FA Cup reveals Reds' lack of real quality when needed - Crawley Town opinion

It’s back to the grind of fighting for their League Two status for Crawley Town after they were edged out of the FA Cup by Fleetwood Town of League One.

The tie was as close as the bookies might have forecast but the visitors’ 2-1 win was not a warranted result for the Reds.

There was so little to choose between the sides that you felt Crawley would be happy playing in the middle of League One. What the encounter revealed though was their lack of real quality when it was most needed. This was shown chiefly by a wasted final ball or a shot that did not test the keeper.

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Reds’ build up play was good but their understanding of what needed to be done was not matched by their ability to deliver it. The lack of a playmaker in their line up was a key factor as Fleetwood were just as liable to be opened up by incisive attacking play as anybody else.

Their slight edge stemmed mainly from towering 6’6” Australian centre back Harry Souttar who is on loan from Stoke City. Generally he kept an energetic Ollie Palmer at bay although the striker did get clear to volley a fine first half equaliser from Ashley Nadesan’s enterprising flick.

Crawley’s centre backs also looked good but two poor goals were conceded. Lewis Young was nowhere near Josh Morris who enjoyed a simple tap in at the far post to open the scoring. A comedy of errors then led to Paddy Madden’s winning goal that the visitors just about deserved.

Disappointing though the result was I took heart from the manner in which the team went about their tasks led in typical fashion by Dannie Bulman. Unfortunately their spirit and effort was ignored by an unusually loud but negative gathering on the South Terrace. There is an increasing ground swell of opinion calling for the sacking of the manager.

This was not helped by Championship referee Matt Donohue who seemed to lose the plot in the second half and made some bizarre calls. As the assistant on the West Stand side looked totally out of his depth it was no wonder the natives were getting restless.

Once the game is underway there is only so much a manager can do but sadly Gabriele Cioffi is not even doing that. He is simply not brave enough in his approach to cope with adverse circumstances.

Once again we saw like for like substitutions when a change in approach was needed. I know it is an easy game to play from the stands but I cannot understand why the coaching staff cannot identify where things are not happening for them on the pitch and react accordingly.

The Premier League has seen three big name sackings in the past couple of weeks and each of the departed managers showed very similar shortcomings.