Cliffhanger

doverpsfjul16Yay, we’re back playing again…

I decided not to make (m)any notes on last night’s 4-3 defeat in darkest Kent, and the first “proper” report will come on Saturday/Sunday.

Hell, it’s my pre-season too.

Which is why I’m struggling a little bit to put a handle on this game. Our defence in the second half was painfully slow to react to, well, anything.

Poor James Shea got a few brickbats too (especially compared to Clarke, who looked quite dependable in his 45 minute runout), although you forget he’s “only” 25 – a mere whippersnapper for a keeper.

Then you remember that we’ve only been back in pre-season training for just over a week. And pisstaking about friendlies being about fitness aside, that might genuinely explain a lot.

When we were doing our pre-kick off training drills in the second half, we looked a bit slower doing them than we normally are.

It’s no wonder that Dover (who had played a couple of games before us) seemed sharper – if we played them at the end of July, I would bet we would win about 3-0.

NA wasn’t worried anyway, he sat in the main stand rather than on the bench.

So we’re probably not going to find out much until we start facing Daggers or Palace, although there’s plenty to work with (and on) before that.

Clarke looked solid in goal, Elliott and Barcham seemed more on the pace than Taylor did. We had a trialist at left back in the second half, Aaron Green, and if we keep him he’ll be a squad player.

We have two more players who know how to take penalties. Our strike force for Walsall is still likely to be Taylor and Elliott, with Poleon coming on.

There’s always one player who seems to miss the first couple of PSFs for some reason, and this year’s absentee is Darius Charles. He wasn’t there last night, so obviously suffering from a groin and/or rib injury caused by his missus picked up a knock.

The other new boys were a bit non-descript, though caveat lector and all that. As somebody put it last night, there’s not that much to worry about right now.

Still wish we didn’t lose 4-3 though.

Oh, and I hope that next season won’t be the campaign too far for both Fuller and Bulman, because they’re going to be sods to replace. You noticed it when they weren’t playing…

So, was it worth it? Not at £15 it wasn’t. Still, it was nice to be back on football watching duties, even if there was a slight feel that this game had been shoehorned in a bit.

Unsurprisingly there weren’t many of us who went last night – less than seventy, according to those counting – but people are saving their pennies for Saturday instead.

When we face Margate, that’s when the pre-season will feel like it’s kicked in. For the players as well – I don’t doubt the next few days for them will be a bit more, ahem, “focused”.

A couple of other things. It was a bit surreal standing on the same terrace where we had our first “proper” big game all those years ago.

By “all those years”, I mean twelve. The same season where we set the 76-game unbeaten record, for those keeping track. It seems eons ago, but actually it’s not. Even now.

Speaking of surreal, listening to French radio on this side of la Manche is always a little bonus for a failed multi-linguist like your editor. I did try and listen out for France Info FM’s report on the game, but I think I missed it when I went through a wooded area.

And finally, in non-AFCW related news – Akinfenwa is now at Wycombe, where their merchandise team is using him much in the same way as ours did initially too.

It didn’t quite go as planned for his debut in France yesterday, as he managed to get sent off in a friendly. Maybe somebody questioned the quality of his BMO t-shirt…