It was a close-run thing but Crawley Town grabbed the win they deserved against Barnet with a brilliant 89th minute header by Jimmy Smith from Mark Connolly’s pinpoint cross.
The 200-odd travelling fans at The Hive were ecstatic as the skipper completed a brace and ensured the win that might well have been settled as early as the opening quarter of an hour.
Manager Harry Kewell’s attacking beliefs were obvious from the start as the Reds tore into their opponents.
In quick succession Jordan Roberts (twice) and Lewis Young failed to finish accurately before Enzio Boldewijn hit an upright and Barnet somehow bundled Ibrahim Meite’s follow up to safety.
Smith then had two attempts before Barnet mustered their opening salvo that saw Jack Taylor’s shot saved by Glenn Morris.
That was in the 17th minute and showed both what is right with the Reds at the moment and what is wrong.
Their shooting accuracy needs to be improved although, as I have said before, if you don’t create chances you can’t even miss them. And we are creating opportunities.
A look at some match stats from the Premier League illustrates the point.
At Stoke, Chelsea had five chances, got four on target and scored them all whilst Crawley for all their energy and attacking bravado got no more on target than the Bees managed from half the number of opportunities.
One step at a time must now be the watchword and Reds have the chance to build on their progress at Barnet as they face two tough games this week.
Newport County, visitors on Tuesday evening, are buzzing, whilst Carlisle United who make the long trip on Saturday, have just hammered five past Crewe Alexandra to show how it’s done.
Whoever the opposition, it is how the Reds shape up that matters most.
And for the fans the manner of their play is paramount. Once again feelings of optimism are back and the next step must be to show some consistency.
The return of Connolly to the central defensive three was welcomed but the dismay felt by some as Aryan Tajbakhsh joined Smith in the middle of the park whilst Dannie Bulman remained on the bench proved misplaced.
Young revelled in the right wing back role and linked well with Boldewijn.
Roberts looked back to his best so it was odd that it required Smith, twice pushing up into the heart of Barnet’s defence, to secure the three points.
Maybe it’s churlish to quibble about who scores.
The front-runners all played well and some of the approach work was very good. I think they will come good soon enough.
The short trip brought three valuable points and cemented the captain’s impressive reputation.
You would be hard pressed to find any travelling supporters who did not enjoy their day out at The Hive.