(Spi)Rite Aid


Some of it was a little bit crap. Some of it was more than a little bit crap. But like you give a fuck right now…

I suppose it would be a bit too hyperbolic to suggest Benson and Hedges 2 Chesterfields 1 was a must-win game, but boy, we really needed this victory.

The end of the game wasn’t just treated with a buzz of jubilation, although there was a fair bit of that, but more like relief that we’ve finally got over that hurdle.

This was almost a game of two halves, and the first 45 minutes in particular was horrible. We looked about half a yard off the pace physically, a further yard mentally, and there was just something wrong with everything.

Passes went astray. Nobody could do much when they didn’t. And as for their goal…

I’ll mention it a bit later, but you get the feeling Clarke, Charles and Robbo don’t do much communicating with each other. Not without bawling each other out, anyway.

By now, you’ll be thinking that we came out guns a-blazing in the second half, after much “discussion” in the dressing room. In truth, we looked just as flat footed at the start of the second period as much as we did in the first.

Which is why we can be thankful we scored when we did.

Your editor would be lying if I was to say we finally clicked into gear. We didn’t, not like we did against Scunny anyway. What we did do though was show more bravery than we have done.

To his credit, NA changed things, and quite simply Poleon needs to start. Chesterfield couldn’t handle him. But it’s worth remembering they hit the post and forced Clarke into a good reflex save.

And finally, for once this season, we were the ones who got the strike in injury time. No, it won’t bury the memories of Peterborough or Rochdale, but by fuck it’s made this weekend a lot nicer.

Decent strike, too. Actually, I’d like to see it again on the replay because it looked pretty good from the editor’s vantage point (see photo).

We deserved it simply for having a go. Which is something one feels we haven’t done too often this campaign – many at Rochdale said that we went ahead then tried to keep it at 1-0 for 80+ minutes.

Will this finally kickstart us? Hard to say, really, because there’s still issues with the back line, and Poleon became the first of our recognised strikers to score this season in the league from open play.

What I hope we do take on board this upcoming week is how good winning is. A couple may liken today to Newport away last season, when we finally realised what we were throwing away.

I don’t think it’s quite as dramatic as that, but another loss today would have soured a few more moods. A draw would have sufficed, but it would still have made that first win ever more elusive.

But we can look at it, and the rather nicer looking league table, and think we might be able to do something in this division after all…

Shall we?

Plus points: We won. Most of the second half. Poleon. Barnett getting kudos. Keeping going. Starting to get better.

Minus points: The first half. Their goal.

The referee’s a…: Was it him or the lino who got replaced in the second half late on? Nothing special, whoever he was, although he did seem a little quick to book one or two of our players.

Them: Like Scunthorpe, they gave us the runaround in the first half. Unlike Scunthorpe, they only got one goal and we made them pay for it.

I guess they’ll be like a lot of sides this season, namely just that bit quicker in the beginning but will need to have more sharpness. They’re good, but perhaps not as good as we convince ourselves they are.

Got rattled a bit when we pressed down at them, certainly.

As for the certain Mr C Evans. There was a feeling that it was going to go a bit “spot the stiff”** with the abuse aimed at him, which is why I’m so glad he didn’t score.

** – an old Punt/Dennis skit, which you can watch below. Seriously, you’ll never look at a war film in the same way again:

I did see that him and Clarke had a laugh about something during the game, which may give his detractors yet another reason to hate him.

Speaking of which…

Point to ponder: What is the issue with Clarke, Charles and Robbo? Do they not get on or something? Have they forgotten to have some sort of bonding session with alcohol and whatever else one needs for a good night out with your fellow man?

Last week it was Robbo getting in the way from a corner, and today it was Charles, who managed to put it in the net himself this time. And they’re not isolated instances either.

OK, Clarke has a couple of moments that put you on edge each game, and to put it mildly – many still are unsure about him.

But I don’t think it’s all his fault. Charles was pretty shit today, and he and Robbo haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory thus far themselves.

Which may explain why Chris Robertson was our (belated) deadline day signing. I note NA’s comment about “fighting for his place”, but one has to think whether he’s just aiming that at our newbie.

If you read back at some SW19 reports from earlier last month, mention was made about getting that final defender in, and you may now freely blow the editor’s trumpet for him 😉

Robertson may not be the missing piece to the jigsaw, but we still needed something, especially if Nightingale is going down the pecking order.

We still need to remember that we’re against better forward lines now, and there was a bit of crack-papering towards the end of last season too at the back.

There’s another week sin juego which may give us extra time to get everyone – somehow – on the same page. Even if it’s just locking those three in a room all week and only letting them out when the smell starts getting too bad…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Anyone see Poleon and their #24 having a laugh and a joke whilst both were warming up? 2) Seemed to be a lot of people today – many were being shunted around the side at least ten minutes in. 3) We are unbeaten in three games with five points. Hard to think that judging by some of the reactions recently.

Anything else? With the comments about Robbo just now, I wonder if it’s starting to be a division too far for some other popular stalwarts.

I didn’t hear that Bulman was playing, though apparently he was, and while his decline would be a shame – unfortunately, League One was always going to cause some casualties.

We’re fortunate that we’ve got Poleon coming through, Barnett is getting better (he got MOTM today), and Elliott can make a contribution, because Taylor is looking off form right now.

Confidence is something that affects all strikers, of course, although with a new deal now signed he needs to start firing again. Because he got subbed today, and that’s something that would have raised eyebrows last season.

I’ll leave the midfield to others, but now we’ve worked out more what League One is about, we’re not as naive as we were against Walsall.

Or at least, we shouldn’t be…

So, was it worth it? Indeedy.

In a nutshell: Above Coventry and Sheffield United for now. And only a couple of points behind Franchise…..

7 thoughts to “(Spi)Rite Aid”

  1. Unfair to say Robbo and Darius were shit. CBs need players in front to keep possession for some of the game (at least), we couldn’t do that for shit today, and they were backed by a keeper that looked stranded for most set plays. They only looked like scoring from deadballs. Welcome back John Meades. And well done NA for the brave subs, changed the game and got us the win. Poleon has potential. Let’s keep 2 up front.

  2. Great win and very much needed. On the subject of defenders…Every time I’ve seen Will Nightingale play he looks like he is going to be the real deal. Yes he is young, yes he is inexperienced but so is/was John Stones. I’d rather we get Will in there to see what he can do and to give the older heads a kick up the B-side. I would hate for him to go out on loan as he looks better than conference level and it won’t do him any favours. What with the new defender we’ve signed it pushes him down the pecking order which is a shame. Basically drop Charles and put in Will in for a few games.. See what happens.

  3. Personally, thought we stayed in the dressing room for first 50 mins then something ‘different’ happened (bad tackle? ) which sparked us to life. Parret for George @h/t as he was struggling to get in the game. Thought whole team was too strung out over the park with isolated front 2.
    Taylor needs to move to the ball, and make tackles or adopt speed of foot as he’s not getting stuck in enough.
    I’m thinking NA’s gameplan is get to 70m even then go for the win.
    Perfect summary Rob of the feelings in those first 2 paras.
    It is a mental hurdle overcome so hopefully we can push on…
    5 pts in 6 games just under worst case scenario for me but we know we’ve lost a few pts; like we stole…

  4. I think we really needed that win, no matter how we got it.

    I can’t help think that this season is going to be hard work. I can’t help but feel that the difference between staying up and relegation will be the ability to put a couple a result runs together.

    It will take a while for NA to work out the new squad and the pecking order etc and I think he’s probably go the best squad out of his available budget. Whilst I am glad he largely stayed loyal to the veterans who helped us get promoted I guess it was always likely it would be a season too far for some. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Will getting a good run at CB at some stage in the season so he’ll get his chance to shine…

  5. Is Ardley loyal or dogmatic? Clark lacks confidence so do you stick with him or give Shea a chance? I know Francomb put in the corner for our first but otherwise his corners and free kicks are dreadful. He is still weak on the ball so cannot see he earns his place. We can’t keep doing the same thing for 70 minutes and then making the obvious changes for a thrilling fightback. How was Barnett was Mom, thought he was awful and Taylor was such a diver. We could all see we needed Tom, Parrett and Poleon from about 15 minutes in, why can’t the management? Meades had tough time but never gave up, Bully so far off the pace has to be rested. Barcham ran his socks off, so far one of our best…

  6. Barcham gives you a good 10 minutes and then the opposition work out he has a trick rather than pace so they double mark him down to the corner and the second defender can nick the ball off him. I’d much prefer him as an impact sub. On the other hand he is about the only player who ever gets to the byline to cross, the long diagonal crosses are easy for opposing defenders.

  7. We have to support Clarke, not least because we can’t replace him for a while, but he has one particular problem. Unlike Roos he doesn’t command his area. In fact he is rooted to the spot when crosses or corners are whipped in and that has cost us at least two goals this season. This is not good for a centre half – you need to know when the keeper is likely to come for the ball, so I can understand why Darius and Robbo get onto him. As it happens I thought Robinson had a much better game on Saturday and Charles’s only major error was the goal. Bulman, on the other hand, is rightly identified as well off the pace and Francomb did little. Parrett should be starting, as should Poleon.

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