Exiled for a reason

There has been talk in the past linking Graham Westley to Crawley whenever the manager’s position has been up for grabs. Whether or not this rumour has ever had any validity or not I can’t say with certainty, but many of us surely watched the wretched performance by Newport on Saturday and though we’d dodged a bullet.

Graham Westley teams all seem to be remarkably similar; aggressive and aerial. In the recent past teams like this have proved to be our undoing. On Saturday they were our making. They turned up with a clear game plan to disrupt and spoil. Our game plan was to out-football them and boy did we execute it well.

I am still somewhat staggered that Newport finished the game with 11 players. The 9 bookings they received spoke as much to the cowardly ineptitude of Nick Kinseley as it did for the unpleasantness of the Newport team. I am convinced that the only thing that saved Labadie from a red was his substitution on 66 minutes. Roberts had him all ends up from the first minute and played with a joyful smile on his face that seemed to do the required job of irritating Labadie from the outset. My personal highlight of the game though from my vantage point behind the dugout was watching Westley self-implode following the penalty debacle in the 95th minute.

Quite frankly, Newport looked like a team bound for the Conference and based on what I saw Saturday I can only say good riddance. Having said that though, Crawley were exciting again, the stadium had a buzz and Christmas lunch tastes a lot sweeter when you’re sat in 11th, two points off the playoffs.

In old fashioned style, let’s have a stab at the player ratings:

Morris – 8
A good, solid display again from the man that at one stage was considered our third choice keeper. How ridiculous that sounds now! In with a shout for Man of the Match as both the quality and timing of his best saves kept us in the match.

Young – 7
Mr consistent this season. I said to Dermot on Thursday that I was really hoping for something special from Lewis this week as I thought he was well overdue a man of the match award for the consistently high level of both effort and execution he has given us this year. Whilst he got forward with great regularity the quality of the final delivery wasn’t as good as we know it can be and for that reason I couldn’t justify the champagne I’m afraid.

Connolly – 8
We know what we get from Mark, solid and dependable. Didn’t do anything wrong (despite channel 5 blaming him for the penalty!). We also shouldn’t underestimate the difference that Mark gives the team when he’s got a less experienced centre back next to him. His constant communication and confidence permeates through the spine of the team and gives us a defensive solidity that’s been missing over the past couple of seasons.

Yorwerth – 8
Man of the match by a short head for me. There were many good performances on Saturday, but Josh played well for the whole 90 minutes and seemed to be at the heart of every defensive move. His aerial prowess managed to cut out the Newport bombardment with ease and his ability to turn defence in to attack showed why he’s been deployed further forwards in the past.

Blackman – 6.5
Not bad enough for a 6, not good enough for a 7. Looked very vulnerable in the first half and got caught in possession a few too many times. I always felt nervous when he was on the back foot. In the second half though we saw a different side to Andre and his forward runs were a joy to watch. It did serve to play out the theory that he is a midfielder in a left back’s position, but attack really did seem the best form of defence. Andre should enjoy the next couple of games though as I think we’ll see less of him after January.

Smith – 8
Emotion nearly got me to give smith the MoM after losing his grandfather this week, but I’m a heartless bastard at the best of times and stuck with Josh. In all fairness though he was one of a few in with a shout. Very busy in the middle of the park as always, a great delivery for Josh’s goal and wonderful to see him on the scoresheet. A captain by example is always a joy to watch.

Payne – 8
Good enough to keep Kaby out of the side and that in itself should tell everyone how good he is. When most of us saw Kaby play his first couple of games, few though that Josh Payne would get back in. But if anything the introduction of Kaby has raised Josh’s game, exactly as I would imagine any manager would like it to.

Boldewijn – 7
It’s getting to something when 7 out of 10 is looking like a harsh score! Not an 8 simple because he lacked the end product. He certainly looked more back to his best that we saw early on in the season, but the final pass was missing.

Clifford – 8
If his first half has been as good as his second he would have walked the man of the match award. Seems to give the impression of someone who has hours of time on the ball.

Roberts – 8
If his second half had been as good as his first he would have walked the man of the match award. Caused Newport nightmares in the first half and seemed to love the attention, regardless of how violent it was. Went a bit quiet in the second half.

Collins – 8
Did what he had to do. Dependable and solid, never stopped running. Please god don’t get injured or we’re screwed…!

With the following substitutions all taking place late on in the game; Bawling (81’), Yussef (87’) and Djalo (91’) none really had the opportunity to either impress or disappoint. The shame for all of these players is that the limited minutes in a game we were leading well really doesn’t bode well for the future. The positive for the club of course is that we are starting to get a better standard of bench. The shame for the players of course is that I very much doubt whether this is the position they’d be looking to fill.

To those of you that take the time to read my ramblings I am extremely grateful. The feedback I receive is generally very positive and it’s always nice to hear that my views are shared by some of you out there. I can honestly say that I can’t wait for Christmas to be over now so that we can get to Orient on Boxing day…!

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