All you need to know about tomorrow's opponents
On the day that the 3rd Round of the FA Cup takes place, Bristol Rovers will travel to Crawley Town for the second time to complete their Second Round Replay.
With the two teams tied during the 165th minute of their tie, Referee Stuart Attwell decided that there was no way the game would finish in safety.
The prize on offer to the winners remains a trip to St Andrews to visit Championship team Birmingham City. These decisions are often controversial but Attwell had the support of both Managers.
Crawley Boss John Gregory said, "It was the correct decision. It could have been made a bit earlier. It became unfair on the players, as professional footballers, as the pitch became a complete lottery.
"The referee didn't want to stop it but he was aware the game could have gone to penalties and we could have been playing for another 45 minutes.
"Bristol Rovers came into the game in the second half because they had the wind behind them and it became obvious that someone would nick it due to a mistake."
Crawley left-back Mat Sadler felt that a halt could have been made earlier, “The standard of football was terrible. In the first half it was an advantage to a degree.
“In the first half some of our balls in behind were flying out of play, and then I think the first two balls they tried to play behind landed in a couple of puddles after we’d left them, thinking they would go out of play, and they stayed in play.
“I just don’t know what you can do out there when it’s like that, it’s really bad and horrible to play football in. I think it probably showed because the standard of football was terrible because we weren’t allowed to play on that.
“It wasn’t a contest of two football teams so probably needed to be called off maybe ten or 15 minutes earlier. The conditions got worse and worse. In 12 years I don’t think I’ve played in worse conditions than that, I really don’t, and that isn’t just saying it in the spur of the moment; I really don’t think I have. It was horrific.”
In their last game the Reds struggled to overcome low lying Notts County 1-0. The Sussex team’s Gregory admitted that it should have been by a bigger margin.
He said, “It was the most one-sided 1-0 you’ve ever seen in your life. We just had a count up and I think we’ve had 20 shots at goal and only scored one. I have to say, I think their goalkeeper played particularly well. He was outstanding. I think he’s on loan from Southampton.
“I’m delighted with my boys and the energy they showed and I think that was epitomised in the last few minutes when Jamie Proctor broke clear.
"He still had the energy and the enthusiasm to get on the end of a long ball and he took a great shot which bounced back off the post. That really summed up our afternoon; it was a game that we should have probably put to bed a lot earlier.
“But tremendous credit to my players; we’ve had six games in 22 days, you don’t need to be a mathematician to work out that is a phenomenal amount of games.”
Talking about the chances his team missed, he commented, “You won’t get away with that against th better teams. You remember Milton Keynes came here and had one chance; one-on-one Bamford and he scores. Preston as well – we made a mistake, they broke, one-on-one and it ends up in our net.”
“We’ve been punished twice when we have had opportunities against us like that; they’ve been put in the back of our net. It’s not good enough to have a shot and then we say ‘oh bad luck’ – that’s not good enough, that has to end up in the back of the net. When you get clear-cut chances, they have to end up in the back of the net.
“We were waiting for a second goal. Defenders are waiting for a second goal. Obviously fans are waiting for a second goal and when you get the chance to get one you need to take it, because as you saw it doesn’t come along again.
"You’re hanging on in the end - anything could have happened in that last five minutes. They got a couple of free-kicks; if they stick one in the penalty box and it hits someone on the back of the head or on the backside, someone has a shot and it could end up in the net. And that’s because we didn’t take the chances earlier. But we’ll keep working on it.”
The teams have met only 4 times before (including that abandoned game) and 3 of them have finished 0-0. In 2011/12 the rampant reds steamrollered Rovers 4-1 at Broadmeadow and earned a 0-0 draw in the return game at the Mem.
The Reds star player this season is ex-Bolton defender Mark Connolly who has become a regular since John Gregory handed him a regular spot in the team. Connolly remarked, “Obviously, I’m at Crawley Town now and I’m loving it here, I’m playing well and the new manager has come in and put a lot of confidence in me.
“My focus now is with Crawley Town. I’m come here and I’ve really felt at home; I’ve been nearly two years and they’ve flown by. People told me from up north that I wouldn’t like it down south, but I’m really enjoying it and long may it last. We will see what happens in the next few months, but I’m loving life here.
“I spoke to my agent not so long ago, and my main reason to come here was to play games, and obviously to do well for Crawley, but mainly play games. I feel the more I’m playing, the more confidence I’m getting and long may it last, hopefully I can keep playing well for the club and crack on from there.”
Written by Gerry Prewett