Already, the horror show that was March seems a distant memory…
So, back in the playoff hunt after all then? Oddly enough, Wycombe was that kind of game where you maybe shouldn’t have been surprised at us winning.
You know where I was on Saturday. Fortunately, the ever-reliable STTA was at Adams Park…
Performance of the season? Probably not. But most satisfying result of the season – definitely.
Tom Elliot was restored to the starting XI as we set up in 4-3-3 formation. Andy Barcham took up a place on the bench.
We were lively from the start and took the lead 12 minutes in. Tom Elliot broke into the box and was upended by Allsop, before Brendan Malone could make a decision the ball had deflected to Lyle and he buried it into an empty net. 1-0 Dons.
We didn’t sit on the lead either, we pressed Wycombe hard and should have gone further ahead. The two best chances to extend our lead fell to Rhys Murphy, the first came back off the bar and the second he blazed over.
Mr. Malone had to hobble off injured shortly after our goal, he was replaced by linesman Alan Young who spent the next 70 odd minutes showing everybody why he holds a flag rather than a whistle. Yes this was Trevor Kettle bad and worse.
The early stages of the second half saw The Dons continue to dominate possession then out of the blue Wycombe equalized.
A hopeful ball into our box on 57 minutes saw Robbo’s clearance hit Bully, the ball fell to Michael Harriman and his shot from the edge of the box found it’s way through Barry’s legs and into the bottom corner. 1-1.
Wycombe were only level for 8 minutes as Dannie Bulman played a great through ball to Murphy, Rhys spun his defender and was brought down as he shaped to finish. Mr. Young pointed to the spot in a rare correct decision.
Penalties haven’t been great for us this season, pretty sure we’ve missed more than we’ve scored but that didn’t bother Lyle. He calmly slotted the spot-kick past Allsop and then wished him the best for the remainder of the game. 2-1 Dons.
Wycombe never really threatened after that and if Francomb or Azeez had shown a little more composure we’d have run out 3 or 4-1 winners.
Plus points: Darius & Robbo in partnership, decent for this level. Tom Elliot. Lyle back on the scoresheet. Allsop attempting to wind us up then going rather quiet.
Minus points: watching Wycombe.
The referee’s a…: where do I start? What summed him up was the refusal to let Azeez back on the pitch like some petty point scoring exercise in a row with his wife, ‘bugger the rules I’m winning this one’.
Them: GA was baffled at the criticism, really? Study oppo fans forums after every game Gareth, hatred for your style of play unites supporters of the other 23 clubs in the league. I genuinely feel sorry for their fans that he’s signed another 4-year deal at Adams Park.
Where now for us? Some real passion from the boys when they came over to the away end, they knew this was a massive game and they produced. I was wondering whether the team and the manager still genuinely believed we could make top 7, on this evidence maybe they do.
Our energy had returned, we picked our form players, they knew their jobs and there was a purpose about our play that was missing in Hatlepool. We need to stick to what we’re good at from here in and that means Tom Elliot starting the remaining 7 games.
Plymouth away next week is another tough one but I fancy us to do well. Like Adams Park our trips down to Home Park have produced a reasonable return. If we turn in another performance like this I can see us coming away with a result.
After how poor we were at Morecambe and Hartlepool, I wonder if this was the performance that we were due to have for the called-off Pompey game?
We’ve never been a bad side, even in the pre-Stevenage Bad Old Days™, and these sort of games remind me of those Southend/Plymouth fixtures from the past, where once in a while we turned up and justified ourselves.
The reaction afterwards on the tough crowd that is social media was very telling, as it was universally accepted this was a great performance.
In some ways it had to be, the lukewarm response to it beforehand, where many were effectively writing off our playoff hopes, was telling.
Today? It’s all back on again. The league table now looks a lot tighter, and in our favour in terms of games played (though obviously, points are better on the board).
And it just proves that it takes just one weekend of (un)favourable results to change things dramatically.
OK, perhaps “dramatically” is the wrong word, but it’s undeniable that anyone down to Cambridge in 12th can finish in the playoffs.
Maybe even Luton if they win their spare game and hit the bit of form at the right time, but games are now starting to run out. We can forget anyone catching Pompey, so it really is one spot to play for now.
So again, the can-we-do-it-will-we-do-it conundrum continues for another week at least. At least those who think** Taylor and Elliott are our best hope were proven correct 😉
** – 99% of us. Even if the one percent is the management team…
NA was understandably very happy, even if that picture makes him look like he’s just realised he needed the toilet ten seconds previously.
His three up front idea worked for once, and all accounts suggest this could have ended up 4-1 or more. And isn’t it nice that we finally have somebody who can take penalties?
I do have to wonder, given the way NA’s tenure with us has gone, whether we play better when the expectation is off us? His approach since our bad run has been, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.
Compare this to how we used to get the bigging up on the OS whenever we had two good results in a row, and it’s quite refreshing that we seem to have finally learned.
Perhaps the players themselves have a fair bit to do with that? People like Robbo especially have been around the block, and you can go through other squad members who have experienced playoff run-ins.
And if, like your editor, you think our improvement is a lot to do with the players appearing more “free” these days then you may not be entirely surprised…
Of course, before the giddyometer gets revved up again, we’re still ninth and still one of six sides who have legitimate claims for finishing seventh.
There’s still seven games left, which manages to be both a lot and surprisingly few (if that makes sense), and we still have to play Dagenham, Stevenage and Newport.
Performances like Saturday are never far away, but neither are the Hartlepool ones either. So if we just bear all that in mind, if we just take one game at a time, and if we simply just don’t expect anything – who knows…?
Just glow in a good performance and win. It’s been a while coming.
And those who read the last update might (but probably won’t) be wondering what your editor is thinking about results on Saturday.
Well, put it this way – never have I needed a set of games to go exactly the way they did over the weekend…
This was the first time I have ever formally dealt with Franchise, and it’s an experience I would never want to repeat any time soon.
Everything negative you could ever say about them applied, needless to say, and I still don’t understand how any of our supporters could ever watch them willingly.
But even if you are able to take out the emotion of the whole reason why they exist in the first place, and why there is a club called AFC Wimbledon, one thing becomes apparent.
Everything about them is inauthentic from top to bottom.
They had at least fifteen coaches, presumably all subsidised, but you know when you see similar for an FAC game featuring a non-league side with a mega tie? It felt like that.
When you see 50-year olds in their garb, you just know they were clearly supporting somebody else before 2002. Probably were supporting the same side even after that, until they got free tickets from Wankie.
And no, I didn’t see him in the flesh. I would have ignored him if I had.
They do have their “ultras”, who are as scripted as you would expect. They even sung “No One Likes Us” as though they were just doing it from a checklist than the heart.
Actually, that might not be entirely accurate to suggest that. Forget what we think about them, forget their plasticness or whatever else.
They have this aura of a siege mentality about them. Both with their support and the people employed by them.
OK, you get the usual bon mots from certain media that “they’re a great club”, but I get the impression that’s mostly lip service to avoid diplomatic rows.
It’s an unwritten rule that people in football don’t slag off teams and clubs in the way that us fans do, which is why we get nice (if probably insincere) comments as well.
Unfortunately there are a couple of things I’d love to put down on here but can’t, but your editor has heard enough stories over the years from, ahem, less biased sources that they’re not liked after all…
As for Karl Robinson, I got the impression he stays at Franchise because otherwise he’d get found out elsewhere. He gives it the jolly loveable Scouse rogue routine, a bit like somebody who tries and sells you a timeshare by complementing your tie.
Even when you’re not wearing one.
So all in all, I’m glad I don’t have to relive that again any time soon. It made me remember why I hate them, and it also made me realise that I just couldn’t go to the Wankiedome even as a fan, let alone a working journo type.
That was brought home to me yesterday, when I was doing the JPT final at Wembley. There, you saw proper fans of proper clubs, with genuine affection that you would never get from a 50 year old wearing a Franchise scarf.
Barnsley won their first trophy since 1912 yesterday (if you ignore the playoffs) and you could sense it meant something to everyone associated with them.
Deep down, they care. Deep down, Oxford cared about losing. If Franchise went down, I’m not sure they have enough of a soul to do likewise…