Another point

One day, we might even get a win. I said “might”…

So, Garden of England 2 Historic England 2. And don’t think I’ve forgotten to remind you of that. Even if you’re thinking it’s a waste of time, just do it anyway. You don’t want to be stuck at KM forever, right?

And speaking of stuck, we are very slowly getting out of this (largely self-imposed) rut we’ve been in. One we’ve been in since even before Curzon.

Like the game at Shrewsbury, we looked more comfortable and had a bit more fight to us. Unlike the game in Shropshire, we also came away from the game without losing.

True, they hit the post in the last minutes, and I’m not sure how many people would be on suicide watch this morning if it had gone in.

Your editor watched the goals back this morning, and it was a decent finish from Taylor to put us ahead. If anyone needs to start finding the net again, it’s him.

But to let that slip in about two minutes is bad enough. There’s a definite weak spot in our defence and our mentality, which was illustrated in graphic form by the way their player waltzed through at least three of our players.

As for their second goal, I’ve never seen James Shea run so quickly to the linesman as I’ve seen him run, well, ever. Was it a foul in the middle of the park for the buildup? Perhaps.

Were there a gazillion players offside? Very possibly, given the way we (and NA afterwards) reacted. But the way their scorer got so much space to shoot in the first place is nobody else’s fault.

The highlights showed how close we were to going 3-1 down, although for once it’s us who benefited from one of those turning points you get in games.

Barcham took his strike well, although we deserved that equaliser anyway. Being ex-Gills, he didn’t celebrate, so we made it up for that behind the goal…

I suppose the most important thing from last night was that we didn’t suffer defeat again. You can argue about whether our players have been bottle jobs this past couple of months.

But at least we have some fight in us again. Apparently, our psychologist is back, which might explain why we’ve got three draws in the last four games, when it could have been zero points.

Even if he isn’t, one is hoping – and perhaps suspecting – that the penny finally dropped that we’re close to being in a relegation battle.

We’re not too good to go down, but equally we’re good enough to get the victories needed at some stage. Walsall on Saturday wouldn’t be a bad time to start winning again…

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Came back. Feeling we could have done even better. Will Nightingale coming on.

Minus points: We didn’t win. Kelly. Only ahead for two minutes. Nearly let it slip at the end. Shite defending.

The referee’s a…: Darren Deadman. A referee whose surname matches his powers of observation during games. And yes, I know he reffed us at the Kassam…

Them: I can see why they’re won about one game in whatever it was, because they really didn’t like it when we came at them. Which is why it annoys me even now to see us let our 1-0 lead slip so easily.

Like us, they’ll probably stay up on the basis that there’s even more shit in this division than themselves. And it’s clear it’s not just us who needs some major rebuilding this summer.

Bit disorganised going in, people with tickets behind the goal getting shoved to the side, before the stewards realising that slightly more of us turned up than they’d thought.

Very quiet beforehand (where I thought it was almost like an ex-JPT fixture) and during the game too – I think you would have literally heard a pin drop at times.

Still, their PA guy tried hard to rally the masses, even if he did sound like somebody at a country fair doing comms for a biggest marrow contest.

Like the way he introduced Barcham as a former Gill. And also reading the scores elsewhere at the end and point out who else used to play at Priestfield…

Point to ponder: Isn’t some of our problem a case of us trying at times to be too clever? And more often than not failing?

I saw a few attempts at us being a bit fancy with our play, and either finding a) a Gillingham player, or b) anywhere other than the intended target.

We let the first goal in at Shrewsbury because one of our midfielders thought he could stop, check to see who to pass to, and forgot that there were opposition players on the field.

And last night, especially in injury time, we got the ball then managed to lose it soon afterwards. And we wonder why we let in so many late goals this season.

It’s ironic I’m writing this, considering at other times our tactic (singular) is just a punt upfield. And a hopeful one at that.

So, what to do? I think for the rest of the season, we should go back to basics and just do the simple things well. That’s how we scored twice last night, and not for the first time – we’re a lot more effective as a result.

L1 may not be the football equivalent of Brutalist architecture, like L2 was. But it’s still a division that isn’t for fancy dan stuff.

The other problem with all this is that more often than not, we go behind and as we know, you can’t do that too often without seeing the heads and confidence drop.

Part of the problem, and it’s not just an AFCW thing, is that too many coaches now think they should ape Barcelona instead of concentrating on the skills their players are actually good at.

In trying to get rid of the alehouse tactics approach, they’ve forgotten that simple and effective passes, crosses into the box and whatnot scare the shit out of defenders.

The most successful teams in future will be the ones who realise that you don’t score goals by 150-pass buildups beforehand, and that a bit of dirt on your shirt isn’t a bad thing.

Or to put it another way – how much higher up would we be if we put ourselves about a bit more…?

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Tyrone Barnett’s effort from 12 yards out. See John Gayle v Chelsea. 2) Speaking of which, it’s not promising when the crowd cheer him winning a header…

Anything else? Yeah – am I alone in thinking that just over 500 travelling was a tad disappointing?

I know that Gillingham isn’t that easy in the evening, I know our away form has been beyond wank, there’s been a lot of games recently and we all need vaccinations to go to Kent anyway.

But it was only a tenner to get in, you can still get home reasonably quickly if you cadge a lift, the weather wasn’t that bad, and I think we’d have hit the four-figure mark if it had been on a Saturday.

Mind you, there weren’t too many more home fans either. 4956 is only slightly more than KM’s capacity, although a thousand more than what is actually comfortable.

Or am I being too harsh? And that 500+ is actually a decent turnout? Oxford were one short of 700 at Charlton last night, and after their game we were reminded that they are as big as Real Madrid.

I suppose that people are saving up for Bolton on the 4th March, which is why anyone going up to Scunthorpe might end up feeling a bit lonely in the away end.

Fatigue? Perhaps. People picking and choosing their games? Understandable, although it’s still puzzling a nearby game with cheap tickets would be less popular.

Or maybe it’s because we’re simply not winning away? Christ, we scored twice on the road in the league for the first time since October last night. There’s only so many times you can shell out £60+ per weekend only to be served up horse crap as your reward.

Still, those there enjoyed themselves. Plenty of lavender/caravan references, including “Tyson Fury, he’s one of your own”.

And “We’ve scored away twice, we’ve scored away twice. How shit must you be? We’ve scored away twice”…

So, was it worth it? Another point.

In a nutshell: We’ll win a game one day.

10 thoughts to “Another point”

  1. I know people like to worry or claim it was they who first recognised we were in a relegation battle some weeks ago, but we’re not. I predict the panic-merchants will be out in force after the Scunny/Bolton double header but come 1st May we’ll achieve 54/55 and stay up by minimum 8 – 10 points.

    One of the key factors is Jon Meades and I hear he should be back Saturday. We were shit in the early part of the season, disorganized and getting hurt down the left. We then went on that very good run through Autumn and turned to shit again as Winter arrived.
    We were without JM for the early part of the season, he played regularly through Autumn and then was injured again for Winter. I haven’t looked up the numbers but I expect points with JM in the side v points without JM would make interesting reading.

    And I think Neal has a great option for games we’re without him now Will is fit. The 3-5-2 made us much more compact 2nd half. The acres of space around Sean Kelly (that a lot of our opponents have been exploiting) disappeared and we dominated midfield until the last 5 minutes.

    1. L1 games with JM: P16 W6 D6 L4 Points 24 (1.5 points/game)

      L1 games w/out JM: P15 W2 D7 L6 Points 13 (0.87 points/game)

  2. I blame you for saying that “if we go 1 up this will be easy.”

    You can also blame me for saying “Francombe’s passing is so much more superior than Fuller’s,” he then played the ball square to one of their strikers into the middle of the park.

  3. Good point.

    Ardley had perhaps no option but to ‘go brave’ with 352 because Kelly is simply inept but in the end we were hanging on.

    Usually when we change formation midgame it works quite well to begin with – and it did, and we equalised – but Gills eventually sussed how to how to stretch and exploit the oceans of space.

    Not sure about a permanent switch to 352 as a better side than Gillingham would make hay against what is a pretty sluggish back three.

    Happy with a point all things considered.

    Ardley said on the OS that Meades will be back on Saturday and goodness me we need him back.

  4. OK, wasn’t there, but the knives really look out for Kelly in this game.
    But I also see criticism of no cover for him again last month.
    That happened at Sheff Utd too were he was exposed and gave away the free kick for the first goal I understand.
    Not sure Meades would do any better if he was left exposed the whole time and that is down to whoever plays left side… step forward Mr Barcham?
    I’ve only seen Kelly at home and he has seemed pretty stable and good at going forward.
    Now Francomb HAS to be out of midfield and playing in BF’s place through necessity it seems Kelly is becoming the player to hate.
    Yes he is limited but no more so than some of the defenders we’ve seen at other clubs; we need to get over that we don’t have a brilliant back up and are like other clubs in the same position. And yes, Kennedy would have been the same so put away the rose tinted spectacles.
    Soares will need time to get into the hang of things here and after a couple of reasonable reports on him not surprised to hear he was a bit quieter. That comes with the territory… up then down.
    And do not dismiss the mental ‘fatigue’ of playing in that Bury side for most of the season.
    Looking forward it does seem we are starting to play again and get a bit of effort producing some goal results.
    As NA said, we just need to keep on going and it will hopefully work out.
    Lets see what happens with Walsall on Saturday.

  5. The phrase “simple and effective passes, crosses into the box and whatnot” describes what has been missing from every match this year except for Oxford.

  6. Haven’t been able to make the last few games, but the excellent Dons Player coverage provides a real sense of how well the matches have been going (via the level of crescendo of commentary and crowd), from dire against Southend at the beginning of the year to not bad against Gillingham.

    The Coventry match sounded very similar to playing them 30 years ago – mid-week in cold dark winter, playing them near bottom of the table so we should have comfortably won, 3000 fans, crappy match. The only thing that has changed is this thing called the Internet has been invented which means can now listen in (and how many years do we give it before all matches in all divisions are streamed live on demand?).

    But then we’d go on to win away against the top six teams. So I enter March quietly optimistic.

    Or I just need my brain putting back in.

  7. Perhaps somebody should provide the stats for our record playing 3-5-2 under Ardley – I don’t think it makes very pleasant reading! As usual, it was simply a reaction to our situation rather than us forcing the opposition to make urgent changes. With the poor run continuing, we cannot afford to keep reacting to our opponents. For a start, let’s hear about our team before the match and not how good the opponents are, even when they are holding all the rest up. If they were that good, they wouldn’t be down the bottom in the first place. That said, it is up to all the players and the Management team to get us out of the rut we are in so the negative overtones pre-match have got to stop. The team are capable – we have seen that already this season – it is that Ardley should be instilling into his players and, perhaps, himself!

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