In a rollercoaster game against Grimsby Town we saw both the good and the bad of Crawley Town’s season but, for once, they took all three points from a mixed performance.
The fans were left with feelings of joy tinged with sheer relief.
A solid start was rewarded with a well taken opening goal from Ollie Palmer, set up by the indefatigable (and now 41 years old) Dannie Bulman. It was not the skipper’s only vital contribution. A battle in earnest was only just beginning.
It was a day when attacks threatened and defences wobbled which kept both keepers busy. Glenn Morris was called upon to make a number of fine saves none better than one at full stretch low to his left. He made two good stops in the first half that unfortunately were punished as the visitors won the resulting goalmouth scrambles with the home defence at sixes and sevens.
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The Reds’ top players were on song ably assisted by George Francomb who grew into the game and then by second half substitute Reece Grego-Cox whose immediate impact inspired the revival. Grimsby had proved tough opponents but were sliced open by Francomb and Ashley Nadesan who created a veritable chance on a plate for Palmer to make it two all.
With a better than average crowd at fever pitch Crawley struck again. Bulman, for whom no cause is ever lost, started it and, following a neat lay off from Palmer, the winner came with a sweetly struck drive by Nadesan. Cue euphoria in the south stand. Even then Reds came under huge pressure from Ian Holloway’s side in the final ten minutes.
So here we go again with spirits on the rise following an impassioned display. A real test follows with a trip to promotion hunting Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday before another tough match against gritty Scunthorpe United.
The problems that can arise from fielding fringe players in cup competitions were highlighted when the Reds were eliminated 3-1 in their Sussex Senior Cup quarter final by Eastbourne Borough. The visitors played well on a freezing evening at Horsham and their success was based on an all round team effort that Crawley couldn’t match.
With Michael Luyambula recalled by Birmingham City the chance came for rookie keeper Alfie Jones to stake his claim. He did OK, apart from Boro’s third goal, but some of his defensive colleagues appeared to lack confidence in him. That said there were expressions from the bench that conveyed similar impressions about Crawley’s defenders.
Whilst the team work disappointed none of the individual displays provided much consolation. Josh Dacres-Cogley did his claim for the first choice right back spot no harm but Gyliano van Velzen was too often ignored by his team mates. All in all it was not a fun evening for the players or the frustrated fans although the visitors’ supporters enjoyed it and made themselves heard.