Continuing my usual don’t-really-cover-evening-games-unless-I-want-to-say-something approach to, er, evening games there was something quite pleasing about last night. I know before Suburb of Wimbledon 3 Suburb of Frenzyville 0 we all had our (more than) slight concerns about it. Another lackisadical performance, stumbling its way painfully to extra time before the ultimate heartbreak of penalties? Be honest, it crossed your mind didn’t it.
Truth be told, we needed this game. We’ve been rather dodgy of late, and it’s good to see a performance that we are capable of. Last night, we showed that there is a gap between a decent BSS side (which we are, let’s be honest), and a Southern Prem one. Were Bedford poor? Well, they didn’t look like the tough conquerers of Saturday. In fact, I can’t remember if they even had a shot on target.
Yes, I know it’s “only” against a lower division side, but we did prove to ourselves that once we get our discipline right, it’s pretty hard to match us. Look at some of the other results from this round – hell, in fact look at them from last night. Could you have forseen Burgess Hill doing BRT? Or Harlow knocking out St Albans, in front of 23,000 people? I suppose the biggest shock of all is that they’re not that surprising.
I know I talked about it at length on Saturday, but there’s got to be something more to the way the BSS sides have come croppers. There are now ten in the next round, and that can’t just be “the magic of the cup”. What we did last night is what you expect to happen – but then, dare I say we’re more professional? Or at least better prepared.
Back to last night. It was good to see DK net his first for us. I know plenty were suggesting that JM should be rested, but personally I think the best thing to do is keep playing him. He hasn’t become shit overnight, and even last night with a couple of extra inches of pace, or a bit more luck, he could have got back on track. Main is one of those sort of players who once he gets one or two in a game will end up scoring about 10 in the next few games. Lest we forget, he’s had to (a) carry the striking load by himself, and more recently (b) learn how to play off a new battler of a striker. Dare I saw our recent blips have coincided with his recent loss of form?
Not that we’re a one-man team, and Belal looks promising. But all round, I think we couldn’t find much to fault from last night. Even the Guinness tasted semi-decent for once.
Anyway, enough mutual masturbation. It’s Dover in the next round, and it’s another tricky away tie. So much for the easy stroll towards the first round proper. Dover of course was the site of one of the more favoured away games in the AFCW era. I could be mistaken, but it was the first time I can remember “proper” segregation, so you had about 1200 Wombles pushed onto one terrace, the rest of the ground not even half full and what a lovely noise we all made. And this was when we were (on paper) the underdogs.
It’ll be different now. Dover are now the plucky lower division side, they’ve had a decent start and a decent legit support (then again, they are ex-Conference), and like Chelmsford and Newport seem to be one of those clubs who could do something if they get it right on the field. Also, they’ll be representing the Ryman, and we all know what that means. In fact, I have visions of Karl Williams and Alan Boon presenting the Dover manager with the Isthmian Ceremonial Sword, giving some masonic handshake and chanting “For God and the Ryman” before ordering them to slain the evil spirit of AFC Cheats on behalf of non-league purity and the Great Deity Turdey.
Actually, it’s one of those games that will really pump people up. It won’t be easy, but then a couple of tricky-yet-perfectly-winnable games won’t hurt us. Especially if it won’t bugger us up league wise if we do lose. Dare I say that yesterday and Dover will kickstart our season again? Plus of course now we’re in the BSS (oh, these bollocks are so cumbersome) we don’t have to play about a zillion qualifying rounds before we can even start drawing Conf sides. Win on the 11th, and we will be one more victory away from possibly playing Franchise. Psychologically, that makes it seem better doesn’t it? Apart from the possible opponents bit.
Anyway, that’s a long way off. More pressing is Worcester away this Saturday. There’s no excuse for us to forget everything we did last night, and with that same level of application who knows? I can’t help but think a decent league victory will just make everyone sit up and take notice of us again – I really don’t like looking at the table, seeing we’re third and kicking ourselves for letting H&Y on top. With luck, normality will resume come 5pm in the Midlands.
Seems like Worcester themselves are in turmoil off the pitch, for reasons I don’t quite fathom. Mind you, neither can anyone else. Apparently, everyone’s being asked to not use their social club, so at least those who like to find excuses to boycott have a decent one this time (yes, we all know who you are. Don’t deny it. And stop trying to turn the “W” for Worcester upside down, finding it makes an “M” and claim you must stay away because they share the same letter with Frenzyville). So for the pissheads, there’s bound to be another pub somewhere for you all to use.
Needless to say, with an AFCW side regaining its confidence, and a Worcester side struggling in more ways than one, prepare for a shitty journey back to London………