It is unusual to start with a match that took place more than a week ago but Crawley Town’s defeat of Premier League Norwich City in the Carabao Cup harkened back a few years to the time the club reached the FA Cup 5th Round in consecutive seasons.
They earned the chance to garner more glory in the Third Round as they entertain struggling Championship club Stoke City and that gives Reds another chance to gain revenge following an FA Cup defeat by the Potters in 2012.
The tie against the Canaries was a battle royal. Manager Daniel Farke may have changed his entire line up but the replacements were good – very good. We were all relieved, however, that we did not have to face Teemu Pukki.
We might have conceded two or three by the time Bez Lubala shocked the travelling fans as his drive took sufficient a deflection to maroon the Norwich keeper in front of 1700 travelling fans. It was against the run of play but inspired Crawley and they gradually stepped up to the visitors’ level and then went beyond it.
This was a team that simply would not give way and their new found belief in themselves served them admirably. The Canaries hit the woodwork twice and forced a number of superb saves and desperate defensive blocks but Crawley would not allow them through.
It was, indeed it had to be, a team performance in which there were absolutely no passengers but I thought several individuals played out of their proverbial socks. Michael Luyambula’s performance suggested Crawley now has the two best goalkeepers in League Two.
Jordan Tunnicliffe, Tom Dallison and Dannie Bulman proved indomitable. Reece Grego-Cox tormented Norwich with his electrifying pace and Filipe Morais struck me as being the best outfielder on the park.
On Saturday it was back to the bread and butter of League Two with the visit of Cheltenham Town. It was bound to be ant-climactic especially as the Robins looked to be happy with the prospect of going home with a point. The match stats proved quite telling.
Reds made most of the running with intelligent approach play and diligent probing but they were not incisive and also they faced Scott Flinders who is one of the best keepers in the division who doesn’t play for us.
Rugged Cheltenham’s massed defensive ranks looked to have done their job despite Gabriele Cioffi ringing the changes with his substitutions and bringing on Ashley Nadesan and Mason Bloomfield to make it three upfront. The goal came from Ollie Palmer as the match went into added time and was a master class in persistence and creating space. It was a superb individual goal.
Three minutes later Glenn Morris made his first save of the game. That says it all about the visitors’ approach and they have yet to score away from Whaddon Road.