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Tall Poppy Syndrome

Hands up – who here even dreamed it would be Poppies 1 Heroin 2 before the game?

After a good few days of feeling a bit sorry for ourselves after Eastbourne, wondering whether we will have to wait ten games to get a win, whether our strike force was as potent as a viagra addict etc etc, comes a result that really will raise more than a few eyebrows.

And while we’re clearly nowhere near challenging for the playoffs this season, it was the result that maybe, just maybe, can kickstart us. Think about it – most of us expected a loss here. The very fact their goal came from Hatton’s completely retarded miskick misfortune is perhaps even more of a fillip for us. Yes, we rode our luck a tad again – two goal-line clearances in the last five minutes of the first half for starters. Was it a penalty for them? Maybe, maybe not. Was it a penalty for us? Yeah, probably, though the lino gave it more than the ref.

But I suppose this luck does even itself out after all. We shouldn’t have lost at Eastbourne in midweek, so maybe this was our reward for that? Whatever the ins and outs, we now have three valuable points. And by “valuable”, I mean a nerve-settling brown-trouser-preventing result that will make Salisbury just that little bit less fraught.

See, we can get three points in this division.

The game itself? Well, it was one of those ones that you expected the BSS to have but ultimately didn’t. Lots of hard running, plenty of endeavour if not too much skill. I lost count of the amount of times we kicked the ball out of play without good reason. Maybe the pace of the games is still something we haven’t gotten used to as of yet. Though we certainly have wised up a little bit more after this result.

When Danny Kedwell headed home for our first goal, it was a little bit against the run of play. But at the same time the way we’ve been practicing attacking options this week has obviously paid off. One could argue we were a bit lucky to be ahead at half time, there was the occasional moment of panic in our ranks anyway. But we won this because we did what other teams will do to us this season – we had very few chances but we took them. How many times have we dominated play in the past yet come out with very little? Now we’ve encountered the flip side, and it’s as satisfying when you win as it’s frustrating when you lose.

To do something like that takes a fair amount of bottle. We could have caved in but didn’t, and that’s a good omen for the games ahead. When we got our penalty, that too was after yet more periods when the defence were claiming overtime payment. I have to admit that about 5 minutes beforehand I wrote “next goal wins”, I just didn’t expect it to be us.

But I may be a bit harsh here. How often will you see teams in this division dig in and take advantage of the opposition’s wastefulness? Especially away from home? And especially on pitches that come from the local Tarmac/artificial beach factory? More than you think. We’ll do it again before the year is out, let alone the season. And you know what? We’ll have it done to us, too.

Anyway, while you get your head around the first three points of the season, here’s…

Plus points: We won. Away. First win of the season. Everyone worked hard. Paul Lorraine. Brett Johnson. Never giving up. Holding our nerve. DK.

Minus points: Their goal. Too many woeful passes. Still haven’t entirely got into the pace of the Conference yet.

The referee’s a…: Actually, I didn’t notice him that much. Nobody is complaining much about him, anyway. That said, he came on late for the start of the second half, and was warmly cheered because of it. At least, if you can count sarcasm as affection.

Them: To be fair, they will go through most games at their place unbeaten this season. Luton and Oxford beware. The man with the best name in football, Exodus Geohaghan (sp) would be an ideal Axewound signing, anyway. That said, I would like to see the game on DVD, it might well be that we held them off more effectively than first thought. The general consensus from their end was that they huffed and puffed and we didn’t exactly fall over…

Of course, their pricing policy is the main talking point right now. 1746 for a game that could and should have been over 2500 is pretty piss poor, and their prices reflected that. £16 for a “terrace” that represents my driveway is a piss take. Category “A” for the Conference – the fucking Conference – is a piss take. Charging £10 for the same “terrace” for Handy and others is a serious piss take. And pouring half a 500ml drink into a cup, then charging 80p for it is the level of piss-take that Arsenal just dished out to poor old Everton.

Now we’ve been and gone, it’s worth re-reading their “open letter” – or attempt to justify their greed pricing policy – to us. Apparently quite a few of our fans have replied directly to Kettering about it, but haven’t had the courtesy of a reply yet. Hmm, funny that. Anyway, they justify their greed prices by saying it all goes to their police bill. £3000 per game, on average, they claim. So, how many coppers did we put up with today? 100? 200? Nope – four. And two of those were from the Met and – apparently – weren’t charging for their services.

Hmm, and hmm again.

Anyway, bar a cup game it’s not our problem again this season. Their chairman is a mate of Wankie though, which automatically makes him a grade A Franchise loving cuntstain. Reportedly after the game, he was seen stalking around furiously with a DVD under his arm. I was told it was down to their “penalty” incident right at the death that wasn’t given. Though I’m more inclined to believe the DVD was the profit/loss spreadsheets from the game…

Point to ponder: When was the last time we received a battering like that in the last 15 minutes? The very fact we held out like we did (although it has to be said, Kettering weren’t all that in front of goal) is testament to how much our defence has improved. Poor Ben Judge and Alan Inns can’t get a look in. The sight of Pullen running out to punch clear a ball from the Kettering goalkeeper in the dying seconds will live in my memory for a long while…

Meet the manager: Yes, a special away fixture interview for you. The joys of doing WDON (am I still shit on that?). Here’s our manager…

TB talks about Kettering – click here

I got the impression he was more relieved than bouncing off the walls here. Still, plenty to think about for him, but in a good way too.

Oh, and there’s an additional treat for you all. A special bonus post-match interview with Paul Lorraine:

Paul Lorraine speaks about Kettering – click here

In other words, the same interview that you’ll read about in the SLP on Tuesday 😉 One thing about Quiche, he wasn’t half walking like an old man after the game – mind you, he was pretty blistered up…

I also recorded an interview with Mark Cooper (Kettering boss) but one suspects you don’t want to hear it…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The traffic on the M25 coming up. I got there an hour later than I should have done, and the team coach barely got there much before 2pm. Mind you, the people to feel sorry for were the ones on the supporters coach – 20 minutes late for the first and 40 minutes late for the other one. Owch. Thank fuck we won. (2) Sitting at Newport Pagnell services and seeing shirts of Villa, Forest, Watford and some others, just like ye olden days. This feels right. (4) Apparently, Jeff Stelling and the BBC Classifieds were reading our scores out. When you consider this is a big deal for us, it puts into context just how much was taken away from us in 2002.

Anything else? I would have told you about the fun I had with in-car power sockets stopping working, and your editor getting more money from his jury service last fortnight than expected, but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll repeat a comment that I made on WDON. I got the impression that we have twigged a bit more what to expect now from this division. We still made basic mistakes on occasions but unlike Tuesday we weren’t closed down nearly so much. In fact, towards the end (inbetween the bombardment we endured) our passing game got going and to be honest, it looked pretty tasty.

I think if I was to pick the most pleasing thing about this win, it’s this : it’s how quickly we’re learning.  I think we saw the first signs of developing that nouse, that requirement to be clued up. One wonders if Jay Conroy went for that penalty of ours – not so much cheating  as forcing the other guy to concede it.

I don’t think we’re a bad side – yes, this current squad of players will be midtable, although in two years time it will go from a spine from the Ryman to a spine from the Conference. But for Luton and Eastbourne, our naivety showed up at intervals. This time, we weren’t the country bumpkin (or London suburb equivalent) making his first trip on the tube. We seemed to twig what line to get, and that escalators move you up or down quickly, instead of being works of witchcraft.

In other words, and in a twist on the old cliche, last week we would have lost this game.

So, was it worth it? Yeah, I guess so.

In a nutshell: So, can we repeat it against Danny Webb’s Salisbury?