And an excellent way to round off a not-so-excellent seven days…
Your editor isn’t much of a video gamer. I reckon the last time I properly played one was about 1989 on a ZX Spectrum.
But I imagine Crypto 0 Cryptic 2 was like putting on FIFA, setting mode to “easy”, then just pissing about to prove you can win a match.
Looking back on yesterday, anyone who felt apprehensive/nervous/petrified shouldn’t have been.
It turned out not to be the gubbing we could have dished out, but one suspects we weren’t going to leave Sussex without a reaction.
While the style of play will be considered negative (and more on that a bit later), this was a job-done performance.
There’s no doubt we had a collapse in confidence after Mansfield, and we’ve gone a little way to restore that.
We can hold onto a two-goal lead after all.
We can pass it around the back and tire out the opposition.
And we can stop the rot and win games.
Remember that one big reason we’re in League Two this season is because we failed to do any of those things when we slipped up, meaning a wobble became a full-blown collapse.
JJ said we were excellent, even if he shared the same view a lot of fans did when he said we should have scored more.
I saw his reaction in real-time that is shown in the picture at the top of the OS update, and that was one of relief as much as joy.
Despite only two goals yesterday aside – NYC and Manbun Davison are starting to have a good relationship.
Perhaps the two of them bond because they compare hairstyles?
It was young NYC who set us on our way yesterday, after we were on the backfoot a little.
Certainly some finish, and if you can find clips of the celebration he seemed to like scoring in front of the Crawley fans.
I’m not going to lie and say we were gagging for a second goal, because paranoia is still rife.
But it looked like we could have gone up a gear if we wanted/needed to.
The game was effectively done when Chislett scored that decent free kick in injury time.
Again, with a celebration in front of the home end – were they being their usual prickish self?
I shouldn’t have that anxiety having a two-goal cushion at half time. But supporting AFCW brings anxieties that aren’t found anywhere else.
And I wonder if the players themselves were aware of our last two games in particular?
I’ll sum up the second half thus: passing around the back. NYC kicked. Passing round the back. Crawley player sent off for second yellow.
Passing round the back. Assal comes on. Passing round the back. Occasional throw-in near Crawley end. Passing round the back. Couple of Crawley FKs.
Passing round the back. Tzanev makes one late save. Passing round the back. More passing round the back for good measure.
And a final bit of passing round the back in case you missed us doing it the previous 417 times.
The truth is, we were being professional and it wouldn’t have been like this if we hadn’t fucked up Donny and Mansfield.
This is still a setup that has a weak underbelly, and needs to have the confidence to see out games restored.
A Crawley fan described it afterwards as like a training session, and they were right.
I think it needed to be boring, and as my old nan would have said – if that’s all you’ve got to complain about you’re doing OK.
A win is a win, and that’s the only thing that matters though.
Everyone did their jobs well, we looked far more composed than Tuesday/last five minutes of Doncaster, and this upcoming week will be nicer.
Because if you give me a choice of 45 hours worth of the Crawley second half, or the second 45 minutes up at Field Mill, I’ll take the former every time.
Plus points: We won. Clean sheet. NYC and Davison. Chislett’s free kick. Solid. Never looked in trouble. Controlling the game. Responding to the last two games.
Minus points: Dull second half.
The referee’s a…: Sent their player off, which is probably the most noteworthy thing he did. Otherwise, pretty anonymous.
Better than the one at Mansfield, though a Trevor Kettle/Jeff Winter/Joe Biden hybrid would be an improvement on that retard.
Them: If I was a Crawley fan, I would be very worried at that performance of theirs yesterday.
Especially as their cryptocurrency owners have splashed a bit of cash** on them, even if half their incomings didn’t feature.
** – can you call it “cash” in this regard? Or is it like we still use “tape” to record something on your Sky box?
They reminded me of us too many times last season, and the Bulgarian Kiwi won’t have many easier afternoons.
Put it this way – when you get chants of “Let’s have a shot” and “This is embarrassing”, you know you’re in a bad place.
Especially so when you see Tzanev collect a weak effort, and the home end cheers like it’s a golden chance.
For some reason, they think we’re their local rivals, which isn’t reciprocated.
We don’t hate them, just find them a bit irritating. And they’re as local to us as Gillingham are.
That said, many won’t be upset if they go back to non-league, as they have that non-league vibe about them.
The pre-game flare, the massive flags, even Broadfield Stadium itself has that PSF against a Conference outfit feel to it.
I thought Plough Lane would end up like it, especially that temporary roofed stand in the picture at the top. I’m glad it didn’t.
Oh, and they had a blow up doll. Which to be fair had less plastic than a typical local female in a Crawley nightclub.
Point to ponder: Are we about to see a clash between what the fans want and what the management/squad are planning?
There were more than a few moans in the second half about how we, ahem, controlled the game.
A cry of “attack, attack, attack” towards the end summed up the feelings of quite a few.
But I bet anyone more involved in the coaching side of football will be gushing in their praise of the second half.
We killed Crawley off by hardly giving them a sniff, and made them labour in hot weather.
Granted, they were piss-poor, but we’ve all seen what happens if you give that sort of team a bit of a chance.
For now, it’s something I think we’ll have to get used to.
This isn’t the finished product, squad wise, and like it or not – this style of play is effective.
We used it brilliantly yesterday, and it helped get us points against Gillingham and Hartlepool.
We didn’t against Donny and Mansfield, and you can guess the rest.
So if we go ahead against Barrow next Saturday, don’t be surprised to see much more of the same.
Personally, I’m hoping it’s a stage in our rebuild rather than what it’s always going to be like under JJ.
I remain unconvinced it will work against better teams in this division, because all they need is somebody to come at us when we’re acting like Italy in 1990.
Most teams thankfully are more like Crawley than Mansfield, but even so it will eventually cost us points.
We still don’t know what happens when we go 1-0 down – indeed, we’ve yet to concede the first goal this season.
And can we respond if we’re chasing the game and it’s injury time?
Put it another way – you wait to hear the reaction if it’s 94 minutes, we need a goal, and Brown passes it back to Tzanev…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Our first away win since Accrington on 7/12/21. Never forget that. 2) Seeing one of our players – Manbun Davison I think – getting in the car opposite mine after the game with parents. His dad doesn’t have much hair. 3) 1352 of us officially, even better considering train strikes.
Anything else? Had we beaten Gillingham in the Carabao Cup, we would have had another fixture this week.
If truth be told, I’m glad we haven’t.
We’ll have that post-match glow from yesterday throughout the week, and it’s a feeling we experience too little.
I’m in no doubt we’ll work on a few things, like perhaps passing forward once in a while.
And while the season has only been going three weeks, it does feel a tad longer.
Yesterday shouldn’t deflect from the fact we need additional signings, plus sending McCormick somewhere for enough money.
At least we can get in players from a position of strength, seeing as we’re currently top ten in League Two.
It’s nice that we don’t quite need to panic buy. If we signed nobody else this window, we would probably muddle through to January relatively OK.
If we can make further moves though, we should do. I’d rather sign them now than early next year.
By then, we might need to make a few more decisions. If NYC continues his early form, Brentford might send him to L1.
Other players like Jack Currie might start getting looked at, and there’s always the striker issue at the best of times.
Paul Osew signed a new deal before the game, and I guess he found he wasn’t so in demand as he/his agent thought after all.
Yesterday was almost too comfortable, but Barrow will no doubt tell us a bit more where we need to strengthen.
We’re in a rebuild after all, and Rome took longer than 24 hours to construct.
But the quicker you can turn it around, the quicker we might dish out the hiding a team will eventually get from us…
So, was it worth it? I would say so.
In a nutshell: We no longer need to fear taking the lead.