Up until a few weeks ago this was billed as a real six
pointer, but since then Crawley's form has improved no end. City
meanwhile have slumped, and even an April fool's day suggestion that
the DML were going to rig the relegation issues to save us hadn't
improved the mood. (Given the DML opinion of us I'm sure they're glad
to see us down).
New signing Sticksie wasn't able
to drag himself away from his desk, so Tommy had to make do with
bringing in Danny Hunt and Ross Casey to the side. Crawley meanwhile
worked on setting the scene by providing one steward per City fan in
order to build up the collection in their swear box.
Unsurprisingly this was scrappy
stuff, with neither side looking like they were a good outfit. The
ever ripening Gary Smart was playing alongside Baylo, and looked
surprisingly lively and almost even pacey. However it didn't look like
City were going to rip anyone apart, especially given the alarming
lack of help for the front two from midfield.
The match was largely bogged
down in midfield and both sides allowed their frustration to boil over
after a clattering challenge on Niblett. A good dose of handbags
followed, with Baylo going into the book with the player making the
original foul. Further scraps followed another poor Crawley tackle,
this time on Casey. Both sides had put in some fairly robust
challenges and tempers were becoming increasingly frayed.
The sporadic squabbles at least
kept the crowd entertained, as the football was little to watch. City
created a couple of chances, one Wyatt cross went begging as both
Smart and Bayliss failed to reach it. The best opportunity fell to
Baylo whose lob was just kept out by a fingertip save. Casey also
found himself with time and space on the edge of the area, but his
shot was poor and trickled wide. On the bright side the defence looked
comfortable, with Crawley limited to one first half chance, a volley
fired high and wide.
City looked like they'd been on the end of a few words
at half-time, they came out all cylinders firing. City got an early
corner which Crawley never quite cleared. A second corner from Gary
Smart saw Rob Cook rise between two lost
defenders and head home to send the few traveling fans spare. City
continued to pile on the pressure with Wyatt, Baylo and Smart all
interchanging passes. Smart saw a shot come back off the keeper's legs
and Baylo almost got on the end of a Casey through ball.
Gradually though Crawley fired
into life and began to put City's defence under pressure. Gannas
flapped at a few crosses and the young back line began to look
decidedly shakey. The eventual equaliser came after Mark
Abbott lost his cool and handled one of the many high balls
Crawley were pumping into the besieged City penalty area. Payne
stepped up to crash in the spot kick and City collapsed like a pack of
cards. Griffiths and Steadman were doing a passable headless chicken
routine as Crawley sensed the kill. Before long City again lost the
ball in defence, leaving Payne to easily evade the demoralised
Steadman and smack in his and Crawley's second. Only a desperate goal
line lunge by Griffiths kept the score line from slipping even further
in the last minute.
This was the result that made me realise that we
actually are going to go down. Ultimately we're not converting enough
of our chances, and we don't have a defence that keep them out.
Crawley weren't a good side, and we caved in. With champions elect
Boston next up for the sad Tigers only a miracle can save us now.