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Iron Maiden

As I sit here in SW19 Towers reflecting over Blow Job 3 Head 1, I feel a little bit of satisfaction right now. It may last, it may not (put your money on the latter), but deep down I’ve got that little warm glow.

No, we’re only in September and long way to go etc etc, but sitting there after the game, watching our players warm down in that bright sunshine you get late in the day, it felt like an end of season match where you’ve won the title the week before. You know, that kind of warm feeling you get knowing you’ve done well. It’s almost without a care in the world.

Well, today something strange happened. It was probably the first time I can remember in a while where we’d done something that changed the game in that manner (not the type of game-changing the PO final was I should add). In the first half we were a bit on the ordinary side. Our midfield decided it would be a laugh to either give the ball to opposition players or indulge in a new game called “Pass to the invisible man”. Fun for all the family, though not necessarily good enough for a semi-pro outfit.

OK, we got a penalty, and JM slotted home pretty effortlessly. But it had that air of previous games didn’t it? Bit unsure, pretty sloppy in places etc etc. That kind of thing. The exact same stuff I’ve been writing about for the last god knows how many weeks.

Enter Danny Kedwell.

OK, he didn’t score, but by fuck did we look a different team at half time. Not only have we managed to get somebody who is going to be a real handful for defenders, but today we formulated a Plan B and it worked. That’s why I’m feeling quite content right now – we showed to everyone (and most importantly ourselves) that we are flexible enough to change tactics and win. Passing game not working? Go a bit more direct. Opposition getting the hang of going direct? Switch back to passing it. If they suss out how to do both? Then they’ll be in league football.

DK (or Danny Keswell as I kept calling him on WDON) didn’t half shit up the Maidenhead defenders, and suddenly JM, Finn, Godfrey et al felt they had a bit more freedom. And it showed. If it wasn’t for Shane “Grimsby 6-2” Gore this would have been the stuffing we’ve all been hoping for. Seriously, how on earth can a team go from nervous sloppyness to a battering ram in the second half?

I suppose it’s quite obvious really. A team (note, not a collection of players) that is some way there but not quite discovers it now has a decent extra option and has gone up that level again. Not since the very early days has something changed that much in a 15 minute break. This is more like we expected last season, let alone this. In the second half, we looked like we had a clue what we were doing.

DK didn’t look out of place at all with us. Unlike last year, where you did wonder if JM was purchased just because we could. True, JM’s now our golden player, but I think what pleases me right now is that sense it’s coming together. It could have all gone to shit today, and at times in the first half I thought it would….

Hyperbole? OK, just a tad. We’ve now got the second placed team at their place next Saturday. A tough game for sure, and normally a draw wouldn’t be a bad result. But the way people are at the moment, we really would feel deflated if we draw or – Satan forbid – lost at Church Road. This against the form team right now at their place. That’s a slight touch of arrogance there, admittedly, but it’s more down to confidence. Just imagine if we go there next week and do what we did in the first half of Basingstoke or second half today? With more goals, obviously. The message to everyone else would be striking – step up to us and receive a slap for your troubles. No matter where you are in the table.

My natural pessimism caution usually kicks in here. We’re bound to lose sometime, and now I’ve said all the above get a tenner on H&Y to gub us. And Maidenhead aren’t Chelmsford or H&W. The trouble is, it’s hard to think that way right now. Reason is this – Maidenhead before tonight were top five in the table, and they really didn’t look it by the time we finished with them. Normally, you play a team just three points behind you (as they were at 3pm today) and they’re tense affairs with one goal in it. Did you feel like you’ve been through a tense game upon leaving KM today?

No, it won’t go down as our best performance of the season, but I’m happy because I saw a marked change in us the second half which should push us into the tricky winter phases. Actually, a lot of it is down to me watching Lewes v R&D on Thursday. I know it’s a different level, but I really did watch it with an open mind and think “we’re good enough to be up there”. And when I think of today with DK, JM, Finn and co harrass a good 4 or 5 defenders at almost every attack, and remember they’re one of the better teams thus far….

Don’t worry, I’ll be back to normal next week when we lose 3-0. Until then, here’s…….

Plus points: We won. Second half. DK’s debut. JM’s penalty taking skills. Development and implementation of Plan B. Ability to go up a gear.

Minus points: No clean sheet. Midfield in first half.

The referee’s a……….: Bit of a mixed viewpoint on this one. Some say he was one of the better refs we’ve seen. Others think he was a pickniting little tosspot. Me, I just find it odd that he needed to rely on his lino to give our blatant first penalty….

Them: Well, they held their own for the first half anyway. Tell you what though, they didn’t half get petulant after we went 2-0 down. Sadly, no on-field bustups this time round. Thing is, they weren’t a bad side, but that maybe shows what a different level we’re on right now. You just knew ex-Frenzy cunt Pacquette was going to score though, didn’t you? Didn’t he try to large it up to the TE afterwards? Hint : try doing that when you’re not scoring consolation goals….

Point to ponder: Doesn’t DK today tell us something? Put it this way, we persisted with Danny Webb last season and we all know what happened there. We rued losing out on Nic McDonnell. We would have probably gone for the likes of Parquette or a player from someone like St Albans if it was up to our fans. I’m sure you can work out what I’m hinting at here. If not, let me put it another way – there is nothing to fear from buying from a higher level. As long as you can afford it.

Meet the manager: TB’s latest post-match musings are below

TB on Maidenhead – click here

Nothing really new, although his comments about going to Hayes when he was at Shots are disconcerting. Still, if we win the league this season….

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) John Scales at the game. Still looks as fit and athletic as he ever did, though he’ll be a lot slower now. Seemed to enjoy himself as well. Of course, I remember his initial games for us when those in the South Stand weren’t so keen…… (2) How many kids were there today? As many as on Gary Glitter’s hard drive. (3) The extention to the Main Strank Stand opened today, and it feels like it’s always been there. Which in engineering/construction/architectural terms is a good thing. Does that increase our overall capacity? With luck, the next major project will involve rebanking the WB. There’s more to spend on KM for the short/medium term than you think… (4) JM and TB receiving Player/Manager of the Month awards and not managing to lose the game. Maybe this is our season? (5) What absolute crap music over the PA…

Anything else? Just a thought about next week at H&Y. Or rather Church Lane. Last time we went there, we were playing Viking Greenford on December 1st, 2002. In the CCL days, lest we forget. We won 4-0 and you can read it here. Apart from the obvious nostalgia trip, when many still saw AFCW as this idealist young being, it’s gobsmacking to see how much things have changed within six years. I didn’t even know we had a player called Tony Readings. Mind you, some things remain reassuringly familiar. Witness “We were playing fancy football, trying to walk it into the net but always with that final telling pass going astray”. Also, the attendance was 895 (which for a game on a Sunday was actually quite good). We’ll break that on Saturday, which just goes to show how much our support has held up. And in some parts, increased…

So, was it worth it? We’re top, Chelmsford lost, and the cuntholes lost 2-0 to Oldham. It can only be downhill from now on.

In a nutshell: Nice feeling isn’t it?