Taste of the Terrace: Hapless Crawley Town punished by champions-elect MK Dons

Crawley Town season ticket holder Geoff Thornton
Crawley Town season ticket holder Geoff Thornton

I have long thought that nobody does a respectful silence better than an English football crowd.

With Remembrance Sunday near and the helicopter tragedy at Leicester fresh in the memory, the minute’s silence at Broadfield Stadium was impeccably observed.

For the home supporters in the biggest attendance so far this season the sombre start had been replaced by doom and gloom by the final whistle.

Put simply, MK Dons came and did a number on us.

It was the old chestnut of men against boys as the visitors were masterful in every aspect of the game.

They even upset the Reds’ applecart by winning the toss and changing ends.

They oozed competence and confidence and we soon discovered that with things going badly that Reds had no plan B.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Dons’ boss Paul Tisdale had been reading Johann Cruyff’s orange-tinted autobiography beforehand as there was more than a touch of total football about his team.

Whether defending or attacking they always seemed to have spare men and their superior class weighed more heavily in a shell-shocked West Stand than the subsequent match stats that inferred Crawley had the upper hand.

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It was difficult to spot any redeeming feature in our game bar hard work, so I won’t try. Hopefully I will remain constructive.

Firstly Gabriele Cioffi backed a loser with his team changes. A start for Ashley Nathaniel-George only emphasised his value as an impact sub.

The non-selection of Dannie Bulman showed the need for a shrewd holding midfielder in front of a frail defence.

Do we need Bondz N’Gala instead of the error-prone Mark Connolly?

The folly of benching Panutche Camara was shown in the second half but, at three down, his canniness and originality was unlikely to bring dividends.

Later when Luke Gambin was named Man of the Match we wondered why he had been hooked with 20 minutes remaining.

Nothing puzzles supporters more than the manager’s substitutions except possibly the actions of the referee. Antony Coggins should surely have seen that Dons’ second goal was offside but it wouldn’t have made much difference.

MK Dons handed out a drubbing because they were not simply better than us they were easily the best team we have faced this season and I am happy to suggest they are champions-elect.

It is worrying that Crawley cannot recognise when they are outclassed and dig in defensively to achieve damage limitation.

There were mistakes aplenty which undid the good work that was done and the extra 400-odd home fans will be wary of returning on a regular basis.

The FA Cup tie at Southend United will provide a good opportunity to reaffirm the supporters’ belief.

If we play with spirit we could win and but if it is a tough nut to crack, let’s buckle down and bring them back to Broadfield for a replay.