Crawley Town v Stevenage: It's been a rather gentle start to 2021. But we're now turning up the volume as a hectic run starts with a trip to Crawley...
Photo © Pete Chapman (cc-by-sa/2.0)

OK – let’s see if we can get this one ticked off this time; it’s take two for our trip to Crawley after Covid-19 got in the way first time around. For those of you who weren’t hibernating in January, it’s three-and-a-half weeks since we were due to swing by their place. But the Reds had to deal with the small matter of self-isolation. So, we needed to find a new date for us to try again. Well, here it is – hopefully with the clean bill of health we need to make it stick.

At the time we were meant to head down to West Sussex, we were about to press start on a frantic run of double gameweeks. We’ve done well, then, to find a spare Tuesday in which to squeeze this into the schedule. But it does means our fixture list is looking a bit skewed. This will be our third away day in a row; our upcoming Saturday match against Walsall being the only one in six since Morecambe indoors that we get the home dressing room.

The Details: Crawley Town v Stevenage

Where’s the game?

The People’s Pension Stadium is the latest in a line of weird and wonderful Football League stadium names. In old money, it’s the Broadfield Stadium.

Money being that operative word…

Can I watch Crawley Town v Stevenage?

Get yourself an iFollow Match Pass for £10 and you can catch all this game has to throw at you. It could have goals, red cards and cock-ups galore. It could also feature some lad who – apparently – used to be a reality TV star. What a true entertainment package!

How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?

Boro’ slipped back into old habits at the weekend; something that we very much hope is a temporary blip. It no longer matters if we were hard done by, or flattered, by the 1-0 defeat at the University of Bolton Stadium. All the history books will show is that the Trotters have done us for the double this season. Chateauneuf du Pape, Rodders! But it also means we take a little tumble down the form jumble; now taking just nine points from a potential 24 – losing three of the last eight.

Still, we do have a five-point buffer between ourselves and the side immediately beneath us: Southend United. And the weekend’s defeat changes little in the sense that our away form is still one of the worst in the division. Speaking after the Bolton result, the manager said: “We have come away from home and created 16 chances – but haven’t made the keeper work enough. There is frustration because we should have got something.”

That’s the story of our season (or last two seasons) in a nutshell. Not enough goals.

… and how are the Reds doing right now?

For all intents and purposes, the Reds are doing just fine. Sat in mid-table, the West Sussex side are not that far back off the promotion pace. But it’s fair to say they aren’t bunching up in what’s turning into a very tight race for League One. A 12-point haul from the last eight games isn’t jaw-dropping either. But that’s not helped by two defeats in the last three. And before that, they’d gone eight without defeat. So, they’re no slouches.

If you’re not sure whether this is the type of game we can win, Grimsby Town won here in late November. OK – we’re being a bit facetious there. But it’s not beyond us – even if the data doesn’t make for brilliant reading. The Reds have gained 19 points from 12 indoors, which is perhaps average. But two more victories takes them to 25 in 14 – more than Tranmere have managed from the same number of games at home.

The Reds also have the fifth best attacking record in the league; 36 goals from 25 fixtures. While their defensive record might not be held in such high regard, you’ve gotta score first when you want to be in with a chance of winning matches. And that’s why we’re struggling…

Our story with Crawley Town so far

If it’s a little bit of trivia you’re after, last season’s West Sussex away day was Alex Revell‘s first as Boro’ boss. And our two-goal loss that day was a small sign of the mess we were in back then. It also ended the three-match unbeaten run we had going against them. But we have noticed a pattern in our head-to-head record that may give us a completely irrational reason to be hopeful.

Since the Reds returned to League Two for the start of the 2015-6 campaign, our fortunes down there have alternated. Loss, win, loss, win and – most recently – loss. You may as well get the Pools Panel on the blower now as the footballing gods have this is down to be an away win. It doesn’t hurt to hope at least. And we can look to occasions where we went to Crawley and got the wins we needed too – such as the race for the 2004-5 playoffs.

Not sure this quite counts as a must-win game or points we absolutely need yet, though.

Last Time Out: Crawley Town 2-0 Stevenage, 22 February 2020
Magic Moment: Crawley Town 0-3 Stevenage, 27 March 2010; Byrom from halfway.

Who’s the referee in charge?

Carl Brook.

We’ve just one past encounter with Mr Brook to report on. It came earlier this term; a 3-2 defeat indoors to MK Dons in the Papa John’s Trophy. A pelanty and an OG supplied Boro’s goals that evening. There’s not much else for us to add.

Mr Brook has always been down to ref this one. If it went ahead as planned, our man in the middle would have 16 games under his belt. But that’s now gone up to 18; Mr Brook fitting another two in to keep his whistle warm. Mind you, this is a first February outing for the Sussex ref. He hasn’t been seen since Port Vale did a job on Southend United on 30 January.

Card count? 59 yellows and two reds.

Last Time Out: Stevenage 2-3 MK Dons, 06 October 2020

Crawley Town v Stevenage: Our verdict?

For us, there could be something in this match. But, as ever, it all comes back to our form (or lack of it) in front of goal. This Boro’ side is more than good for a draw with the Reds – if we’re able to score. And that’s because we can’t see the hosts failing in that regard. So, with that in mind, we’re going to be bold and put 1-1 down against this away day.