You can’t say I didn’t give you fair notice to look out for the name Karlan Ahearne-Grant.
Now, six weeks on, the Charlton Athletic loanee has scored a brace that ensured Crawley Town returned from Carlisle United with the point that was the very least they deserved.
The near 700-miles round trip was a challenge for the players let alone the 75 intrepid travelling supporters who defied Mother Nature. Brunton Park was icily cold and swept by snow showers but it takes a lot to keep the Reds’ keenest fans quiet.
This fixture was a big ask but Harry Kewell’s squad took the game to the Cumbrians from the outset and dominated the encounter territorially achieving an unlikely 60% possession. The home side was stretched and felt obliged to play a physical game which was handled well by referee Martin Coy and this meant that Carlisle finished well ahead in the foul and yellow card count.
However in every game there is also the matter of the rub of the green but on St Patrick’s Day not much of it came Crawley’s way. By the 47th minute when Hallam Hope added to Richie Bennett’s first half opener it looked very much as though sporting justice was not going to be served.
Bennett hit a superb rising drive from the angle of the penalty box which drew admiration but the travellers were left bemused by the comical defensive efforts of four players as Hope extended the lead.
The lads were not having that and simply tried harder to redress the balance. KAG provided the essential finishing touches to an excellent team effort. Gliding to the right across the edge of the box he finished with a low shot into the corner that looks like becoming his trademark and brought renewed optimism.
His deflected equalising goal proved embarrassing for home keeper Jack Bonham whose fingers were possibly going numb in the cold. Nevertheless his failure to hold onto KAG’s shot ensured that the Cumbrians did not get away with daylight robbery.
This is a busy week as on Wednesday Crawley play their rearranged match against high-flying Wycombe Wanderers before entertaining Cheltenham Town on Saturday. The play-offs are within reach although the Reds have some tough rivals in their quest.
The fixture list is now completed with a repeat of last season’s Sussex Senior Cup Final as we will again face Brighton & Hove Albion U23 at the Amex. The Albion youngsters took their cue from us in their semi final by dumping their Southern Combination League opponents Pagham 6-0, the same scoreline by which we eliminated Saltdean United.
The final tie in May will be seen by most Reds fans as a chance for revenge over the Albion and to wipe out the memories of the shameful display we put up in the 2017 final.