At least we’re in the fourth round hat tomorrow…
Not for the first time, I end up elsewhere in the South East and I come back thinking I’ve got a better deal than those who went.
This time, it’s the little matter of the FA Cup third round. STTA got a ticket, though only he can answer whether it was worth the aggro…
Two ways of looking at our trip to Gander Green Lane, a banana skin avoided or another shit performance. I would have taken a draw walking through Collingwood Rec so I guess I’m in the happy camp.
One thing is for sure if Sutton’s finishing hadn’t been so non-league we’d be finding something else to do at 7pm on Monday.
Because they had the best 3 chances in this game. Fatty Tubbs had the perfect opportunity to silence the Womble masses as he was put through early on but he sliced the chance wide.
Another through ball gave Maxime Biamou an even better chance, he raced away from Bully, Jimmy fell over coming out … but the Sutton man still couldn’t find our net.
Our main threat in the first half came down the left side with Andy Barcham looking a bit too quick for their right-back. We didn’t get the ball out to him often enough but it’s definitely an area we’ll look to exploit in the replay.
No doubt Sutton were making it difficult, they had more energy, more desire and they were savvy in how they played the officials. As the second half got underway it felt worrying like an upset might be on the cards.
And their opportunity to win the game arrived on the hour mark as Biamou again went through, this time he hit the target but Jimmy got down well to palm it away.
Our number 1 has been in very good form the last month or two, which is handy given his ever increasing workload. I don’t think he got enough credit for the save against Millwall, the shot that deflected off Robbo was one of the best stops I have seen at our place.
The one from Biamou yesterday was not in that league but equally important in avoiding defeat.
As Sutton tired we enjoyed our best spell late in the game. Robbo had a half-chance from a corner, Tom nearly got on the end a Barcham cross and we had a decent penalty appeal turned down after a clumsy challenge on Fuller.
We never really looked like scoring though and when you’re regularly firing blanks 0-0 isn’t such a bad result.
Plus points: nobody died on that pitch. We should win the replay. Darius. Jimmy.
Minus points: when did we last score away from home, when did we last look like scoring away from home.
The referee’s a…: card happy wanker. Thought they played him better than us.
Them: Reminded me of being back in League 2, they pushed and shoved, pressed and harried and put in one or two enthusiastic challenges.
To be fair they did their job of giving us an uncomfortable afternoon very well. Their defence was very well organized, they showed great energy and commitment to try and win the game and easily bridged the gap in talent with their effort.
Anything else: bit of a crap atmosphere wasn’t it. Not the easiest ground to make much noise but I expected a bit more given it was a ‘local derby’. An occasional squeaky horn from them and not-a-lot from us (maybe because we were spread over half the ground).
So we’ve definitely lost our mojo and I’m not sure it’s coming back any time soon. I expect us to beat Sutton comfortably in the replay, we may even get a plum draw in round 4 but I think we’ll struggle to win another league game in January.
It’s becoming clear to most of us that we do need to freshen things up in the window and top of our shopping list should be a right sided midfielder/winger.
To be blunt Francomb isn’t good enough, Whelpdale isn’t fit enough and Parrett isn’t a wide man.
Our other problem is energy, can we afford to have Fuller, Robinson and Bulman in the same team for part 2 of the season? Robertson did well when Darius was injured and he can play right back, this gives us options to rotate our ageing players and see how we do with our average age down by a year or three.
Meades was decent in centre midfield last week, I like the physicality he adds in the middle and his lack of pace isn’t the same problem it is at left back.
Is he Bully’s replacement next season? And if he is would now be a good time to bring in another full back?
Seth Owens needs at least another year with the under 21’s and although I’ve been impressed with Sean Kelly in recent weeks I’m not convinced he’s good enough to be our regular left-back.
And will we need to replace anyone leaving Kingsmeadow? I’ve heard rumours that Lyle is attracting attention, Ian Holloway is a big fan and a bid from QPR would be hard for player and club to turn down.
I’m equally concerned about Tom Elliot, easily our most-improved player in 2016 and arguably our best forward. As I left our last home game I walked past two Millwall fans discussing how they’d love to sign him, I doubt they’re the only ones.
And finally this week a word for Mr. Ardley. Whether intended or not Neal’s managed to piss off some of our fans again with another ‘you don’t understand football’ comment.
You may remember he’s done this before saying something along the lines of ‘if you’ve never played football at a decent level you really know fuck all about the game’.
This time he said ‘if you don’t think that’s a good result on this pitch you don’t understand the game’. These comments may have been taken the wrong way but nevertheless they have offended.
Not many of our fans played Premier League, few have UEFA coaching badges but they all recognise a team that’s playing well from a team that’s struggling.
So while your team is going through a difficult period be careful what you say, because if our slump continues you may need that support in the coming weeks.
So, was it worth it? I’ll take not losing for now.
In a nutshell: We’re in the hat
Those who missed out on the ballot can obviously feel happier this Sunday.
It doesn’t sound very good, it has to be said, to struggle to put any efforts on target against a side two divisions lower than yourselves.
I wonder if we’re starting to regress to the AFCW we were in the first couple of seasons under NA? Namely a lot of nothing, not shit enough to go down but getting into a bit of a rut and staying there.
Following it on Twatter and occasional comments elsewhere, it appears we rode our luck a couple of times, and our game plan was to pounce when they were tiring.
Which is all very well – it worked at Curzon – but shouldn’t we be a bit better than that? In terms of both talent and ambition, that is.
OK, we’re not used to a 3G pitch. And Sutton’s home form in the Conference this season (and their results on the road) proves they have an advantage over most teams at GGL.
But for fuck’s sake, we’re in League One. We seem to be intent on stumbling to the fourth round, and the last time we got this far in the FAC the second half of the season was wank.
Mind you, if playing like we did yesterday was a once-off because it was the FAC, I’d happily accept the second chance we’ve got. We all know it isn’t, though…
And that makes NA’s comments just a little bit harder to swallow. Apparently, David “Stuck In First Gear” Pleat had a bit of a pop at our manager afterwards for saying it, and tellingly only the usual arselickers seem to be supporting him this morning.
One wonders if Ardley is feeling just a little bit of pressure over our away form right now? What is it – no goals in about nine hours or something? I’ll go and check…
*cue furious tapping and low-level muttering*
OK, I’ve just had a look at our recent results away from KM. Our goalscoring is bad, but I didn’t realise how shockingly awful it is – nothing in the League since Peterborough away.
And that was on the 22nd October.
We’re lucky that our home form is bailing us out, because otherwise we would be looking at a return to League Two. That’s not scaremongering either.
Why is it so poor at the moment? Have we been sussed out? Have we run ourselves into the ground and we just can’t seem to recover?
Shouldn’t we use Sutton – no disrespect, like – as a springboard rather than simply more of the uninspiring same?
Whatever the problem is, it doesn’t look likely to be solved anytime soon. At least, not without another good run of form or just a bit of freshening up.
Perhaps now wouldn’t be a bad time to blood some youngsters after all? If only to break the monotony of yet another game sans cutting edge.
If they prove to be ineffective, then so be it. At least we’ll be trying something different, because it’s hard not to think right now that we can only do more of the same.
One wonders if the players know that as well. It seems to be going on for a long time, at least since the Franchise game which was a month ago, and probably before that too.
Still, we’re not out of the cup, and maybe realising that will spark just that tinsy winsy bit of life back into things. We live in hope, anyway.
Oh, and one final thing – the FA Yoof Cup game is on Tuesday. It would be far too snarky of me to suggest that they could show the first team a thing or two…