Side Saddle Up

Kev Neylon
6 min readFeb 13, 2024

Going for a bit of a mash up this time around, taking Russ Conway and David Christie and smashing them together (as opposed to most people who would have just smashed their records).

A Tuesday night game is going to be commonplace for the next couple of months, as there are both originally scheduled games to play, plus a plethora of rearranged postponed games. Tonight is a home game against Walsall.

Since I last wrote there has been the single game, a narrow away 0–1 loss to high flying Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. A loss that saw us drop to fifteenth in the table, one place and one point above tonight’s visitors.

Our return fixture against them back in October was the last of the only three draws we have had in the league this season, where Danilo Orsi scored a ninety-fourth minute equaliser to give us a 1–1 draw, in a match that was also a Tuesday night game (one of three teams where both fixtures were scheduled to be night games along with MK Dons and Notts County, though with a postponement, we are now going to play both games against AFC Wimbledon as night games as well).

The fixture before that was our last home game of last season where a dour 0–0 draw gave us the point required to guarantee safety and another season in the league.

They are managed by the almost appropriately named, ex-Crawley player, Mat Sadler, and are on a similar run of poor form to us. So here’s hoping that continues for them and we can find winning ways again.

We have additional numbers with us on the way to the ground as for some reason our neighbours have asked to come as well. Must be a slow night on the telly. I’m not in the ground as early as I usually am before Saturday home games, but still in plenty of time to get settled before kick-off.

Walsall are in their all-white away kit. Walking around to the east marquee having come in on the west side, we can see the apron of the pitch is waterlogged and has puddles, but the actual pitch looks incredibly good considering the seemingly endless rain.

Early on there is lots of effort but very little quality from either side. There wasn’t a lot happening and my mind was wandering. I had a couple of minutes thinking that if the Walsall number nine had a very shiny shirt, would he need to change his name from Matt to Gloss?

It takes nearly fifteen minutes for the first proper shot of the game, Klaidi Lolos from distance has one that is just wide. Up the other end Walsall get a corner and there is a bit of a scramble in the six-yard box before Corey Addai collects the ball.

An unnecessary foul by Dion Conroy gets a yellow card and give Walsall a free kick to the right-hand side of the box, but thankfully it is easily blocked. Then some lax play gives the Walsall number eight (former Crawley player Isaac Hutchinson) a shot on target which Addai just tips around the post for a corner.

After a few games without a disappearing ball, we lose one over the KRL Logistics stand from a blocked cross. We are trying to walk the ball into the net again. Ronan Darcy is played through into the box, but he takes it wide and to the byline before crossing, instead of having a shot, and the cross evades the Crawley players and is cleared.

Ten minutes before the break and Walsall get a penalty for a foul in the box. Hutchinson calmly slams it into the corner sending Addai the wrong way, and we are behind 0–1.

At the other end, another blocked cross goes out over the west side of the KRL Logistics stand and that is a couple of balls gone. Back at the other end there is another Walsall shot which is well saved by Addai. There are three minutes of added time before the break, and as the half time whistle goes there are, if not boos, then certainly groans as the players go off, and the ref gets a warm reception. Hopefully, there will be stern words at half time, as the last ten minutes was pretty painful.

There may well have been as we come out quickly for the second half and get an early corner, which comes in and bounces in the six-yard box before being cleared. We then have two blocked shots in quick succession (from Lolos and Darcy). Then more pressure and another blocked shot, this one from Danilo Orsi. We have free kicks from about twenty-five yards out from both sides of the area one after the other, but there is no shot from either.

Nearly twenty minutes into the half and there is some good play in the middle of the park, and the ball is played into the area, Orsi wins the ball and lays it back to Liam Kelly who slams in a shot for the equaliser, and it is 1–1.

There is a flurry of subs from both teams, and Jack Roles who came on as one of them has a shot which goes wide left. But Walsall do some attacking of their own and have a couple of corners which are just about hacked away. Then there is more Crawley pressure, a corner comes in and the header is saved, and the ball is hacked away before another Crawley player can get to it.

Ball three of the night disappears way out over the KRL Logistics stand again from a Crawley clearance. That definitely would have left a dent in someone’s car. And Crawley keep applying pressure. There are two more blocked shots, and one just wide right following a corner. The board goes up to say four minutes of added time. We get a corner, another corner, both wasted. Another attack brings another corner, cleared, played back in, punched out, and the shot is then blocked before Lawrence Maguire goes down with an injury. After a delay there is another attack and another corner, it is initially cleared and comes out to Harry Forster and his shot trickles agonisingly inches wide. The final whistle is blown as the resulting goal kick is in the air and the game finishes 1–1, our first draw in the league since the last time we played Walsall.

The crowd wasn’t announced, nor was the sponsor’s man of the match (always assuming there was a match sponsor). A point sees us stay in fifteenth, but now three points away from the team above us. It was a bit of a crazy night for scores in our division, the only two teams not to score were the two Dons, and Mansfield beat Harrogate 9–2. Next up are second from bottom of the table, Forest Green Rovers at home on Saturday, another one we really have to aim to win.

Come on you reds.

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Kev Neylon

Writing fiction, travel, history, sport, & music blogs. Monthly e-zine with all kinds of writing at www.onetruekev.co.uk. All pictures used are my own.