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.

Not Boxing Clever

It’s a lovely bright and sunny Boxing Day afternoon and football is back to bring some normality to the Christmas lunacy. Apart from having an afternoon kick off on a Monday obviously. It’s been seventeen days since Crawley’s last game, the freezing Friday night horror show against then bottom of the league Hartlepool, which we lost two nil, and lost two players to eight-week injuries.

Last weekend’s game away at Tranmere Rovers was called off due to a frozen pitch, as were the majority of games in League two, so although we don’t have Ashley Nadesan and Joel Lynch back, the rest of the team should be appropriately rested. During the time off it was announced that what should have been the first game of the new year, home to Grimsby had been postponed due to the fact that the black and white mariners show had made the third round of the FA Cup. The annoying thing is the game is now on a Tuesday night when we are away in America, meaning we now miss two home games instead of just the one, added to the fact that the period away also encompasses two easy to get to away games at Wimbledon and Gillingham.

We are playing Sutton United today, so out closest neighbours in league two terms at only seventeen miles away. They are in their second season in the league, and the home game against them last season saw our biggest home league attendance of the season and was the second of two games I didn’t manage to get a programme for. I was tempted to get to the ground extra early and be queuing for a programme at 4am like a typical Boxing Day sale, but Helen said that was a bit over the top. So, five past… two I was there having wandered down early leaving Helen and Nathan to catch up later, I got a programme and had plenty of time to proofread it. The results and fixtures pages are still an utter shambles, apparently there were no Crawley scorers in the Barrow, Walsall, or Swindon games. But the rest was OK apart from the truly dreadful double page spread of Guess The Santa.

Anyway, back to the match today. Sutton sit sixteenth in the league, three places and five points above us in the league (but we do have a game in hand on them), and they have the same form guide over the last five games as we do; two wins, two losses, and a draw. Our home game against them last season saw them beat us 1-0, which was better than our away 3-0 loss to them. So, any points today against them will be a vast improvement on last season. Although it was difficult playing against a team that appeared to be made of six foot plus tall brick shithouse cyborgs. Hopefully there will be less HGH on display today,

I didn’t see Al before the game being early, but Helen did on the way in, and he started on patrol along the East stand today, before moving over to the home terrace for most of the game.

It was No Home Kit day across the EFL to raise money and awareness for homeless charities, and so, Sutton were wearing their all green third kit, and Crawley were wearing their all white third kit, which being all white with three Adidas black stripes along the shoulders they looked like a Real Madrid throwback kit. Shame they played like Real Plonkers.

Part of the away terrace was covered up with canvas, but not sure whether that was because Sutton didn’t sell that many tickets, or whether Sutton didn’t sell so many tickets this time because the part of the away terrace was covered up and so a reduced amount of tickets were on sale (which would seem a stupid thing to do from an income point of view). The sun was low, so it was really a cap I needed and not sunglasses.

It didn’t take long for the home crowd to get on at Rob Milsom, with the cries of Crawley reject, a perennial figure of fun. Well, the crowd needed something to keep themselves entertained as there was very little going on on the pitch. Until the 34th minute when a wayward Sutton shot went out over the Eden Utilities stand for ball loss number one. And then it was half time after a couple of minutes added time.

Half time was the usual shit show of the same tunes, but it was a good time to add the hat and gloves required now the sun was below the level of the stand.

The half time break didn’t appear to do anyone any good, and five minutes in we were treated to the worst corner I’ve seen Crawley take. Nick Tsaroulla sliced it out towards the halfway line instead of into the box, Jack Powell just about stopped it going out for a throw in at the halfway line and passed it back to Ellery Balcombe in goal, only for him to slice it out for a throw in at the halfway line. It was one of many balls he kicked straight out for throw ins in the second half.

Fifteen minutes into the second half and Sutton got a corner, it bounced around without a proper attempt at a clearance and an overhead shot came back in, forcing a save from Balcombe, but it dropped to a Sutton striker who poked it in for them to lead 0-1.

Crawley made two subs before kicking off, though they had been lined up well before the corner. Perhaps putting them on before the corner might have been a better idea than after the goal.

Ten minutes later a very high ball into the box was allowed to bounce, and bounce again after another hoof, and no one even made an attempt to deal with the bouncing ball. Fuck knows what Balcombe was doing apart from just watching it in the air without a thought to catching it or punching it despite it being two yards in front of goal. Instead, Tony Craig collided with a Sutton player who went down like an extra from Platoon and a penalty was awarded along with a yellow card for Craig. And Rob Milsom of all the pains in the arses in the world scored the penalty to make it 0-2.

And as with the first goal we responded with another substitute. Half an hour into the second half and ball two disappeared out over our east stand from yet another woefully miscued clearance from Balcombe.

One of the subs to come on was James Balagizi, but he still looks as if he isn’t fully fit and appeared to be limping around rather than walking or running and was misplacing passes all over the place. Almost as if Jack Powell were rubbing off on him, as he does it so often, I have to wonder if he’s colour blind.

The crowd was announced as 2,926, with 464 away fans, a dip of 600 from the corresponding fixture last year, and the sponsor’s man of the match was named as Ludwig Francillette, as I suppose they have to give it to someone.

There were five minutes of added time (very lenient given how much fannying about the Sutton players were doing, and four minutes into it Crawley play the ball into the box and Aramide Oteh puts it in the net to make it 1-2. They raced the ball back to the halfway line for the kick off, but it wasn’t quick enough to get the ball back and make an attack, and the final whistle went with the final score 1-2, which led to the inevitable sounds of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry”.

After the result Crawley dropped a place to twentieth in the table, whilst Sutton went up a place to fifteenth.

And next up is an away trip to our twin town Stevenage, which will be our second away game of the season.

Come on you reds.

There’s Always Some Scummy Fans

It had been three weeks since a home league game. In the meantime, there had been a loss at Tranmere and a win at Rochdale in the league which had left us in the top half of the table, in a very tight league where a win could take us to fourth (well if half a dozen other results went the right way); and a terrible whupping in the Papa Johns’ Trophy.

I’d been rushing about and despite knowing we were playing Exeter on Tuesday night; I had no clue who we were playing. This wasn’t helped by there being no programmes available at five to three, it was only looking at the front of the visiting team’s coach that I found we were playing Sutton United, who were on the same points as us, but ahead on goal difference.

There were queues everywhere, and it was clear that there were more fans in the ground than for any other game so far this season, and I was walking to my seat when the game kicked off. There was early pressure from Crawley, and an early penalty shout which was waved away by the ref. The drummer was in full effect, in fact two of them, as there as a second drummer over in the Ryan Cantor Club terraces.

And the well known and used refrain to goal kicks of “Wooooaaaaahhhh, you’re shit, aaaaaaaahhhhh!” was being used by both sets of fans early on. Something that never ceases to amuse Helen.

About a quarter of an hour in there was some commotion where the Sutton players went to remonstrate with the ref, who then goes to the side-line to report something. It seems obvious to me that there’s been some abuse hurled from the terrace in the Ryan Cantor Club stand. A couple of minutes later the Sutton number 4, Coby Rowe is back remonstrating with the ref, clearly upset.

It was nearly ten minutes from the original stoppage before there was a stadium announcement warning fans that discriminatory language of any kind would not be tolerated, and anyone found using it would be removed from the ground – an announcement that was applauded by most of the crowd. It’s sad to say I’m not surprised, and it’s not the first racist chanting we’ve heard in the ground, as the screeching howler monkey kids had done it before. After the game the club, alongside Sussex Police, released a statement, and asked for anyone with information on the culprits to come forward.

In the meantime, Crawley’s Dallison-Lisbon picked up a booking. And it was noticed that Sutton’s keeper liked to wander out to the middle of the pitch whilst he teammates were attacking. There was a chance to have a long-range effort, which our players did see, but their attempt to try and lob the keeper from their own half ended up being a weak effort which only just about reached the keeper as he stood on the edge of his area.

There were still fans arriving half an hour into the game, and they had missed a number of good chances for both teams, and there was some good play from both sides. Even so, it was still goalless by the time half time came around.

I’d scooted down to head for refreshments as first half injury time was being played, and I was glad I did. There was a short queue when I got there, but by the time I got to the front and looked around the queue was huge; I couldn’t see the end of it, but I think the back of it was somewhere up near Pease Pottage.

The sun is much lower now, and it would have been in our eyes during half time if the cloud cover hadn’t come in. Instead, the floodlights were turned on, so there was squinting going on in the second half.

It had been noticed that the Sutton team were a team of tall physical players. It came to me later, that playing in their all-green kit they could be referred to as the Jolly Green Giants. Only with their physical play, they were more mean green giants than jolly ones. (However tall they are, none of them match the height of the nearside linesman, who very much looked like Lurch from the Addams Family.)

There were decent signs of life from Crawley in the second half, reasonable periods of pressure, with a few offside calls, and a great piece of slick passing play to create a great chance which was ruined by a very weak finish. A number of substitutions by both sides followed, the main note I made from this was that Crawley had been working on improving the speaker system in the People’s Pension Stand, as the announcements could actually be heard clearly for the first time this season.

The drummer had also come up with some new player-based chants, with chants for both Tom Nichols and Kwasi Appiah being busted out. The take up wasn’t great away from the drum, but I suppose it’s early days.

Then in the 76th minute we get a penalty, Nick Tsaroulla is shoved over in the box and the ref points to the spot. After all the drama surrounding the award dies down Tom Nichols steps up to take the penalty only for it to be well saved by the Sutton keeper.

In the aftermath of the award, two players were booked, one for the foul, and a second – Robert Milson for trying to rough up the penalty spot. Now there is history where he’s concerned. He used to play for Crawley in the 2018-19 season but jumped ship to follow the fleeing Harry Kewell to Notts County during the season. It was a strange coincidence that I was at the last home game of that season against Notts County where he was playing for them and getting booed at every touch; something which, along with being called ‘rat’ at every opportunity, was being repeated today. Not bad for someone who only played three games for Crawley.

It was obvious that the game was getting a bit chippy now. Francillette got booked, and from the resulting free kick there was an utter shambles in the box. The keeper came to claim but it was headed up into the air by a defender and then there was another header from a Sutton player which just dropped into the goal which had no one in it.

Not long after the crowd was announced as being a high for the season of 3,572, with the 572 being away fans. So more than a thousand more home fans than for any other game this season. They also announced the sponsor’s man of the match to be the keeper Glenn Morris on his 500th league appearance.

The style of play for the final five minutes or normal time and the four minutes of injury time changed to be a hoof ball effort trying to get it up to Francillette who was playing as a target man. But it was all to no avail, as the ref blew the final whistle on a 1-0 defeat. A result that saw us drop a couple of places to 12th, and saw Sutton jump up to fifth in the table. We are still only a win away from the playoff places though, and there were signs of the team gelling more.

It’s just a shame about the racist twats in the crowd.