If we’re plying our trade in the Conference South (or whatever they’re going to call it) next season, make a note of 4.27pm on the 14th April 2007. For when Andy Little dived low to his left following a penalty at that time, AFCW took one look at the abyss it was heading towards, stepped back and thought to itself, “fuck that”.
Melodramatic opening? Well, I probably should call this Michael Howard 0 David Cameron 1, but I think Performance 0 Result 1 is more apt. It wasn’t so much that we were bad (at least in the second half), but this was the three pointer of the season. Just image how you would be feeling right now had it been a draw. Or indeed, a loss. You couldn’t pick yourself up, certainly. You’d look back at the various games we dropped points and mutter “If only…”
As it is though, we didn’t secure our playoff position today, but we didn’t surrender it either. Looking at the table right now, we are three points off automatic promotion. IF we win our next two games, and IF Bromley and Ricky draw their game on Saturday and IF they lose their final game, and IF H&R choke and IF….. you get the idea. It’s that close.
If we weren’t in this dogfight, you’d be glued to every Ryman game for the next two weeks with excitement (and not the brown pants most of us have right now). Bromley vs Ricky should really be moved to Sunday and shown on Sky. It’ll whip the arse of Watford vs Pompey anyway. Could we be out of it ourselves? Yes. And so can anyone there. By the end of April, Bromley could be out of the playoffs altogether. They’re top right now. If Chelmsford don’t get their act together, they too could slip out. And wouldn’t that be funny?
The brutal truth is, we have to win our next two games. That’s how it was when we got the points reduction, that’s how it was last week, and let’s face it, it’ll go down to the last game of the season. You could snarl that had we filled the ITC in correctly we’d be top. Actually, I consider that a red herring – the games we should have won but didn’t are why we’re fifth rather than certain champions.
A lot has been written about DA’s future this week, and if we’re being honest, it’s still up for debate. He now has four games to save his job, today was still a stay of execution. Repeat this for the next four games and he’s safe. Although I suspect half our crowd will either need Grecian 2000, emergency nail surgery or CPR if that was the case.
The game? I think the rather shite first half was down to anxiety of our players and a pitch that was pretty much akin to a Spanish fourth division stadium. With slightly more sand that is. Second half though was a different kettle of haddock. Whether it was because we knew that Margate were stuffing Chelmsford or not, I don’t know, but suddenly we harried and hustled.
The trouble was, with our recent form there was always that niggling doubt that it wasn’t going to happen. Certainly when Frankie went for a header down, missed it and went off injured. I won’t say we’ve suddenly become a bad side, but instead we’ve become a nervous side. One with even a bit of self-doubt. Dare I go so far as to suggest lack of confidence in winning a game?
Anyway, Folkestone got into it, and they got a penalty. Now, this is where my first paragraph needs repeating. I was ready to write the obituary of AFCW’s season as their player strolled to do his run-up. This was a season defining moment, and no hyperbole either. Andy Little may have made the most important save of the season when he got down low to his left and palmed it away.
Why? Well, when that happened, you just knew we were going to win. It was that moment of relief when something went our way. The anxiety really did lift then – you could sense that things were on the up. We started playing a lot freer, we looked far more composed and confident and that translated off the field as well. When Jolly netted about 5 minutes later, it was on a par with winning the playoffs.
Nobody is getting carried away, unsurprisingly. We still need four points at the barest of bare minimums, and in all likelyhood the team that doesn’t win on the last day of the season will be the one out of the playoffs. We do need a push though, and that means everybody pushing. Constantly complaining about how we play may make you feel superior, but it won’t get us promoted.
Plus points: We win. Away. Clean sheet. Could have scored a couple more. Andy Little. Steve Wales.
Minus points: Still far too edgy/nervy.
The referee’s a………: Clearly didn’t get his “bonus” from the Ryman as he refereed quite fairly. By the sounds of it, he did “misinterpret” the penalty…
Them: How can you not love a place that is having a striptease evening in their function room? Time for KM to do similar, methinks. As for the rest of it, they battled hard I guess. One of the more enjoyable clubs to visit, certainly. Their player sent off was a bit of a dick for doing it….
Point to ponder: First half behind the goal saw a lot of people moaning like fuck and us playing not very good. Second half, the people behind the goal got behind the side a lot and we were playing much better. QED
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Two full coaches, and a little coach as well with the old WFSC Executive Coach lot as well. Wonder if they stopped in a pub outside Raynes Park for three hours beforehand? (2) What utterly crap music from the PA system. I think half of it was a Lieutenant Pigeon tribute band and the other was about 13 different versions of the Proclaimer’s “500 Miles”. I’m sure they played a Spanish flamenco version of that song….
Anything else? I heard a couple of complaints about it today, although this is more of a general point. It’s to do with the terrace coaches, the ones that are always giving out tactics like they’re the new Alex Ferguson. The sort who have annoyed me for many a year. Basically, if they actually knew 1% as much as they think they do, they wouldn’t be standing on a crumbling terrace in non league. They would instead be employed as an actual manager working with actual players and earning actual money.
Quick reality check: Championship Manager is a computer game heavily watered down to make it playable to the masses. Every manager ever employed at this level and above has had a lot better experience at what actually goes on in a serious team than what they ever will. If pro footballers like Bobby Charlton and Bryan Robson (and even Peter Withe) flopped as managers, so would they. The guy who plenty are slating for tactics has played professionally for Glentoran and has played for Wolves and Sheff Utd youth. Three non-tinpot outfits. I think he has far more idea of what he’s doing than a frustrated bigmouth does, somehow…
So, was it worth it? Yes.
In a nutshell: It’s better to win ugly than lose beautifully