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Grass is greener

What’s the written/typing equivalent of a long, puffed out draw of breath, often used to show how nervous/relieved you are at a particular outcome? If you know what it is, please drop me a line about it. Because after Lakeside 0 Arndale 1, I’m going to do a big one.

Make no mistake – this was big. If winning ugly is what we’ve got to do, this was the equivalent of looking like Peter Wankelmann. If I was to tell you that this was just like some of the worst Ryman matches we had to endure in years past, that’ll give you some idea of just how big this win was.

Luck? Yes. Good fortune? Certainly. But was it luck or something more? See, we’ve had four games on the trot where we haven’t been at our pulsating best, yet we got twelve points. Almost as important, today the results went our way. If you were to step back, or indeed if you were to take that same scenario today for another division, you would say a massive step forward for the team in front was taken.

And let’s face it – it was. As it stands, and if you speak as a neutral, we are now nine points clear. Or with goal difference, ten points ahead. To overtake us, the next team below us has to win three more games than us just to draw level. And they’ll need to score a shitload of goals in the process. If we assume that H&R win their game in hand, it’s still tight enough for us to need to avoid complacency, but the gap is still wide enough for us to get away with one slipup.

But I want us to ignore those stats right now. This next week is again a vital one. If we can just carry Tuesday through (and Team Barf and BS do us some big favours) and then give it the next push for Saturday, even keeping something like a seven point lead, we’d have done ourselves a massive, massive favour. I know it will not do our collective tickers any good, but we will need at least one more set of results like today from now until late April.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve avoided writing much about the game up to now. Basically, it was because it was horrible. The pitch was bobbly (thank fuck), our opponents were straight out of last season, and the actual match entertainment, if it was rated on a five-star system, would have been about -2. In other words, it was absolutely dire.

It was as though the exertions of the past week had taken its toll on us (which is why I’m fearful for Tuesday, although we could just about get away with losing if we have to). Main and Kedwell looked like they didn’t exist half the time, and indeed Furruk should have been a couple of goals to the good. Though their quality up front, lack thereof, fortunately showed.

At half time – in fact, for most of the time – I was prepared to write today off. I was in truth more interested in what was happening down at Bognor and elsewhere. Did anyone else have that horrible feeling that we’d not only lose, but a couple of last minute winners elsewhere would slash our lead at the top and our arseholes would start looking like the Japanese flag? As it turns out, we’ve improved our position, and at such an important time of the season too.

I want to see the much maligned Sam Hatton’s free kick again. Not only for relief purposes, but also to see if it really did deflect off a divot. If it did, I hope somebody took said divot, put it in suitable storage and looks after it until the end of April. For IF IF IF IF IF IF IF we win the league, we should bring the divot out and wrap it around the trophy. It would have played its part, certainly a lot more than Belal anyway.

But that’s in the still all-too-far-away future. There’s still two more games this week that we need to get through. And we surely have to slip up? Surely? Surely……

Plus points: The 85th minute. Results elsewhere. A win. Another valuable three points. Would have lost this game last season/October.

Minus points: Everything up to the 85th minute. Looked tired and out of sorts.

The referee’s a…: Well, he was saying “please” and “thank you” a lot, so he was nice and polite. Still a twat though. Especially when he first gave a backpass then decided not to – and award an uncontested drop ball as an apology. Oh, and how many offsides did we have against us?

Them: Fighting for their Conf South lives, and boy did it show. With a bit more quality up front they could have Boreham Wooded us. Thing was, as the game progressed, I thought that they were starting to lose it a bit, just like the game at KM. Their #9 certainly lost it after giving away a free kick after we’d scored. Bless him. Anyway, they might cause problems for a couple of other teams this season, though unfortunately not against any of the chasing pack. Your editor is not going to even begin to pass comment over the fact that a nearby road is called The Caravan Site….

Point to ponder: Was it me or what it low-key off the field today as well? Guess we’re still anxious, and even after the game there wasn’t much in the way of “yeaaaaah we’re gonna win the league Easy Easy Easy”. More a kind of still shitting ourselves about H&R, though with the obvious relief thrown in. I guess what we need to do is not only keep winning, but put in a real good solid performance from beginning to end, if only to settle the nerves. Be honest, you expect more of the same against Worcester and H&W this week don’t you? Just imagine though if we start winning games like that with some comfort….

Meet the manager: No interview this week, though I did see him walk past me afterwards looking pretty relieved himself. I can exclusively reveal that he said “that was scary”. I don’t think scary is quite the right word……

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The Thurrock hotel. To quote, “is that a place where you hire rooms for an hour with Eastern European women?”. I wouldn’t know, although you can get a room for £59 a night. Come to think of it, there are quite a few hotels around that area (Premier Inn, Ibis, Hilton nearby). Is shopping at Lakeside that popular? (2) Did Furruk really have a live game on the BBC at their place merely a couple of years ago? Wonder how long it took them to clear the field next door car park that day? Believe the last car from that game finally got out last week. (3) Tea a whopping 60p. Seriously, there is no excuse for a cup of tea to cost any more than that. Especially as I’ve never had a teabag at a game that tasted anything other than the god-awful PG Tips.

Anything else? Yes. It’s in the average football fan’s nature to look at teams below them to see what they’re doing. I think we’re all keeping a wary eye on both H&R and Chelmsford, and probably discounting Eastleigh. The Beavers are bastards at the best of times, and you get the impression they’ll be the big spanner in the works for us if we’re not careful. And boy, will that hurt if they end up overtaking us. Even so, there’s still scope for them to slip up too. And don’t forget unlike when we were 9 points behind Chelmsford, they don’t have three games in hand…

Speaking of the Champions Elect, are they self-imploding? By the sounds of it, they managed to be even worse against BRT than when I saw them against Eastleigh. This after yet another round of signings which I presume won’t come cheap, despite what line is being spun out of their boardroom. Seems they are going for broke, and after Weymouth’s troubles this week (with a 9-0 stuffing today for good measure) you do wonder if history is about to repeat itself. That and the Peter Webb saga where all of a sudden he’s not on his bike doesn’t sound good for them. Good for us though if it keeps affecting them. To quote somebody today though, it all started going wrong for them when we beat them. Curse of the Wombles?

TBH I’ve said it before and will continue to say it. Us winning the league is purely in our own hands, and today the task got a tinsy winsy bit easier. But even if we are about three games ahead (points wise) than anyone else, I would kill to have a sixteen point gap right now….

So, was it worth it? Only because of Sam Hatton and a friendly blade of grass.

In a nutshell: One more little step…