TASTE OF THE TERRACE: Smith's late goal brings surprise relief for Crawley Town fans

Crawley Town fan Geoff Thornton
Picture by Steve Robards.
Crawley Town fan Geoff Thornton Picture by Steve Robards.

I don’t imagine anybody saw this one coming.

A high intensity match with a lot hanging on it that brought six goals and left the Broadfield faithful bathed in a celebratory atmosphere that the stadium hasn’t experienced for ages.

The hard-earned point ensured Reds will start next season in League Two and possibly cost Carlisle United their place in an intense battle for the play-off positions.

It was all so different from the paucity of entertainment on Good Friday against Cheltenham Town but, as we all know, Crawley don’t do consistency.

The closest they come is James Collins’ finishing and I was in just the right spot to enjoy his brilliant opening goal.

I knew exactly where he was aiming and was in line with the slight bend that took his fierce shot even more tightly into the top corner.

There was no doubt that Crawley’s top scorer would effortlessly dispatch the penalty that doubled the lead.

The euphoria didn’t last long. First Mark Connolly had to be helped off but before substitute Josh Yorwerth had time to link up with his centre-back partner Carlisle played a hopeful long ball over the top.

Jabo Ibehre nearly managed to mess things up but he did score and also clattered Glenn Morris.

The clash reopened the head wound Morris had received from Accrington Stanley scorer Shay McCartan just five days previously and he had to be substituted. A most unwelcome double along with Brighton keeper David Stockdale’s two own goals.

The visitors now had their tails up and wrested first the upper hand and then the lead from hard-pressed Reds.

Their goals highlighted our frailties in defence especially the lack of concentration.

The ease with which Reggie Lambe ghosted through to put the Cumbrians ahead was embarrassing. Dermot Drummy has bemoaned the poor goals conceded on previous occasions and, since the table does not lie, he should know where he needs to start improving his squad in the summer.

It was, however, a great football match and even unpopular referee Darren Deadman only lapsed into character on a few occasions.

The equally unpopular former Red Jamie Proctor scored a thumping header (not something he is remembered for) and when he was substituted he was roundly booed by the home fans. Now that was really out of character for Crawley supporters.

The Reds never lost heart and raised their game again in the closing stages. Josh Payne led the way with an excellent low drive from the edge of the box that went narrowly wide and a lovely volley that was well saved Mark Gillespie.

Having earlier been embarrassed by screwing a close range left footer wide Jimmy Smith saved the day. The skipper finished the job with a powerful right foot volley from eight yards that was set-up by Joe McNerney’s cushioned header.

The ensuing elation acknowledged relief as well as delight.