TASTE OF THE TERRACE: Season ticket holder Geoff Thornton says Crawley failed to deal with Port Vale's pace and upset fans

It took only nine minutes for the optimism balloon to burst as Crawley Town started their League Two campaign against Port Vale.

Crawley Town season ticket holder Geoff Thornton
Crawley Town season ticket holder Geoff Thornton

It was first blood to the visitors as the newly signed and vastly experienced Michael Tongue scored with a deflected free-kick that ended up in the opposite corner to the one he aimed at.

It was already apparent that Harry Kewell had not managed to set up his team to cope with the pace of the game as the Valiants slipped effortlessly into their stride.

Another truth became self evident after 26 minutes when the unchallenged Antony Kay headed Vale’s second from Tongue’s precise free-kick.

We knew by then that the visitors had made a very shrewd signing and that the Reds need to quickly strengthen their defence before the transfer window closes.

I think transfers will weigh heavily in the minds of supporters especially after James Collins opened his account with Luton Town by scoring a well-taken hat-trick. I trust our negotiators are happy with their decision.

In contrast Collins’ replacement Thomas Verheydt had a torrid time in his debut in English football.

For all his size and strength he was bullied by the Port Vale defence who showed scant regard for sportsmanship and the niceties of the game.

Despite referee Nicholas Breakspear awarding Reds a good number of free kicks he still managed too many puzzling decisions that were best described as 'individual.'

Crawley simply could not cope with Port Vale’s robust style of play and they will need to learn how very quickly or they will get turned over far too easily and too often.

The final scoreline was unrepresentative of the game overall even though we couldn’t quibble about the outcome.

It certainly wasn’t all bad. Man of the Match Enzio Boldewijn was again absolutely superlative; scored a great goal, deserved a couple more and was rewarded by Kewell by being subbed after 75 minutes in favour of the ineffectual Dennon Lewis.

The West Stand uniformly protested and loudly questioned the manager’s sanity.

If he wishes to alienate the supporters, it was good strategy.

The exciting partnership between Dannie Bulman and Mark Randall in central midfield could put Jimmy Smith’s return to the side in jeopardy whilst Lewis Young blossomed in the right wing back role in the second half.

On the other flank Cedric Evina seemed to go missing.

Better finishing might have brought its obvious rewards when Reds were on top but the depth of the managers’ coaching problems was highlighted by Port Vale’s third goal as Daniel Turner was granted the freedom of Broadfield to head home completely unmarked.

Tuesday evening’s Carabao Cup tie at Birmingham City will now be approached with a deal of reticence by supporters who feel that one step forward might have been followed by two steps back.