TASTE OF THE TERRACE: Spirit of Mr Hyde haunts Crawley at Newport

Crawley Town fan and Crawley Observer columnist Geoff Thornton
Crawley Town fan and Crawley Observer columnist Geoff Thornton

Crawley Town are struggling to cope with the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde syndrome as their performances never maintain a similar level from one match to the next.

Following their capable dismissal of struggling Leyton Orient, they failed miserably to achieve anything against battling basement boys Newport County.

It was a fairly bizarre encounter that regrettably appeared to have no redeeming features.

At least the match was played after news had filtered through to the coach on the M4 about the late downpour that led to a pitch inspection.

The referee deemed it playable and the surface water obligingly drained away quickly.

Newport’s much maligned pitch was, as they say, a great leveller although level was the last thing it was.

County had the benefit of experience on it and Reds couldn’t play their usual game.

Then there was the matter of refereeing.

This game had none of the malice Newport brought to Broadfield before Christmas yet featured a mysterious double sending-off.

Following an off the ball incident Newport’s Joss Labadie and Josh Yorwerth were both dismissed, seemingly on the word of the linesman, whilst the Reds fans at the far end on the same touchline saw little.

As reporters and TV were also mystified no further comment is appropriate other than that referee Darren England, in his debut with Crawley, continually frustrated the travelling fans and that Yorwerth had easily been our best player over the first 50 minutes.

Dermot Drummy must be getting concerned that he seems unable to motivate his players as this was really a case of Reds allowing themselves to be dictated to by more spirited opposition.

Enthusiasm appeared only in the final 15 minutes, no doubt prompted by desperation, but there was no sign of precision or cohesion.

Josh Payne, who along with Lewis Young, suffered most from the Jekyll and Hyde malaise, set up Mickey Demetriou’s thundering winner with an under-hit pass.

James Collins was strangely muted for the most part but was unlucky with an on-target shot that took a deflection.

Enzio Boldewijn, too, contributed little but could have snatched a point in added-time but for a bold close range stop by home keeper Joe Day.

Rhys Murphy had shown occasional attacking intent and substitute Matt Harrold offered some promise in the target man role.

Unfortunately the players behind him couldn’t see beyond the ploy of hoicking long balls forward towards him and most were gobbled up by County’s tall defenders.

This wasn’t really a game that Newport County won but rather one that Crawley Town lost because of a lack of bravery and intelligence.

Despite the three points I think Newport and their fervent loyal fans will be relegated.

With enough points already on the board, Reds will not go down this season but management and players must ask themselves why they have not improved on last season and whether some vital ingredient is missing.