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Monday, 30 January 2012

Tubbs The Tormentor As Reds Tame Tepid Tigers

It was another memorable day in Crawley Town’s history as the Reds marched on to the fifth round of the FA Cup after a 1-0 win away at Hull City.
The early start began with the departure time of 8am, when 13 Crawley Town Supporters Alliance coaches departed from the Broadfield Stadium for the long trip up to Hull.
Arriving in Hull at around 13.30, an influx of away fans joined a good number of home supporters in “The Walton Club”, just a stones throw away from the very impressive KC Stadium.
The team news was in with the Tigers resting a number of their bigger, better known names such as Robert Koren, Paul McKenna, Cameron Stewart and Liam Rosenior as well as Aaron McLean who was on the bench.  Coming into the side was Josh King, on loan from Manchester United.
Crawley lined up with new signing Sanchez Watt in place of Scott Neilson in midfield as their only change from last week’s draw at Plymouth Argyle.
JUST WATT THE DOCTOR ORDERED: Sanchez made his debut
The game kicked off with Crawley immediately taking the game to the home side; after only a couple of minutes Tyrone Barnett managed to wriggle free of Jack Hobbs only to see his shot saved by Mannone. Soon after, Matt Tubbs tried an audacious bicycle kick from a Dean Howell cross only to see his effort fly wide of Vito Mannone’s right hand post.
Barnett was next to have a go at the Hull goal when he rounded Arsenal-loanee Mannone only to see his strike cleared off the line by Tom East for a corner.
Hull finally had their first effort on Scott Shearer’s goal when Tom Cairney’s curling left footed effort was superbly tipped over by the goalkeeper.
Half time came and there were mumbles of “We’re doing well”, “Hull are poor”, “They’re there for the taking” and “Just need a goal”.  Whilst waiting we noticed Aaron McLean getting stripped off and warming up with one of the Tigers’ coaching staff… Gulp!
The teams came out and as we predicted, McLean was on and another Manchester United loanee Robbie Brady came off. Crawley looked to up the tempo and after some early pressure David Hunt’s corner wasn’t cleared by the Hull defence and fell for Claude Davis, whose shot was blocked before his defensive partner Pablo Mills was brilliantly denied by Mannone.
Minutes later, the opening goal finally came. Dannie Bulman’s superb pass with the outside of his boot saw Hull’s offside trap self-destruct, giving Tubbs the freedom of the City half to take a touch before slotting under Mannone - his finish ultimately his last in a Crawley shirt. Behind the goal the stand was bouncing with the optimistic 1,600 visiting supporters dreaming of another Cup upset.
Tub-thumper: Reds hitman celebrates with Tyrone Barnett

Nick Barmby’s side started to lay siege on the Crawley goal; a ball in from the left found Richard Garcia about 8 yards out. The former West Ham player’s effort was heading into the bottom corner of the net only for Shearer to fantastically reach down low to his left and flick the ball away for a corner.
The Red Devils then went up the other end of the pitch and the brilliant Kyle McFadzean, playing in a defensive midfield position, saw his ferocious right-footed drive palmed onto the roof of the net by Mannone.
A controversial moment then arose when McLean was sent clear by Corey Evans (brother of Manchester United defender Jonny) only for Shearer to come tearing out of goal. Former Peterborough goal-machine McLean tried to flick the ball over the ‘keeper and although City fans were shouting for a handball from Shearer, referee Stuart Attwell deemed it hit the Scot’s midriff.
McLEAN: Came on for the Tigers
Crawley soon after had a chance to kill Hull off when Barnett saw another effort beat Mannone only to be scrambled off the line by Joe Dudgeon; the ball falling to Watt whose volley skimmed off the post and out for a goal kick.
With the ball bouncing around the Crawley box for the final seven or eight minutes, Reds fans were praying, turning their backs on the game and covering their eyes. One final chance fell to the home side as a last gasp corner saw Mannone go up for it only for Bulman to chase clear and tripped by substitute Mark Cullen. Shearer smashed the ball upfield and Attwell blew his whistle for full time, marking another sensational win for Crawley Town as an exuberant game finally came to a close.
It was a fantastic display from the boys in red, with an awesome display from every single one of the lads; effort, passion, never say die attitude, we had it all.
The coach journey back was buzzing with talk of who we want in the next round, the possibilities of Alan Smith joining the club, Giovani Dos Santos joining on loan and which KFC meal is best!
The next round sees us drawn at home to Stoke City, last year’s runners up.  There’s no doubt it’s a difficult game, but on our day we really can beat anyone. Stoke have Europa League matches against Valencia around the time of our game so their manager Tony Pulis may have decisions to make in terms of team selection and resting a few of his so called bigger names – so this is a winnable tie in my opinion.
Tony Pulis will bring his Stoke side to Crawley in the Fifth Round


Thanks to for the use of the images.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Toothless Reds Lack Cutting Edge Against Pirates

Bristol Rovers away was a game I had highlighted when the fixtures came out due to the close proximity to my flat in Southampton.

After a brisk yet chilly twenty minute or so walk to Southampton Central Railway Station, me and three others were kindly greeted to the £14.00 return with the Groupsave - On some of that.

The 11.10 train to Bristol Meads station soon arrived, we hopped on and around an hour and a half later we changed and boarded another train that would shortly lead us to the exotically French sounding Montpelier station.

MONTPELIER: Tattoo-ed in graffiti and not as nice as it sounded!
We were here. 13.24 was the time as we exited the station and, if anyone reading this has watched the film Green Street, the station was pretty much the same as the Macclesfield station in the movie (Where the West Ham fans go to Manchester and get off at Macc before moaning about the lack of taxis and jumping into a removal van.)

Instead of me waffling on about the high number of kebab, KFC-esque chicken and chip shops we passed on the long walk up to the Memorial Stadium, onto the game....

They hadn't had a clean sheet since October and we hadn't failed to score in a game since September so there was always going to be goals wasn't there?

Just looking at the churned up pitch you could tell it was not going to be a pleasant game.

We played the formidable diamond that seemed to work so well last week against the other side from Bristol; Bristol City.

A boring first twenty minutes occurred where, apart from a succession of corners from the away team and a Joe Anyinsah effort for the Pirates that sailed just over the bar, not a lot happened and the next twenty five were bare of chances too. Entertainment?

A second half change for Crawley at half time and Scott Neilson came on for the unusually in-affective Sergio Torres, who during the first half was elbowed in the face (Robbie Savage style) by the referee after a quick free kick;  Steve Evans seemingly desperate for a little more pace in the side.

We were beginning to up the tempo a little bit more and Matt Tubbs had the first real chance of the game when his effort was kept out by Gas' loanee Michael Poke, before bouncing back to the Reds top scorer only to see his scuffed second effort unbelievably stopped by the goalkeeper.

PUT IT IN THE POKEY!: Pirates 'keeper kept Reds at bay
It wasn't soon after when boss Steve Evans was forced to make another change; an aerial battle between Kyle McFadzean and Rovers' Irish defender Cian Bolger saw McFadzean with a bloodied head needing stitches and Bolger with less teeth than he had at the beginning of the game;  Hope Akpan replacing Bolton Wanderers target McFadzean.

BLOODBATH: McFadzean needed stiches
Minutes after McFadzean's departure, Crawley had their best chance to snatch a goal when, after a Rovers attack Dannie Bulman fed team-mate Neilson but, with Bolger and fellow centre back Aaron Downes pleading with the linesman to put his flag up, the Crawley wideman clipped the ball over Poke only to see his effort creep wide of the left hand post.

Neilson was beginning to menace the Rovers back four; acting in a position just behind the Reds front two of Tubbs and Tyrone Barnett and it was the substitute again that set up a chance for Barnett who could only blaze one over the bar and minutes later snatch another shot wide of the target.

Strike-partner Tubbs was next in the queue of Crawley players having a pop at goal; but his goalbound strike from twenty yards was pushed wide from Poke.

Matt Tubbs failed to find the net... for once!
It was the home side's turn to finally test Scott Shearer in the Crawley goal but Craig Stanley's effort went well wide.

It was soon back up the other end of the pitch as the scheming Neilson had another chance; after beating both Bolger and Downes, the pacy midfielder tested Poke from twenty yards, only to see his strike that was sneaking into the corner of the net acrobatically finger-tipped out for a corner from the former Torquay and Southampton custodian Poke.

Scott Neilson was a constant thorn in the Rovers side 
As the game was fizzling out, one last chance fell to the visitors but Barnett could only skim his header out for a throw in from Dean Howell's deep cross - An effort that really summed up a frustrating afternoon for the away side after a result that saw us slip from first to third.

To sum the game up, as I've said, "Frustrating" would have to be the word.  Lots of possession (67%) but if you don't have a man to put the ball in the net it means little. Little or no creativity (Its no use pumping the ball up to little Tubbs when he's up against the giant Bolger (Or should that be Boulder?).

IMPRESSIVE: On loan Leicester youngster Bolger was solid for the Pirates
After having time to contemplate the (Poor) game on the train back if you get a point away from home and win your home games you will be there or there abouts.  Manager-less Rovers were a poor side though, in truth I was expecting a little better (Trying to impress the possible new manager watching in the stand etc) - Danny Woodards at right back has an excellent game though, as did the brick wall that was Bolger.

Next up is Plymouth away.  Another local-ish one for me I suppose (3.5 hours!) The table doesn't lie so I'm expecting a win against a, it has to be said "Rejuvenated" Pilgrims.

GREEN ARMY!: Next stop.... Plymouth!


Photos courtesy of 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Terrific Tubbs Leads The Way As Reds March On

It was FA Cup day again and this time we were taking on Championship side Bristol City.  I couldn’t believe that it was coming up a year since my favourite ever Reds’ moment; Sergio Torres winner against Derby!
Torr-ific!: Sergio's Goal Is Still My Favourite Ever Crawley Moment
Onto the game and City were at full strength.  Prior to the game there was discussion as to whether Nicky Maynard would play or not due to the hive of transfer activity surrounding the former Crewe Alexandra player.  The striker was in the starting line up… along with Martyn Woolford, Albert Adomah and a rare treat for us Crawley fans with former England goalkeeper David James in between the sticks.
Experienced 'keeper James started the game...
... As did the much coveted forward Nicky Maynard
The game begun and after an even first twenty minutes or so the first chance came.  However, Woolford’s ball into the box was somehow skewed wide from the highly-rated Maynard.
Crawley were beginning to look dangerous and Josh Simpson had an effort that cracked David James’ right hand post and trickled along the goal line before being hacked clear by Robins defender Louis Carey.
The Red Devils hit the same post once more.  This time, prolific marksman Matt Tubbs saw his shot cannon off the same post and drop to Tyrone Barnett who managed to slice his effort wide.
It was the second half where the home side really went for the jugular and began to lay siege on James’ goal.  Last year’s third round hero Torres had a shot deflected behind for a corner that the Argentine delivered onto Pablo Mills’ head; the Crawley captain seeing his effort gratefully end up in James’ gloves.
More chances were reigning down on City’s goal with the majority of the home support believing it was only a matter of time before their team found the net.  A high Dean Howell cross found the gangly Barnett who rose above Lewin Nyatanga only to see his looping headed effort fall onto the top of James’ goal which was living a charmed love.
With just sixteen minutes of normal time remaining, the exceptional Kyle McFadzean flicked the ball over the top of Bristol’s sleeping defence allowing Matt Tubbs to race through and slot past ex-Liverpool, Portsmouth and West Ham ‘keeper James to send the majority of the 3,779 crowd wild with many behind the goal (myself included) to find themselves further down the terrace than just minutes before!
Fans favourite Tubbs shoots past James...
... Before being mobbed my team mates Hunt (L) and Simpson (R)
Matt Finish: Tubbs Sends Reds Into The Fourth Round
Chants of “Que Sera Sera” and “Championship? Your Havin’ A Laugh!” were soon ringing around the bouncing Broadfield Stadium.
It soon got better for Crawley as visiting midfielder Stephen Pearson (Who funnily enough was in the Derby side that was beaten at the same venue at the same stage of the Cup last year) was given a second booking from Andy D’Urso for a cynical challenge on the outstanding Simpson.
City tried to snatch an equaliser that would culminate into a replay at Ashton Gate with Maynard seeing his goal-bound left footed volley from just outside the box magnificently blocked by Reds’ right back David Hunt.
Late, late into the game, a looping cross from substitute Yannick Bolasie was fumbled by Scott Shearer only for Maynard’s snatched half volley (slow motionly) creep past the post.
The home side held on for the three minutes of added time before adding another scalp to the ever-growing list of higher Football League clubs to their list and reach the fourth round of the competition for only the second time in their long history.
The magic of the cup eh?!
What can I say?  An almost faultless display from every single member of the Crawley team.  I’m not going to lie, I did fear the worst when I saw their team however we were brilliant from start to finish.  Man of the match could go to any of the team. Fantastic.
The draw will see us travel to Hull City and visit the spectacular KC Stadium – Not the dream draw but very much winnable!  We have shown we can beat Championship sides and the Tigers are hardly invincible at home.
HULL-O TIGERS!: The KC Stadium Awaits Evans' Men
I do love The FA Cup!

Photos courtesy of

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Barnett Crashes In Late Equaliser At The Kassam

We departed for the Kassam Stadium at 11.30am hoping to return to Sussex with the three points. I’ve always enjoyed my trips watching us play at Oxford, a nice big ground with a large playing surface meant I was practically pining that we would play with width during the journey up there which seemed to take longer than normal. After parking, the four of us quickly scuttled in between the home supporters to join the large away following in the bowling alley’s bar and after a quick pint of cider decided to get a bite to eat and the (Scandalously) over-priced match-day tickets. On queueing for my chips, word was quickly going round that Matt Tubbs, our top scorer was out of the game due to a groin injury meaning that John Akinde was given a start.
Similarly to the Gillingham game, Steve Evans decided to use the diamond formation (A midfield formation that never actually works as we lack width). Once again, Kyle McFadzean was sitting behind Sergio Torres and Josh Simpson in midfield with Hope Akpan being used as the driving attacking midfielder. Tubbs and injured ex-Oxford midfielder Dannie Bulman, along with defender Glenn Wilson soon joined the 600-strong Crawley fans in the stand.

Hope-ing For More: Akpan made a rare start
We started well. In a first half that seemed to fly by saw the visitors have the majority of the possession and chances with the misfiring Akinde although probably playing his best 45 minutes in a Red Devils shirt, being the culprit of the majority of efforts that either sailed wide or whistled over the bar. Also in the first half, the (poor) referee Brendan Malone booked Torres, Dean Howell and Akinde in quick succession for their first fouls. Yellows’ right back Damian Batt was already booked before he felled Torres however, Malone, (wrongly) just decided to have a word for the marauding defender. The view from the Reds supporters at half time was that “Oxford are poor”, “We’re playing well and just need the rub of the green” and “They’re there for the taking” following a largely dominant first forty five by the away side.
Second half began and we continued our high tempo.  Effort of the season let alone effort of the match was from Torres, who’s bicycle kick from about 20 yards was tipped over the bar from U’s ‘keeper Ryan Clarke. Jon-Paul Pittman, who iliterally three weeks before was playing for us on loan from Oxford was then introduced to the fray by boss Chris Wilder with the in-effective Tom Craddock being replaced. It wasn’t long before Pittman came back to haunt us as, after Reds’ goalkeeper Scott Shearer decided to take a touch after a back pass, smashed the ball straight into Pittman who simply slotted into the empty net from an acute angle.
Spectacular: Torres attempted his bicycle kick...
... Before Pittman came back to haunt his former side by slotting in
From here, Oxford looked to make the game safe; Alfie Potter had a chance when through on goal and, despite under pressure from David Hunt got his shot away but Shearer held on. It was starting to turn into end-to-end stuff in Oxfordshire as Tyrone Barnett had a good chance but despite being in a good position found the top corner… of the stand (honestly was row Z stuff). Crawley’s Claude Davis was up top with Barnett by this stage leaving Crawley with just three at the back as Evans’ side looked to snatch an equaliser and Oxford’s James Constable was next to test Shearer but saw his left footed drive palmed out for a corner.
Fans: Reds supporters were celebrating at the end
Minutes later Crawley had another chance; Scott Neilson, who had replaced Akinde midway through the second half saw his low cross find Barnett sliding in, however somehow the former Macclesfield striker saw his shot saved by the legs of Clarke.With thirty seconds or normal time remaining and four minutes of added time looming the visitors from Sussex grabbed an equaliser as McFadzean’s hooked ball looped over centre back Michael Duberry allowing Barnett to let the ball bounce before slamming the ball past Clarke and into the top corner of the net with his left foot sending the 621 away fans loopy.
Barnett smashes home
To conclude… the case of swings and roundabouts strikes again as although we were dominant for the majority of the game we were 1-0 down, kept battling and grabbed a late equaliser – the least we deserved. Dissapointed with Oxford to be honest. Expected more from a club that is sitting just one position outside the play-offs. For us, it could be a vital point come the end of the season and we look forward to the tie at home to Bristol City in The FA Cup on Saturday.

Photos courtesy of