In my latest away day adventure I joined the Crawley Town Supporters Alliance (CTSA) on Saturday morning bound for Mansfield Town FC just north of Nottingham.
Chairman Carol Bates, the board and travel partners Clarkes of London, continue to provide a wonderful service to Town supporters. Clarkes came on line, January 1st 2012 when taking 5 coaches to Oxford United. Tyrone Barnett smashing home a last gasp equaliser that afternoon. Having used CTSA on many occasions it was lovely to be back on board after a two season break. Many thanks to lots of familiar faces for the warm welcome, it was great to catch up.
The big green Clarkes coach made short work of the 181 miles stopping briefly along the M1 for a comfort break. We arrived safely at 1.15 PM. Mansfield, a traditional mining town now looks to be a thriving centre for light industry. The town centre buzzing with Saturday shoppers. Yellow and blue shirts in evidence. I met up with friends John (a staunch Chelsea fan so not a great start for him as the blues went down at Everton) and Bryan in a local bar. They had driven up earlier in the day. At around 2.45 we made the short walk to Field Mill which sits on top of a small rise just outside the centre. A big sign advises that it is the oldest professional ground in the world which came as a bit of a surprise. However professional football did start there in 1861. It truly is a smart little ground, capacity 10,000. The 100 or so town fans were housed in the neat covered North stand but the wow factor comes from the very impressive Ian Greaves main stand stand.
The day then started to unravel fast. Straight from the K.O. Stags signalled their intent by nicking the ball off Crawley Town in two seconds to set up the first chance. They then dominated the first half with nothing to show for that until the 44 mins when Thomas seem to ride 3 challenges before poking home from close range. That damage was compounded 90 seconds into the 2nd half when a half hit Rose shot made three ricochets on route past Woodman in goal. By that time it was a case of how many. Luckily for Town it was just the further two.
Fair play to Mansfield as they executed everything the manager and fans wanted from the day. That being their first home win of the season. However there is no getting away from the fact that CTFC never really turned up and failed to battle at any level. With just one win in seven (all comps) that must be a worrying trend for Mark, his team and that loyal support base to dwell upon. The day didn’t get any better for yours truly as upon shuffling out of Mill Field I learnt that my home town club Burgess Hill Town had been unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup at YMCA.
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