If Saxons 3 Normans 1 is anything to go by, it’s likely that we’ll be plying our trade in the division above us next season. Not because of a level of football that far surpasses anything in the division – though to an extent I think we’re the best team in R1 – but because we can handle these tough games with conviction. When AFCW were WFC, we would have probably lost this sort of game. In fact, AFCW in our first year wouldn’t have had the mettle for these sort of games. And yet, today, we didn’t really look second best.
Actually, we started off pretty well, Ursell having a 1-on-1 (sort of) in the first three minutes then having another save two minutes after that showed we were out for the attack. I was admittedly distracted quite a bit during the first half, as somebody had collapsed in the John Smiths stand (the nan of one of the Hastings players apparently). From others, I think the phrases “looking like they’ve got hangovers” and “Hastings are nothing special” were used to devastating effect.
Second half, I went down the WB end. I fancied a change of scenery and I didn’t really want to stand with the away fans. I basically saw jack shit. However, Richard Butler netted the first with what appeared to be a nice bit of running, dribbling and shooting. Two minutes later, it was 2-0. It was a ball passed through, and whoever it was tangled with their goalie, who came rushing out head down. Just as well, last time somebody from Hastings looked up when he shouldn’t have, they immortalised it in the Bayeux Tapestry. The ball bounced outside the area, along came JS to lift a nifty lob over everyone and into the back of the net.
Standing near a friendly steward, he commented that as long as we don’t do a Leatherhead style fuck up, we’d be OK. Suffice to say, it became 2-1 as soon as he said that. Defensive lapse, basically. While I thought we were going to win it, it still looked a bit hairy whenever they went forward. So, imagine my relief when a breakaway, followed by a cross then header from about 4 inches off the floor made it 3-1. Martin Randall, take a bow (just get up off the floor beforehand, could be a nasty head wound otherwise). And that, as they say, was that.
Plus points: Another win. Good performance all round. JS looking better than he has done for a while. Could have had 5 or 6.
Minus points: Them scoring. It pissed down.
The referee’s a……: Described as “present”, whatever that means. Lino had a nice haircut, whatever hair he had to style.
Them: 100 or so of them came down – is that a record for away fan turnout? They looked up for it, especially their goalie who made some blinding saves. Their fans started a very clear chant of “United”…….
Three’s a crowd: About 15 minutes before kickoff, it looked very quiet. Honestly thought we were going to have a sub 2.5k crowd, so 2873 is pretty good. Coincidentally, the club announced this week that KM has increased its capacity to 4500 from 4262, the extra capacity coming at the hAE. Now, I’d like to know how this is calculated, because to my untrained eye the hAE looks the same size as it did last time. I presume that the capacity has always been 4500, but to make doubly sure in the past the safety certificate puts it lower. Still, we can now safely house 300 extra people, though whether I’d feel comfortable is another matter.
Spotted: Man in Nationwide coat in the Main Stand, with presumably his wife, avec notepad. Scouting?
Point to ponder: I wonder how long it will be before a side really do us over? Hopefully, it won’t be Dunstable.
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Glad to see that we didn’t have a Brian Clough minute silence, I think they’re far too readily held. I would hope that a round of applause would be de rigeur in future for this sort of stuff, where the person concerned didn’t have a tie-up with us. (2) The ambulance again coming into the main stand entrance (not literally) at the end of the game. Some people did look a bit agitated (or glum faced) – anyone know who it was? (3) Joe Sheerin actually lasting for 85 minutes without looking like he was going to die of exhaustion. One day he may even complete 90 and not need lying down in a dark room afterwards.
Anything else? Yeah, I don’t think I’ve seen such a lack of enthusiasm for a Man Of The Match award as Anthony Howard’s award today.
So, was it worth it? Yup
In a nutshell: They came, they saw, we conquered.