We’ve all been looking for a change in Crawley Town’s matches and, oh boy, did we get it in spades.
Not since Conference days has Broadfield Stadium rocked with such pulsating action before the fans trooped home exhausted by the excitement of it all.
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The midweek clash against Swindon Town had everything crammed into the 113 minutes it took to conclude the game. The Reds should have been two up before Swindon scored against the run of play thanks to a disastrous misjudgement by Rob Milsom.
Further poor defending allowed the visitors to go two up although generally Reds had played well. The second half exploded early on as Swindon’s Diagouraga was dismissed for a scything tackle. A minute later Ollie Palmer rubbed salt in the wound as he reduced the arrears.
Incredibly two minutes after that Dunne showed he had learned nothing and he was also sent off for a tackle on Jimmy Smith that was so late it needed a calendar. Facing nine men Crawley now threw the legendary kitchen sink at the Robins.
Lewis Young had been dropped but taking over his marauding role on the right flank George Francomb, Filipe Morais and then Reece Grego-Cox each showed they also could not produce a decent cross. Crawley then got caught on the break and a frustrated Josh Payne collected the night’s third red card trying to prevent a shot.
That was at 90 plus 6 but there was still time for Swindon to hit the crossbar and for Palmer to both win and convert a penalty at the death. Sheer euphoria greeted the last gasp point even though it should have been three.
The mayhem continued against Bury as Smith scored after just four minutes in Crawley’s first attack. Twenty minutes in Morais crashed home from fully thirty yards – Broadfield erupted; Bury sank to their knees but no one appealed; everybody lined up for the restart but then a linesman intervened. After a long discussion referee Craig Hicks unbelievably changed his decision and ruled offside.
Unsurprisingly the reaction of the home fans does not bear repetition in a family newspaper. The players lost their edge and a decent Bury side scored twice to take the lead. Substitute Panutche Camara vigorously stirred the pudding, heading an inspirational equaliser.
After 88 minutes we saw the second candidate for Goal of the Season as Palmer poked home the winner from six yards. Mind you that was after he had miraculously twisted and turned around several defenders; ridden some crunching challenges; lost and regained possession and he simply refused to stop until he scored.
The reaction was tumultuous and I can’t recall a Crawley player so determined to score. What a signing Palmer has proved to be and even I, as the number critic of the club’s sales policy in the past, am happy to forget James Collins. Watching the Reds’ last two games has been an absolute privilege.