Crawley Town have made a splendid start to 2019 picking up six vital points and have now played three games without conceding a goal.
Furthermore the manner of the Reds’ achievements has got the stadium buzzing again.
Cheltenham Town were no mugs and the win never looked totally secure until the final whistle.
Importantly the aerial threat of former Red Tyrone Barnett was quickly nullified although the loss through injury of the Robins’ best player, Nigel Atangana, only spurred on the visitors.
We enjoyed a tense, sometimes pulsating, drama which was always very close and lacked only goals.
A 3-2 win for the Reds might have better illustrated the sort of contest it was.
In the event it was settled by Ollie Palmer’s penalty and the only surprise was that referee Chris Sarginson, whose line of vision matched ours in the West Stand, pointed promptly to the spot confirming Jordon Foster’s handball.
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The backline was superb with Mark Connolly heading brilliantly off the line from Ben Tozer while George Francomb fully deserved to be awarded Man of the Match. Josh Payne enjoyed his best game for weeks and, even if Palmer looked a little rusty, it was great to see Crawley play two upfront.
Now the challenge is to move ahead from this point. The players gave it everything they had but we still need goals to reflect any time we have on top.
When the Reds faced promotion chasers Colchester United on New Year’s Day it was almost as if they had come straight from writing New Year resolutions along the lines of “I must give 110%”. That is just what they did and it earned them a 2-0 victory – a result that would have baffled the bookies.
Somehow the lads shook off recent disappointments and their own shortcomings with a determined display of resistance that the visitors simply could not overcome. Don’t get the idea that Colchester were not up to the mark as they looked a versatile and disciplined outfit but on the day they were outfought.
Crawley showed no weak links and the controversial dismissal of Joe McNerney only hardened their resolve to achieve what they deserved. Later I checked the video and was unsure if there had been any contact. Harry Pell’s histrionics convinced the referee.
Naturally some players stood out, none more so than the electric Luke Gambin who scored both goals. Panutche Camara baffled the U’s with his trickery and close control although his football intuition sometimes got ahead of his feet and it all broke down.
The backline was resourceful throughout and redoubled their efforts after McNerney’s red card. Even the constant threat of Frank Nouble was rebuffed.
The fans loved it and by the final whistle the West Stand had become quite tribal and, as one of Crawley Town’s harsh critics in recent weeks, I loved it too.