Crawley Town dropped into 20th place after conceding a single goal win to bogey side Notts County and the final whistle saw supporters’ spirits at a low ebb.
Paired for the second game running against the team holding second place, Crawley could not dislodge them.
Their play generally matched their more efficient opponents but they could not deliver any telling blows.
Rightly or wrongly, manager Harry Kewell is collecting the blame and more than one voice in the West Stand suggested he was lucky not to be employed by Crystal Palace.
In a disturbed atmosphere I was exhorted to get behind the club. I am right there, but there is no virtue in ignoring the realities.
Some Crawley players have commented on the gruelling training sessions, yet in the closing stages it was the visitors who looked the fresher and furthermore the Reds looked short of craft.
That shortcoming was again most apparent in front of goal. Enzio Boldewijn had most chances and deserved success with a splendid low shot that just eluded the far post.
But the popular Dutchman erred badly in the closing stages by horrendously screwing his diagonal shot aimed to the near post almost square over the penalty spot. I’m sorry, Bruce Talbot, but it was certainly not intended as a cross.
Ibrahim Meite again excited with his pace and control, but he failed to muster a solitary shot.
In fact, the stats only confirmed that Reds did not register a single effort on target, ensuring an unstressed afternoon for ‘keeper Adam Collin.
The midfield selection, though strong, showed why Crawley lacked creativity.
It was a young schoolboy near me who encapsulated the problem commenting: “Does he know he’s got four defensive midfielders out there?”
Oddly the more inventive Josh Payne was given the holding role and while Crawley won the ball well they did little with it. Where was Dean Cox? I hope HK is not sidelining him as he did Matt Harrold.
Almost inevitably it was Payne who was unfairly hooked to allow the return of Jordan Roberts.
It should have been Lewis Young who had a torrid time overall as his game was riddled with inconsistencies and it was just a tad better than a total ‘mare.
Once again the Reds’ passing caused concern with short and simple ones going astray whilst a number of daring wing-to-wing passes went to feet.
Surely the training routine needs a different emphasis.
The ultimate question is whether it is more important to play good football or to win ugly.
I think the league table gives a ready answer to that one.
We need the safety of a midfield placing before the management tries to build a quality side.
Whatever Kewell’s ideals and long-term plans, the club will not be helped if it is back in the National League when they come to fruition.