Jets went to the dizzy heights of fourth after this excellent win over promoted Crawley Green, and they had to work every last minute of the match to get the points, in a match tweeted by a neutral ground hopper as a ‘credit to the SSML’.
Jets had the return of long serving goal scorer Lee Armitt into the ranks following London Colney’s sporting gesture to waive the 7 Days transfer wait and Lee Stedman threw him straight into the fold as Jets needed an out and out striker to add to the front line with present goal machine Adam Lowton.
It was Armitt’s best mate Lowts who added to his early season tally within a minute as he just flicked on Josh Noyes cross into the side of the net to put Jets in a first attack lead 1-0 (1 min).
The game was a real battle and the two teams had total contrast as Crawley favoured the direct approach to their outstanding skilful front man, while Jets favoured the touch play amongst the team playing through the middle when Inch, Noyes and Stevens where comfortable on the ball.
The half was edged by Jets on possession and the Crawley Green keeper made good saves to deny Lowton and Armitt on more than one occasion, but saying that only a top draw save by Rob Partington preserved Jets lead at the interval.
Half time Jets 1 Crawley Green 0
The second half was the opposite as the visitors pushed an extra man forward and it was they who were enjoying the possession and Jets were defending and playing the counter. Jets defence was outstanding and rarely was Partington needed but when he was it was dealt with fully and professionally.
With twenty minutes to go someone lit the blue touch paper and it become a fire cracker with both sides going all out attack and to hell with the consequences. Three times the Crawley Green keeper saved from Armitt frustrating the striker desperate for a goal return to his home club, one an astonishing grab after Armitt had rounded him, while at the other end the back four of Thompson, Bell, Hariely and Collins were doing perfect last gasp tackles to hold the lead. After one warning too many the referee cautioned Collins rightly but like buses that are nowhere to be seen then they all come along and the referee seemingly lost all concept of how well he had done without his cards and went mad on it showing four more to two sides who had hardly done a thing wrong in the exceptional contact sport battle.
Anyway back to the people who matter, the players, providing the game the spectators pay to watch. Rob Partington did a great save and Jets immediate counter was to lead to a goalmouth scramble that Lowton and Wells both were denied in good scoring chances, then the big break as a defensive error, almost the first of the game, saw the ball bounce loose and like a flash Lee Armitt was on hand to drive home a power drive 2-0 (79 mins).
Two minutes later Jets got a bolt on penalty but the chance to kill things off went astray as Adam Lowton’s kick was saved, and the price was paid immediately as Crawley Green swung straight upfield and notched 2-1 (83 mins).
Now it was a boxing match with both sides exchanging blows, not that type but slug for slug chance for chance it was truly stunning and exciting to watch. Lee Armitt was brought down and it even now amazes me how it was not given, this time with a lino looking straight at it, and within seconds a free-kick at the other end led to a big shout from the other bench for the same outcome.
The game never felt over and it was really go for broke both ways and it was Jets who sprung it when, with the visitors pushed up looking to save the game, Martin Netzer made a superb mazey run that was completed with a perfect slide rule pass to Luke Wells who slotted perfectly for the match. 3-1 (90+3 mins).
This really was a credit to the two sides.
The Carlsberg man of the match for Jets was contested, the back four almost faultless but within that four Brad Thompson, returning from suspension, was outstanding and took the final nod to get the sponsors bottle.
James Hall, Jets RAF fitness coach competed with Crawley Green’s RAF manager in the touch lines press up challenge proving what you can do we can do in this new era of fully competitive Jets.
Suddenly it’s nice to be at football again, but there is a long long way to go yet.