It’s OK, you can relax now for a couple of days at least.
Jesuz christ – Anglian 3 Coldseal 1. Football isn’t good for you really. You’re supposed to get massive soothing enjoyment out of it, not put on about 20 years of your life in one evening. It reminds me of something Tony Cascarino said about goalscoring – scoring goals was more like masturbation than having a shag, because it’s more a relief than pleasure. And right now, plenty of us are tossing themselves sore.
Be honest, we feared the worst before the game. And I think I feared the worst when we were pulled back to 2-1. But I’m going to let it out a bit tonight, I can’t keep it in for another four days. That was immense. Actually, that was fucking immense. Did we have enough attacking prowess? No. Did I think we defended just a tad too much for my blood pressure’s liking? Yes. But does it now matter? Of course not.
I’m not going to get carried away, because we have it all to do again Saturday, at Staines. Maybe our end of season “form” could have worked against us, and we could have had this at KM, but I think now it becomes academic. If we adopt the same attitude on Saturday that we did tonight, then Staines will have to put on their performance of the season against us – regardless of whether they’re at home or not.
For one of far too few times this season, I saw an AFCW that just wasn’t going to be defeated. It was a team that I honestly think had a point to prove – not only to us, and our management/staff, but themselves. There was plenty of “come on” type clapping at various points of the game, and not just through JG either. Maybe, just maybe, the players realised tonight just what they could still have and how easy it could be to lose it through their own carelessness.
And carelessness is the expression that I would use to describe this season. Even now, I still don’t believe anyone in the RP is unbeatable, home or away (and I do include Chelmsford in that). Tonight, we actually concentrated for the 94 minutes, and bar that one little lapse we came away with what we wanted because of it. That’s what I wanted to see tonight, and that’s what I want to see Saturday.
See, we can do it. Tonight was difficult – there’s no pretending otherwise that when it was 2-1 it was shitting pants time. Coldseal certainly wanted it, as I would have expected in such a pressure game, and at other times of the season we would have gone away tonight with a point at most. But we didn’t, and for once we really did show balls of stainless steel. The first half was something else, although I think the second half we maybe thought we had it in the bag by then. But if you want to put tonight into perspective, look at our third goal. It came from the other end, where both Luke G and Pullen had to combine to make one helluva last ditch challenge. The ball broke to Fergie, he got it up to Main who basically proved why we paid Â£30m for him. Games where you win about 4-0 are great to be at, they’re lovely to brag about and easy to watch again on telly. But these sort of games, and how you handle them, are what get you into the playoff finals.
Let’s be honest, anyone expecting another 5-2 gubbing on Saturday should stay away. I’m under no illusions whatsoever that Saturday will be THE most difficult match of the season. It will be tense, nervous, any astray pass will be treated with plenty of wind passing, and that’s just your editor. I will warn you now, especially after tonight’s euphoria – it can still go badly wrong on Saturday : any complacency, any belief that we’ve got it made will be cruelly exposed, and defeat on Saturday is going to fucking well hurt. It really will be shit or bust, and the old adage of the 94th minute goal off your defender’s arse remains truer than ever.
We are only 50% there, although to be fair to people I think the vast majority of us know that. People were jubilant for certain, but not getting carried away. And I do honestly hope our team know that as well – the reaction afterwards was one of relief and job done rather than running up to the TE, throwing their shirts into the crowd and a jig of “We are going up”. After tonight, it would be the cruellest of cruelty to suddenly have yet another one of our fuckups. If we do what we did tonight, but succumbed to an 89th minute own goal, it will hurt and hurt big time. But you could at least be proud of them for the way they went about that game. To suddenly fall apart really will be unforgivable, especially after tonight
While us non-STed people work out how exactly we’re going to get into Staines on Saturday, feel free to read on….
Plus points: We won. First ever playoff victory in AFCW history. Everyone fighting for it. Jon Main. Marcus Gayle. JG. Playing like they really, really wanted it. Crowd getting behind them. Actually quite a professional performance. Proof that we really can win in the high pressure games.
Minus points: Bit between Coldseal scoring and Jon Main netting. Long-term effect on my ticker.
The referee’s a…….: Bit of an arsehole this one, didn’t really want to give us much especially in the second half. True, he was no Ron Ganfield but even so, we had to be just that little bit extra wary…..
Them: Almost felt sorry for them at the end. I said “almost”. To be fair to them, they battled hard enough but I’m not sure if they quite had that necessary quality. Anyone know what went on between their section and the WB just before the break? They didn’t half seem agitated, although one of our lot was led away by nice Mr Policeman.
Point to ponder: Do you think that tonight being a fucking difficult game will help us for Saturday? Had we’d pissed all over them 5-0, we would have taken on that cocky air of arrogance and expectancy that has proven to be our undoing. Tonight, we were made aware that we’re going to have to perform like fuck all over again for the second time in a week. The good news is that we can do it. The bad news is that this is AFCW we’re talking about.
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Was that Karl Beckford on the subs bench? Maybe he will be back next season? (2) Speaking of subs, I think this must be the first time this season we haven’t put anyone on. Suppose that can only be a good thing. (3) TE closed just before the game. (4) The performance of Fatman Scoop’s AFCW mix before the second half started. I’m not really into that sort of stuff, but there is a bit of a middle finger about it all…
Anything else? For the first time in a while, the whole of the WB was given over to our fans, and I’ve got to say it worked quite well. There was definitely a bit of old skool about tonight, and quite possibly it’s down to that. The segregation may need fine tuning, but if anyone at AFCW reads this, let’s keep that arrangement for next season. I was in the WB end and there was a real intensity that I think helped carried us through (for once). We actually created an advantage for ourselves at home, and we won. QED?
So, was it worth it? Shame it wasn’t the final
In a nutshell: Just one more 90 minutes……….