And we even missed a penalty…
That league table is looking a little bit less ghoulish this morning, isn’t it? True, we’re still in the bottom four, a couple of teams above us have games in hand, and if the season ended right now we’ll still be in L2 next season.
But now it’s in our grasp. And you wouldn’t bet against us taking that.
After Gillingham last week, yesterday at Scunny was an interesting one. A draw would have been OK but nothing more, and while a loss wouldn’t have killed us – one would have sensed we would be running out of steam.
Which is why victory at Glanford Park was massive. Very massive.
And it wasn’t even a smash-and-grab. That it sounded like we could have been 3-0 before the break (and should have been), and was looking relatively comfortable until they scored, is the kind of performance that gets you out of danger.
True, Ramsdale could have picked a better time to start putting in some howlers. Instead of training with the England national team, we need to put him in a Turkish prison for the next few days. At least that will sharpen his concentration up.
But his error ultimately didn’t cost us. Neither did Piggy having his penalty saved. We won, away from home, and right now that’s all which matters.
It helps when one of your AWOL strikers finally turns up and manages to last more than a minute without getting crocked. Step forward one Mr James “BUPA” Hanson, who linked up with Piggy and scored twice in the process.
While I think he’s too injury prone for us to keep him on next season, we need more than just Piggy and Folivi right now. And if he can remain off the treatment table for just the final six games, we might be getting somewhere.
I said “if”.
Your editor was at Charlton v Bradford (where CAFC should have won by more than one goal), and the Bantams press corps felt our goal hero yesterday was one of their best players. Except that one of them qualified it with “we let him go because he’s old”.
Oh, and Appiah came on as sub. His contribution wasn’t so well received…
Enough snark. For once, results elsewhere seemed to go our way. How many times since Walter arrived have we won/drawn a game then find out everyone else had a better result?
I’m sure there was one weekend where we won/drew yet managed to go down a position. It’s been a draining season to endure as it is, without that extra demoralisation.
So us toughing it out has earned at least some reward. If you were to tell me after Burton that by the end of March, we would just be one win away from climbing out of the bottom four, I would have snapped both your arm and your leg for it.
Winning games helps, and maybe West Ham was the catalyst after all? Walter made a gamble when he got here, sticking with most of this squad and simply trying to get them to believe in what they were doing.
And they’ve responded to what you see now.
True, he got in five or so players in January, all of whom have played a positive role. He sent Trotter via UPS to California, and the likes of Soares and Jervis have hardly sniffed the bench.
He’s blooded youth, given them a proper chance and regardless of how we managed to find the winning formula – I’m glad we discovered it.
But that might be something as simple as people being on the same page again. Look at the reaction after the game yesterday – and (if you can find the video) the vitriol aimed at mostly the same players after Donny away.
Nobody talks about “disconnect” any more, at least between supporters and players/managers.
And judging by his comments at Meet The Manager, that was something Walter picked up upon and tried so hard to bridge. It seemed to have worked, however he did it.
That can get you a long way. Look at how we responded yesterday after losing to Gillingham. I sense we played like we had a point to prove, and we’ve got a vital three points because of it.
We’ll undoubtedly have another bump in the road between now and the final whistle at Bradford, but if we do you now expect we’ll dust ourselves down and make amends the next game.
And how many times have we been able to say that in the past couple of seasons?
I don’t find it a coincidence that there’s an open training session on Easter Saturday, especially as it’s aimed at the kids (and their equally gooey-eyed parents). Notice WD’s “constantly engaging” comment in that piece.
Especially as our fate could well be decided over the holiday period, where we may simply need that one final push.
Nor do I find it a coincidence that we’re getting more OS/social media video clips of the training sessions, along with interviews with our physio etc. It’s a small thing, but still a good way of breaking down barriers and getting supporters more onside again.
On the surface at least, we’re “together” again. And that’s going to help a lot in our fight for survival.
It’s still likely we’ll go down, if only because we’re two points adrift rather than two in front. And another bad weekend of results will push us back down further again.
But we’ve got a fighting chance now of getting out of this, and that’s all we wanted to have at this stage of the season.
There’s six games left, or six cup finals. I note Walter’s comment post-Scunny where he said about coming in tomorrow and starting again, and if we survive that attitude will be part of why we do.
Our biggest enemy now is ourselves. I don’t go in for the “three more wins and we’re safe” stuff, because it’s not going to work like that, but our chances improve if we really do take one game at a time.
And to be fair to both players and management, they know that. They must be looking at the league table this morning and thinking “you can do this – don’t blow it”, just like fans are right now too.
One final thing, and something that may be a further motivation – isn’t it going to hurt like fuck if we do go down now? At least when we were 10 points or so adrift we could shrug our shoulders and admit we’re crap.
To fail after getting so close to getting out of it? That’s a different matter, although perhaps drilling that scenario into our players for the next month or so wouldn’t be a bad idea…