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Wash those nerves away

As it’s Valentine’s evening, and after Shower 3 Bath 2, I hope some kind soul takes Lady Luck out for a nice romantic dinner. No expense spared. If she wants flowers and champagne too, get her the best you can find. Tonight is all about her.

Because after the way she’s been ridden this week, the poor cow deserves something nice this evening.

As for the rest of us, I think valium and neat whiskey might be in order. This wasn’t winning ugly, this was winning suicidally. At 2-0, we weren’t comfortable but the opposition were starting to lose it mentally. Then, gift them a goal and it’s brown underpant time. Thank fuck for Godfrey’s effort about 30 seconds later, and their strikers not hitting a barn door. Because had we dropped points today, I think Jamie Pullen and Mickey Haswell would be in hiding.

Make no mistake, this was a difficult game. In fact, it’s been a difficult week, and one I for one am glad is now over. With six points added to an ever increasingly vital tally, and with games starting to run out we needed this. There’s a clear sense of relief about. The penalty was luck, our second goal had a bit of fortune, and the two we conceded were just outright shocking. And to think at 2-0 I wrote that we were showing a lot more backbone in defence. Certainly got a lot more practice at defending anyway.

A bit more discipline, a lot less sloppyness (which to be fair we hadn’t been showing so much recently) and this would have been comfortable-if-unspectacular. Our back line must really be on its guard now from now until the end of April. It’s no good relying on JM and DK to carry us through if our defence will keep opening its legs and saying “come hither”.

Know what was flashing through my mind at various points of the game? Tonbridge Angels last season. Either contest in the league will suffice, though I’m thinking more of the home game against them. When Barf got their corner right on 93 minutes, you feared the worst didn’t you? What I do hope is that we haven’t used up Lady Luck’s goodwill by rattling her once too often this week. A quick glance at the upcoming fixtures suggests that the next games are tricky but perfectly winnable. We certainly need to use this week to recharge, both mentally and physically. Just take a deep breath, regroup mentally and ensure that today was the worst it’ll be for the rest of the season.

But we’re unscathed. We have six points, about four more than I would have expected this time last Saturday. We know we can play better, and there really does seem like there’s a spirit and determination throughout the team that is getting us through right now. You get the impression a draw or loss will sting but not hurt. Mentally and physically, our last three games have been excruciating, and not just for us supporters. Should we drop points, I’m now starting to believe it will be down to us not being crap but it catching up with us. That is why I’m glad we (a) don’t have a backlog of fixtures that we need to get through, especially midweek, and (b) don’t have at least four fixtures against the chasing pack upcoming. And I suppose the points gap we’ve built up helps.

Are we feeling the pressure? Yes and no. Yes, because the last few games have seen a more tense, terse atmosphere at the games. It’s in our hands, and we know it. But no, because we seem to have that belief deep down that if we do find ourselves off the top of the table, we can regroup and go for it. Want proof of that belief? OK, this should have been a defeat or a draw at best. We’ve given our all recently, we were without Hussey, Lee and Kennedy to name but three, and we played very difficult opponents who themselves are the in-form side of the division behind ourselves. And we won. And their two goals were down to us.

I think we know we’ve gotten away with it this week, but at the same time we know even now we can improve. There’s no moping about the injuries, we know we just have to get the three points by whatever (legal) means necessary. Our nerves are jangling a little because we’ve got this far, we can start to smell the Conference and we don’t want to let it slip. They’re not down to us knowing deep down we’re not good enough. I think that might be a good thing…

Plus points: We won. Scoring three goals again. Godfrey netting a doozy. Ability to cope with the pressure that I haven’t seen us do for many a year. Getting the goals at the right time. Coming back immediately when it was 2-1.

Minus points: Those two goals. Looking not quite there at times.

The referee’s a….: What a cunt. Seemed determined not to give us anything at all, and only really could give the penalty as he had no choice in the matter. Even down to the off-the-ball incident with Haswell (?) who was left on the floor poleaxed at yet another Barf free kick yet their player only received a yellow. To quote the bloke behind me, “it’s a shit game and you’re not helping it”. Oh, and the linesman was from Frenzyville. Luckily for him, he obviously wasn’t a Mong because he was quite good….

Them: Fair play to them – they went at us and could (should) have got something out of the contest. Some may say they weren’t all that, but like H&Y they’re another side that you shouldn’t be surprised at if they end up in the playoffs. Liked their #10 anyway. To me, Barf are a club that wouldn’t look too out of place in the Conference, though obviously their team isn’t at that level yet. At least one Womble reckons that our last minute goal against them in the FAC in 1974/75 is the most important in our history, so it’s not like we’re dealing with a nobody side. Was a bit surprised at their support, which I thought would have been bigger. Still, they enjoyed themselves…

Meet the manager: Owing to technical difficulties, I managed to miss the first 30 seconds of TB’s interview. Basically, he said we were “leggy”. You can listen to the rest of it below in glorious streaming….

TB on Bath City – click here

Point to ponder: How immense is Jason Goodliffe? Is he just mere mortal immense or mythical superhuman comic book type immense? The sort of immense that Marvel comics would do a special limited edition for. You can see it now – Jason Goodliffe : Tower Of Power. It may be his Indian summer, and he may find the years catch up with him very quickly, but our recent increased backbone in defence (apart from today) has been in large part down to him. Remember when he was finished not so long ago? If he gets to lift the Conference South trophy in April, nobody with a soul could say he didn’t deserve it.

Three’s a crowd: 3043. Another game where it proves the old adage that success breeds success. Thinking about it, these last few games, we’ve managed to overcome to an extent playing in front of 3000+ crowds and not embarrasing ourselves in the process. Little things…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Just think, had results gone badly this week we could have been within striking distance of being in second place. (2) Speaking of changing times – Micky Haswell. Now somebody who you could consider more of a liability than an asset. Perhaps we should have sold him to Chelmsford when we got the chance? Funny to think that at the beginning of the season he was on trial at Brighton. (3) Now I’m only on WDON duties on occasions rather than regularly, I went back amongst the proles on the terraces. Put it this way – I wouldn’t want to be a director of a club, always having to be the one in suit and tie having to act properly. On more than the odd occasion today, I was asked if I had tourets…

Anything else? I dunno. Can’t really seem to write too much without either getting carried away with our results/form or putting the ultimate dampner on it. We’re in a strange time of the season, where you have to remain focused even though we could still finish outside the playoffs. I get the impression that a lot of people are like this right now, and I guess throughout the team as well. If you’re top in November, it’s so far to the end of the season that you can just relax. If it’s March and you’re in the same position, it’s a case of re-tripling your efforts to get you over that finishing line. But midway through February? Is it me or does this season seem to be getting ever longer the closer we get to the last game? Easter will be a killer.

So, was it worth it? The three points certainly was.

In a nutshell: A small step on an increasingly longer road….