Those whom the Footballing Gods wish to destroy, first they give them a three game winning streak then put them up against the bottom team.
That’s my excuse anyway for Diamonds 1 Pearls 0. Unfortunately, it looked like I was proved right in my pre-match thoughts yesterday. Here’s a reminder:
– I hope weâ€™re not getting too cocky/confident over tonight, because a 2nd vs bottom clash is a guaranteed banana skin of a contest. From what I gathered, we started off a bit slowly (again) on Saturday, and weâ€™ve yet to experience going a goal down. Could we be like the Germans in the World Cup, looking like winners until we donâ€™t get things our own way?
We started off well, after five minutes Yak forcing their goalkeeper to parry and Luke Moore heading over the rebound. And, er, that was it. Seriously. We looked devoid of any sort of ideas, or ability to do anything. . We couldn’t control the ball, pass it properly, all the usual basic stuff one expects from pro footballers. Poor Seb Brown looked like he couldn’t even catch clamydia off the local slappers on a week in Magaluf, and everyone else wasn’t much better. I doubt if we could have taken a half-time piss unaided.
Question is, why? I don’t buy the argument of tiredness that some are bandying about. It only becomes an excuse at this time of season if we show symptoms of it after Newport next Monday. These are young, presumably match fit, professional players who don’t have to do a day’s work these days beforehand. Especially as we have heart monitors so we can properly monitor who is knackered and who isn’t.
Nor do I blame the ref, complete cockstain that he was. Yes, he missed Rene Howe’s elbow on Dr Dre, and in true Footballing God stylee, he went and got the winner. Yes, he was keen to blow for offside whenever we did a rare venture into their half, but ever so conveniently lost power of blowing a whistle when the roles were reversed. Yes, he was extra-finickey whenever we had a free kick (when even he had to show some pretence of impartiality), but was one step away from giving Rushden a penalty whenever a foul was committed on the half way line…
Whatever hospitality Rushden gives their referees beforehand, I hope we were making notes. Sure you’ll find plenty of dealers in South Wimbledon, let alone the Cambridge Estate.
None of that will paper over the fact that last night we were dogshit. Personally, I think it was the kind of performance that every team gets when it’s good-but-not-quite-the-best, and after it has a run of a few good results. Our fans were certainly far too cocky coming into this game, and I expect the players were as well.
It really is one of the unwritten rules of football. The WFC days were good for that kind of thing – a couple of decent wins on the spin, a few stroked egos and believing our own publicity, then we went to somewhere like Coventry and lost 2-0. It’s hasn’t happened so much in the AFCW era, simply because the opposition have been too shit to take advantage.
Still, it’s all part of the Learning Curveâ„¢ for this season. We are talented, but not developed yet as a team. Last night was the first time this season where we had serious questions asked of us, and we couldn’t answer them. We got away with it at Southport, we cut it fine against Histon and I’m told we were shaky against Tamworth to begin with. It’s quite possible that us being second is as false a position as Rushden were being bottom.
It’s the first proper test of our collective character this season, and fortunately (?) we can pick ourselves up by playing Eastbourne on Saturday. Our ego has had a well-aimed jab at it, and perhaps it will make us develop more of the work ethic we need to progress. What was clear last night that on the very rare occasions we showed a bit of quality, we did cause Rushden problems.
Oh, and to compound the mood of everyone, Franchise won the biggest match in their history against a Blackpool reserve side. Bless them. They’ll be claiming they had genuine emotion about itÂ next…