Combe On You Dons

What’s this? A win? Away? And scoring goals too? Bloody hell, no wonder it’s quiet this afternoon, people are just being released from A&E after getting taken in for shock.

Hell, even Papa John’s are having to look up where we are because they’d forgotten we exist.

Your editor could have been there if the referee had called off Bournemouth v Burton an hour earlier, but purely to spite me he didn’t. Still, I’m glad he got a little bit of enjoyment out of his otherwise miserable little existence. Bet he caught his wife shagging the local plasterer when he got back home.

No, I’m not bitter. Much. Secret Agent got there though, and he’s mighty glad he did…

Wycombe 0 Whackem 3

All that rain and wind, gnashing of teeth and wailing that the game won’t be on because it’s tipping down in my mate’s garden in Flackwell. Should I go or should I stay said some. Well, those who chose the latter made a poor choice.

This was a return game from early in the season when we were full of hope after an unbeaten start. A fairly comfortable if slightly nervy 1-0 win and a few suggesting that WW would have a difficult season.

Before the game they sat a point behind us with a game in hand courtesy of two recent postponements. With our recent poor run of results this was a match that could have gone either way.

It didn’t.

After our customary “bend but don’t break” strategy in the first 20 minutes, we did start to look to play a bit. WW were causing few problems but did have some pace up front, if not much height/bulk to trouble our back three. Halftime came and went with no real scares and no rain.

After the break, we started to play the ball around a bit with Sammy Moore’s array of sideways passing catching the eye and giving the ball wide to Fuller and Fenlon (as wing backs no less) in decent space.

As the game wore on it seemed only a matter of time before Newbloke Wyke made a telling contribution and he duly obliged from a cross to the back post which he headed down hard and into the ground before going over the keeper and in off the bar.

Slow motion in real time!

Cue delirium from the gathered Womble hordes behind that goal and immediate hero status for Charlie III. The game opened up after that as WW tried to get back into the game but to be truthful, they didn’t look like scoring despite parity on the corner count.

With fifteen minutes left, another cross from the right and Wyke does well to control and play the ball to Sammy Moore who cleverly adjusts his feet to get his shot in forwards past Ingram.

Game over and the usual exhultations from the scorer who is mobbed by his teammates. A few minutes later, Wyke gets a deserved rest and makes way for KSL who wastes no time in running fast at the tiring defence. with seven minutes to go, a through ball to the substitute takes him into the box where he is confronted by the keeper and chased by three defenders.

Result? Penalty and a second yellow for Stewart (though the ref could have booked all three defenders!). Time for a bit of seasonal cheer as the forgotten man of the Dons attack steps up to take the penalty and sends Ingram the wrong way 3-0 and game over.

Just enough time though for Jim Fenlon to get a straight red for a bit of a lunge at one of their delicate players. TV replays are inconclusive, but it looked pretty nasty from my vantage point. No complaints from the player or the manager so a three game rest for young Jim to ensue and a smile on Callum Kennedy’s face – maybe.

Plus points: A win (much needed). A second good performance on the spin. A clean sheet. A superb pitch. Good support from the Dons who made the trip.

Minus points: Red card for Jim Fenlon. Challenge was unnecessary at the stage of the game. Those who chose to stay at home/go shopping, have a five knuckle shuffle. Fools. Peter Sweeney’s broken toe. 6-8 weeks out for him. The cupboard looks bare in centre midfield now.

New player report: Charlie III is described as a “proper centre-forward” by Ards. One thing is for sure, he works hard and gets into good positions. He isn’t (on this showing at least) a new Michael Smith. He is a slightly different player. Time will tell if it works as well in the next few weeks.

The referee’s a …..: The fifth time he has reffed one of our FL games apparently and the first time we have won (four defeats prior to this game). Made a few strange decisions, but after a 3-0 win away from home it seems churlish to criticise the man.

Point to consider: Jack Midson. Described by NA as “phenomenal” in the press yesterday. After the game, the manager and his number 10 shared a man hug on the pitch and exchanged a few words at the same time.

Could this be the resurrection for our leading scorer from the past seasons? Harry Pell joining in with “he scores with his left, he scores with his right…” after the penalty went in. Classic.

Was it worth it? Sometimes after a nice drive to the environs of the ground, a very pleasant lunch, good company and free parking two minutes away, the game can be a bit of a sideshow (especially after a recent poor run). Yesterday was a bit like that until after halftime.

In a nutshell: For once we got what we deserved. We were on the right side of the margins.

There seems to be an unwritten rule in football that at some point, a team who has an inability to score goals but isn’t totally useless in trying to get them ends up gubbing somebody eventually.

Yesterday was clearly that for us. We needed this, and not in a hyperbolic way either – we absolutely had to have a result and performance like this sooner rather than later.

This week ahead becomes a lot easier, doesn’t it? No more bellyaching about being impotent up front, and no more heightened panic about looking at the wrong end of the table. Not to mention that the post-victory glow is one we haven’t had too often recently. When was our last win? Pompey?

I suppose we came out of our sticky spell with a couple of points on the board, so while it felt like the waves of doom were impending, we were still declining along while not actually freefalling. Though that of course can be just as damaging.

I shudder to think how the pantomime dames amongst our support would have handled us not winning yesterday. Their (oversized) frilly knickers get twisted at the best of times, although maybe they would have worn themselves out after their post-Daggers shrieking?

Still, our main problem was (is?) putting the ball in the back of the net. With the exception of Brizzle Rovers away, we haven’t really had too many breaches of our back line, so at least we don’t have to worry about that too much for the moment.

Yesterday though, it seemed the freshening up front worked. Wyke obviously knows where the net is, although scoring goals on your debut isn’t necessarily a good thing – ask Nathan Elder.

But already, people sense the change. You would hope the players do too – NA certainly does, and it was fair to say he was starting to feel the pressure of not winning for so long.

I did find his comment about referring to more leadership books amusing. I don’t know if our boss goes Stateside for his holidays, but in just about ever US airport bookstore, there’s usually a whole section on books with names like “Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values and Defining Moments Shape Leaders”.

And no, I am not making that title up.

But he too can have an easier time of it this week ahead, and we don’t have the grind of the Xmas/New Year period any longer. It’s a good job we came out of it a little bit battered but once again heading in the right direction, because imagine being Wycombe right now.

One thing about Wyke that we also found out in the last couple of days was that apparently we tried to sign him in the summer but he was injured. Who we got instead of him (Sheringham or Smith), we’ll never know, although that does put a bit more credence on the thought we’ll be wanting him to stay beyond this month.

Much of the attention today has focused on our very own Lazarus of Bethany, one Mr J Midson. Guess he can play 90 minutes after all 😉 To be honest, I think it’s simply a case of having our new boy playing making a round-peg-in-just-a-round-a-hole for him.

It would of course be churlish to suggest all he had to do was score a penalty 😉 While it’s clear he didn’t help his cause earlier this season, he was a bit of a victim of circumstance with Smith being the player (singular) who was regularly scoring.

Whether we’ll still be hoping that Charlton lend back our top scorer, we don’t know. One may feel that ship has sailed already. At the very least, we can now also start thinking about who else we need to come in, and where. Fenlon obviously had a bit of a rush of blood, and Sweeney must think it’s last season all over again.

But we have bought ourselves a little bit of time and, just as importantly, thinking space.

It’s pretty obvious there’ll be more incomers, as we’re clearing the beds for a few new arrivals – literally. OK, the headline doesn’t quite match the story, and it’s not the first time we’ve ever asked for lodgings, but at least we’ve got an idea of what to expect in the coming months.

Of course, whether it’s a good idea to let the players loose with some of our supporters remains to be seen, especially some of the more unhinged ones. And not to mention the more “accomodating” types…

One thought to “Combe On You Dons”

  1. What an enjoyable afternoon! What a pleasure to watch the Dons after some of the recent insipid lower mid-table dross we’ve served up. This was also my first away game of the season . . . so maybe I’m the lucky charm!

    Defence – I missed both home games over Christmas and therefore this was my first viewing of NA’s new 3-5-2 formation. I think he should be given a lot of credit for changing from what was becoming a stifling boring 4-4-2 / 4-5-1. Will Antwi was a revelation to me, him and Benno seemed to work very closely. Potentially the concern was that Frampton playing on the left of the 3, was left isolated a few times, especially in the first half. This was where most of their dangerous play came from. Fuller and Fenlon both did pretty well creating width and passing options.

    The big change in defence was the long clearances, virtually none of the playing out from the back we see in home games. Is this a new policy or is this how away games have been played all season? So many times at home we’ve drawn teams onto us by always trying to play out of defence rather than mixing it up. Both Jack and Charlie won a lot of headers from this. The crucial thing was though this pushed Wycombe back – Holdsworth complained afterwards about how deep they played.

    Midfield – Thank god Harry’s back! Especially in the second half they looked much more relaxed and there were some great flowing movements. Even Sammy’s sideways passes were now sideways that opened up the game. Since Pompey his passes have been to merely retain possession, on Saturday they were incisive. Luke Moore hurried around, but sorry, I’m still not quite sure what he adds.

    Attack – Jack, Jack, Jack. He played like a man possessed, he was everywhere, winning tackles and headers. He showed a real enthusiasm that was great to see. He also showed the other side to his game that we’ve seen all too much of, he never seemed to get into a goal-scoring position. His penalty was very calm (although if the keeper had gone the right way he would have saved easily!) but he didn’t look like scoring from open play. Charlie Wyke played well and was larger than a normal NA forward. He got his goal but worryingly he missed the one clear chance he had. More worryingly he’s only here for a month – what’s that all about, why not until the end of the season?

    KSL came on and again just ran at their defence with pace. Surely he’s now fully recovered and should be playing a full match? As a thought, why not play him through the middle to run past Wyke? This would really stretch defences leaving room in front for our midfield.

    Fear went through the fans when Sherringham was seen warming up without his tracksuit bottoms on. Fortunately NA didn’t go for this option. It was a real shame that Chris Arthur didn’t get on as he clearly needs match time to regain fitness.

    All in all, a great day. Better than Pompey when we were hanging on in spells. On Saturday, even during the first half, despite some dangerous looking cross to the far post they never really looked like scoring.

    You were a bit snide about NA and his books. I think he did a great job picking the team up after the recent run, and particularly at half time, really instilling some confidence. They were unrecognisable from the Nov/Dec team.

    Happy New Year to you REPD.

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