I’m updating the site now as it’s pretty unlikely I’ll be at the Swifts game tomorrow. Earmarked to cover Stevenage vs Exeter if you care. But it’s yet another cup final and yet another game that looks easy on paper and difficult on grass.
First things first. As sure as night follows day, we’re a bit short on the striking front at the wrong time of the season. DG is gone (big mistake IMO). So is PB (not such a big loss TBH). RDS is still looking after his sick dad, RB is still injured from Staines and we can’t play Richard Jolly. Which leaves us basically with Fergie, Steve Wales and Goddard. Or to put it another way, three strikers with varying degrees of form. How wonderful.
Actually, I say that, but I did see Robin Shroot in one of my very rare reserve team games last Monday. And yes, he was pretty good. But would playing him be too much of a gamble? Especially if he was put on from the start and played badly? Might be worth slinging on the bench anyway, especially if it’s 0-0 with twenty minutes left. Mind you, on previous form, DA will probably put him on with 30 seconds left.
Am I being unfair? Probably. What this season has proved is that when we need to produce a result, we usually do. It’s worth remembering that of those games we consider failures (BW away, Staines at KM, Worthing games etc etc) we didn’t actually lose them. It’s just that they felt like losses.
We could just about get away with a draw IF Margate lose or draw to Ashford. That’s a monumental “if”, on a scale comparible with Peter Wankelmann’s delusion. But that would mean completely no margin for error at ETU next week, and I don’t think anyone would want to handle that. Not only that, but should Chelmsford win tomorrow, we’ll be scraping around for fifth place, which in many ways would be a disappointment.
In all likelyhood, a win tomorrow won’t settle the playoffs. It will however leave certain other teams bricking themselves as well. I guess most of us are expecting H&R to win the league, even they can’t blow it. Can they? If the unthinkable happened and Chelmsford lost (or even drew) to Slough, they could be in real trouble. Especially if us and Margate won. As I said last week, we could still get automatic promotion if the results went our way. Of course, we’ll then be accused of match-fixing by the other Ryman clubs should that happen. But then, they call us cheats if we breathe outwards a bit too quickly.
The absolute bottom line is that it’s 3 points or nothing tomorrow. Get that, and somebody else will slip up. It may not seem it right now, especially looking at the table, but it is still in our own hands. And if truth be told, it always was. As said many a time, this league has at least one more twist to come.
So, what’s the mood like? People are clearly nervous, but there’s no feeling of dread that I felt before BW, Staines and H&R. That’s probably because there is no turning back now. We know that our only threat is Margate, which makes things a bit easier in many ways. I guess apprehension has been soothed a little bit by comments from our players this week. Here’s what Chris Gell said in the local Guardian this week:
“I have to admit I was blowing a bit at the end (of Folkstone). I was on my last legs but the supporters got me through it. Hearing them cheer us on until the end kept me going. I was knackered but I didn’t want to tell the boss – I didn’t want to come off. The fans were our 12th man. They have stuck by us this season and we owe them one”.
And here’s Andy Little.
“The save (last week) is only important if we go on and win promotion. Hopefully, we can look back at it come the end of the season and say it was an important save that helped us go up but, right now, it doesn’t mean an awful lot.”
It’s good to read that the players know they owe us one. It’s a good time to remind everyone of the hard work plenty put in to get the Appeal in our favour. And also it’s worth reminding just how pissed off everyone was after BW and Staines. After Folkestone, I wonder if the players themselves knew what the state of play was?
Tomorrow will see how serious we are about going up. It’ll be a very difficult game, probably harder than Folkestone. There’s massive pressure to win, but also to perform well too. Win tomorrow, no matter how ugly, and people will accept it but probably not much more than that. Win and play well, and the mood will lift at the right time. Tomorrow will be a time for somebody to step up and make a hero of themselves. We haven’t had the season-defining image yet (even Jolly’s winner last week was more like wanking than an orgasm), and we’re due something on those lines.
By 5pm tomorrow, it could all be over for now. But something tells me that it won’t…