Insert own Karl Robinson quip here.
The most important thing about coming away from the Kassam yesterday with a point is that, well, it’s a point. And that might be more valuable than anything else right now.
By all accounts, it was ugly. Very ugly. Almost Franchise customer ugly. No shots from us on target, apparently, and us relying on Oxford to be as accurate as we are in finding the net during pre-game warmups.
Then again, with the form they were in before yesterday, this is as much a point gained as last week was two lost.
And that’s really all that needs to be said. You can forget the bleating of Oxford supporters for us having the temerity to try and not concede a goal**. You can leave the usual attention seeking from their manager (unlike our previous boss WD was more for the polite handshakes rather than the embrace).
** – there’s always been something a bit wanky about Oxford, even as far back as the 1980s, and during the Conference days. Not sure why, but I don’t think it’s just the Robert Maxwell ghost, or knowing Reading dwarf them. Barcelona they are not, anyway.
And really, you can just forget everything else about this weekend just gone.
At least, you can try to. Not looking remotely like scoring isn’t exactly new, but at the very time when we need to do exactly that? It’s not going to make the buildup between now and Friday any easier.
Jervis is AWOL, Appiah is either injured again to the point that he didn’t travel – or Walter has finally got fed up with him – and Folivi seems to have fallen out of favour. So we’re effectively relying on Piggy and Hanson in the final four games.
And both of them apparently looked knackered yesterday.
But we live another day, and we did move up a place by the time the full time whistle went. I still won’t look at the league table beyond a glance, but it remains all to play for, and I would have snapped your arm off for this position in January.
We now have a focus, and that’s Brizzle Rovers. A game you sense we have to win, perhaps even a draw won’t be enough.
That’s the approach we have to take, anyway, even if we’re starting to run out of steam at the very worst time. It really does become one-more-push territory now, and even that psychological hurdle of getting out of the bottom four can do wonders.
Everyone has pretty much written off Luton on Easter Tuesday (though it would be ironic if that’s the game that pushes us towards safety), so we’ve basically got three games to secure survival.
How’s your nerve?
More to the point, how’s the nerve of the players? I don’t doubt W&G’s mettle, but they’re not the ones taking to the field. And we are semi-relying on a bunch of kids to get us over the line.
Take a look at the starting eleven from yesterday. Ramsdale – who literally saved us again – is 20. Yes, really. Sibbick is 19, while Nightingale is a grizzled veteran in comparison, at 23.
As are Terrell Thomas and Connolly. Kalambayi is 19, Seddon (whilst on loan) is 21, while Hartigan is 19. And they’re just the ones who I can be bothered to check the ages of.
Mind you, when you consider some of the older heads, and how they’ve failed to lead us this campaign, is that necessarily a bad thing?
I noticed in Walter’s post-match interview that he was mentioning about “football education”, and “far from the finished article”. Although they’re the kind of comments you’d expect from a team in October rather than April.
Calling it a footballing education puts it mildly, but it’s been genuinely surprising to go through that list and see a) how young they are, and b) how most of them have dug us out to the current position.
Part of me thinks that our youthfulness will eventually scupper us in the final four games, but the other part of me thinks they’ll be chomping at the bit as much as the more senior pros.
When you discover that Ramsdale has undergone a lot of extra coaching to rectify a couple of the blunders he’s made recently, you hope that the other squad members are doing likewise.
If they are, we deserve to stay up on attitude alone.
Whatever happens, it’s clear our fate won’t be sealed by Easter after all. It would be a tough ask, but in theory we could lose to Rovers and Luton and still stay up. That’s how messed up things are at the bottom.
But while we’re due a defeat again, our mentality has to be that nobody will beat us. We showed that again yesterday.
One thing is certain though – if we do stay up, we’re going to need at least one more game like yesterday to go through…