Ah, that’s a bit better. Shame that Lea and Perrins 1 Lidl Own Brand 3 wasn’t a league game, as right now we’ll be talking about when, not if, we go top again, how they might as well give us the title now, and how the last few weeks have been all but a temporary blip on our path towards inevitable greatness.
Actually, all sneering aside, this was worth the 3 hour journey, 2c temperature, overpriced service stations and suffering BBC WM. At least it didn’t snow. It was certainly nice to go to this venue again (probably for the last ever time) and get that horrible league game out of our system.
I don’t know why, but we looked a lot more relaxed yesterday. Last week at Welling we were apparently feeling sorry for ourselves. Here, we weren’t. And boy, it showed. I honestly can’t remember the last time our defence – our defence – looking as solid as it did. OK, we let in a stupid goal, but it is illegal for us to ever keep a clean sheet. There was precious little fannying about when it wasn’t needed, a determination to actually get the ball away instead of letting it reside in our area. When we opened the scoring, I just didn’t think we’d lose after that. Seriously.
And here’s my dilemma this morning. I want to bask in the glow of this performance, yet it’s tempered by it “only” being the FA Trophy. Yeah, I know I said “only” in quotation marks, and if we got offered at least the semi final in it this season we’d take it with as many gripping limbs as possible. But if I’m being honest, inbetween thoughts of Finn’s intelligent play, Belal’s firepower, the way that Inns, JG and Judge seemed to work together, and even some pretty decent enough passing, every so often a little dissenting spark in my cognitive regions kept popping up like a party-pooping squeak – “three points”……
The problem for us this season is that our aims have changed PDQ. In the beginning we were happy to consolidate this season, maybe outside the playoff positions. Since our start, we now find ourselves in fifth place and we’d consider it a failure if we finished that low. The Wycombe game was great for the club, but I can’t help thinking TB especially would have preferred it not to have buggered up the Chelmsford and Welling games. And now, we have another weekend without a league game.
In other words, our aim this season is promotion – and not through the bloody playoffs this time.
Now, I’m greedy enough to want both a decent FAT run and promotion. How fucking kewl would it be if one week we secured promotion at KM in the playoff final (Chelmsford will win the title this season, you watch) and then the next week go to Wembley and cause a shock by not conceding a stupid goal? Realistically though, going up this season is our main aim. Go in the Conf, and FAT/FAC runs really will be what they were intended for. Yet it’s a sad state of modern football that we get to play Conf sides in the next round and all I’m thinking about is how it will affect our league campaign.
I suppose really our ideal draw on Monday will be Crawley. It’ll be a decent turnout, especially away, it’ll keep the AFCW beancounters happy, and in all likelyhood we’ll get stuffed. Leaving us with a taste of Conf level and a renewed determination to get up there. Without looking at the results from yesterday, what’s the betting we get a Ryman side at KM with 1300 people bothering to watch us labour to a 2-1 victory?
Enough cynicism. This was a good performance, certainly the best I’ve seen for a good few weeks. If the FAT this season brings us one good non-monetary side effect, it’ll be the likes of Belal stepping up to the plate. He’s a player who won’t ever dislodge DK or JM, but as last year proved we certainly need somebody who is prepared to sit on the bench just in case. In a way, we did ourselves a major dis-service going out of the Setanta Shield and the LSC (we can’t count the FAC), because the likes of Belal won’t get many more opportunities to start. He’s given TB a headache now, but as they say in clicheland it’s a good headache to have.
Actually, going against everything I’ve said above, we probably needed this game without the additional pressure of nabbing three points. If we can overcome the curse of the Beavers next week thanks to the renewed confidence I saw yesterday, then it’ll certainly be worth it. Christ, we even managed to win in the jinxed yellow kit………….
Plus points: A win. Good solid performace. Defence playing well. Belal. Finn. Godfrey. Going for the third goal at 2-1 up. Renewed seriousness. Never really looking likely to lose it.
Minus points: Another shit goal conceded. Not being a league game.
The referee’s a….: He was all right as it goes. Interesting to note that he was from Staffordshire, and his linos were from Castle Bromwich and somewhere else up that region, which would have written this particular section by itself had we lost….
Them: Did this lot really put three past us in 20 minutes last time here? We really must have been shit that day. And their goal yesterday was only because we went to sleep yet again. Still amazes me why they put them in the BSS, because it’s a sod of a way to go – you know you’re too far north when you see signs for Wolverhampton and think it’s only down the road. A classic ground (ie old). Good to see their hardcore army snuggle up near us in the second half, do the usual crappy chants and slink off remarkably quickly a good few minutes before the end. Funny that.
Point to ponder: Was it me or did we just look fresher without DK and JM? No, I’m not advocating dumping both of them, and they’re far and away the best two strikers at the club, but it won’t hurt either us or themselves if Belal and Godfrey are hanging around like a fart in an airing cupboard. At times, I think we’ve put waaaay too much expectation on our first choice strike duo, and it just doesn’t happen every week. Imagine if we were forced into playing them again yesterday…..
Three’s a crowd: 895. Or was it 855? Couldn’t make out their PA, and I was sitting about 10 yards away from him. Considering nobody was going to trudge up to this one we still put in a respectable enough 350 (at most) ourselves. What it does show is that our more-or-less-guaranteed-to-travel-wherever support is better than a fair few league sides that I’ve seen (hello Bury and Macclesfield). If we go up and we get Barrow in the evening in December, it does suggest that enough people will make the journey. Though knowing our perverse nature, such a fixture will be one of our best turnouts of the season.
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) WDON technical problems aside, I can’t remember a day recently that was so hassle-free. Even the drive from and to SW19 Towers (M40, M42, M5 etc) was hassle free. Enjoy these small victories, you’ll end up in a huge traffic jam one day. (2) Speaking of WDON, it really did feel like a 1970s/80s European game from East Europe, right down to sharing a phone for commentary and the rusting factory behind one of the terraces. No gangs of leather-jacketed skinheads outside though, although that could just be the sort of games I go to. (3) The PA bloke putting an announcement up for a lost hot water bottle. Non league, eh? (4) Why is the local “big” team Birmingham City? Admittedly, my geography of the West Midlands isn’t the greatest, but it really is the dominant pro club in Worcester if the shirts are anything to go by. Not Wolves, not the Baggies, and no Villa to be seen anywhere. Perhaps they once chased some away fans from New Street a little bit too far…
Anything else? I do enjoy going to Worcester, and I’ve worked out why. It’s the nearest we’ve got to WFC-style away trips since 2002. Maybe it’s because the area around their ground reminds me a bit of Highfield Road, or maybe having to leave home before 10.30am to stand a chance of getting there before 3pm? Either way, yesterday reminded me of trips to Coventry (especially), to Villa, even to that game against Walsall in that season. Especially the ones where we win. Yeah, I know I said “only” the FAT, but yesterday just reconfirmed the difference between ourselves and the bulk of non-league culture. We know the glow you get from a long journey where you’ve won, because we’ve done it so many times as a fanbase. Trips to Ramsgutter never quite had that same feel, did it?
So, was it worth it? Guess so.
In a nutshell: Now, let’s do this in the league…