It’s typical that the champions-elect won yesterday (and who was that cocksucker who spread the rumour that Staines were leading at one point? Kindly die, preferably painfully) otherwise it would have been a pretty good weekend. Chelski lost rather gloriously ignominiously, Pompey won and your editor’s bet on Pompey to win the FAC may yet pay dividends, and Franchise are at time of writing no longer cheating their way at the top.
Oh yeah, and Pretend Dons 0 Real Dons 2 as well.
This was a bit of a strange one, if truth be told. I don’t mean so much in the pattern of play either – not for the first time we got comfortably ahead in the first half then switched off too much for my liking in the second – but there was a general sense of real, proper nervousness beforehand. Dare we fuck up one more time? Especially in this of all weeks? The players didn’t show it, thankfully, but for the first time in eons we really did face a legitimate brown-trouser day.
Those with long memories will know what I mean when I suggest that yesterday was the most important league game since Bradford City away in the Prem in 2000. Yeah, you could argue that the Villa game later was more important, or the playoffs, but there’s a good reason why I picked that fateful spring day up in t’Yorkshire. Then, as yesterday, it was a defining game. Forget the marquee games, when we lost up there you just knew that we would be going down. The later game at Soton just confirmed the inevitable, but it’s not always the big event games that turn a season.
Had Hendon beaten us, I think we would have known finally that Chelmsford would be out of sight. They still might be come this time next week, but this was probably our biggest test of the season and we came through it pretty damn well. OK, I think the Goodliffe/Gayle partnership will ultimately cost us promotion, and we did have to do too many off-line clearances for my liking, but even at certain points of this season this would have been banana skin territory. Maybe, just maybe, there’s life left in this campaign?
Let’s look at the game briefly. They started off well, we came back into it. We got a penalty which Hussey cooly slotted away. We then had the upper hand, should have had another penalty when Webb got upended. Some minutes later, Webb did an absolutely fabulous cross which was met with an even more fabulous header by Ramone Rose. 2-0 and maybe should have been more. Then Quinn and one of their players got into a little bit of a discussion of the Lib Dem’s approach to the EU Treaty, which caused so much ire in their #3 he looked like he wanted to fight everyone in the stadium (including their lamb mascot). So much so that TB and their manager had to do some calming measures at half time.
Second half? If we weren’t 2-0 up I would have said it sucked big time. They had far too much possession, and we had to rely on a good stop by Pullen right at the end (not to mention another goal-line clearance). I really do hope we’re not lapsing back into bad old habits, especially when we go 2-0 up at half time. Do that next week and Chelmsford will do us over about 5-2.
Mind you, I’m probably being unfair about that second half. The pitch was pretty lousy, the weather was shite and this really was a win-ugly type day. Further proof of our improving character maybe? I’m not too if anyone picked this up from the last Nuts TV programme, but the players really did act like they know they have to at least push all the way for automatic promotion. As I’ve maintained from the beginning, our biggest enemy this season is ourselves, and perhaps finally we’re doing ourselves a bit of justice?
Yesterday, we did ourselves a massive favour maybe without realising it. Yes, it’s disappointing we didn’t close the gap, and I think that kind of muted celebrations a little. But a quick glance at the table shows that while we’re still 8 points behind, we’re 13 points ahead of third place. It’s a good sign that we’re more obsessed with the former statistic than the latter, but barring the biggest fuckup since Mr and Mrs Wankelmann forgot to wear a condom we should at least get one playoff match at KM (and yes, I know getting home advantage isn’t necessarily an advantage with us). More thoughts on that later.
But it’s fair to say our tails are up, even if chants of “We are going up” and “Bring on the Chelmsford” are a little bit premature right now. Could it still happen? Guess we’ll find out next week. But for now, there is still a little bit of light…..
Plus points: Win. Away. Clean sheet. Potental fatal result avoided. Constantly battling even when 2-0 up. Coping with ugly conditions. Rose’s goal. Webb’s cross for Rose’s goal.
Minus points: Chelmsford winning. Defence shits me up
The referee’s a……..: Dildo. Sorry that I won’t expand, I’ve just lost the will to write yet another load of invective prose about yet another referee at this level. Apparently he took charge of us against Staines, and obviously the training courses since then haven’t improved him.
Them: Hendon are one of those outfits who if we were champions I wouldn’t mind going up through the playoffs. Not that they’ll do it on yesterday’s performance (watch them stuff us in the playoff final now I’ve said that). Their #3 had a bit of a massive strop. Seems like the sour taste left in many mouths over the “last game at Claremont Road” has largely subsided, though us winning probably helped 🙂 As for that lamb mascot of theirs, perhaps somebody one day will dress up as a kebab grilling machine and stand next to it?
Point to ponder: As said above, there’s a 13 point gap between us and third place, and how I wished the Ryman used the Serie B method of playoffs. With yesterday’s results, could we be facing in the playoffs teams we didn’t expect to? We all know about Hendon, Staines are slipping, and Horsham’s season is starting to turn out like their groundsharing arrangements with Crawley. So from maybe Boreham Wood upwards we could be facing anyone. In a way that shows the inconsistency of this league, but on the other hand it makes the chance of an upset at our expense just that little bit greater. Just imagine facing a fired up Ramsgutter…..
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Crowd of over 1000 at the game. Considering public transportation problems and the weather, that ain’t bad at all. Though of course one could argue with us still chasing auto promotion, it should be higher. (2) Unless I’ve got a case of amnesia equivalent to that of an Arsenal fan, this was the first time I’ve ever seen us win at Hendon. And yes, I know that AFCW won at Claremont a couple of seasons ago but I wasn’t there. Maybe things really are looking up. (3) Some mad gyspy woman (complete with Dublin-sounding accent) standing on the pavement on Kilburn High Road shouting random bits of abuse at nobody in particular. Rumours that she was a regular in the John Smiths stand are as yet unconfirmed. (4) Speaking of Kilburn, is it me or are they trying to make it more like Clapham? These days, they don’t go round collecting in pubs for “the cause” in buckets, they carry around a chip-and-pin device.
Anything else? Yeah. If I was Al-Qaeda, I wouldn’t bother trying to bomb people any more. All they need to do is just infiltrate London Transport and close down not just section of line each weekend but a good three or four. The amount of chaos they can cause is pretty spectacular. I know that you have to make railways safe, but is planned engineering work so vital that you have to take out no less than five sections of the tube network on the same day? And believe it or not, people do travel across London on weekends. Apologies to anyone who works for LT and has an IQ in double figures, but if you put the people who make these decisions in control of a car, they’d be driving the wrong way up a dual carriageway. Backwards.
So, was it worth it? Yeah, guess so.
In a nutshell: Nice quiet match next week…