Stop Me If You’ve Seen This One Before

Kev Neylon
9 min readApr 13, 2024

Some misappropriated cheerful Smith’s lyrics this time around, others may pop up as I continue on in this vein as Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.

After three consecutive away games it is back to home action in the second of the two for two-pound games. The away fixtures saw six points from nine, with a 4–0 win at Newport County, a 4–1 win at Mansfield Town (with a very nice photo on the back of the Crawley Observer of the team celebrating the second goal with Helen and I just above their heads), and then a 4–1 defeat Tuesday night at Wrexham, where the atmosphere was amazing and there were people roping others into coming to the Sutton United away game next week as they travelled back from Chester on the Wednesday afternoon.

After staying in Chester after the Wrexham game, today’s opponents are Colchester United, who currently sit in the relegation places, albeit with games in hand on Sutton and Grimsby Town above them. We beat them 2–1 in the away fixture back in December. And there was the saga regarding Matthew Etherington and his contract clause from when he managed us the previous season, which delayed his appointment. Some of their fans may be wishing they never bothered as his tenure there was only just longer than his with us, and the results were even worse there before he was sacked.

We go into the game in seventh and the final play-off spot. And with there being a chasing pack it is a game we need to win, so Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want This Time. With there being a chasing pack, let’s hope there isn’t the same kind of stage fright as there was with the last sell out of the two for two-pound games against Doncaster Rovers, nor the other two sellout games of the season against AFC Wimbledon and Wrexham. That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore.

The game is a sell out and Colchester have sold a thousand tickets, so there is no pocket of home fans in the corner of the north terrace today. I arrive early to beat the rush, not to get a programme (I might let this go in a couple of years or so). But it does point me back to the one picked up at Wrexham, as the piece on Crawley in their programme was excellent. I hadn’t ever stopped to consider how the club badge was made up, so their part-by-part explanation of it was an eye opener for me. I stick my head into the club shop and sigh, but at least they finally have some of the green third kit shirts in stock after months of none being available, and there is a new plain white T with just Crawley Town in black writing across the chest. These Things Take Time.

There are two coaches and a double decker bus of away fans parked up when I arrived, and I bumped into Paul on the way into the ground and had a chat, and then saw Al the steward and had a quick chat with him before making it to the seat in the east marquee.

Colchester are in yellow shirts, blue shorts, and white socks, so remarkably similar to the outfit we faced last weekend at Mansfield.

We have some good early pressure, and the crowd appear to be up for this one, and there is a Jack Roles shot over the bar. Harry Forster is taken down on the edge of the box. The free kick is crossed in, and Lawrence Maguire gets a head to it, but there is little power in it, and it deflects into the keeper’s arms.

At the other end Colchester create a chance, Corey Addai saves for a corner, which is nodded out for another, and the volley from that one sails out over the Eden Utilities Stand for ball loss number one of the day.

Forster is hacked down again, this time near the halfway line, but there is no sign of a yellow card this time either. A couple of minutes later we work a throw from near the box to Roles, and his shot clips the top of the crossbar and goes out over the KRL Logistics stand for ball loss number two.

Colchester attack and the defence seems to be Asleep as the ball is played across the box two yards out and requires a simple tap in to make it 0–1.

We attack and get a free kick for a pull back on Klaidi Lolos about twenty-five yards out. A Roles shot hits the wall and goes out for a corner. The ball is played in, a shot is cleared, we attack again, and it is cleared again. From the next attack Lolos brings a ball down in the box but can’t quite find Danilo Orsi to get a shot away.

At the third time of asking, a hacking down of Forster brings a yellow card, if there had been one for the first hack the latter ones might not be taking place. We work it down the left, the ball comes back to Roles and his shot is deflected for a corner. It is worked to Roles again and his latest shot is blocked, and the second ball in is deflected for another corner, which is worked into the box, but Maguire’s header is wide.

The Colchester defence throw us a Rubber Ring with a poor pass out from the back straight to Forster, he cuts inside, and his shot is half blocked and falls to Lolos who slots the ball in and makes it 1–1 a couple of minutes before half time.

I have to Ask what happened straight away at the other end. An absolute omnishambles. A defender tried to leave the ball to run back to Addai, but there was some Panic and it ended up being passed to a Colchester attacker who rolled it across the box to an unmarked colleague in the middle of the six-yard box who made it 2–1. Stupid, stupid, stupid. They Paint A Vulgar Picture.

There are three minutes of added time. We get a free kick about thirty yards out and after a meeting of minds over the ball Will Wright puts far too much pace on his attempted through ball to Orsi and it rolls out for a goal kick. We get a corner and have enough time to take it this week, but as it is headed out to the edge of the area the half time whistle goes with us down 1–2.

I’m walking back from a half time pitstop as the second half begins, and it looks as if we are going Nowhere Fast, as from the kick off, Colchester play keep ball in our half and have it in the net for 3–1 as I’m passing behind the other goal. Perhaps There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, but it feels as if the one on this game is about to.

It is all Colchester early on in the second half. Crawley can’t seem to get out of their own half, and there is another Colchester shot which is only narrowly over the bar. We finally make it out of our own half but Maguire’s through ball has just too much on it and the Colchester keeper just gets to it before Orsi. And from that Colchester go up the other end and get a corner.

The final ball for us just isn’t happening. It is all over the pitch, we are just off it, like they’ve Started Something they Couldn’t Finish. Forster is still going though, and he wins a corner as his cross is blocked out and over the Eden Utilities Stand for ball loss three of the day. Colchester break from the corner and are fortunately offside.

There is some decent work down the right by Ade Adeyemo who has just come on as a sub, and Forster’s shot is just high and wide. Another Forster shot soon after is headed clear. The Colchester keeper goes down with a spurious timewasting injury which allows Colchester to have a team talk as Crawley have just woken up from their slumber.

Forster is dragged down again near the edge of the box, and it draws another yellow card. The free kick bounces in and the Colchester keeper makes a meal of it, and it goes for a corner, which he then catches easily. We make another substitution and Jeremy Kelly wins a corner straight away, it is cleared and a clash of bodies on the edge of the area sees more blatant timewasting. Another J Kelly shot ricochets to the keeper, although there are shouts for a handball amongst the ricochets, which are ignored.

Colchester break again and win a corner, which Addai punches away for another. The ball comes in and is in the net, but as the Colchester players celebrate, we take the free kick the linesman has flagged for before the ball went in, which may have been a bit lucky. We break, get a corner, and there is a melee in the box before it is cleared.

We keep playing balls in and they are being hoofed away, or there is contact, and the Colchester players are falling to the ground like extras from Platoon. A Liam Kelly corner hits the first man, and there is a mention of Jack Powell from behind me.

Off the ball Maguire is on the ground after a clash with the Colchester number nine. For once an official sees something and the linesman is in the ref’s ear and a red card is produced and Colchester and down to ten men. It was all kicking off in the tunnel as they left the pitch.

There are seven added minutes, the first two of which Colchester spend wasting even more time. More hoofs away, more falling over. We get a ball into the box and a Lolos header is tipped over the bar for a corner. A J Kelly shot is saved for another corner, and there is a booking for the Colchester keeper for timewasting. There are shouts for a penalty as Orsi goes to ground in the box, but they are ignored, but a cross comes in and Forster heads it in to make it 2–3.

There is just time to win the ball back, attack again and get a corner. Addai is up in the box for this, and it is just over his head and Maguire’s header just drops onto the top of the net instead of into it and the final whistle goes with it being a 2–3 loss. It could have been better, but We Just Haven’t Earned It Baby.

The crowd was announced as being 5,223, with 965 away fans, and the sponsors’ man of the match was Harry Forster, which means at least the sponsors were watching the game for a change.

Despite the loss we stay seventh, and it is still in our own hands, so What Difference Does It Make? For Colchester, definitely some, as the win takes them out of the relegation zone and puts next weekend’s opponents Sutton into it.

There is no let-up in the games now. Next up is Barrow on Tuesday night, a rearranged game from the beginning of March when our pitch was waterlogged, before the final away game of the season next Saturday at Sutton.

Come On You Reds

(Fifteen Smiths titles crammed in there somewhere.)

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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.