At times it seems as though Harry Houdini is in charge of Crawley Town’s fortunes.
Recent results have emphasised how narrow is the thin line between success and failure. We certainly need a good result in the FA Cup replay against Southend United that took place at Broadfield Stadium last night (Tuesday).
Success could have been helped by the fervent support we saw in the first match at Roots Hall although in the end it is down to the players. If it was the visitors who earned a home tie in the Second Round then Reds will have fallen off the tightrope and been dumped ignominiously out of three knockout competitions in eight days.
That scenario would have been viewed by many as failure yet if we earned our place in that December tie against Barnsley and followed it up with three points against Crewe Alexandra everybody would look again at the prospects for both a lucrative cup run and a tilt at the play offs.
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As it stands we are ruing a late defeat by Grimsby Town in a match we could and should have won. Gabriele Cioffi was both baffled and angry in his post match interview which suggested I wasn’t the only one who could not understand how the result came about.
One reason was easy to see. It is an old saw that you must score when you are on top. Reds mounted several raids on the home goal which led to shots or headers that all ended up in the category of “close but no cigar”.
There is no point in pillorying individuals and I was impressed that I noted seven different players having a go. That’s a whole lot better than the shot shy performances of last season.
The absence of both Filipe Morais and Luke Gambin may well have been a factor in our failure to close out the game by establishing a first half lead and The Mariners' winning goal showed a recurring fault in that scorer Akheem Rose was allowed too much time and space.
Despite that the defence, in fact the whole team, played to a high standard and that makes their lack of success even more galling. We seem to be close to genuinel progress and it is important we don’t lose our nerve.
The first choice players know it is in their hands as to whether this season becomes one to remember. Their places are not really under threat from those who bowed out of the EFL Trophy at Gillingham last week.
Individual criticism is not helpful but as a team we let a promising situation go to waste. Dominic Poleon took his goal very well but overall we offered little and hope of a place in the next stage soon turned into a last place finish in the group. As I said it is a thin line.