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A nice swig of Claret

Well, that was good wasn’t it? Your editor was holed in freezing Northfleet today, which is why 911 has come up with the report below.

While we must not get carried away with this result, you could be forgiven for thinking that today, a major hurdle got vaulted over. Suddenly, we can win the big games. I imagine that this was how the Coldseal playoff game felt – that major psychological barrier just looked tantilisingly overcomable, but deep down you still feared the worst. Well, when I heard we went 2-0 up, I still had those little doubts. Surely we wouldn’t let slip a two goal lead, would we?

The next time I discovered the score was when it was 3-1, which was just as well as being 2-1 up and by all accounts sitting back and practising defending is not a good way to spend an afternoon. Maybe the old self-doubt crept in just a little bit? Or maybe we’re just simply paranoid about playing them?

So, what does this all mean? Firstly, we’re in control of winning the title – it will take two bad results in a row to lose that top spot. We are due a sticky patch, and while we await that we need to start putting daylight between ourselves and the rest. We will have worse weekends than this until the end of the season, I can assure you.

Secondly, it’s quite possible that the title will go a long way to be decided by this time next month. IF we somehow keep this run going, and IF the others drop points, it becomes almost too difficult to catch up. Remember that Chelmsford themselves effectively won the title when they beat us at their place last season, and that was the middle of March. Too early to start thinking like that, of course, but that’s the next mental challenge for us.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly – the squad feels good. I would hope our players are buzzing tonight (without getting complacent), because they’ve got to want staying at the top of the pile. By that, I mean they don’t take it for granted. Right now, you feel invincible, don’t you? And yes, it’s a great feeling. St Albans could well knock us back down to earth next week, which is where TB will really need to start earning his money. He must now keep our players focused not just for next week but the week after that. And beyond. We haven’t won the league yet, but we may have taken a small but significant step towards it.

One thing that did catch my eye whilst editing the report below, the lockouts. Admittedly, this is something that may be a bit premature to do, but I think the time has now come for AFCW to look into a ticket membership scheme. And that would include the setup we had for the Wycombe game, which IMO seemed to work quite well. No, it will mean that swapping ends etc will become a thing of the past, and we wouldn’t really need to use it if we’re in the CS next season. But today, if you could have allowed people to buy terrace tix for a section of the ground, it would have ensured no lockout for some.

OK, the ground expansion will make life easier, and I know that up until about Friday the CCFC fans were going to be put in the WB end until the facilities were sorted out, so that couldn’t be helped. But today gave a glance of what it will really be like should we play the Oxfords and Lutons and Bournemouths to name but three. Not only that, but there will be away games where our allocations will be limited. Start a ticket scheme up, with priority booking and even a “loyalty pot” (so that those who do Dorchester away in the evening aren’t left out for Chelmsford at KM), and it’ll make life easier. Plus, for somebody like me who doesn’t have a ST and has absolutely no protection or guarantee of a ticket for a big game despite going to every game I’m available, it would be a godsend. It might be a good idea for the club to look into one even if we do find ourselves playing at Welling and Dover next season.

In the meantime, enjoy this week. Just remember the season starts again next week. Meanwhile…….

The post season euphoria from the 3rd May 2008 seemed to carry on right through to the announcements of our Fixture List in July.  However, there was somewhat of a disappointment when the fixtures emerged that the away days to the seaside locations of Weston Nightmare and Bognor Royals were scheduled for deepest mid winter.  We had a rather uninspiring Christmas double bill against the Fishermen, but the trip to Wales in the rain got the show on the road.

The two fixtures that really mattered were Chelmsford home and away. Much has changed since we played CCFC on 1 November 2008.  After that 3-2 defeat we have added a further 27 points from our 12 fixtures compared to their 22 from 10 and now we were sparring on equal terms.  The BSS this season is likely to be 2 from 3 (AFCW, CCFC and H&RFC) going up, barring a late run from the inconsistent Eastleigh.  Havant and Toilet the pre season bookies favourites have evaporated. (Put your dosh on Dover winning the BSS next season – go to Betfair)

That was then, today is now   There were only 3 points on offer today, but somehow it felt like 6 didn’t it?   We now find ourselves 3 points clear at the top with 15 games to go. We are probably favourites now but that does not help and we are now being chased. A cursory glance down our fixture list shows that we only have two mid week evening fixtures left (both at home thankfully) with the rest Saturday – 3.00 pm Kickoffs.  We seem to score more goals in day light and struggle under floodlights, although I am sure there are some stattos out there that can do an analysis on our goals scored, against minutes on pitch in daylight hours

Anyway to today – Champagne Supanova 3, Purple Rain 1 – Sounds good doesn’t it!

Before the game there was an atmosphere around the ground of expectation, particularly with the run we have been on, however, when the top two meet in any league it is always going to be a close, tense affair.  There was much said on various discussion boards about a draw suiting us more than them, but in reality 3 points is a decisive blow, even with 15 games to go.

The game itself whilst not a classic was compelling – starting 10 minutes late, both teams had one outfield player wearing gloves and both sides had four players wearing long sleeved shirts. All very equal.  They kicked off and promptly got in each others way for a comedy start to the game. We started nervously and reverted to long ball stuff and let them pass it around , the result being that neither keeper really had to do that much other than collecting crosses and marshalling defenders. One long punt from Pullen, de-de-de-de Danny Kedwell flick on and Mainy tucked it away (cue suspect music). Ten minutes later confusion in the Claret defence, their keeper (David Hasselhoff look alike ?) caught in no mans land and Godfrey lays on Main for number two.  Half time arrived and without playing that well we were two up and on the way to 3 points.

Second half followed a similar pattern with them passing it around and us working the long ball game well. 20 minutes in new boy Andy Sambrook gives away a free kick which we don’t deal with and suddenly its game on. Bet you were thinking Tonbridge, Worthing and many before. Could have gone either way from there, they had more possession but only worked Pullen twice and we always looked dangerous on the break. Hatton missed a sitter but eventually Davis tucked in a third and the bumper crowd were happy.

Plus points: Finally beating CCFC in a league match [SW19 note: at KM. Often forgotten that we beat them 3-0 at MP in the Darlogate season]. Sambrook. Winning and not playing at our best. DK/JM partnership.. Being able to revert to long ball stuff occasionally

Minus points: Conceding from another set piece. Having to turn away paying customers (whoever they support)

The referee’s a…: We had him before and I expect we will have him again. Bottled two penalty claims in the second half – one was clearcut the other a dubious panel job. Booked Hussey for petulance when Davis probably deserved the card.  Otherwise did a reasonable job bearing in mind the intensity of it all. To close for the lino to give “the goal “ from the headed corner – some say it was over the line but from where I was it was not. Missed a Davis handball which could have cost us. The word from the Kingston Road end was that the reason that the linesmen swapped halfs during the first half was due to coin throwing from the CCFC fans. Fair play to the ref who dealt with it well and if it turns out to be true his report will no doubt make interesting guestbook postings.

Them: Passed the ball neatly but never really tested Pullen. The Carling Opta stats would probably show they slightly edged possession but we had far more chances and could have run out much clearer winners on another day. They were the best we have entertained at KM this season apart from Eastleigh who did a job on us. Neither side played brilliantly today probably due to the significance of the result Good turnout from them – guestimates range from 400- 600 and there were some locked out

Point to ponder: Season Ticket 13 from your book today – was it meant to be lucky 13? Cos when the fixture list came out it was game 14 on the race card. Also, only 4 balls out of the ground today – most home games last season had over 10. Would seem to imply that the standard of play is improving this season (only 6 against Braintree last week)

Three’s a crowd: 4690 –Full House signs up. 100 yard queue to get  in the Tempest end by 2.15 and reports that gates were shut before 3.00.  We don’t want to turn away customers and if we reach the dizzy heights of the BS Prem those sorts of crowds can be expected again. We need to look at the John Smiths extension quickly. Second biggest home crowd (after Chipstead) We are now averaging over 3000 for the season – those keen on stats will have noted that we have spent most of the season at number 89 in the national crowd league table (source Tony Kempster) and I expect that by the end of the season we could really push the mighty Hereford for 86th spot. Segregation seemed to work again.

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) 6 fans taking a vantage point outside the Kingston Road end – trying to get a view of the hallowed – brings back memories of watching telly re runs of the 1950s cup matches – who’d of thought it about a BSS league game.  (2) Harry Basset on the pitch with Ivor at half time – looked like the little and large show. Also at half time the blue square keepy uppy competition was embarassing – get rid

Anything else? A couple of things. Goal difference may come into it at the end of april  so our current run of free scoring will help – 16 goals to the good is worth another point on CCFC. Why did both sides completely waste possession at every kick off ? Jeff King resembling the Pengiun from Batman as he waddled over the pitch ( the tempest gave him the “ Jeff King is a roundabout “ treatment  – funny ! ) Haydons minder always wears the same white hooded top with the white away shirt combo and two ear pieces sticking out – is it lucky ? Great header from the portly bloke in the main stand mid way through the first half – straight out of the Goodliffe book ! Also, the speakers in the Tempest End always cutting out  – makes the pre match build up sound like a rap gig

So, was it worth it? Top of the league  – you work it out !

In a nutshell: Get in  – ours to win now