A happy New Year to everyone, what better way to start than by going to a home game? If it was pre Rattle And Hum, then I might consider an apology to Bono, but as it’s after then it’s difficult to apologise to anyone who has crawled so far up their own backside.
Since our last home game, the disappointing loss (and performance) against the Wombles, we have played two away games. The first was an early kick-off on Boxing Day against Gillingham. I was up north visiting relatives, and was in Arnside for lunch, with this view out of the window as I surreptitiously tried to watch the BBC live text on my phone. A nice 2-0 win.
Then there was the trip to Milton Keynes and the other Dons last Friday night. I spent a lot of time in a car coming back from the frozen north with a whole host of illness. Frustratingly there was one point on the M40 where I was only 15 miles or so away from Milton Keynes, but with nowhere to stash an octogenarian for a couple of hours, especially not an ill one, it was BBC live text again and another 2-0 game, only this time a loss, although the score could have been so different if our strikers hadn’t been so profligate and could actually hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.
The two results, and many others around us meant we are still in fourteenth, as we were at the end of the Wombles game, but now five points off the playoff places and one of four teams on 33 points in mid table.
Today’s opponents are Swindon Town. An old favourite from the Soccer Saturday drinking game. They were the only side in the English and Scottish leagues whose full name didn’t include a letter from the word ‘mackerel’, and therefore the last person to shout mackerel when Swindon came onto the Vidi printer had to do two shots. Messy days.
They are also on 33 points, but two places above us in twelfth on goal difference, as they are four goals better off than us, although we do have a game in hand on them. Of course, that goal difference is all from the game against them earlier in the season when there was the crash back down to earth in the 6-0 shellacking at their place. If we had kept it to half of that then we could have swapped places with them before this game.
Our manager Scott Lindsey came to us from Swindon, and we signed Dion Conroy and Ben Gladwin from them as well. We could really do with turning their old side over today.
With it being New Year’s Day, we have picked up some waifs and strays to bring with us to the game with three neighbours from the street being weaned off their Premier League supporting aspirations to come and watch some proper football.
Getting to the ground though, it would have been a good guessing game as to who we were playing. The date and time of the next fixture was up on the board as you come onto Winfield Way from the roundabout, but the opponents were missing. Was it ever up there, or has someone just nicked the Swindon Town sign?
It is busy at the ground, there were two coaches and a minibus already parked up for the away fans, but we were early enough to get a quick stop in Redz Bar, a very brief one for me as the queues to get in the east marquee turnstiles was already back to the bar by half two. Yes, we can go in by the west stand end of the terrace, but that far corner really does need more turnstiles, especially with the extra bag checks. Plus, the extra ticket check to actually get into the east marquee.
Swindon are in purple shirts and shorts and white socks, and the officials are in standard Stabilo Boss highlighter kits.
There are early corners for both teams, both of which are easily cleared. It takes a few minutes for the game to settle down a bit. On ten minutes there is some clever work down the right-hand side and Ronan Darcy is played into the edge of the area, he goes to the byline and crosses the ball and Danilo Orsi tries his best to make a mess of it but forces the ball over the line and we have an early 1-0 lead.
There doesn’t seem to be much urgency on show from either side. Both teams are playing it out slowly from the back and there is a fifteen-minute spell where neither side has an attempt on goal, which we end as Will Wright drags a shot from the edge of the area wide.
Just after this we get a free kick over on the left-hand side of the pitch. The ball is eventually played into the area and there is a bit of head tennis going on back and forth before the ball falls to Jack Roles on the edge of the area and he unleashes a shot into the bottom corner, and we are now 2-0 up.
We are playing much better now, and another attack ends with a Nick Tsaroulla shot which ripples the net, but unfortunately it is the outside of the side netting. We get another corner which is played short and worked out to Roles again, but his shot ricochets just out of reach of any other Crawley players and the Swindon keeper dives on the ball. A couple of minutes later Orsi has a first time shot from about thirty-five yards out trying to lob the keeper. It misses. By a lot.
As the end of first half normal time approaches the ball ends up squirming through our defence and a Swindon striker is in on goal one on one with Corey Addai, but it is a poor shot, and it trickles wide. Two added minutes are announced and there is another Swindon chance which is just tipped onto the bar by Addai and out for a corner. Which Swindon waste and the half time whistle goes with us leading 2-0.
When we were getting into the ground it was trying to start to rain, but after a minute’s applause before kick off to remember those who dies in 2023 it started to come down properly, and it looks almost misty by half time as the rain comes teeming down.
In the second half there is some early back and forth, before there is a good piece of play from Crawley. Possession is worked to Wright and his shot falls to Orsi in the middle of the box, and Orsi beautifully side steps the sprawling keeper and taps the ball into the net to give us a 3-0 lead.
It takes until twenty minutes into the second half to lose the only ball of the day, a deflected clearance from Swindon ends up over the top of the Eden Utilities Stand for a corner. From which Swindon break and Addai makes a good save to give Swindon another corner. Which comes to nothing.
There is more Swindon pressure now. They have another corner which is taken short, the cross comes in, there is a miscued clearance straight to a Swindon player in the six-yard box, but their attempted shot just bounces into the grateful arms of Addai.
Up the other end there is free kick on the edge of the D. Will Wright territory of late, but his shot hits the wall and is cleared away.
Not long on to the pitch, Harry Forster has a run towards goal, and drifts past a player into the box, and from out angle it looks as if it should be a penalty, but the ref ignores it and play continues, and then another recent sub Klaidi Lolos is brought down on the far side just outside the area and a free kick is given. And wasted.
The sign goes up for there being five minutes of added time as they were lining up to take that free kick, and during that added time, Swindon get a free kick near the centre of the goal, twenty-five yards out. The ball is tapped sideways, none of our defenders seem to react and the ball is drilled into the corner to make it 3-1. The remaining time is played out and the game finishes with a 3-1 victory for Crawley.
The crowd was announced as being 3,646 with 548 away fans, and the sponsor’s man of the match as Danilo Orsi.
The win takes us back into the top half of the table in twelfth and leapfrogs us over Swindon.
A great start to the new year. And it was followed by a very agreeable curry at The Downsman. Shame there is this work malarky to go back to tomorrow.
We have an away game against Bradford City on Saturday who sit a point and a place behind us in the league, and then another away game next Wednesday against Peterborough United in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy before being back in action at home in nearly two weeks’ time against Salford City.
Come on you reds.