After encouraging results against sides who are fighting relegation or a chance of promotion in Oldham and Sutton last week, hopes were high against “nothing to play for” Crawley Town, but as we know, when it comes to the beautiful game, we should always expect the unexpected.
In an incredibly frustrating afternoon, a lack of concentration cost us at the back, especially for the opening home goal as Kwesi Appiah lost his marker and enjoyed the freedom of West Sussex to put away his header.
Jonny Williams’ superb through ball set up Josh Davison to smartly put away his fifth goal in Town colours, that’s where the scoring finished, as Ben Garner’s side wasted chance after chance before the home side scored a fortunate second and sealed the points with a third.
With Louis Reed missing due to suspension Ryan East deputised for Town’s number 25 and despite the former Reading man being a good back-up, he struggled to get into the contest and never looked like filling the role left by Reed.
It’s difficult when you’re not playing regularly to come into a side and automatically make an impact, but with Reed also missing the trip to Rochdale in a couple of weeks, East will need to show an improvement if he’s going to enjoy a future with Town beyond this season.
It was also a day to forget for Akin Odimayo, who endured a bad day at the office, as the defender lost the ball throughout the game and at crucial times.
The 22-year-old hasn’t featured as much in recent weeks after the arrival of Louis Tomlinson, but after the loanee picked up an injury at Bradford he came straight back in, hopefully, a run in the side will see him return to the form which saw him named player of the season last year.
Sadly, Town now faces two weeks without a fixture due to international call-ups, ideally, after suffering morale denting defeat you want to get it out of your system with a game asap, but this break can be used to our advantage, starting with the potential return of key players from injury.
We know Brandon Cooper won’t play any further part of our season, but we have to hope Tomlinson and Louie Barry will make a return, as the system used by Ben Garner worked at its best with the former Hungerford man as an inverted wing-back, Barry as an inside forward, with Davison through the middle and McKirdy on the right-hand side.
Other players have come into those roles and played well, but without them, the 4-3-3 formation is nowhere near as effective, I’m not suggesting we go back to 3-4-3 as we saw the results away at Exeter, but we have to hope our loanees are back soon before it plays a role in our place in League Two, this applies more to Barry as Payne and Williams, who have filled his role, are much more effective in their natural positions.
With eight games left, this result is far from fatal to our chances of promotion with the league table incredibly close, with Town still only two points from automatic promotion places, we know consistency in results and the starting eleven will be important to any future success in this campaign.