Skip to content

Taming the Beastleigh

You can be forgiven for being a bit sore and fatigued this morning, I certainly am. Football wouldn’t be football without games like Southampton Parkway 2 Merton Park 2 (AET, won 4-2 on pens).

OK, this may “only” be the 3rd qualifying round, but I’m really hoping this result will finally kickstart our season. While at times we did look second best (Eastleigh are a waged CS club after all), the attitude was there, and so was the desire to win. This would have pleased a lot of doubters of recent form, because it showed that we can apply ourselves as and when. Or perhaps frustrate them even more?

Game of the season so far? Undoubtedly. This was the first time we’d beaten a higher division side in a “proper” (none of that Surrey Senior shite) competition since Dover Athletic in 2004, though I will probably get an email now saying we beat somebody else in 2005 or something. While ideally I’d liked to have done this over the 90 minutes, I hope this game proves to everyone that we can play well. Whatever was put in the refreshment bottles last night I hope is done again for the rest of the season.

Was everything sweetness and light? No. For the last half-hour, we seemed determined to throw it away with them inching closer and making AL earn his pay. If I’m being honest, their goal was inevitable, and I was consoling myself that at least I would get home early and that we’d tried hard but ultimately failed.

I suppose I felt the last hurrah when on 92 minutes, Roscoe made one last darting run through their defence from the half way line. At the time, I didn’t think we were going to score, it was more a case of hoping we would have one last decent strike and we could go home content. When he passed to Lewis Cook I still felt the same. When he whipped it in for SF, I was still thinking about Saturday and how it was going to be the must-win of all must wins.

You know what happened next. Well, if you were there you did. If you weren’t, basically, SF slotted home from the near post, and by fuck was he happy. Come to think of it, I think all of us were slightly pleased.

Somehow, after that, I knew we wouldn’t lose. How many cup games have you seen over the years when a team is under the cosh yet gets a last gasper, going on to win? I think the players knew it as well, because we really looked a more composed outfit. Runs were coming off, passes were being, er, passed, our energy levels were almost inhuman. Perhaps we ought to lobby the Ryman for all of our games to be played over 120 minutes in future? We certainly seem to kick into life then.

When SF netted a practically identical goal in ET, I knew we weren’t going to lose. When they equalised later on, I still didn’t. And even though there was a collective breaking of wind when penalties were due, I wasn’t feeling the vibes before the Wycombe shootout, put it that way.

And while I’m no sports psychologist, the players really must have had their confidence sky high. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every penalty we took was as calm as you like. Unlike the Eastleigh players, a couple of whom looked as though they needed the bog themselves to calm their nerves.

I know we won, but I think this anyway. I really can’t understand why people (particularly ex-pro commentators) are so anti-penalty shootouts. They’re not unfair – each team gets five penalties, score them all and you win. Simple. Forget all this shite about “least bookings” or “most corners” to decide games. You’re at the whim of referees then, and I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.

Penalties are a test of skill, nerve and application – hardly alien traits in football. The reason why Germany does them so well is because Jens Lehman spends countless hours studying potential opponents. They don’t think it’s an unfair way to settle games, they get on with it. A lesson to be learnt there, methinks.Yes, penalties are cruel, but then so are last minute goals. And I don’t see people wanting them to be outlawed (not yet anyway). So, next time you hear some ex-pro complaining about how unfair they are, consider this – they may be admitting that they haven’t got the bottle when it comes to the crunch.

None of those things applied to us last night. By fuck we were happy, Roscoe especially. If he had the game of his life last night, what will he be like for Aldershot? Hopefully he – and we – won’t fold up and embarass ourselves for that one.

While you’re waiting for the Clash of the Fans Clubs (for the touchy feely politically correct types), a resuming of fourth division hostilities (Batsford era drunkards) or a decent trip to a Conf side (everyone else), just remember we’ve got a league game this Saturday that we simply must win. And while you’re waiting for that……

Plus points: We win. Cool as you like penalties. Rosco D’Insane. The much-maligned Richard Butler SF. Kept going and going and going. Visibly a different team after the 92nd minute.

Minus points: Last half hour.

The referee’s a……: An illustration on how people can see games differently. A lot of people thought he was all right, certainly better than the horse fucker who took charge on Saturday. Me, I thought he was determined to let Eastleigh win, blowing up for them at given opportunities yet not quite so willing when we were being fouled…

Them: Nice hosts, ground has potential (when they put steps in the terracing that is), though if they progress further they’ll need to put a walkway and driveway through to the main road. Their team however did justify why their manager called them lazy – they’re paid more than ours, apparently, yet at times we tore through them. Can see why they’re second bottom of the CS. As for their goalie, what a shame he lost on penalties. No, really. His “haha you cunts” type celebration when they scored was that of a dedicated professional, and not one of a miserable little scrotum-faced twat. Honest. Still, he can go back to his job of banging dodgy German frauleins with hairy armpits on film today.

Point to ponder: There’s been a lot of internet column inches about the team, the future of DA etc, and one or two discussions in the bar beforehand last night as well. They may reignite if we lose to Horsham on Saturday (or even win and play badly), but for now I offer this simple, one-sentenced thought : perhaps the only wholesale change we need at AFCW is one of luck?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The odd sight of seeing two defenders pulled off after 30 minutes. Surely DG wasn’t that physical? (2) Their PA calling us “breakaway” fans. Not the brightest of comments to make, although he probably meant well. Fortunately for him, most of the ground couldn’t hear the tannoy anyway. (3) BBC Radio Solent getting all excited that “non-league Eastleigh” – their words – were expecting a bumper crowd with up to 600 AFCW fans. By the sound of it, they really did think we were something like a League Two side about to descend on their little hamlet.

Anything else? Yup, a floodlight went out. Not a massive deal, it came back on 5 minutes later and it wasn’t like it was pitch black. It does however give me another reason to have a go at their goalie, who basically acted like a stroppy teenager when play wasn’t being stopped. Perhaps his eyesight isn’t too great, which does give credence to the old wives tale that it does make you go blind….

So, was it worth it? Yes. All those not there, hang your heads in shame 😉

In a nutshell: Now for Horsham Aldershot….