With nine games left of the season, it will take an incredible run for Richie Barker’s Reds to make the play-offs. But can we do it?
Ten points off the play offs with nine to go, it doesn’t seem likely. However in recent weeks we’ve played and taken points off Leyton Orient, Yeovil, Swindon, Doncaster, Walsall and Notts County, all teams above us, and arguably all those games we deserved to win, only beating Orient out of the six. Had we have won even just three of those games, we would be in a much better position and potentially in the play offs (I haven’t done the maths but we’d certainly be a lot closer). The good news is that we still have to play MK Dons, Coventry, Tranmere and Sheffield United, four of the twelve teams above us, and realistically we can win perhaps three out of those 4.
With the exception of Sheffield United, I think we should go into every one of our remaining nine fixtures looking to get the win, starting with the visit of Crewe to the Broadfield on Saturday and then Stevenage on Good Friday- two wins from those games would see us on a role going into away trips to MK and Shrewsbury, again both games I think we can win. It’s then back to the Broadfield for what will be a huge game against Coventry, before returning to the road for two trips up north to Sheffield United and Oldham. Two home games to end the season, with Preston and then Hartlepool to visit.
All winnable games, but then our problem recently is that our performances haven’t got the results they’ve warranted. In particular the last 5 games, in which we are unbeaten but with four draws, and all four of those draws could and should have been wins. Unfortunately this has been all too often the case recently, with draws that should have been wins looking likely to cost us in our quest for a play off place.
Take Saturday’s game at Walsall for instance. An excellent strike for Jamie Proctor and a smart finish from Paul Hayes (more about him later) saw us comfortably 2-0 up but a horrendous injury time collapse saw us throw away what would have been a superb win. A deflected Jamie Paterson strike took the ball past Paul Jones in the first minute of four added on, before a low cross into the box bobbled over the otherwise excellent Connor Essam’s left foot for Will Grigg to slam home from six yards. It was harsh on the Reds, who after a slow first half had vastly improved in the second. A game we should have won but didn’t.
The draws against Notts County, Carlisle, Yeovil, Doncaster and Swindon all have the same feel of two points dropped rather than 1 gained. It’s a case of converting chances and being a bit more clinical than we are, which judging by the way recent results is easier said than done.
One man who might be able to help with that is recent loan signing Paul Hayes. The 29 year old striker on loan from Brentford for a month impressed me on Saturday, particularly his hold up play and he added a goal to his display. Him and Jamie Proctor look to have struck up a good partnership already, which has forced Billy Clarke out onto the wing. If he can hit a good run of form for the month (hopefully longer) that he’s here, that could go some way to propelling us up the table.
We have everything to gain, nothing to lose, and there’s no harm to be done by going for it, as Barker implied with a very attacking line up against Yeovil last Tuesday which saw us nearly take a win despite being 2-0 at half time. This season though I think will end in consolidation rather than a trip to Wembley. Maybe next year…
Written by Louie Elmer, We Are Going Up’s Crawley Town blogger
Louie tweets at @louie_j_e