Crawley Town progressed in the Carabao Cup by beating Championship club Stoke City on penalties. The only disappointment was that it took them so long to confirm their win.
Similar disappointment re-emerged when the fourth round draw pitted us against League Two rivals Colchester United. It won’t bring in a huge crowd and will be played close to the league game on October 12.
It was plain to see why the Potteries club are struggling to avoid relegation to League One. They were error-prone and shambolic and Crawley quickly assumed dominance. Reds enjoyed greater possession, played more intelligently and created more chances but, once again, their finishing was below par.
Stoke took a first half lead against the run of play. Following a corner the Wales international Sam Vokes stabbed the ball past Michael Luyambula.
The Reds redoubled their efforts and were rewarded before half-time when Nathan Ferguson powered his shot wide of Adam Federici and into the roof of the net.
In the second half Crawley were even more dominant but their failure to score rang alarm bells for many of their long suffering supporters. It was very much a case of so near, yet so far.
A red card for Stoke’s Nathan Collins with half an hour to play made no difference as Reds failed to take advantage of their additional man.
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Nobody had played poorly or been outclassed by their opponent yet the match remained delicately balanced at the final whistle.
For me the best part of the proceedings was my appreciation of what a great piece of business the signing of Nathan Ferguson had been as he was involved in most of the attempts on the visitors’ goal.
There is no extra time in this competition and so the result had to come from a penalty shootout. The packed ground was on tenterhooks as Bez Lubala swept home the opening penalty. Moments later Sam Vokes cracked his spot kick against the crossbar and sheer elation greeted it.
As far as the south terrace was concerned the tie was as good as won and their confidence was rewarded as David Sesay, Tom Dallison, Ashley Nathaniel-George and Ollie Palmer ensured Crawley had a perfect return of five out of five. Now absolute bedlam ensued.
Unfortunately Reds have their share of moronic followers as several smoke flares had evidenced. Following a warning from the FA the club is now likely to be fined so I trust the culprits are ready to cough up their share.
A pitch invasion was perhaps inevitable but it was disappointing to see a photograph showing a couple of adults of my acquaintance, who should know better, in the melee.
Still those two FA Cup runs to the fifth round were a few years ago and we have had very little to celebrate since then so the unrestrained celebration was understandable.
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