Crawley Town again found themselves second best in a battle of the birds.
Just as they had played poorly in August against the Magpies of Notts County so their visit to Whaddon Road left the Robins of Cheltenham Town in full flight.
It took the Reds a long time to get going in this clash with an outcome that did not surprise me.
Facing the struggling Gloucestershire side, following their promotion from the National League, put Crawley in the dodgy situation of playing an ‘ought to’ game. Given current form you could say the lads ‘ought to’ win, and maybe win comfortably.
Sadly, and it always seems to have been the case, Crawley Town do not do ‘ought to’ wins and in this fixture they stuck to the script.
They might as well have been still on the coach when Cheltenham carved them open and Billy Waters scored in the third minute and for much of the first half they were simply off the pace and lacked vision.
Disappointing individual performances led to a disjointed team effort typified by errant distribution from the back and an alarming tendency to concede possession that meant we didn’t muster a shot on target in the first half.
The introduction of Bobson Bawling for the second period helped to right the sinking ship. His enthusiasm has never been questioned and he fully deserved to notch his first league goal for Crawley as he twisted away from his marker and from the angle of the penalty area curled a dipping shot towards the top far corner. Somehow the previously unemployed Russell Griffiths turned the ball over the bar at full stretch.
It was a case of win some lose some and Reds escaped when a shot by Jack Munns hit an upright and rolled along the goal line and out of play.
Munns, however, had the last laugh as he struck Cheltenham’s second goal when a remarkable header off the line by Mark Connolly landed in front of him.
Helped by further shrewd substitutions, Crawley battled back into contention. Their play lacked fluidity but Dermot Drummy has instilled bravery and determination into his squad and they were not going to go down without a fight.
Fittingly Bawling played a part as the Reds reduced the arrears by supplying the cut back to Kaby Djalo that the pocket rocket midfielder despatched venomously from 20 yards to score his first goal for the club.
The fight back was on but a win required more thought and composure than the occasion allowed and Cheltenham held on for a very valuable three points.
Drummy was baffled as to why his side’s first half display had been so flat but I am confident that the greater threat posed by Accrington Stanley on Saturday will be met by a much better Crawley performance.
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