Life at my home town club never seems dull these days. The Red Devils from West Sussex seem unable to keep out of one story or another.
They won neutrals over last season with their heroic FA Cup run which ended bravely away at giants Manchester United. However amongst the non league fraternity, Steve Evans was ruffling feathers. When Crawley clinched their record promotion to League 2 last season, many claimed they had bought their success. Many had their fingers crossed that League 2 would prove a step to far for Evans and his team.
Crawley gained a credible opening day draw and backed that up with 3 straight wins. Then followed a mini slump of 3 defeats in 4 matches. Next followed 7 straight wins to push Crawley amongst the leaders. The next 8 matches produced 4 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat.
Next came the snow and FA Cup which piled a fixture congestion on Crawley. Then during January they sold star strikers Matt Tubbs and Tyrone Barnett for a combined fee of around £2m. It was rumoured Evans received percentages of those sales, a rumour that has followed him around the lower leagues. With the exit of star names came a revolving list of loan signings and a change of tactics. Instead of keeping the ball on the ground Crawley resorted to long ball games.
In the next 11 games only 1 win, 7 draws and 3 defeats left the natives wondering if Crawley were afraid of promotion. Next came 4 straight wins however nothing being simple with Crawley the last of these ended with the infamous Bradford Brawl. That saw the club see retrospective bans to all 3 first choice centre backs and left the fans wondering just what was going on.
These fears seemed justified as the reds drew there next 2 matches. Then over the Easter weekend, the news many had grown to expect at the end of the season happened. Steve Evans had left for playoff hopefuls Rotherham United. On the day of an important trip to Barnet and just 6 games from the end of the season.
Craig Brewster took over as caretaker manager till the end of the season and won that away match and did so resorting to on the ball tactics. Results over that weekend left automatic promotion in Crawley’s hands with 5 games to go.
Then the news that Steve Coppell had been appointed director of football. Quite what that role entails remains to be seen. With the new East Stand opened to comply to league regulations, a group of hungry players, a young coach with a point to prove and a pleasing style and 5 winnable games, things certainly won’t be quiet between now and the end of the season.
I believe if automatic promotion eludes Crawley then they are a win away from guaranteeing playoff football and if the playoff beckons are the football gods not destined for Rotherham and Crawley to both meet in the playoff? That might be a step to far for Rotherham but whatever happens it will of been another roller coaster season for Crawley Town.
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