DEPLETED RED DEVILS DIG IN
MATT Harrold’s firsthalf strike was enough for Crawley Town to edge a dismal clash with Cambridge United and manager Mark Yates believes it is no more than they deserved.
As the weather deteriorated during half-time, an already unmemorable affair degenerated with it as the two mid-table clubs barely conjured up a chance between them.
And Yates, whose team has now notched up seven wins in their last eight home fixtures, was delighted with his players’ efforts after a testing build-up during the week.
“I thought we thoroughly deserved it. That’s the proudest I’ve ever been of the team,” he said.
“I had 11 outfield players training yesterday and two keepers. I apologised to the boys for the numbers we had and that we haven’t trained on grass because our training ground is flooded.
“It has been a shambles, but the players haven’t moaned and they were magnificent.
“We were better than Cambridge at everything. We were better at defending, we were better at picking up second balls and we were better at looking a goal threat.
“The players have got to enjoy that. I’ve given them a couple of days off because we haven’t got anywhere to train and we haven’t got enough numbers. Hopefully they’ll appreciate that and come in next week to prepare properly for Notts County.”
Prior to his winner, Harrold spurned Crawley’s best opening as the ball got stuck underneath his feet when clean through on goal, allowing Darnell Furlong time to deny him with a last-ditch tackle.
Shortly afterwards, Rory Gaffney – just back from a fruitful loan spell with Bristol Rovers – wasted the visitors’ only significant opportunity of the afternoon when he sprung the offside trap but failed to beat Darryl Flahavan.
And Harrold swiftly made amends for his earlier profligacy when he poked home Lee Barnard’s cross-shot at full stretch to give the home side the lead at the interval.
With the rain lashing down, Cambridge’s second half almost got off to the perfect start when Luke Berry’s 25-yard effort crashed off the outside of the post.
But that was as good as it got for the U’s as they failed to muster another chance of any significance, leaving manager Shaun Derry thoroughly dissatisfied.
“I never felt at any point in the game did we play the conditions,” he said.
“We didn’t play them well enough, we didn’t play them intelligently enough. We never got players around the ball to combat that second ball and get on top.
“Fair credit to Mark and his team. They needed the win and wanted the win more than us. That’s a cause for concern for me because prior to last week and prior to today, I felt we’ve really competed all over the pitch and now I’m asking questions.
“I’m expecting answers to be delivered in the performances, not just in voice.”