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Scunthorpe 2 Crawley 1 - The Iron-On Line
February 10th, 2013
04:30 pm

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Scunthorpe 2 Crawley 1
The programme for the Crawley game was almost perfect. It had two pictures of Matt Sparrow, now playing for Crawley and looking as good as ever, and one of Gary Hooper. Just as Fluffy was betting I would take it to bed with me, I turned the page and was confronted with a picture of a certain ex manager I'd rather forget. "I bet you don't sleep with it," Fluffy hastily amended.

I was hoping for a draw, which by my calculations ought to keep us out of the relegation places. A win against the team that had thrashed us on the opening day seemed too much to ask for, but Fluffy confidently opened a betting site on her smartphone and placed a bet on a 2-1 Iron victory. As the first half drew to a close, my prediction looked pretty good. Neither team had done much to threaten the goal; Crawley seemed content to keep us at bay with a packed defence and wait for us to make a mistake. When playing Scunthorpe, that frequently proves a good tactic.

My calculations had depended on the franchise doing us a favour - the only time I cheer for them. Unfortunately, they were letting me down and allowing Oldham to beat them, which meant a draw wouldn't be enough for us. But I was quietly confident that the franchise could come back and the afternoon would be a successful one.

That confidence rang very hollow when Crawley took the lead early in the second half. Somehow the ball was played in across a completely undefended penalty area, leaving who else but Matt Sparrow with the easiest opportunity to obey the Immutable Law of the Ex. I tried to take consolation in the fact that I'd predicted he would score, but there was little satisfaction to be had. Instead, I spent the next few minutes complaining of cold and existential ennui, and trying to persuade Fluffy to let me drink neat Scotch in the Iron Bar until I stopped caring about football.

The second half did bring the mild pleasure of Sparrow in close-up, defending corners right in front of us. I suggested Fluffy should distract him by telling him that her brother wanted a threesome with him and Gary Hooper, but although she found the prospect amusing, she didn't put it into action. A consummate professional like Sparrow probably wouldn't have been put off so easily anyway.

A "goal train" plodded along the railway line behind the away end as we rebuffed a Crawley attack and started up the field ourselves. No lightning-quick attack, but the goal train was slower than usual too, and it was still in sight when we managed to cross. Just as its last truck disappeared, someone was finally ready to shoot - straight at the Crawley keeper. Disappointment was short-lived: the keeper parried, and Jimmy Ryan dashed in to put the ball in the net. Not only a very welcome equaliser, but the first Scunthorpe goal I've seen at Glanford Park this season.

Fluffy pulled up scores from elsewhere on her phone. To my horror, Oldham were still being the franchise; worse, the BBC claimed Crawley were still beating us. Fluffy assured me that the website was just slow to update, but I became convinced that the goal had been disallowed and everyone in the ground had somehow missed this. I didn't calm down until she showed me that the live text commentary on the match itself had recognised Ryan's strike.

I would have been happy, in spite of the franchise's failure, with a point rescued. The Iron wanted more. We pressed again, and Niall Canavan rose to get his head on the ball before the Crawley defenders. It skimmed off his head and could have gone just about anywhere; luck was on our side for once as it went into the net. That, as I told Fluffy loudly, was the second Scunthorpe goal I've seen at Glanford Park this season - it also represented an unheard-of transition from losing to winning.

Fluffy went to her betting site and tried to decide whether to lay off the bed or gamble that the score would remain 2-1. As the site loaded, Karl Hawley bore down on the Crawley goal. His eventual shot cleared the crossbar, but I teased Fluffy about the possibility of losing her bet in that way. She declared herself perfectly willing to take the chance in pursuit of a bigger win, and put her phone away.

We slackened off a bit as the minutes ebbed away, and Crawley began to press. Sam Slocombe was solid in goal, but my heart was in my mouth all the same. If Fluffy lost her bet because we won 3-1, that would be mildly amusing; if Crawley scored the spoiling goal, I would be too miserable to laugh. But we kept out whatever they threw at us, and were looking after the ball in our own half when the final whistle blew. I went down to the front wall to applaud, hoping Sparrow would look our way. He applauded us briefly, looking rather downcast, and got a hug from his former teammate Vladimir Mirfin. Then he was gone, leaving us to celebrate another three valuable points.

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