It was good to meet up with fellow columnist Steve Herbert at Vale Park.
He had travelled by train whilst I was on the supporters’ coach and had enjoyed the delights of the White Lion at Barthomley near Crewe which is one of the nicest hostelries that Alain Harper has discovered. It was a great away day.
What’s more we had the added bonus of returning with three hard won points.
It was, however, an odd occasion when the reality never quite matched appearances.
On the opening day of the season we had been soundly spanked by a Port Vale side inspired by Michael Tonge. This time he was hardly noticed.
When former Red Tyrone Barnett arrived as a second half substitute it was a similar non-event as the home side’s star man Tom Pope had most been their powerful striker.
He gave our centre-backs a really testing 90 minutes.
First Glenn Morris superbly read the likely pattern of play and acrobatically turned Pope’s well-directed header onto a post.
Then Pope hit the same spot on the upright with another strong header so he changed tack and used his right foot to hook the opener just inside that annoying piece of wood.
It had been one-way traffic in the opening 20 minutes but the match stats were later to show that Crawley had enjoyed 55 per cent possession.
Within ten minutes Reds were back on level terms as Josh Payne tucked away a penalty awarded for a push on Jimmy Smith by Nathan Smith.
The home fans were apoplectic at the performance of Premier League referee Mike Jones but here was another anomaly.
Cue the stats again and you find that the official gave more fouls against Crawley than for us yet we hadn’t noticed, probably because most of his decisions were correct.
Appearances remained deceptive as the efforts of our front-runners were well appreciated but in the event none of them managed so much as a single goal attempt.
The win came from an own goal conceded by the luckless Nathan Smith as he attempted to clear a fizzing low cross by Man of the Match Lewis Young.
His brilliant display was nearly topped by another impeccable pass that eluded everybody, including the onrushing Jordan Roberts who was not many inches short of connecting for a certain goal.
Manager Harry Kewell now has an interesting selection problem in so far as, now Josh Doherty is recovered from injury, Young’s closest challenger for Man of the Match was the vastly improved Aryan Tajbakhsh at left-back.
The match was a puzzle but for Reds to gain a win in a contest where a draw would had been a signal achievement shows that the boys are fighting for Harry Kewell and everybody is looking forward to another step up and a bid for a play-off place next season.