Barker: Crawley Town have to be nastier
Swindon Town 3 Crawley Town 0
IT WAS a game to forget for Crawley Town after they were comprehensively beaten by Paolo Di Canio's Swindon Town on Tuesday night.
Apart from the odd moment of pressure, Di Canio's team led the Red Devils from start to finish in their first defeat under new boss Richie Barker.
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And while Barker is pleased with the football his side are playing, he admits they should have been 'nastier' on at the County Ground.
"The football was excellent but as I told the players, we have to be careful we don't become one of those sides that people love to watch but don't want to support because we aren't picking up results," the Crawley boss said. "We are getting there with the football but we have to do the nasty stuff better.
"It you look at the goals the first one was a fluke, the second one we should have dealt with the cross better and the third one was a missed header from Claude [Davis]. So at the end of the day all those goals can be eradicated.
"One or two people might have got a bit carried away after the weekend and this was back down to earth with a bump. I can't come away and say anyone was poor, maybe a little bit tired but not poor."
And Barker believes the Swindon goals knocked Crawley's confidence.
"You can look at two way; one that they had a goal disallowed and they had a couple of chances," he said. "But the first goal changed the game really.
"It was a fluke and there is no getting away from that. It knocked our confidence a little bit and then the second goal was minutes before half-time, if we had got to half-time still at 1-0, who knows? All the goals were at key times really."
Barker named an unchanged side for the third successive game, with new strikers Jonathan Forte and Nicky Ajose again having to make do with a place on the bench.
It was Swindon who got off to the better start, testing Paul Jones twice in the first two minutes of the game. Crawley soon got a foothold, but it was still the home side producing all the goal-scoring opportunities with Jones forced into a diving save before watching Joe Devera's header squirm wide.
It was all Swindon for much of the early play and it was no less than their pressure deserved when they took the lead on 27 minutes. It was a goal to remember for speedy winger Matt Ritchie who beat Dannie Bulman for pace before crossing the ball in from the right, however Jones' will not want to see the replays as the ball looped over the Reds keeper's head for an extraordinary opening goal.
Finally on 35 minutes Crawley had a succession of corners, from the last of which the ball was cleared as far as Mark Connolly on the edge of the box who put a cross back in. Kyle McFadzean got on the end of it but the defender's header went just over the crossbar.
Ritchie continued to cause problems for the Reds down the right wing but the visitors had a chance of their own when Billy Clarke unleashed a stinging drive from distance that forced Foderingham into a diving save.
On the stroke of half-time, their first League One away game went from bad to worse for Crawley after they failed to clear the danger and after the ball pinged around Jones' box for a while it fell to Tommy Miller who struck home through the crowds for a 2-0 lead.
It was a more balanced start to the second half that the first at the County Ground with the Reds fans doing their best to revive the team with the help of a loud drum.
Despite Crawley beginning to dominate the possession, Raffaele De Vita made it was 3-0 to Swindon on 64 minutes. Seeing his Crawley team in trouble for the first time since he took over as manager, Barker immediately threw in Jonathan Forte in place of Clarke.
The Southampton loanee nearly made an instant impact but his run was a little too late for the through ball.
With Nicky Ajose on soon after Forte, Crawley went for a more attacking formation. Adams struck a fierce ball at goal only to see Wes Foderingham collect comfortably.
Swindon thought they had a fourth on 78 minutes but much to the relief of Crawley, Flint's header was ruled to be offside.
Swindon had another chance to make it four in the 87th minute when Jones' showed good instincts to parry substitute Paul Benson's shot.
Crawley face a trip to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday and Barker admits defender Davis is a doubt after sustaining a back injury at Swindon.
"He got a knock on his back and we made the decision with ten minutes to go that the longer he stayed on the less chance there was on him playing on Saturday," Barker said. "He had some paracetamol at half-time and that was just starting to take effect but just because it wasn't hurting him doesn't mean it wasn't there. The next 48 hours will be crucial."
Swindon Town: Foderingham, McEveley, Flint, Devera, Ferry, Collins, Ritchie, McCormack, Williams (Benson, 86), Miller (Rooney, 87), De Vita (Navarro, 78).
Crawley Town: Jones, Sadler, Connolly, McFadzean, Davis (Cooper, 81), Simpson, Adams, Bulman (Forte, 65), Akpan, Clarke (Ajose, 70), Alexander.