It’s OK, you can breath a sigh of relief now.
If truth be told, I never thought that we’d lose against Team Barf, although when you’ve been having a run of form like we’ve had, you’ll accept anything. From watching the Youtube highlights, it struck me that while we played well enough to win, we’ll need to keep improving to get these three more wins that will probably get us up. Team Barf certainly looked ordinary, and I can see Basingstoke and especially Bromley giving us more of a game.
That said, I think there’s a sense of “job done” from yesterday. Nobody is thankfully getting carried away – it looked like a performance by a team which has won just once in the last month, but is quite possibly finding its feet again. There’s an expectation that by the time Good Friday comes around, we’ll be level on points at the top – H&R are playing Chelmsford tomorrow, and as this season constantly proves, the results you want and expect aren’t always the ones you get.
Or is it a foregone conclusion? By the sound of it, Chelmsford are starting to pick up form, and comments from yesterday at Dorchester suggested that the Axewounds “rode their luck”. Mind you, it was a local so chances are they played like champions. Remember, they (H&R and Eastleigh) have to keep winning…
As do we. One thing that should help us is knowing that the finish line is in sight. Even if H&R do win tomorrow, we’re still top, and without any further games in hand to contend with. Then it becomes a case of who blinks first. Will it be us? Time will tell, but consider this. This past month, we’ve had to put up with illegal goals and last minute winners at our expense (direct or indirect). If any team now is due a bit of good fortune, it’s us. Where’s our last minute goals in our favour? Where’s our handball goal that is allowed?
It’s quite possible of course that we won’t get them at all. Our attitude now has to be, assume nothing. Don’t assume that we’ll automatically get these three wins – they’ll be the hardest three wins of the season. Don’t assume that we’ll get a last minute goal that gets us a win – if H&R continue to get them, then they’re fated to win the title. Though I firmly believe that we’re the best side all-round this season. Don’t assume that a referee is going to give us the benefit of the doubt in any of our next four games – as their growing reputation testifies, Eastleigh do all right by cheating. Dishonesty not only pays in football but is almost actively encouraged. One only has to remember 28/5/02 to realise that.
Yes, it’s not fair. But life isn’t fair. Football certainly isn’t. We have to go into Basingstoke, and Bromley, and H&R and St Albans if need be, with the attitude that everyone is conspiring against us. If, if, if, if, if we get a break, then it’s a massive bonus. But like all bonuses, you shouldn’t expect it. The hard work has always been there, but this next four games will be the hardest of the lot. Be warned.
Anyway, I’ll let Dan take it further..
One down, four to go and we’re still top of the league. For a while yesterday afternoon, after the second goal had gone in and the sun was still shining down, you couldÂ almost believe that everything was going to be ok. ThatÂ those games in January and Febuary hadn’t been a blip. ThatÂ this recent spate of games had just been a chasteningÂ to our more spirited fans and that yes, we were stillÂ going to beÂ the champions. But then as we all trickled out of the ground, the tannoy announced the inevitable. That ChumptonÂ and Richmond had won 1-0 again.Â And the fear come came flooding back. Damn them. Damn them and their flukey 1-0 wins.
Plus Points: Well, the three that keep us top of the league for a start. H&R do still have a game in hand, but it’s against Chelmsford, so it’s no gimme.
The points aside there were aÂ couple of strongÂ performances yesterday that deserve a mention.
Conroy. Seems to be a real (re-)discovery. Strong defensively and clearly loves running up the line.Â Had a few nice little one-touch interplays with Kedwell in the second half and his cross for the crucial first goal was inch perfect.
Davis.Â More dangerous than dainty. Really flung himself about and could (probably should) have been booked for a Rooney-esque lunge on one of their players in the first half. Scored the second goal. Won man of the match. Won’t even need the tanning lotion if this weather keeps up.
Kedwell. What injury? Largely by-passed in the first half when he was employed at the top of Terry’s diamond, but really began bossing it in the second whenÂ put back up front. His confidence and energy had a real effect on the team.
Our defence. Looked good yesterday. Leberl and Judge clearly work well together, although you could argue that the students made them look good. The only real shot they had in the whole match was a weakly attempted lob which Pullen plucked out of the air with ease.
Finn. Deserves a quick mention. Only came onÂ for the last 15 but looked well up for it yesterday. Lots of purposeful running, shot off the postÂ and his twisty run into the box crossÂ led to the second goal.
Minus Points: Whisper it, but Main looked pretty sluggish yesterday. Ok, so he always looks sluggish and then bangs two goals in, but he just didn’t look that up for it. Maybe that’s harsh, as the balls to him often weren’t great,Â but he certainly lacks confidence as his first touch was poor and whenever a ball did find him in the box he just looked like he was waiting to be tackled. It wasn’t that surprising that when he came off (for Finny) weÂ went on to score a second.
Maybe it’s time to give him a rest and start withÂ Kedwell and Ibe?Â Or Finn? Main isÂ still a dangerousÂ striker andÂ it goes without saying that we wouldn’t be top without him, but he really looked like a man out of sorts.
Anything else? Oh yeah, Chumpton won again. But then who didn’t expect that?
The referee’s a…: Student, judging by his haircut. One of those trendy sideways ones. He wasn’t great, but at least he didn’t allow any blatent handball goals, so better than some.
Them: Pretty poor to be honest. Didn’t manage a shot on goal until the second half. If we’d played them during the glory months of January and Febuary we’d have destroyed them. They could hassle and pass it around neatly in midfield, but seemed to have absolutely nothing up-front. Must be odd for them playing in front of a crowd for a change.
Best bit of abuse from the crowd: “Oi you! Leave my ketchup alone!” [SW19 editor’s note : eh?]
Us: Better. We looked up for andÂ whilst we didn’tÂ exactly ooze confidence, we at least played with a lot of energy. The crowd we’re warmly clapped off before kick off and responded to it well,Â the first ten minutes of the matchÂ being played at a blistering pace.
Terry used Kedwell in the place of Godfrey at the top of his diamond, with Main and Ibe just in front of him,Â whichÂ gave us aÂ very attacking look.Â It fell down largely because we kept playing balls over the top, for Ibe and Main to run onto, so KedwellÂ couldn’t really get involved in his normal blood and thunder way.
Davis flung himself about with more gusto,Â Lee was class (particularly hisÂ pass for the first goal) and only Hatton and Main were a little anonymous.
So, was itÂ worth it? Course it was. After yesterday’s game I found myself really looking forward to theÂ Hampton game, rather than dreading it. And the sun was shining.
Point to ponder: Chelmsford turned around their recent run of bad form with a 2-0 win against Worcester and I actually think that’s a good thing. They play HnR on Monday and if they can take confidence from their win maybe they can knock the stuffing out of them.Â Even a draw would help.
Truth is stranger than fiction: It may be nothing, but as he was wombling around the pitch Haydon grabbed my notepad and wrote ‘Goal Dons’. 3 minutes laterÂ Ibe was poking home our first. Does the little man know something we don’t? Next week I’m going to get him to write ‘Bomb on Hampton team coach’.
In a nutshell: Maybe, just maybe.