Curle tries to explain what went so horribly wrong for Cobblers at Crawley - verdict, reaction and highlights

Sometimes, when things get as bad as they did for the Cobblers on this catastrophic Boxing Day afternoon in West Sussex. it's best to let the bare facts do all the talking because words aren't able to do it justice.

Friday, 27th December 2019, 9:07 am
Updated Friday, 27th December 2019, 9:25 am
Keith Curle

One look at this scoreline, to an outsider, might suggest Crawley Town put on a clinical finishing display. Maybe they had four chances and took them all. Maybe Cobblers had an off day in front of goal. Maybe it was just one of those freak results. Forget about it and move on.

But that would do major disservice to Crawley's complete and total dominance of this game. It would also let Town off the hook. Indeed, if anything, the opposite is true.

The hosts were wasteful - they missed four or five good chances on top of their four goals - as they racked up eight shots on target and 24 efforts in all. In contrast, the Cobblers had four and not a single one brought a save out of Glenn Morris. Crawley's untroubled goalkeeper might as well have taken the day off.

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The visitors were worryingly toothless in attack and unusually sloppy at the back. Their play lacked zip, intensity and cohesion. Forget Scunthorpe, this was on another level. It was a throwback to the dark days of the last couple of seasons.

The simplicity of Crawley's first two goals, in particular, will be enough to haunt Keith Curle's nightmares. Two throw-ins, two simple balls into the box, two players left unmarked and two easy goals, albeit both finished well.

"We haven't learned our lessons and that's the disappointing thing," lamented Curle, who was equally aghast by his side's defending for the first Mansfield goal on Saturday, which also came from a throw-in.

"Sometimes it's a case of one person making a mistake and then the next person having to be on their toes and getting back to cover.

"Players will move but worst way you keep play in front of you and you still defend your box.

"But the disappointing thing was that we didn't do what we're good at and that's getting on the front foot."

A one-sided contest between these teams would not necessarily have surprised people ahead of kick-off but it confounded all expectations as Crawley, with two wins in 20, tore apart a Cobblers team who had lost just one of their past eight league matches.

Where did such a tepid, lacklustre performance come from? It's hard to know. Sure, Cobblers have not been at their best in recent weeks but, ever since losing heavily at Scunthorpe some time ago, they have always been competitive in games.

Curle will hope it's nothing more than a Boxing Day blip.You can get these odd results at this time of year, not that that's an excuse for Town's unacceptable performance.

"We can't have players being pulled out of slots, being disjointed as a defensive unit and have teams playing just through us," Curle added.

"That's something we've been OK at in recent times but that's now five of the last seven goals we've conceded have come from throw-ins in the final third.

"It's about knowing when to make a man and when to mark space but also knowing where the danger is and keep the man and the ball in front you.

"We came away from what we're good at it and now we need to get straight back at it."