United fall to a second league defeat of the season at a resilient Crawley who are unbeaten at home for a year.
Luck. Sometimes it’s on your side. A tenner spotted in the gutter, a last minute goal for some Godforsaken Scottish Third division side that makes your acca come in. The last pack of toilet roll sitting on the shelf in Tesco.
But sometimes luck isn’t on your side, and good fortune was certainly not shining upon the U’s this weekend.
Paul Mullin was a surprise name on the team sheet, having shaken off the effects of a knock on Tuesday, but there was no room for Adam May or Paul Digby, left in the treatment room. Luke Hannant took up an unfamiliar role in the middle alongside Hiram Boateng, whilst Joe Ironside partnered Mullin up front.
United got off to another trademark quick start, with a Knoyle cross flashed across the box and on to the head of Joe Ironside for his fifth goal of the season.
Luke Hannant and Harrison Dunk both went close, and United had strong claims for a penalty waved away shortly after. Another big shout occurred on the edge of the box, which looked like it could have been another pen, or at least a free kick in a dangerous position, but again the referee was having none of it, repeatedly penalising Mullin for dishing out the same treatment he’d been receiving all afternoon. Later, a long Luke Hannant pass out of defence landed at the feet of Paul Mullin who slightly overhit his chip over the goalkeeper, allowing a defender to rush back and head the ball over the bar with centimetres to spare.
All these claims of bad luck should take nothing away from Crawley though, who were solid if not overly expressive, and their equaliser came minutes before the break, always a frustrating time to concede.
The second half was much the same, United hitting the bar twice and coming close but unable to make it count. Crawley on the other hand did make it count on 56 minutes, with Nichols putting them in front. Three minutes from time Hesketh received a second yellow for a nasty challenge, but United weren’t able to capitalise.
Overall it was one of them games where nothing really went in for United. We played well, and perhaps could have gone it at half time two or three up, but sometimes things just don’t go your way. Crawley looked good and there’s a reason they haven’t lost at home since last November. It’s frustrating when you play well and lose, but it’s better than playing badly. Another tough test awaits us on Tuesday against Salford, hopefully we’re a bit luckier then.
Man of the Match: Are we giving it to Harrison Dunk again? We’re giving it to Harrison Dunk again. A constant threat in attack and a reassuring presence in defence when swapping positions with Iredale. Dunk is playing some of his best football in his tenth year at the Abbey.
Soundtrack of the Match: DJ Luck & MC Neat – A Little Bit of Luck
United: Mitov, Knoyle, Taylor, Cundy, Iredale, Dunk (Knibbs), Boateng, Hannant, Davies (El Mizouni), Ironside (Hoolahan), Mullin