Phew. And then some.
At the end of the day, the record books will show that it finished Blue and Yellow 2 Yellow and Blue 1, which means a home win. Which is just as well really, as I can’t recall so many being pissed off at a win for some time…
It was brutal to watch, more often than not pretty painful, and if we had slumped to yet another defeat then you can’t say we wouldn’t have deserved it.
That we do have three points this evening is testament to something. What that is I don’t know, but this was the reverse of those games where we’ve played well enough but still lost. Maybe things really do even themselves out over a campaign after all?
Whatever, it’s three points and that’s all you can ask for. I wouldn’t even say we laboured to victory, because that would be too mild a description.
Of all the games I’ve seen this season, this was by far and away the worse. This wasn’t anywhere near the comfortable win Gillingham was. And at least against Scunny and Walsall we had a decent spell in the game at some point.
Today? We started off quite ordinary, but Wagstaff’s header came out of the first decent cross in. Then Oxford came back into it, and we needed that second goal.
Which to be fair, we got. Piggy may already be the winner of this season’s POTY award, and it was a decent finish after he stayed on his feet.
You would therefore think, at 2-0 up, that we would kill the game off. Maybe put our foot on the throat of the opposition, perhaps even nab a third. Instead, well…
Seriously, it was almost like we shat ourselves. That would at least explain why we went into our collective shell, offering practically nothing after that. Them scoring wasn’t a surprise, they had been pressuring us for a while, although apparently their player used his forearm to control the ball.
I say apparently, because I saw the goals on SSN and it was more a lucky break of the ball rather than anything.
As for the second half, I honestly don’t know how to describe it right now. Maybe by about Wednesday I’ll think of something. For now, I’ll say “tepid” out of kindness.
Nobody was putting the boot in, everyone seemed at least half a yard behind the play, and when we did get the ball we didn’t keep it for long. A better side than Oxford would have gubbed us big time today.
Mind you, the subs were a bit odd. Piggot was tired according to NA**, and why Pinnock remains benched. I hope it isn’t NA’s attitude to creativity coming to the fore again, although unfortunately it’s plausible.
** – and there’s one bit in that article which pops out that I’ll mention in a minute…
Appiah came on, and he’s in one of the three images that are sticking in my mind this evening. The sight of him dawdling in midfield, practically standing still, before an Oxford player takes the ball off him was as painful to watch as it was to write just now.
It got mentioned on SW19 a while back, but he’s definitely not the most popular player amongst the fans. The injuries have taken his toll, agreed, but one got the feeling a few more people have lost their patience with him.
The second image that’s flashing in front of me right now is right in injury time. The ball came over, there was nobody behind Deji (I think), and yet he still headed it away for a corner.
It was panicky, and then some. And just like so much else, it was so un-necessary as well. What if Oxford had scored from it?
The third one? Well, it was after the final whistle had gone. Rather than showing the relief one would expect from a three points, the players seemed to spend about a minute looking at each other.
Mental fatigue kicking in? Something else entirely? I don’t know, but it was an odd reaction – as though the squad looked at each other and said “how the fuck did that happen?”. It was a very muted celebration off the field as well, as though we were embarrassed to get the win.
Win we did though, and the league table looks better this evening. And if we repeat today against Bradford on Tuesday, then it’s a successful couple of games.
Though it won’t be particularly enjoyable…
Plus points: We won. First home win of the season. Wagstaff. Piggy. McDonnell looking OK.
Minus points: One of the direst games I’ve seen for some time.
The referee’s a…: Seemed to give them a fair bit, although to his credit allowed the advantage when Piggy broke free for the second. We would have messed up the free kick anyway.
Them: Plenty of their fans calling the Met Police this evening, reporting a robbery in the KT1 area at 4.55pm today.
On cool reflection though, apart from their goal and forcing McDonnell into a great save when it was 0-0 – they still didn’t come that close after all. That was as much down to their utter shiteness, and today showed why they’re below us in the table.
As for their manager and the chants against him, all I’ll say is that when you start singing “Sacked in the morning” and “Unemployment, it’s coming for you”, make sure we’re comfortably ahead beforehand…
Point to ponder: Was today partly down to this weird fear we have at the moment?
You don’t need me to remind you of the amount of fixtures recently where we’ve started poorly and never recovered. That definitely suggests an issue in the way we prepare for games beforehand.
But after it went 2-1, we looked scared to the point it paralysed us. It was as though we had so little confidence in ourselves to see the game out, that it was a case of when, not if Oxford equalised.
One wonders if NA’s revelation this evening that he’s been miserable and has got into them a lot this week played a part? As in, so petrified at losing that they clammed up.
Unhappy he may be, but he can only do that once in a while – his general demeanour last season didn’t help back then, and it won’t make for a happy camp if he does it too often in 18/19.
While I think we’re a better side all round than last time out, we do lack leaders. Not just on the field either, TBH. If somebody could have taken today by the bollocks and gave them a good kicking, we would have seen it out much more comfortably.
Because of this, Tuesday could be a must-win game simply because a second victory might – might – give a bit more self belief. It’s not easy to get yourself out of the rut that has been our recent form, especially as half the results are self-inflicted.
Revert to type against Bradford, and it becomes even more difficult to get around that mental roadblock.
Oh, and one other thing – doesn’t the last three minutes prove once and for all just a garbage “tactic” leaving nobody up for an opposition corner is…?
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) That second half. Seriously. 2) In a nod to old Plough Lane and Jimmy King (remember him?), our PA playing “If Only I Could” by Sydney Youngblood beforehand. I await “The Champ” by the Mohawks. 3) Did the panini salesman shift all his wares? Have to admit, £4 for one does sound a little bit steep.
Anything else? The long awaited microsite for NPL is now live, and it does look pretty nice indeed. And I have to admit, the logo does give me a goosebump or two.
OK, you’re not going to find anything on there that won’t be on the OS. You’re not going to get the nuts and bolts (almost literally) of it, and you’ll probably find out more from even somewhere like this over the upcoming period.
But I don’t think the site is aimed at AFCW fans at all.
That we’re plugging the corporate side of things illustrates who the target audience is. And with the share/crowdfunding/need to raise some dough issue coming up, the club is as-good-as-formally looking for outside investment.
It’s something we’ve never properly done, partly because we’ve had nothing to sell properly before then. Now we do, and pushes of conferencing and private functions aren’t accidental.
As for the site itself, while there may be one or two minor issues with it, above all else it needs to be updated regularly. It should have the webcam up soon as well, which will no doubt stifle your productivity at work.
I would hope that a proper guide to the place (including parking) appears as the opening gets ever nearer, because there’s going to be a LOT of interest in it initially. And there’s no excuse for us not to show it off in the best possible light.
After all, as the blue-roofed stand is now coming down and the site will be fully cleared before too long – the first bit of construction isn’t too far away…
So was it worth it? We won, and that’s all you can say.
In a nutshell: Three points.