Reds fan Geoff Thornton writes his regular column on the latest events at Crawley Town
Maybe there is something in avian DNA that ensures magpies always get the better of crows.
Certainly fixtures against the Magpies of Notts County invariably bring out the worst in Crawley Town.
Changes of management and players make no difference and the Reds contrived to make a pig’s ear of the proceedings in a fixture full of promise.
Dermot Drummy is happy with the team spirit shown by his players but the problem is when they are in a backs-to-the-wall situation and need to battle the quality of their football declines markedly.
Nobody is affected more in such circumstances than skipper and fans’ favourite Jimmy Smith. When pressure demands a further increase in his impressive work- rate he lacks the necessary guile and mistakes creep into his play.
Although County were the first to expose our defensive frailties this season the problem stems from midfield. Reds missed the injured Josh Payne as much as they have missed Jordan Roberts.
It is telling that Payne’s replacement was centre back Josh Yorwerth and when the impressive young Welshman also sustained an injury, Drummy’s answer lay not on the bench but in a change of role for centre half Alex Davey.
We all trust that the touted end of window signing brings in a player whose experience is that of playing in front of the back-four. On the flanks all looked fine as Enzio Boldewijn glided effortlessly past defenders and then finished very well to give Crawley the lead. Top marks too to Billy Clifford for his canny headed flick from Lewis Young’s throw-in that set up the chance.
Jason Banton was up for the challenge against his former club but was hooked surprisingly early. Perhaps it wasn’t that surprising as regulars at Broadfield have rarely understood the substitutions made by a succession of managers.
Our midfield problems are exemplified by a shortcoming that has dogged Crawley for years. Simply our passing is not good enough. At times it is woeful but almost always inferior to the opposition’s. That has been the case even in successful seasons and improving those skills must be Matt Gray’s highest priority.
Crawley scored their customary goal but their finishing against County fell short. James Collins has not suggested that he is the answer and it may be that his confidence is low. The need to play two up top is evident and the fact that Drummy hasn’t done so may indicate concerns about the long term fitness of Matt Harrold and perhaps the capabilities of his other forward players.
In the short term he must do something to curb the impulsive excesses of Andre Blackman. The penalty conceded by his ridiculous hand ball did not cause our defeat but he is developing as a very competent full-back and needs to let his football do the talking.
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