Thoroughly unsatisfactory is the only way I can describe Crawley Town’s return to action following FA Cup week.
The alternative headline of expletives deleted followed by a blank column appealed to me but seemed impractical.
I have to admit that I am getting a bit fed up with having so many of my visits to Broadfield Stadium ruined by the consistently appalling decisions of officials that presently blight League Two.
There was certainly unanimity after the game that the decisions of Craig Hicks and his assistants had plumbed new depths.
Unfortunately Reds do not make things easy for themselves in testing circumstances.
They lacked cohesion and are not playing as a team merely staying in the game thanks to individual moments of classy football.
A win should have been easy enough as Northampton Town offered little in the way of attacking intent.
The Cobblers’ game owed a lot to physicality accompanied by a tendency to be blown over by the gusty wind.
Their ploy was obvious and the referee bought it every time.
An early booking for Josh Payne; the penalty decision that settled the match; the dismissal of Ollie Palmer and, especially, the penalty not awarded for a foul on Dannie Bulman when he was scythed down from behind each made one wonder what was going on.
In fact the last wasn’t a penalty decision as the incident was clearly just outside the box but as Bulman was clean through on goal the laws demand a red card. Only the referee could tell us why he simply waved play on.
He might have thought he impressed the referee’s assessor who attends every game and I would like to think the club would mark him down sufficiently to gain a tribunal hearing, but I doubt it.
I am assuming these procedures haven’t changed since my days in the middle, eons ago.
The match brought little to excite anybody including the Cobblers’ fan I talked with after the game.
The only high spot was a super dipping shot by the excellent Panutche Camara that hit the crossbar early on. Had that gone in a totally different match might have followed.
As it was we couldn’t overcome the circumstances and the need to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window is plain.
Palmer’s straight red card means the next three games will show the shortcomings in attack.
I remain optimistic about Saturday’s trip to Macclesfield Town, however, as we usually only have to overcome the opposing team at away games.
If I seem to be mightily hacked off, it is because I am.