Finding the positives on a miserable night for Crawley Town against Southampton under 21s - Steve Leake

Well, that’s the curtains down on another underwhelming showing in the  Freight Rover, Sherpa Van, Leyland DAF, Autoglass, Auto Windscreens, LDV Vans, Johnstone's Paint, Checkatrade, Leasing.com, Papa John's Trophy Shield Cup for another year.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 7:41 am

The only reason I've included all its former identities is so I can reach my word limit for this week’s article. You can read a full recap of the game here

When I arrived at the People’s Pension stadium last night (written at 5am Wednesday 10th November, after another Reds induced sleepless night) I was pleased to see that the rumours of Reece Grego-Cox and Sam Matthews’ return from injury were in fact true, albeit as names on the bench, in what, it has to be said, was a strong squad.

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Crawley started strongly but were beaten by the speed of the Saint’s counter attacking youngsters, not once, twice or even thrice, but four times, to make it fourteen goals conceded in the three group matches. I witnessed all but three of those goals, thanks to my first half absence due to sickness at the Valley, and I am left with a feeling of …........I don’t know what.

This competition is realistically the best chance for a league 2 side to appear at Wembley, and for some reason we never seem to perform to the best of our abilities in it.

Supporters don’t attend, because of the inclusion of Premier League U21 sides, but surely the best way to rail against that is to teach the boys what it’s like to play in a man's competition. Something, for whatever reason, we fail to do on most occasions.

I know what you’re thinking, where’s the optimistic, half glass full Steve Leake? Well, he is still here and to prove it here are my positives from last night; Ludwig Francilette showed he has real pace in getting back to defend when others around him do not, Amrit Bansul-McNulty showed, for such a small player, that he possesses a lot of skill and a decent shot, Sam Ashford battled away up front tirelessly all night with no reward, but the two most positive occurrences last night were the returns of Reece Grego-Cox, back after twenty (20) months out injured and Sam Matthews, back from his three-month shoulder injury.

Both players showed they were up for the fight and hopefully will feature against Lancing in next week’s Sussex Senior Cup game. At the recent fan’s forum John Yems stated, that if we entered the Senior Cup, he would want to win it. The question is, will the team he selects feel the same way?

With the Swindon game being postponed this Saturday, because of international call ups in their camp, it gives the team, players and management, a chance to lick their wounds and figure a way out of our current, temporary, predicament.

The side, that only five matches ago was knocking on the play-off door, need to show that was not a false dawn by winning at Barrow, preferably in style. This weekend could see the teams below us partly narrow the gap between us and them to just two points from the bottom two, and that has to be the nadir for us this season.

I have said it before, and people will probably be fed up with my repeating it, but the most important time to support your team and club is when the chips are down and everything seems to be against you. Now is the time for that support, flags, drum and voices.

TOWN, TEAM, TOGETHER........COME ON YOU RED DEVILS

On a more positive note, the launch of Noli Semper Cedere, my second book written to mark the 125th anniversary of Crawley (Town) FC playing competitive matches, has gone exceedingly well and, as I write this, I only have six copies left of the original batch of 105. The book tells the history of the club from 1890 through to 1956, when I started watching, and also provides a detailed account of last year’s remarkable season of covid and all that entailed. My struggle against Parkinson’s is also documented as are the memories of a number of players, board members and supporters.

The book is available on Amazon at £13.99 paperback, £1.99 eBook or £10 from me, cash in advance. I will re-order if there is the demand. Contact me on [email protected] if interested.