Don’t get the idea that a 1-0 win means a boring game as this one certainly wasn’t.
That’s three matches in a row that have been akin to a war of attrition and by the time you read this I fully expect to have seen another tough battle with the midweek visit of Plymouth Argyle.
Crawley have now taken ten points out of the last twelve and climbed to eighth place but they have had to work very hard for them. They deserve ten out of ten for their work ethic and with the teamwork proving absolutely solid it is just a question of fine tuning in front of goal and then somebody will take a hammering from us.
In such a rumbustious end to end encounter there was a risk that individual performances might be over-shadowed. Our Dulwich Hamlet connection prevented that. I thought Panutche Camara had his best game yet. Mansfield Town couldn’t guess what he was going to do next and half the time Panutche probably didn’t know himself.
Nathan Ferguson combined the role of enforcer with that of playmaker in remarkable fashion. He set up a number of openings and when he was sacrificed by Gabriele Cioffi to allow two up top it didn’t actually improve the Reds as an attacking unit.
Bez Lubala had another influential game and scored the winner thanks to a hefty deflection off Matt Preston. He had been unlucky earlier on when his penalty was brilliantly saved by Conrad Logan. Bez hit it hard, low and in the corner but still the Stags’ stopper managed to turn it past the post.
Ollie Palmer also battled hard and was particularly ill-served by the erratic refereeing of Scott Oldham. The striker found that Mansfield’s centre back Preston was a master of football’s dark arts but the official was blind to most of the offences. He also seemed to have taken a dislike to Josh Doherty who enjoyed another successful match, heading one shot off the line.
Glenn Morris was at his brilliant best and nobody came up short. Injuries led to the other substitutions and the manager may have a problem keeping happy a number of top players in the squad who presently can’t get a game. Hence we see the loan of Jimmy Smith to Yeovil Town to help him regain match fitness.
Mansfield were a decent side and better than Reds in having a go at goal. It was, however, one of those days when they couldn’t hit a barn door – from the inside!
A bonus for me on Saturday was meeting Eric Strange who is surely Crawley Town’s oldest and longest serving supporter. He has been watching the Reds since 1952 and certainly doesn’t look his 95 years. As a D-Day veteran of Sword Beach he obviously possesses the necessary fortitude to survive following our favourites over 67 seasons.