Taste of the Terrace: The promising signs were there but Reds hit the buffers at Wycombe

Harry Kewell
Harry Kewell

My opening comment last week about the club issuing a public health warning seems remarkably apposite following this horror show which was all the more disappointing for the fact that it was so unexpected, writes Geoff Thornton.

The promising signs were all there. Reds had been tight at the back in their recent matches; solid in midfield if lacking creativity and, although goals were scarce, Thomas Verheydt was fit again and off the mark with his header against Forest Green Rovers.

A visit to Adams Park would be tough but Wycombe Wanderers had not enjoyed much recent success having garnered just two points out of the previous twelve – a disappointing run of form matched only by Barnet. We all know by now never to take anything for granted.

Naturally Wycombe rediscovered some of their missing form and although they had the better of the first half play Crawley remained in contention at the break. Josh Payne and Verheydt both had early chances to open the scoring and Payne went close again shortly before the interval.

True the warnings were already there as the home side had hit the bar, had a goal ruled out and had brought out the best in Glenn Morris. Whilst the outcome remained in doubt Crawley’s second half capitulation was not something that had figured in anyone’s mind.

An earlier, and not fondly remembered, manager gained a reputation for reversing the Reds’ reputation as a second half team. There were many cheeky suggestions about what had been added to the players’ cups of tea although most thought the interval team talks had not helped. We trust that Harry Kewell is not going to emulate those setbacks.

Wycombe’s man mountain striker Adebayo Akinfenwa had been in great scoring form, topping the lists for the most headed goals but Crawley nullified that threat. Nobody was prepared though for his emergence as a supply line as he registered three assists during a second half which was one the Reds’ defenders would like to quickly forget.

In recent games they have shown strength both in the air and on the ground with the concern being the lack of close marking. Craig Mackail-Smith was obviously well aware of that shortcoming as there was nobody even close to him when he rattled in a hat trick in just eleven minutes. His goals were well taken although that is no consolation. Marking aside, the ease with which Eberechi Eze strolled through for the opener should worry the coaches.

By the time this is published in print there will have been a chance of recovery with Tuesday evening’s game against Exeter City. What will HK do to calm fears of relegation? I noted that just as the rumours of Dean Cox’s departure proved unfounded so, too, was the story that he would be back in the squad for Wycombe. The fans would love to know the truth.