Yellows 1 Cheltenham 1

Even ITV, who have never let the facts get in the way of ratings, chose not to jump on the romance of ‘ickle non-league Crawley and their march into the 5th Round of the FA Cup. Foregoing the opportunity to make hay with the old ‘magic of the cup’, the post match analysis of Crawley’s victory over Torquay focussed instead on the nasty, intimidating tactics of Evans and his knuckle-dragging ilk.

It’s good to see Dannie ‘2010 Oxblogger Player of the Year’ Bulman and Jamie ‘The True Carrier of Hope’ Cook succeeding. But Crawley’s gaudy excesses and roughhousing will serve to bite them on the arse eventually.

Our ascent from the Conference came from Chris Wilder’s ability to use our assets to our advantage. We were able to use our comparatively abundant resources to put together a squad that could pressure and overwhelm almost all opponents: The Machine. Crawley are using their oddly-found riches to do something similar. Albeit ethically and morally, I think we’ve done it the right way – if that counts for anything.

But that approach doesn’t work in the Football League and we’ve had to adapt. We’ve become subtler and more patient. Nobody is going to be overwhelmed by direct pace and power at this level. Guile is needed and we’re passing the ball with confidence and utilising the whole pitch. Barcelona-esque is kind of pushing it, but we’re feeding from the same philosophical pool. A very English, lower league, tippy tappy.

OK, we couldn’t quite complete the job against Cheltenham, but we destroyed Bradford and Shrewsbury, it was expecting a lot to maintain this level of quality for three home games in a row.

There was endless hand-wringing about the loss of Creighton and Bulman but we’ve changed and for the better. You suspect that Steve Evans is incapable of such foresight or intelligence.

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