Lambs pay the penalty..
09 December 2006
Tamworth traveled to The Broadfield Stadium Crawley, with the nations eyes looking ahead to the FA Cup on January 6th, just a handful of fans traveled South, but for Mark Cooper and his squad it was a case of back to the bread and butter of the league and a vital six pointer against fellow bottom four club Crawley Town.
The Lambs had recorded only two victories at their Sussex hosts in 8 visits, the last being in 2001-02 and had lost 3-0 on their two previous visits in the Conference.
Last time around Steve Burton was lining up for Crawley and bagged two goals against Scott Bevan but was determined to do a similar job against his old club. On the flip side of the coin ex Lambs Gavin McAllum, goalscoring hero Jake Edwards (starting on the bench) and one time winger Tony Scully now found themselves in Sussex and neither side would be happy with a point in this crunch league fixture.
Cooper made no changes from the side that had defeated Rushden and Diamonds last weekend.
Both sides looked hesitant in the opening exchanges although Taiwo Atieno scuffed a shot on goal with just three minutes gone.
Crawley without their 10 point deduction would find themselves in the top 8 or 9 in the table, but it was The Lambs who held the upper hand in terms of possession until the 12 minute when a run down the right wing by Scully had to be cut out for a corner by Simon Weaver. The resulting corner was caught by Jose Veiga and launched up field eventually finding Simon Heslop who fed McGrath who in turn pushed the ball wide to Darryl Taylor on the opposite flank. Taylor crossed for Atieno, but the strikers diving header was wide of the mark.
On 15 Burton almost opened the scoring but couldn’t control his effort from close range after Atieno had crossed low from the right and Ben Hamer in the Crawley goal collected relatively easily.
On 26 Atieno fired a header from the centre of the area just wide of Hamer’s left hand upright after persistence by Taylor carved out the chance of a cross. And just a minute later Taylor sprinted down the right and crossed for Burton to shoot from a tight angle but he hit the side netting with his effort.
Tamworth continued to press their hosts back into their own half as the first 45 went on but some Crawley pressure in the 34th minute threatened the Lambs goal with Dave Woozley finally firing over the bar from 15 yards.
And in the 38th minute Woozley’s header from Lee Balckburns free kick was deflected out for a corner to the home side. Scully took but Adie Smith cut it out and Scully tried again but to no avail.
Then in the 41st minute Gary Mills (not the ex-Tamworth manager) fired a long range shot from the right wide of Veiga’s goal as the home side turned the screw a bit but the half ended goalless and both sides were forced to think of new tactics in the second period.
With less than a minute gone in the second half Ryan Peter headed wide from Scully’s cross and the home forward should perhaps have done better with the chance.
Atieno fired high over the stand on the turn from 15 yards on 50 but on 51 Crawley won a penalty when John McGrath was adjudged to have handballed a ball into the box from Peters header right on the edge of the area. Scott Rendell stepped up to take the spot kick and almost rolled it into the opposite corner (0-1).
With half an hour to go Cooper made a couple of changes in a bid to get something from the long trip with Matt Williams and Joe Kendrick both coming into the fray.
Williams struck well from 12 yards on 67 minutes forcing Hamer into a good save, but Taylor had strayed just offside when the rebound came to him and fired wide of the mark anyway.
Atieno made Hamer leap at full stretch to his right to deny a well placed header on 72 as Tamworth tried to get an equalizer and Atieno put the ball in the net but Burton had already been flagged for offside on 73.
The half continued with both sides struggling to get close to the target. On 88 The Lambs pressure forced a corner, which Heslop whipped into play, but an infringement denied any hope of an equalizer and Crawley worked hard in the four minutes of added time to take all three points.
Stevenson (Williams 60), McGrath, Heslop, Taylor
Law, Weaver (Kendrick 60), Smith, Laight
Subs: Storer, Friars, Belford
Peters (Edwards 68), Rendell
McAllum, Blackburn, Mills (Benjamin 90), Scully
Wright (Hiley 70), Bostwick, Woozley, Judge
Subs: Tolfrey, Nayee
Yellow Cards: McGrath 11, Blackburn 17, Woozley 36, Smith 58,Wright 70, Atieno 90