering, condescending, “I’m a friend, but not an insider”, “I know better than any of you”, line of chat.
So, it is a phased return to live action for me tonight and the final EDL Trophy group stage game against Aston Villa U21s. A game where avoiding a straight loss (a penalty loss will give us the point needed) will be enough to see us progress to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2016–17 season (the first one where the stupid under 21s sides were added to the competition and there was a group stage) where we finished second in the group and then lost to eventual winners Coventry City in the second round. We played the same under 21 side in our group last season and ran out 5–2 winners. You do wonder what having the under 21s in the competition gives it apart from playing time for overly rich clubs’ academy players, as they don’t seem to take the competition seriously either. Only one U21 side has made it as far as the Semi Finals.
Even the FA don’t seem to take the competition seriously. Until I looked it up, I had no idea that the sponsors for this year’s competition (and the next two years) is Bristol Street Motors. Adding their name to an illustrious list of former sponsors and names; Football League Group Cup, Associate Members Cup, Freight Rover, Sherpa Van, Leyland DAF, Autoglass, Auto Windshields, LDV Vans, Johnstone’s Paint, Checkatrade,, and Papa Johns. I suppose it’s going back to the tradition of car and van related sponsors the competition had for the first twenty odd years.
Unlike for the games last season, the east marquee isn’t open for the EFL Trophy games this year, and so it is a forced migration into the west stand. On Sunday night there were five of us going to the game (including a Villa fan), but by Tuesday morning it is down to two, only for it to go to just me so it was going to look as if I smell with an exclusion zone around me. But I thought it would help with the pathetic legroom in the west stand. Then in the last hour before the kick off I managed to find people who wanted two tickets, and as I was dropping them off in Redz Bar, I bumped into Grant who sits behind us in the east marquee at normal games and he hadn’t got tickets yet so the other two spares were used as well.
I got the tickets online and downloaded the pdf. Under the barcode it says not to fold where the barcode is. Of course, when you print the pdf off, the bar code is exactly halfway down the page where you would fold a sheet of A4 in half. You couldn’t make this shit up.
Very nearly as close to the halfway line as our usual seats, but a bit higher up, which means you just see the whole pitch over the top of the dug outs, but as the stand is steeper there is nowhere for feet to go in front of me, and being packed in, my knees are gone to hell by half time.
The Aston Villa under 21s are in a strip of white shirts and socks and pale blue shorts, and their fans are all seated in the corner block of the east marquee, with the usual away terracing being out of bounds. There again the rest of the east marquee is supposed to be as well, but there were four randoms sat in block C of there unmolested.
It only took three minutes before a ball was hoofed out over the Eden Utilities stand by Crawley for a corner. But it was the only ball to disappear for the whole game.
Seven minutes in and on our first proper attack, there is some nice play in and around the box and the ball comes to Jack Roles who calmly curls it over the keeper and into the net to make it 1–0 to Crawley.
And seven minutes later it got better. There had been a bit of Villa pressure, but Crawley broke quickly down the left-hand side and the ball was crossed in and Kamarai Swyer was on hand to bundle it into the corner of the net for a 2–0 lead. All good stuff.
The game went back and forth, and there had been decent chances at both ends and Corey Addai had made a couple of decent saves. With less than five minutes to half time Villa play a ball through into the box and Addai sells himself a bit and the ball is taken past him and slotted in to make it 2–1.
There were four added minutes at the end of the first half, and in that time, Crawley had a decent breakaway, but after a great through ball the shot ended up going over the bar and into the empty KRL Logistics stand.
After a decent stretch of the legs to get the circulation back at half time, the second half started with Villa on the front foot. An early corner had pinged about in the box and caused chaos and was only just hacked away for a corner. The next corner appeared to be cleared only for the ball to come back in and a Villa player calmly lobbed it over Addai and into the net to make it 2–2.
It was very nearly a lot worse straight after the kick off. A long punt from the keeper was allowed to bounce and the Villa striker was clear, but we were fortunate that the ball just ran through to Addai before they could get to it.
But we calmed down a bit and on fifty-four minutes there was some great quick passing forward and a nice one-two on the edge of the Villa box saw Roles one on one with the keeper and he calmly slotted the ball home to restore the Crawley lead and make it 3–2.
As the half progressed, I put my gloves on. Not because my fingers were particularly cold, but mainly to stop me biting my fingernails. We were really living on the edge at times with the passing the ball around at the back and were lucky on numerous occasions not to get intercepted with a Villa player bearing down on goal. It was a relief to get a breakaway and a corner, even if the corner was wasted.
After a lot of Villa pressure, we got two really good chances in succession. First Swyer was bearing down on goal having beat the last defender, but tried to take it round the keeper when a shot would have been a much better option. And then straight after the ball fell to Roles about thirty yards out with the keeper well off his line, but the attempted shot from distance to complete his hat trick went wide.
There were three added minutes for me to bite the tips of my gloves’ fingers before the full-time whistle went and a 3–2 victory was confirmed. It means that we finished top of our group and have progressed to the second round of the competition.
The crowd was announced as being 865 with 99 problems, sorry Villa fans tucked away in the corner. I’m quite impressed with that. Villa are the northernmost team in the southern section (and have played in the northern section in some years, harking back to the days when there was Division 3 North and South and teams like Walsall and Coventry ended up playing in both), but they brought 99 fans to a reasonably long away trip on a Tuesday night to watch under 21s in a third rate competition. I don’t think that’s bad going. The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as being Jack Roles for his two goals.
Being sat in the west stand, and there being a much smaller crowd than usual I could hear Scott Lindsey chuntering away at the team for the whole match. Lot’s of encouragement being shouted. Something missed sat in the east marquee with a fuller stadium. Plus I could see the whole of the scoreboard from my seat, not just thirty five percent as usual, but even with my glasses on it was still hard to make out the white on red lights.
And so, it is back into home league action on Saturday with the visit of Accrington. With the winless run at an end, let’s hope we can start a new winning one.
Come on you reds.

Not Mellow Yellows

Quite rightly, apologies to Donovan, who would be turning in his grave, if he were dead, as Sutton are anything but mellow.

It all kicked off, both figuratively and literally, the moment we left the country. Dom Telford went from being rumoured to be leaving to having signed for Barrow in about twenty seconds of Facebook scrolling. The final image of him is one of another terrible penalty attempt (though not as bad as his scooped effort against Tranmere last season). And two other players went out on loan.

We did sign Lawrence Maguire, Harry’s brother, whose wiki page had been put together by the work experience tea bag. It had Chesterfield (who we signed him from) as being League 1, and not National League, and that he had scored twenty-two own goals in seventy-six appearances, which would make Jonah sound like an able seaman.

The following day came a trip to Swindon Town, of whom we have a contingent of exes from. It didn’t go well. A second half capitulation saw a 6-0 defeat, a plummet down the league table, and a big negative to our goal difference.

Next up were Stockport County, one of the pre-season favourites for promotion, and there were six more goals scored in that one. At 2-0 down in the first half it looked like it was going to be another difficult day, but Crawley turned it around and were leading 3-2 only to concede an 89th minute equaliser. Which was a big disappointment, but a point away at Stockport before the game would have seen your hand snatched off.

Then it was into the EFL trophy, and a much-changed side to face League One Charlton Athletic’s much changed side, and the goal tally went up in this one. A seven-goal thriller which went back and forth but ended up with a 4-3 win for Crawley.

Back to the league, next up were Newport, who were going well in the league. A fifth minute opener for us had a tenth minute equaliser for them. But three second half goals saw a 4-1 win for Crawley, a climb back up into the top half of the table and leapfrogging Newport in the process, and some of that goal difference clawed back.

Another week flew by, and it was another home game, this time against Tranmere Rovers. Despite lots of possession, there were no shots until late in the first half and we were trailing 1-0 at half time. We got an equaliser only for a group of morons in the south terrace to throw smoke flares and loads of cans and bottles at the Tranmere keeper, the game wasn’t far off being abandoned, but there will be a fine incoming. Momentum was lost and Tranmere retook the lead a few minutes later, only for Crawley to equalise for a second time a couple of minutes after that, and then for Klaidi Lolos to get a 96th minute winner in another five-goal thriller.

An away game at Cleethorpes against Grimsby followed. And it was another five-goal thriller, with us going two down only to be level before half time and for it to be Danilo Orsi with the 96th minute winner to bump us up to fourth in the table and get our goal difference out of the negative.

And so, the last Saturday in September rolls around and it is a home game against Sutton United, who stopped their seven-game losing streak with a draw last weekend, and they sit bottom of the table after nine games. Since Sutton were promoted, we have played them four times and lost the lot. Here’s hoping we can break that sequence.

Speaking of sequences, since our last game before being out of the country for a month there have been 6, 6, 7, 5, 5, and 5 goals scored in our games. Let’s also hope that carries on, and in our favour.

The Thursday before the game saw an announcement that bag and person checks were being toughened up. No rucksacks and only bags up to A4 size and carrier bags allowed. I can understand why it is being done, but having the announcement on the website only is a disgrace. What’s the point of giving the club our e-mail addresses on the season ticket application if they don’t use them. Lots will have been caught out by it.

As it was, I was caught out by changes in the check policy, and it was a change that wasn’t included in the online statement (again poor communication). No canned soft drinks allowed in anymore, and PET bottles are only allowed in if you leave the lid behind. Which I misunderstood as not being able to bring the bottle in at all and was therefore attempting to chug my Pepsi before security intervened and said the bottle is fine as long as they have the lid.

We had a couple of extra people with us as Helen’s sister and brother-in-law are over from Australia and have come to the game.

Sutton were in all white, not their yellow kits (so no yellow to be mellow anyway), and the tossers enforced a change of end before kick-off.

Crawley were having some nice early pressure and it paid as after five minutes the ball was worked across the edge of the box and Adam Campbell sweeps it into the corner to make it 1-0. Which prompted at least one if not two red smoke flares from the fucking halfwits in the terrace.

Our good play continued pretty much until we lost ball one over the Eden Utilities Stand for a corner from a Sutton clearance. From then on, the rest of the half wasn’t great. A few minutes late a Sutton corner was headed goalwards and turned in by one of their players, who thankfully was in an offside position.

There was a big penalty shout a couple of minutes later, but that was mainly from the Sutton fans behind the goal. More Sutton pressure followed, and more corners, Crawley just couldn’t seem to get out of their own half. It was looking like giants against men when Liam Kelly, Campbell, and Nick Tsaroulla were close together and next to some of the Sutton HGH experiments. The ball was bundled into the net for a second time by Sutton from another corner. Only for us to be saved for the second time by the linesman raising their flag. There were no deep guttural shouts of ‘lino’ from three rows in front of us this game.

Only one minute was added at the end of the first half, and I was glad for the half time whistle and the release of the pressure, and we go into the break with a 1-0 lead.

The second half was barely underway when the Sutton keeper managed to injure themselves taking a kick and had to be substituted. And pretty much straight from the restart Crawley win a free kick on the left wing, the ball is flicked goalwards, and the Sutton keeper makes a good save, but it comes out to the right of the area and Ronan Darcy crosses it back in and Laurence Maguire slams it in to give us a 2-0 lead.

Sutton have a chance almost straight from their kick-off, but Corey Addai makes a good save. But on the whole Crawley are now on top. And twenty minutes into the second half, there is clever work down the right-hand side and Kelly plays a through ball to Darcy who crossed it, and Ay Ay Ay Ay Orsi was there to be scoring goals again and it is now 3-0.

And not long after Orsi was involved again, this time by hoofing ball number two out of the ground over the east marquee. By now Sutton had reverted to type and were spending more time kicking Crawley players than the ball, and after another attempted leg break led to a booking, Dion Conroy takes a free kick from just inside his own side of the centre circle. He’s spotted the Sutton keeper off his line and the shot just drops and skims the back of the crossbar and ripples the net. It looked suspiciously like it should have been a corner as well.

There is a flurry of subs as we take key players off with one eye on our Tuesday night game away to Doncaster. It doesn’t detract from our good play, if anything we seem to be playing better than at any point in the game, lots of passes, plenty of shots, and more corners. There is a breakaway after a rare excursion into our half by Sutton and Rafiq Khaleel lets fly with a shot that is tipped onto the post and away for a corner.

Unfortunately, Khaleel’s next attempt wasn’t quite as accurate as it flies over the KRL Logistics stand to lose ball three of the day.

The crowd is announced as being 3,559 with 456 away fans, the sponsor’s man of the match is announced as Liam Kelly just after he picked up a booking, and the officials put up seven minutes of added time.

It is probably the most comfortable seven minutes of added time I’ve experienced since becoming a season ticket holder, we didn’t look in danger of conceding possession let alone a goal, and the final whistle goes to signal a 3-0 victory.

A win that takes us up to the dizzy heights of second in the table, off the top by virtue of goal difference only.

I’m happy that the return to watching live action hasn’t stopped the winning streak, even if the goal count in the game was lower than when I was away. The next game is Tuesday night away against another of the division’s strugglers, Doncaster Rovers. I’m going to miss another home game next Saturday as there is a family get together and so we will miss the visit of Hollywood FC. Morecambe away might get postponed due to international call ups as their last game in an international break was. So, it’s likely my next game will be in three weeks’ time against Crewe.

Come on you reds.

Gilly Don’t Be A Hero

I don’t know whether to apologise to Paper Lace for mangling their song title, or to anyone I’ve given flashbacks to of that dreadful song.

Before I start on this game, an apology to our favourite steward Al, who we chatted to after the last game, but I forgot to mention.

So, after the great win on Tuesday night against top of the table MK Dons which saw us jump up to third in the league, we fast forward to today and our game against the latest top of the table team. Which this time is Gillingham. Yes, that Gillingham, the ones who for the first half of last season were the worst team in the division, even worse than we were.

Only for them to pick up; 1 – some of our players, 2 – a new American owner who seemed to know what they were doing, and 3 – a load of points which saw them move off the bottom of the table and drift up to a place of safety quite a few games before we became safe ourselves.

Our home game against them last season was originally due to be played in September but was postponed when the Queen popped her clogs. The rearranged game took place on a Tuesday night in November. That game finished 0-0, and if it wasn’t the single worst game of football I’ve ever watched, then it was certainly in the top two. The two teams that night could still have been playing today and they wouldn’t have scored.

The away game in February saw us lose 1-0, but it also saw us take a massive away support to Gillingham, a crowd I believe that was our biggest ever away support for a league game.

And Gillingham have been 1-0-win specialists of late. Their last four league games have all finished as 1-0 wins to them, and they are the only team with a 100% record in League Two, and the only team yet to concede a goal in the division. They did concede a goal in the Carabao Cup, but they did win that game against Championship side Southampton. There last two 1-0 victories have been clinched courtesy of Ashley Nadesan goals, assisted by Tom Nichols. Those two names seem vaguely familiar to me. Does anyone else recognise them?

It looks to be a nice sunny day out there as we head down to the ground, nice and early so I can get a programme. (No, sorry, I just can’t let this go yet.) Stopping to get decent soft drinks on the way as the club has now switched to the evil empire of Coke, they sell nothing that is drinkable. Take the usual pitch shot for this piece and settle down ready for the game and see which randoms we have sat next to us for this game.

The away end was packed by the early time I got there, and the Gillingham fans were making lots of noise, I could hear them from halfway down Wakehurst Drive when walking in. The Redz Bar and Fan Zone areas were packed. I had noticed the ice cream van previously, but not the fresh donuts van. Both were difficult to resist today, and I’m sure temptation will get the better of me before long. Spoke to Al on the way in this week as well as after the game. (There you go mate, two mentions.) there were a surprisingly large amount of people wandering around in Arsenal and Chelsea kits.

Speaking of kit, Gillingham where in white shirts, with black arms, and black vertical stripes that faded towards the bottom, black shorts, and black socks. Almost as if they had bought a job lot of Newcastle shirts that had started to fade in the wash.

Nice early shot from Danilo Orsi on target, and an early booking for a Gillingham defender a couple of minutes later for going through the back of Orsi. From the resulting free kick, we win a corner, and then another, before Orsi puts an effort wide at the far post.

Up the other end and ball one disappears out in the corner between the east marquee and the food stand from a Will Wright clearance.

We build up some good pressure down the left-hand side and there are a couple of shots that are blocked, and then a ball played through hits a Gillingham defender’s arm, and we get a penalty. Someone behind me shouts ‘don’t stutter step,’ but Don Telford does, and his tame effort is easily saved, as is Orsi’s follow up shot.

Straight after more decent work sees the ball back in the box and a shot is saved for another corner. Later on, a Wright cross is headed over for a corner, and it ends up over the KRL Logistics stand for ball two gone. And a minute later ball three disappears over the east marquee from a Gillingham hoofed clearance.

Five minutes before the end of the half and a long thrown from Gillingham is headed back out, but a couple of neat passes see the ball crossed in, and it hits Harry Ransom and trickles in to give Gillingham a 1-0 lead against the run of play.

This seems to rattle Crawley a bit and there are quite a few misplaced passes before the half time whistle, which comes after two minutes of added time, and the teams go in with the score as 0-1. It sounds like last season’s half time playlist is back, but it is saved by some Stone Roses before the teams come out for the second half.

It’s a slower start than in the first half, but the first chance is set up as Telford plays a ball through to Orsi whose shot is saved. Another chance a couple of minutes later is dragged just wide of the far post.

Further into the half and ball four goes over the Eden Utilities stand from a headed clearance and we get a corner from which Ransom’s header is cleared. At the other end, a Gillingham shot is saved by Corey Addai for a corner. From which there is all kinds of chaos, and poor defensive headers before a shot is tipped onto the bar by Addai before an offside flag goes up and relieves the pressure.

Back up the other end good play from Nick Tsaroulla sees the ball come out to Wright, but his shot is high, wide, and ugly and ball five disappears over the Eden Utilities stand. There looked a good shout for a possible penalty. free kick on the edge of the area as Tsaroulla is dragged down but the ref waves it away.

There is lots of good possession, with no real end product. A ball played through by Aaron Henry nearly wrong foots everyone but sneaks just past the post. Gillingham make a whole set of substitutions, including taking both former Crawley strikers off.

Tsaroulla is dragged down again, but further away from the box and the ref feels it is safe to give a free kick for this one. But it is wasted. The ball comes back in, and a Ransom shot deflects off a Gillingham defender and flies over the Eden Utilities stand for ball six of the day. Klaidi Lolos then has a shot from outside the area that is well saved for another corner, which is wasted again.

Four added minutes are indicated, and the crowd is announced as 4,310 with 1,356 away fans, and Ronan Darcy is given the sponsor’s man of the match. By now the quality has gone off a bit and it peters out to finish as a 0-1 loss, Gillingham stretch their 1-0 league win sequence to five games and stay top of the league, and we slip to our first defeat of the season, and down to eighth in the league. An own goal and a penalty miss decide what could easily have been a result the other way, especially looking at the match stats.

The last couple of minutes Darcy and the Gillingham number 17 were having a heated argument all over the pitch, and after the final whistle there was a bit of a melee in the middle of the pitch. Something obviously said something to Addai as he was steaming mad, and if his haymaker had connected there might have been a decapitated Gillingham player dead on the pitch. There were two bookings, but only to Crawley players (Darcy and Addai), and no punishment for any Gillingham players who were throwing punches of their own.

There will be a bit of a gap until my next blog piece. We are away a lot over the next six weeks (I know, piss poor planning and all that), and so I’m going to miss four of our next five home games, only getting to the Sutton game, and missing the mickey mouse cup game against Charlton, and the league games against Newport, Tranmere, and Hollywood FC. So, see you in five weeks’ time.

Come on you reds.

Come From Milton Keynes

Wasn’t quite The Style Council song title, but, as it’s a home game, Milton Keynes must come to us instead.

It’s been nearly five years since the Milton Keynes Dons last played here, and that did not end well for us, with them running out 4-0 winners.

We go into game three of the season in sixth place, one of nine unbeaten teams in the division so far. The MK Dons are top after two games and one of three teams with 100% records.

Since our home game on the opening day of the season we have had two away games. The first was in the Carabao Cup against League One Exeter City. We took a first half lead with a much-changed side from our opening day win. But Exeter came back with two second half goals to knock us out 1-2. There will be no Carabao Cup run this season for us.

Then at the weekend we were away at Salford City, who had also won their first game of the season. Again, we took a first half lead, and an excellent first half saw us hit the woodwork four times, but we were unable to extend the lead as our play deserved. And two minutes after half time Salford equalised, and the game finished as a 1-1 draw.

It was a decent away point against one of last season’s play-off teams. In fact, four points from our first two games, both of them against last season’s play-off teams – and teams tipped to be there again this season – is a great start. It took us eight games to get four points last season.

In the last few days Joel Lynch has left the club by ‘mutual consent.’ (As someone who works in HR, this is a term used to cover a whole multitude of sins.) and he’s very nearly the last man out (only three left now) since WAGMI’s takeover. The last couple of months have reminded me of lyrics in New Model Army’s ‘Green And Grey’ – “And tomorrow brings another train, another young brave steals away.”

And speaking of WAGMI, all may not be well in the crypto clown’s world, several posts have been seen showing unrest against the very NFT buying crowd they were so proud of this time last year, with their communications with investors something akin to the communications they have had with the fans.

Tuesday nights are always a bit of a rush to get back from work, eat, and get back to the ground for the game. Especially as I like to be a bit early. Not to get a programme this season (yes, I might have lied about now mentioning it again last time out), but I am early so I can find Steve Leake and get a copy of his third book from him – ‘Tinpot And Proud.’

But I was too late to find him in Redz bar, but fortunately did see him as I walked past the end of the terrace and got my copy.

The MK Dons have a reasonable number of fans for a Tuesday night away game. The team are in all white kits, and after a bit of fannying around the ref blows for kick-off a couple of minutes late. The good thing about early season games is its still daylight at kick off, it doesn’t feel as overbearing.

The first ten minutes of the game are quite cagey, some decent possession play but not much cutting edge. But then the game springs to life, certainly from a Crawley perspective, Kellen Gordon breaks down the right into the box, and his cross is blocked, and Will Wright’s follow up shot blazes over the top of the KRL Logistics away terrace, and probably puts a dent in the away fans’ double decker coach.

And again, a couple of minutes later, another cross from Gordon comes to Liam Kelly on the edge of the box and his shot is just tipped over the bar for a corner. Which is cleared, but the ball is pumped into the box and there are half-hearted appeals for a penalty as a man goes down, but they are waved away.

A few minutes later and there is good play down the left wing, Danilo Orsi gets the ball and holds it up and passes to Kelly, who pings a ball into the box that Nick Tsaroulla gets on the end of. He takes his time and puts the ball in the top corner for 1-0.

Not long after we get another corner. It is certainly noticeable that the players aren’t scared to take a shot like they were last season. It is good to see, after screaming ourselves hoarse last season for the players to shoot. Five minutes later we nearly lose ball two over the west stand, but it hits the stanchion of the middle floodlight and bounces back on the pitch.

A poor pass out of defence is intercepted, and suddenly MK have a two on one, they fashion a shot which Corey Addai gets something on, but it trickles past him slowly and agonisingly into the back of the net and it is 1-1.

Crawley go straight up the other end and get a corner, there is a bit of a scramble in the box from it, and the ball is hacked clear off the line, only for it to be put back in and for MK to win it and break and get a corner of their own, followed by a shot on target.

The last five minutes of the half see two misfired shots over the Eden Utilities stand, and another out over the west stand, also from a MK boot. The multi-ball system implemented for this season is keeping the game flowing though compared to previous years where they would have to dig a ball out of a vault somewhere to get things started again. Someone is too efficient at chucking the balls back over the Eden Utilities stand and we end up with multi-ball on the pitch as well. We find out the blokes who sit behind us and slope off to the bar just before half time were responsible for chucking the second of them back over and onto the pitch.

There are only two minutes of added time at the end of the first half. And we think we are through on goal only for the ref to pull it back and penalise Dom Telford for a foul when he was the one thrown to the ground.

The half time whistle goes, and it is 1-1, and the club turn the sprinklers on at the exact moment the officials and the head steward are walking under their trajectory. That gets nearly as big a cheer as when the MK player just fell over his own feet with no one within ten yards of him. It’s good to see (well, hear) there is different music at half time again.

The second half is only two minutes old when Gordon picks up an injury and needs to be substituted. We are having a decent amount of good, patient possession. And one move ends with a Tsaroulla shot being tipped round the post for a corner. From the corner it is played out up the wing, but some neat play sees the ball played through to Orsi and he slots it into the corner to make it 2-1. I start my own chant.

Ay ay ay ay Orsi.

Ay ay ay ay Orsi.

Ay ay ay ay Orsi.

Scoring goals again.

No one else joins in.

Twenty minutes into the half and we get a free kick out on the right-hand side, the ball is whipped in by Wright and Orsi’s header hits the bar, and the follow up shot is blocked.

There is a bit of a lull, but we pick up again a few minutes later with a decent spell of pressure, corner, long throw into the box, another corner. MK then have a bit of pressure, but we break and have another good attack which ends with a shot from Adam Campbell which goes just wide.

I moaned about Bradford being desperate and bringing on a whole county against us as a sub in Derbyshire, but MK went one step further and brought on a whole country when they brought on their sub Holland (yes, I do know the correct name for the country in the Netherlands).

We have a breakaway and Klaidi Lolos looks to shoot but passes it across to Orsi whose shot takes a deflection and is saved.

The crowd is announced as 3,282, with 505 away fans, which is only forty-nine less than at the first home game of the season, which seemed a lot more crowded than this game did. The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as Danili Orsi, which I can’t disagree with. It seems the sponsor’s might actually be watching the games this season. And there are seven minutes of second half added time.

It’s a bit nervy, but we don’t really look like conceding, but when one of the MK players goes down in the penalty area there is a sharp intake of breath, but the ref waves play on.

A long ball comes down with snow on it, but Campbell takes it down brilliantly on the edge of the MK area, and his shot just creeps wide.

The final whistle goes, and it is a 2-1 win. There is a little bit of handbags after the final whistle from one of the MK players, but it calms down soon enough. And there is something else playing apart from the Black Eyed Peas. Expanding horizons and all that.

We knew a win would leapfrog us over our opponents, but it has done more than that. We are up to third in the table, just behind Barrow on goals scored, and two points off the leaders Gillingham who picked up their third 1-0 win of the season, and the second on the trot with a Nadesan goal assisted by Nichols. And we play them at home this coming Saturday. I’m sure not many people would have had that down as a top of the table clash at this point in the season. Crawley are in the automatic promotion places. Who would have thought it.

Come on you reds.

I Could Have Been The Bantamweight Champion Of The World

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.

When The Red Red Robin Goes Bob Bob Bobbing Along – Shoot!

Away day number four of the season for us, more than we might have envisioned at the start of the season. It is the final game of what has been an absolute clusterfuck of a season for Crawley Town. Safety, and therefore another season in League Two next year, was confirmed by the 0-0 draw against Walsall in our last home game of the season last weekend. A point which meant Hartlepool could no longer catch us. And which should have been three points, but in a now traditional last home game of the season screwing over of us by officials they didn’t signal for a goal in front of the home terrace when the ball was over the line. Granted, it wasn’t as blatant as the one against Leyton Orient last year, but still, they should have gone to Specsavers.

The away trip is to Wiltshire, and specifically to play Swindon Town. A game our manager Scott Lindsey would love to win after leaving them earlier in the season under somewhat of a cloud. In addition, club captain Ben Gladwin was another January acquisition for us from them to go along with the summer signing of Dion Conroy. So, there shouldn’t be any lack of a will to win from our lot. Although, by the same token I’m sure Swindon would like to get one over on their old boys as well.

And they will be looking for some revenge over us after we beat them earlier in the season. That was the first game of Matthew Etherington’s short lived chaotic stint as our manager, and at the time Swindon were in the playoff places. A heavily deflected Nick Tsaroulla effort and Jack Powell’s ‘wonder’ goal from near the halfway line with the Swindon keeper stranded saw us win 2-0 in what was a rare clean sheet for us. It was a game that led to a poor run of form from Swindon that saw them drop out of playoff contention and part company with Scott Lindsey.

The match report for that game is below.

The game is a 12.30 kick off on a Bank Holiday Monday, which is a ridiculous time for a game of football, mainly due to being bumped from the Saturday because some bloke with big ears is getting a new hat in London.

Saying that, ridiculous kick off times may become the new normal. The new Sky Sports deal with the EFL had headline figures of 236 League Two games to be televised per season. That is just over five per set of fixtures (46 * 5 = 230). Which, seeing as there will be the same amount of League one games being televised and double the number of that for Championship games, it will see the standard 3.00pm on a Saturday and 7.45pm on a Tuesday fixtures disappear. Friday night, 12/12:15/12:30/12:45 Saturday lunch time, 5:15/5:30 and 7:45/8 pm Saturday evening games. Multiple time slots on a Sunday, and then midweek fixtures played any night of the week. It is going to be carnage. If all teams were equally covered it would mean they would be on TV 20 times a season. I’m hoping that isn’t the case and that the number of games quoted is going to cover the whole of the five-year period of the contract and not every year. Granted some teams would get covered more often than others (Wrexham spring to mind), but there would probably be a minimum of 10 games disrupted by TV.

Helen and I had travelled over to Swindon on Saturday evening and had spent Sunday wandering around the town. It’s not as bad as it had been made out to be. The ground is by the Magic Roundabout, which looks a counter intuitive nightmare, and would be permanently blocked by crashes in Crawley. We got a bus up to the ground from the hotel we were staying in, and we saw the three supporters coaches come roaring past us as we were at a bus stop.

We were seated up quite high in the away stands, the highest up I’ve been for any normal game of football in nearly twenty years. The last time being when I was dragged to a Southampton away game at Blackburn when I lived in Manchester. The most memorable thing about that game being the thirty or so kitted out Blackpool fans who turned up. They were there to cheer on Brett Ormerod who had moved to Southampton from Blackpool that year.

Being nice and early we got a decent seat, and I got a programme. I was really impressed by it, it’s a really good programme, despite big ears being on the cover. There are many lessons that could be learnt. The piece in it, and the announcement of tribute to fans who had died during the season was a nice touch.

Crawley are playing in white shirts, black shorts, and black socks. Meanwhile off the pitch, despite a more vigorous search team on the way in the first of the red smoke flares is let loose by the Crawley fans. And the national anthem is played. Almost as if something happened this weekend.

Crawley definitely settled into the game quicker, with lots of possession and some nice interplay, but as with so many other games this season, the final ball is letting them down. Another ongoing theme of the season is the seemingly biased decision set by officials. Swindon are getting every 50-50 decision, and most of the blatantly 100-0 ones as well.

The away support is loud and raucous and is all we can hear. Plenty of taunting going on as well. After being comfortable for 39 minutes, a ball is headed on and Charlie Austin beats the last defender for pace and slots the ball in and it is 0-1. And having been the target of some of the taunting he classily celebrates by taunting the away fans.

A couple of minutes later and it isn’t getting any better. Ben Gladwin gets a booking for a silly foul, and it lines up Swindon for a free kick from about thirty yards out. Which the taker smashes into the top corner leaving Corey Addai no chance and us 0-2 behind.

Two added minutes are played at the end of the half and the half time whistle goes with it being 0-2. There have been a few more smoke flares during the half, and the police have been filming the fans, the fire marshals have been up a couple of times and the lead stewards have all been having conflabs with lots of pointing up at the Crawley fans. One of the chief stewards looks as if he is going to bust a blood vessel with the stress of it all.

The second half is only thirty seconds in and Swindon waltz through our defence again, but Addai saves and the follow up shot goes wide. At the other end we get a free kick in a similar position to the one Swindon scored in the first half. It is tapped sideways for Tom Fellows to smash goalwards, but it is saved by the keeper. It is recycled a couple of times and then Ashley Nadesan gets a shot away but straight at the keeper.

On the hour mark Tsaroulla drives into the penalty area and is tripped, and we have a penalty. Dom Telford stands over it. And scores, and it is now 1-2, and it triggers another red smoke flare. I hope they bought them in bulk to reduce the cost.

Five minutes later and it is Swindon’s turn to be awarded a penalty. It did look suspiciously like Johnson got the ball. Saved. Addai does it again, a second penalty save in the last few games, and it is still 1-2.

The stadium announcer announces Gladwin being subbed, only it appears our bench wasn’t ready to put Anthony Grant on, and it is another five minutes before the substitution is made. We have some very slick play down the left-hand side and the ball is crossed, but the shot and the rebound both are straight at the keeper before it is hacked away.

Four minutes of added time are announced, and the crowd is 10,450 with a magnificent 528 Crawley fans. The game kind of fizzles out and the full-time whistle goes for a 1-2 defeat. The latest in the string of smoke flares takes longer to fizzle out, and the players come over to applaud the fans the fans applaud the players, and a lot of match shirts are given away.

And so, the season is done. We finish twenty second, a massive three points clear of the relegated teams. Time to head off back to the hotel and the car to do the drive back to Crawley. The 2022-23 is a wrap. Roll on next season.

Come on you reds.

Safe (Just)

Written on the day, but not getting home until midnight after the game, and other Bank Holiday activities means I’ve only just gotten around to typing up my scruffy notes.

And here we are, the last home game of the season on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the end of a ridiculously wet April. Last weekend saw only our second away win of the season at fellow relegation candidates Hartlepool. A win, courtesy of two Dom Telford goals and a good look at his sports bra, saw us move six points clear of them with just the two games left to play, and it also gave us a goal difference six better than them.

To hear everyone talk you would think that we were easily safe. Which only leads me to believe everyone is trying to jinx us. Jeff stelling on Soccer Saturday I can understand, after all he is a hopeful Hartlepool fan. But it has been everywhere. Three different articles in the Football League paper, on the forums, on the BBC match report, in the Downsman, and yesterday in Horsham I heard someone say we were safe as we were six points clear and with a much better goal difference so it’s effectively seven points.

Stop it. all of you. Six goals are fuck all. Two defeats for us and two wins for Hartlepool is automatically four of them. And if we do lose, we do have a capitulation habit to bear in mind. We have a terrible habit of throwing things away when the fans get too cocky and start taunting away fans. This falls into the same category. We need a point. When we get it, I might finally release that breath that I seem to have been holding in for the last nine months.

Today’s opponents are Walsall. When we played them away earlier in the season, we took an early lead through a Dom Telford goal. Walsall equalised in the first half, and then got a winner deep into second half added time. A goal that if we had prevented it, we would now actually be safe.

It isn’t the only time we’ve thrown away points late on in games this season. Five times we’ve dropped a point by conceding a losing goal in the last couple of minutes or added time. And two points were dropped when we let in an added time equaliser against Newport in the first game of the calendar year. Only once have we grabbed a late point, that being against Crewe. Those dropped seven points and the six-goal difference they would have meant would have put us in the heady heights of sixteenth and two points ahead of today’s opponents instead of six points behind.

Walsall are on a terrible run of form, so hopefully that’s something we can capitalise on, and not just scrape a point, but get a point. Get safety in style and if coupled with a Wimbledon loss it would put us above them in the table which would be a passing moment of sweetness in a morass of shit this season.

There is a new manager in charge at Walsall after their poor run of form, the appropriately named Mat Sadler, a former Crawley player. It turns out our manager, Scott Lindsay hails from Walsall, so it is a bit of a reversal.

I am straight to the ground from writing, and it is busy in and around the ground an hour before kick-off. There was no sign of an away fans coach by that point, but when the others turned up there were three out there. We had waited until the last game of the season to use the free ticket vouchers for the game and have Terri and Tom along today.

The programme still doesn’t have Anthony Grant in the squad on the back of it, despite the fact he has been playing in seven of the last eight games (and he came on as a sub again today).

Meanwhile I’m wondering whether it is work experience weekend at the ground as the little ginger steward in front of our block only looks thirteen at the most. Is that what they must resort to when Al isn’t around. Brighton have a home game at three on a Saturday afternoon for the first time in ages.

Walsall are in an all-white kit and are sponsored by Poundland. Which sounds like it would have been a much more appropriate sponsor for ourselves for most of the season.

Kick off is a couple of minutes late and there is a nice early chance for Tom Fellows which is saved. And there is a red smoke flare going off in the home terrace within five minutes.

Eleven minutes in and we lose ball one out over the KRL Logistics away stand from thirty yards out by a Walsall player for a corner. A goal by Barrow against Hartlepool filters through and brings about a chant of one nil to the Barrow boys.

There isn’t a lot of action, and the next attempt of note was a free kick for us about thirty yards out which was tapped sideways to Jack Powell whose shot was deflected just wide for a corner. Not long after, Nick Tsaroulla digs a cross out and the Ashley Nadesan header is just tipped over for a corner. Which comes out to Tsaroulla, and the shot is just over.

Both teams are attacking more and there are penalty shouts at either end and both are waved away. James Tilley is on the receiving end of a few fouls in quick succession and there is a stoppage for treatment for him.

There are four minutes of added time, and in that, former Crawley loanee Isaac Hutchinson is allowed to cut in and curl a shot in, but good strong hands by Corey Addai put it out for a throw before the half time whistle goes with it 0-0. And we find Hartlepool have equalised against Barrow as well.

Into the second half and it is a bit frustrating. The final ball just isn’t working. There is lots of possession, but a lack of shots. Then a Ben Gladwin cross comes over, Telford misses his header, and the ball bounces off Nadesan and squirms through the keeper who scoops it out. It looked to us as if it were in (and replays later suggested it was over the line), but it is waved away. A recurring theme from the last home game of the season, as there was the one against Leyton Orient last season which was two yards over the line and not given.

A break see a Tilley shot well saved, and then at the other end a Walsall corner almost sneaks straight in at the near post, by Addai keeps it out and ends up in the net instead. The Walsall fans celebrate the ‘goal,’ not aware that it’s the ball that needs to go in, and not the keeper. We breakaway and it is another piss poor final ball.

And now Hartlepool are leading. It’s not good for the nerves. Nor is the Walsall free kick twenty-five yards out in the centre. But it hits the wall, as does the follow up attempt.

Half an hour into the half and ball two disappears, it is smashed well over the east marquee by the brick shithouse of a Walsall defender. That is in real danger of smashing a window at Thomas Bennett school a quarter of a mile away.

Then we get a free kick on the edge of the area. And do nothing with it. The crowd is announced as 4,189 with 281 away fans, and just following that Gladwin gets a booking at the defensive end, and as the Walsall player rolls around like an extra from Platoon, the home terrace thrown three red smoke flares onto the pitch, which are cleared off long before Walsall get around to taking their free kick, which thankfully goes straight out for a goal kick.

Six minutes of added torture time is announced, Hartlepool are now leading three one, and the sponsors man of the match is announced as Tom Fellows, which isn’t bad as he was subbed off a quarter of an hour before the end. Six minutes go on for far too long before the final whistle is blown, and the match ends 0-0. We are officially safe, and I can take that breathe now.

Remarkably there is only the one pitch invader, who is more celebrating everyone seeing him on the pitch than us surviving. The stewards treat him as if they are fishing and have caught a minnow and they just throw him back into the terrace.

The players lap of appreciation follows the game and most of the crowd stay to applaud the players who are gradually being de-robed as they walk around as they give away shirts, boots, socks, and shorts to ‘lucky’ fans. And a few kids get out onto the pitch.

We stay in twenty-second in the table, but we will still be in League Two next year. One game left, Bank Holiday Monday 12.30 away at Swindon, which we will be going to for our fourth away game of the season.

Come on you reds.

Then in the pub after the game I came up with a poem to describe the season.


It has been tense

It has been tough

We have been dreadful

And often not tough enough

We have played badly

And we have played well

And lost time after time

Putting the fans through hell

In the relegation zone often

In danger of leaving the league

With only very rare wins

To prop up the emotional fatigue

A point today was good enough

But no goals were scored

Still there was plenty of action

To prevent us being bored

The final whistle was blown

And we got the point we need

Survival is now ensured

Despite all those blown leads

The season didn’t go to plan

In fact, it was a nightmare

Let’s learn from this next time round

So we don’t repeat this despair

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.