Taste of the Terrace: Mersin selection vindicated as Crawley Town crush Mansfield’s play-off hopes

Crawley Town season ticket holder Geoff Thornton.'Picture by Steve Robards
Crawley Town season ticket holder Geoff Thornton.'Picture by Steve Robards

At the final throw of an up and down but eventually midtable season Crawley Town played a vital role in deciding things.

They visited Mansfield Town who had to win their final game to give themselves a chance of reaching the play-offs.

Their hopes took a severe hit as early as the seventh minute as the Reds marked an upbeat opening by taking the lead.

Josh Payne played a delightful pass from the centre circle to Panutche Camara, who was in the classic number ten position.

His cross was perfection and Karlan Ahearne-Grant ran in and headed home at the near post.

It goes without saying that our supporters would love to see the Charlton Athletic loanee return to Broadfield on contract next season.

Mansfield ‘keeper Conrad Logan made a good save to deny Enzio Boldewijn and then the pattern of the game changed markedly.

Following that attempt after 15 minutes, another half an hour’s play was to pass before Crawley again threatened the home goal, such was the intensity of Mansfield’s resurgence.

The Stags did not worry that matters might be out of their hands – they wanted the win and they wanted it badly.

Mansfield manager David Flitcroft was concerned enough to make a double tactical substitution as early as the 27th minute and our backline was hard pressed as Mansfield’s tally of goal attempts mounted.

Harry Kewell’s surprising selection of second string ‘keeper Yusuf Mersin was not misplaced as the young Turk made a number of excellent saves.

In the second half Jimmy Smith might have wrapped things up but Logan came sharply off his line to block the shot and shortly afterwards Mansfield drew level.

Kane Hemmings managed to drift away from Josh Yorwerth and met Malvind Benning’s cross from the left with an unerring volley at the far post.

The Stags pressed harder and won a string of corners but Reds coped well with the pressure.

A flying save by Mersin from Hemmings and an instinctive header by Josh Doherty off the line from Hayden White’s close-range hook shot typified their bravery.

Towards the close the pendulum swung back in Reds’ favour and Mansfield realised that on the day their best had not been quite good enough.

The draw left Crawley in 14th place, their best since returning to League Two, and is a great springboard for a challenge for a play-off place next season.

There is still a chance of glory to mark Harry Kewell’s first season.

On Wednesday is the final of the Sussex Senior Cup at the Amex Stadium where, in a repeat of last year’s final, we face Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23 side.

There will be a difference this time. I am sure everybody in the team will turn up and we will not return empty-handed.