'I don't understand why he would be getting that kind of abuse' - Ollie Palmer passionately defends Gabriele Cioffi after calls for Crawley boss to be sacked

Ollie Palmer had brought Crawley level against Fleetwood on the stroke of half-time. Photo: Liz Pearce
Ollie Palmer had brought Crawley level against Fleetwood on the stroke of half-time. Photo: Liz Pearce

Crawley Town striker Ollie Palmer has provided a passionate defence of Gabriele Cioffi after fans called for the manager to be sacked during Crawley's FA Cup defeat against Fleetwood Town this afternoon.

Reds were beaten 2-1 by a side challenging for promotion from League One, after a controversial Paddy Madden winner, with Ched Evans appearing to foul goalkeeper Glenn Morris in the build-up.

Palmer, who had brought Crawley level on the stroke of half time after Josh Morris gave the visitors the lead, said there 'wasn't any difference between the two teams'.

He said: "The most important thing is winning games of football. We have not managed to do that today against a top League One team.

"We've not been able to get the rub of the green at the moment but, at the end of the day, you've got to make your own luck. In recent weeks, we've had fouls given against us and maybe been a bit unlucky.

"At the same time we've got to start digging deep and turn the form around which I'm sure we will.

"It's always a missed opportunity when you don't win games of football. There wasn't any difference between the two teams and we're talking about a team trying to get promoted into the Championship.

"It's small margins. We had a foul on Glenn (Morris), we had a handball in the last five minutes and could have had a penalty last week. It's frustrating because the performances have been there."

Reds fans expressed their discontent during the game and chants of 'We want Cioffi out' and 'Your getting sacked in the morning' were heard load and clear from behind the goal at the Crawley Town end. The full-time whistle also signalled loud boos from the stands.

After the game, Cioffi said the players didn't deserve to be booed but, as manager, he understood the chants against him. Read more here

Responding, Palmer said: "He [Cioffi] can play it down for himself but I'll stick up for him and say that I don't understand why he would be getting that kind of abuse.

"We've got a young squad, pulled a lot of players out of non league, trying to develop a lot of young talent. The club is on a small budget.

"He has taken the club the furthest we've ever been on a cup run. The truth is, he shouldn't be getting the stick that he's got.

"We had a great start to the season and we've had a couple of key injuries to experienced players. Ash(ley) Nadesan, myself, Dannie Bulman, George Francomb, Joe Mc(nerney), Josh Doherty.

"This weekend will be the first weekend this season, he has had a full strength side to pick from. That can't be easy for the gaffer.

"The fans have been great this season, really supportive and we've had some fantastic moments at this ground already this season. It's only just December now so if the fans can be a little bit patient and stick with us, we are trying hard and the performances have been there.

"Once we pick that run up, I'm sure we'll start climbing back up the league table. Today was a team trying to get to the Championship, let's not forget. It's not like they dominated us and we've just lost 5-0. These things aren't happening.

"It's just been small margins and that will turn. Just be patient as there's a lot of games left this season.

"Of course we're behind the boss. The gaffer has been fantastic with everyone, on and off the pitch."

For many, next week's trip to struggling Steveage will be a make or break game for the club. Palmer, though, didn't agree.

He said: "The game is not pivotal. It's not a make or break game. We're not going to get promoted or relegated if we win or lose.

"It's a game we will want to go and win, like we did today and we did last week. We will be working hard this week into a game we'll want to win."

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