James Collins drove home a 75th minute penalty to ensure Crawley Town secured a point at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park and extended their unbeaten run to six matches.
There was a degree of disappointment at the outcome as once again Reds had come close to an impressive victory but failed to close out the game.
In all they struck the home side’s woodwork four times with the excellent Billy Clifford feeling particularly short-changed after his brilliant turn and shot from outside the penalty area struck the bar. If one of the earlier efforts had resulted in a goal then the final result might well have been very different.
But, and it is a very big “but”, we must be very wary that the facts and figures can be misleading. The 72 hardcore Reds supporters who made the lengthy trip were right to feel that a well deserved victory was very close but it didn’t happen.
It didn’t happen because the finishing was again below what was needed and Crawley’s only shot actually on target was, in fact, the penalty. This isn’t a new departure and poor finishing has long been a problem. This season we are in a play-off place despite being the second lowest scorers in the top fifteen clubs.
That shows the excellent work being done in defence and, of course, you have to create chances to miss them suggesting the midfield are developing an understanding. Personally I still believe the key is the missing second striker but Dermot Drummy is doing an excellent job and we have to let him make the key decisions.
I cautioned before about getting over-excited about the club’s improved fortunes and I make no bones about repeating it.
On the coach returning from the EFL Trophy win against Charlton Athletic at The Valley I heard a comment that was exactly the same as one I had made myself after the game. Simply “You can only beat what is put in front of you”.
Charlton honestly did not have much to offer and manager Russell Slade will have to work hard to avoid relegation. Reds played well within themselves and were in no way weakened as some fringe players gained game time. The Addicks’ only threat came from Ricky Holmes on their left flank which was quickly recognised by the fans and later confirmed by the manager. It was no wonder marker Lewis Young needed his own “time out”.
Dermot may be more concerned about his side’s poor conversion rate than he admits as he concentrates on praising the good things. Still he can’t possibly feel as disappointed as the newly appointed England manager Gareth Southgate must have been from the meagre return of two goals despite the national side’s total domination of Malta in their World Cup qualifier.
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