Prior to the show down of the main squads, The CTSAFC faced newly-promoted Crystal Palace’s supporters side on a warm morning at Hazelwick. After a week of hard work in training, the Crawley boys were feeling positive they could get a result. Dan Palmer took the armband for the first time, playing in goal behind interim managers Rob Lowndes and Joe Comper, who were leading the side for the first time.
Things did not go to plan though, as Palace took the lead inside 20 minutes of the kick off. A free kick was given down the Palace left from 25 yards out. The Palace player bent in a superb delivery that caught Palmer off his line and left him sprawling as the ball looped over him in to the net. Goals change games, as they say, and so it proved for the CTSAFC. The goal seemed to provide the motivation required to really go through the gears. They were soon back on level terms when a shot from Chris Douglas was well saved by the Palace keeper (who was outstanding throughout) but he could only find Callum Vaughan-Murray, who lived up to his nickname (poacher) to bury from close range. Crawley seemed to push on after the goal. Cookie was causing havoc down the right wing providing support for Marco and Douglas up top and providing some decent deliveries. Sadly for the home side, the third goal was scored against the run of play. Some suicidal defending saw Ben Blackmore give the ball away, CTSA failed to clear and the Palace forward was on hand to capitalise on a punch from Palmer to send them 2-1 up going into half-time.
The half-time break saw Marco leave for his job with the first team and therefore Lowndsey and Comps had to shuffle their pack. James went into the back four alongside Lowndes, and Comper moved up top to provide some support for Douglas. The new system worked almost straight away as Comper equalised; Vaughan-Murray the provider as his shot across the box found Comper to steer it home. The pressure was building now and the Crawley boys were running the show. Mitch Moylan and CVM seemed to be dominating the midfield and Cookie was spending most of his time tormenting the Palace left back. A corner routine worked on in training almost came off when Moylan put in a beautiful ball that found Comper at the back post to head against the post. CVM then produced the outstanding moment of the game, when his shot, designed for the “top bins” (CVM, 2013) was amazingly saved by the Palace keeper, as he tipped it on to the bar. The winner just wasn’t coming, another corner from Moylan was volleyed over the bar by Comper, Cookie and CVM both had chances to put us ahead but missed the target. Krunaal was playing well on the left, working their right back hard. Finally, a moment of quality saw the CTSAFC take the lead. A superb ball over the top found Douglas, who broke the offside trap, rounded the keeper and blasted it into the empty net. 3-2. The pressure continued, but Palace kept going. Missed opportunites from CTSA looked to have cost them when Palace equalised with 7 minutes to go. A corner routine of their own paid off, as the ball across left Substitute keeper Matt Putland stranded and, despite Lowndes’ best efforts, the Palace full back bundled it across the line. In previous games, this set-back would perhaps have killed the lads…but not this time. The Crawley boys fought back, and were once again ahead. Another piece of great play from Cookie found Comper alone inside the box. I am sure at this point, everyone playing, watching and listening on CTSA player, were expecting the ball to end up in the Ramada Plaza car park, but no! Comper fired the ball into the left hand corner of the net to send the players and 6.5 supporters wild.
There was still time for more goals. CVM burst into the box and was brought down. Well done to the Palace linesman, who honestly stuck his flag up to indicate to the ref that it was a penalty. Great sportsmanship. On a Hat trick, Comper fought off opposition from Lowndsey and Cookie to grab the ball and place it on the spot. He ran up, side-footed it into the bottom left hand corner….SAVED. Oops.
Anyway, CTSA saw out the final few minutes to claim their second ever victory, and first under the new management. Thanks to Don Baikie for reffing the game in great spirit and to everyone who came to support. Coventry City next up in our first league game of the new season. Hope to see everyone there to support, 11am KO next Saturday, at the 3G pitch by the Broadfield Stadium.
Words from Joe Comper, and pictures from Carol “Bailey” Bates- CTSA Community