Will you feel creepy about Crawley?
Simon Wright is a tad concerned.
Our opposition in the Third Qualifying Round is now clear after their faintly alarming 4-0 demolition of a decent Step 3 side this week. Three Bridges, a Crawley based Step 4 club have won 6 out of 6 games at home, admittedly mainly against lower league opposition. After battling through 4 rounds, Bridges are in the Third Qualifying Round for the first time ever. This is nose bleed territory. Cue a lot of shouty tweets from them, lusty rendition of “Sweet Caroline” in the dressing room and quite rightly. Enjoy the moment.
Their Cup exploits means they are behind the curve with their League fixtures and their 11th spot in Isthmian league South West is a false one. That creepy fear of an early exit is upon us… Mark McCoy, one of our Southern-based Bulls saw the first match at Lewes and described the Crawley crew as “limited and direct.” Five visiting players were booked that afternoon in what sounds a bruising battle.
This is not a well-supported club. The 374 who turned out for their defeat of Lewes was by far their biggest gate of the season. Gates of 63 and 69 in earlier games are their reality. The round capacity of 1,500 (200 seats) is not regularly tested, indeed their record turnout of 2,000 was way back in 1948. Happily, Jubilee Park has a car park for 400 vehicles next door and yes, they play on grass.
The Plough Inn at 181 Three Bridges Road, RH10 1LG is the nearest hostelry. Real ale and food are available. That gratuitous mention will guarantee no-one goes in.
Hereford will need to be mindful of striker Kieron Panment who has scored in almost every game this season, with 8 to his name. Our opposition is a youthful bunch with four 18 and 19 year old performers starting in their most recent Cup victory. That’s according to their beaming manager who at 30 is younger than some of our squad. Interesting and busy guy is James Crellin. He fits his managerial duties around day jobs teaching in a Primary school and running a football academy. He took over the hotseat in 2021 after 6 years playing for the Bridges came to an abrupt end due to injury. The previous manager is now the chairman.
Bridges are about 320 miles return from the Shire. And an awful lot further for our Northern-based contingent. Far from ideal to have players travelling five hours plus one way for such a key game. An overnighter could make such a difference but a gamble cost-wise. Yes, Lewes would be further still but that would be borderline overnight-stay-at-the-home-clubs-expense territory. Still our Southern based supporters and players will be happy enough though will be aware of the rail strike that day. Given that Lekan Osideko is “local”, knows the level and has played against Bridges, this could be his chance. The home side won’t find any video footage on him.
League admission prices here are £10 adults, concessions £5 but do expect an increase for our visit to cover extra costs.
Cross your fingers for this one.