After just two matches of the new season Crawley Town are back in their groove.
Sadly the fans were looking for a change, an improvement, but what they got was the same indecision and lack of flair that has made recent campaigns so difficult and the balloon of new optimism has already been punctured.
After the game against Stevenage one supporter put it to me as “normal service has been resumed” and another said “new season, new players but same old Crawley” whilst I had already recalled the line from a hit song of days of yore as “the same as it ever was.”
You get the drift – this was a match notable not for what was done but rather for what was missing.
The Reds seemed to have no belief in themselves going forward but when they did nobody wanted to shoot.
Whatever happened to the gritty showing against Cheltenham Town?
Our inability to dominate the game against meagre opposition gave the defence a chance to shine and they did – individually.
As a unit they often seemed confused, especially Mark Connolly, and they frustrated their fans by attempting to play keep ball at the back when the circumstances demanded more forthright action.
In midfield Dannie Bulman was a colossus. He had to be as he was lacking support from his colleagues.
Then manager Harry Kewell made a big error in my opinion by replacing the adequate Josh Payne with the totally ineffective Mark Randall.
I thought this only compounded his previous error as it was late in the game (too late to make any impact) when HK hooked Lewis Young in favour of the promising Reece Grego-Cox.
The wing-back had been his usual self, baffling defenders with his pace and close control and then wasting virtually every opportunity to find a team mate.
Upfront Ollie Palmer scored another deft header and suggested he could be a good targetman.
For that he would need decent service which he didn’t get in this game, essentially because Reds lacked creativity in midfield.
Stung by Alex Reid’s opener Crawley burst into action and drew level within a few minutes.
They could not maintain the impetus and when a late goal attempt was foiled by the visitors’ keeper Stevenage broke away and their wily 35-years-old striker Alex Revell put them back in front.
I have long admired Revell always hoping that Reds could persuade him to sign for us.
He emphasised his value as Crawley pushed forward desperately seeking a second equaliser by exploiting an error to fire in his second putting the result beyond doubt. Stevenage’s joyful travelling band will know they won’t collect freebies like that every week.
Kewell’s task now is tough as next up is the Carabao Cup tie against League One Bristol Rovers and we know the Memorial Ground rarely brings us happy hunting.