The 3-0 scoreline suggests that Crawley Town defeated Crewe Alexandra comfortably but nothing could be further from the truth. Had the visitors brought their shooting boots they would have swept Reds aside but failed to score despite ten first half goal attempts.
It was one way traffic from the start as a much changed Crawley line up struggled to come to terms with the quick thinking Alex. At times it seemed that the opposition might be Croatia rather than Crewe and I found it quite uncomfortable to watch.
You can rely on some things though such as Josh Payne’s unerring penalty after Dominic Poleon was taken out by Crewe keeper Ben Garratt. At the other end another virtuoso performance by Glenn Morris kept Crewe scoreless whenever they did find the target.
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Dannie Bulman and Joe McNerney gave 110% but their team mates often showed an inability to keep possession or pass to a colleague. Our defending was haphazard; the midfield overrun and the attack, without the suspended Ollie Palmer, was non-existent.
Somehow we survived the onslaught and looked on for a scrappy win when McNerney intervened with an excellent header from Joe Maguire’s cross and then Lewis Young came on as a stoppage time substitute, promptly dashed down the right flank collecting a pass and delivering a pinpoint cross that set up Bulman for the third goal.
Cheers of relief poured out from the meagre crowd but although the win was very welcome I don’t think many regulars will have been deceived. Frankly as a team we were poor and were saved only by great moments from individuals.
As for the FA Cup let’s get one thing straight. Southend United will deservedly entertain Barnsley in the next round as they beat Reds on merit. The better side went through even if the scoreline of 6-2 AET was quite undeserved.
At 2-2 in the second half Crawley were on top and nearly won it. The superlative Palmer scored both, should have had a hat trick and might have netted five
Some disappointing refereeing by Charles Breakspear didn’t help but his decisions didn’t influence the outcome and Gabriele Cioffi and Nathan Rooney must have been horrified by the collapse.
Any improvement must be in their hands as defensively we were a mess. Dropping McNerney and Maguire was baffling and did not help our cause. Bondz N’Gala defended wholeheartedly but inconsistently. Josh Docherty had a nightmare first half and although his game improved the damage was done.
Payne pulled the strings in deep midfield while Luke Gambin’s pace and threat was obvious. Yet both were pointlessly and ineffectually replaced. I have said before that nothing baffles supporters more than their manager’s substitutions.
I also mentioned the possibility of Reds exiting three cups in eight days. Well it did happen so it might not be surprising if somebody starts chanting “You’re getting sacked in the morning”.