Potter’s red alters balance of game
Stevenage Boro 2 Crawley Town 3 MARCUS CRAWLEY Reports FOOTBALL can be a funny yet often cruel game. Boro boss Mark Stimson was certainly not smiling afterwards as his side slipped to their third straight defeat on Saturday. To say Boro did not have the r
Stevenage Boro 2
Crawley Town 3
MARCUS CRAWLEY Reports
FOOTBALL can be a funny yet often cruel game.
Boro boss Mark Stimson was certainly not smiling afterwards as his side slipped to their third straight defeat on Saturday.
To say Boro did not have the rub of the green would be an understatement.
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The decision which changed the game saw keeper Danny Potter allegedly haul down Lee Blackburn to prevent a clear goalscoring opportunity.
But Potter's dismissal and the conversion of the resulting penalty were not the only grievances Boro could harbour from the afternoon.
Boro also had a goal ruled out for offside courtesy of new boy Steve Morison and returning former skipper Jason Goodliffe appeared to be manhandled in the lead-up to Crawley's winner.
All this contributed to Boro losing a game which they had dominated for more than an hour.
Featuring three debutants in Steve Guppy, Morison and David Hicks, Boro's football in the first half was a joy to behold at times.
Guppy, capped by England less than seven years ago, was soon in the centre of the action.
His astute pass freed George Boyd, a revelation up front, and Boyd was unlucky to see his right-footed shot come back off the far post.
Miller and newcomer Morison also threatened Ben Hamer's goal before the deadlock looked to be broken just before the half hour mark.
Morison played in Boyd who skipped past two defenders and was only denied by a fabulous stop from Hamer when a goal seemed inevitable.
Boro's bright, attractive football continued and more terrific Boyd skill was thwarted again when Ben Judge got back to clear his shot off the line.
Equally amazing was Hamer's superb stop from Goodliffe's crashing volley less than a minute later.
The opening goal was coming and it duly arrived on 40 minutes when Judge was robbed by Boyd in the left corner and he crossed for Miller to sweep home.
This was the least Boro deserved and Crawley's lone response was a speculative shot from Tony Scully - their first effort on target - which was comfortably tipped over by Potter.
Potter was worked again at the start of the new half when a Jake Edwards cross was met by the combined force of Ben Strevens and Goodliffe. The ball flew up and Potter had to be alert to push it on to his own crossbar and away to safety.
Boro believed they had grabbed the important second goal on eight minutes into the new half when Goodliffe's skidding 35-yarder was pushed out by Hamer.
Morison turned the rebound in but hopes of a first Boro goal were temporarily dashed due to an offside flag.
Three minutes later and Crawley were level after Goodliffe was penalised 25 yards out. Michael Bostwick's free-kick sped past Potter possibly with the aid of a deflection.
Parity lasted barely a minute and this time Morison could celebrate opening his account when he headed home a Guppy cross.
Morison went off soon after due to a sore groin and things rapidly went from bad to worse for Boro.
Potter was caught in possession from an underhit Barry Fuller back pass and was robbed by Blackburn. The keeper appeared to reclaim the ball by fair means but the referee thought otherwise.
Now Boro had the double whammy of conceding a penalty and going down to 10 men as Potter saw red.
Alan Julian, now fully recovered from injury, went between the sticks with Guppy sacrificed but he was sent the wrong way by Strevens.
Crawley, level and with a numerical advantage, went for the three points when one previously looked unlikely.
The decisive moment arrived seven minutes from time with the Boro defence increasingly fraught.
Bostwick squirmed his way through when it appeared impossible and fired beyond a helpless Julian.
Boro's annoyance was not helped by Goodliffe seemingly fouled by Edwards in the lead-up to the goal.
Bostwick might have added another when he shot into the side netting but Boro rallied in added time. John Nutter fired just too high and sub Chris Sullivan headed over from a Boyd cross.