I do hope after Red Dragons 1 Red Stripe 2 that we made a quick getaway over the border, because I believe the local heddlu are still searching around for errant Wombles to beat the shit out of. Something about a stolen three points, apparently…
Got to say, we should be back in London right now licking our wounds at yet another loss due to our inconsistency. But we have come back with a win instead. This despite putting in a first half showing that ranked alongside Rushden and Kiddie for outright turdness.
Seriously, the Curse of The Good Performance was depressingly in evidence again. Sam Hatton regressed from one of the first on the team sheet to the much-maligned scapegoat player again, complete with inability to trap the ball. Poor DK, Jolley and Jackson looked as useful as a ticket to Wales’ first game in Euro 2012, and I think that even Bryan Flynn himself would have had second thoughts about putting our midfield in.
Look, I don’t particularly rate our signing of Lee Minshull, but we missed him yesterday, if only to stick a boot in every so often. Yes, that’s how bad we were. Sitting there, it really did feel like deja-vu all over again, and I shouldn’t have been as relieved as I was when the ref blew up for half time.
I’d like to say that we came out all guns blazing for the second half. Well, we did – sort of. Don’t get me wrong, Jolley’s goal was pretty much the shot in the arm we needed, but for some reason we went backwards again. No, we weren’t nearly as bad as the previous 45 minutes, but it did appear we were determined to keep our run of Good Game Bad Game going…
I therefore make no apologies for getting carried away when Tooks came on and netted. I think I enjoyed this even more than Mansfield on Tuesday, because this kind of victory is so under-rated in the Football Supporting Manual. The smash-and-grab. The outright theft of a game we should not only have been buried in, but have our own personal gravestone placed and lovingly cared for to boot. Mind you, I’m sure our own gravestone would look something like this.
When it’s a long way away, especially in a northernly direction, it makes the journey even better.
The longer we go through this week, the more we’ll forget about how wank we were for much of the game, and look back and think that we can now go to previously inpenetrable places like Wrexham and win. Hell, this place has already conveniently forgotten their player hitting the crossbar…
Plus points: We somehow won. Away. Keeping going. Goal on 46th minute. Took’s strike. Seb Brown’s save midway through second half. Six points in two games.
Minus points: First half. Quite a bit of second half. Sammy Moore going off.
The referee’s a…: We can get away with saying this because we won, but christ, he was shit. Think we knew what we were going to come up against when he was seen doing a pre-match kickabout (yes, really). Needless to say, he wasn’t very good at that…
Them: They should be celebrating three points today, but they aren’t. And I think it’s obvious why – Dean Saunders. If that was the best that Wrexham have ever played under him, then the man Yidaho once called “Flossie” is even more of a shit manager than first thought.
Yes, they had all the play for the first half, a fair amount of the second half too, but they had precious little firepower. Luton would have scored 3 or 4 against us by half time, and come to think of it many other teams would have. In fact, if the positions had been reversed, it would have been last Tuesday all over again.
OK, so it was a travesty they didn’t win (both Flossie’s and TB’s words). Or was it? If you’ve followed football for more than five minutes, you’ll know full well that if you don’t take any chances when you’re whipping the opposition’s arse you’ll lose. It is totally Wrexham’s fault that they have zero points and we have three. We had about 2/3 chances and we took them. For once, we knew how to win when playing poorly.
These things happen – it happens to AFCW, it happens to Wrexham (and Darlington fans will be having a dose of schadenfreude in the direction of north Wales this morning, something the guy from their radio station yesterday privately admitted), it happens to anyone. That’s why winning those sort of games are as good as a 5-2 victory away from home.
Look, I’ve seen a few Wrexham games in the Saunders era, and they have the potential to be a League side again. Bigger than us, if truth be told. But they won’t be for a while, and I’d even put money on us being in the League before them. I would hate to be in a Wrexham vs Cambridge United press conference – the self-pitying “woe is me” caterwauling between Flossie and Martin Ling wouldn’t look out of place at Anfield.
As for Wrexham fans, the ones around me were understandably pissed off but also magnanamous. By the sounds of it those on the 1702 out of Wrexham General weren’t so fortunate. Perhaps this is why the City of Chester still has that by-law about shooting Welsh people with a bow and arrow?
Point to ponder: Yesterday, TB said that for the first time this season he gave our players a half-time paint stripper of a bollocking. That he had to do that isn’t a surprise, but what is more eye-opening is that this is the first time this campaign he’s ever had to do it. Question is, is part of TB’s success down to the fact that he isn’t a ranter and raver?
When Hatton managed to totally miss the ball by letting it go under his foot in the second half, our manager just waved his arms upwards in a pushing motion, as if to say “come on, keep it going”. It seems quite rare for him to go into one, which is why when he does it seems to have much more effect.
Compare to some of the stories that came about about OGEM during his times with us at Selhurst. There’s an infamous clip of him on the London Programme during half time of a League Cup game against Hereford when we were something like 2-up or 3-up at half time. Sadly it’s not on Youtube (yet) but put it this way : Terry Burton was giving out some instructions for the second half, then in barged Kinnear and went on a long Steve Evans-esque tirade against one poor player. This was when we were winning by a couple of goals.
OGEM had a repuation for doing this almost every single game, no matter how well or badly we played, and towards the end of his tenure the players had started to tune out because he was so predictable (which explains some performances of the latter 90s…). I can’t see TB ever doing something like that, nor even Bassey come to think of it.
Which leads to another question : would AFCW ever employ a Kinnear type manager? Should we be a League club and we have to replace TB, we would go for a Peter Taylor type manager, a bit more “refined” in his approach, shall we say. I can’t ever imagine us going for somebody who spends half his time whining (Martin Ling, Flossie), obsessed with “passion” and “getting stuck in” (many an underachieving and undertalented manager, and those who are relics from another era. See Allardyce, Sam) or just outright special needs (see Crawley bench). In other words, we will never see another Terry Eames type at AFCW ever again…
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Going away from the Racecourse with three points after playing like that. Repeat until it sinks in. Mind you, there is the realisation that we will play far better and lose between now and May. (2) Decent sausage supper at some Wrexham chippy for Â£2-50. Peas and gravy, too. Why is it so much cheaper up north? (3) 214 away fans, apparently. Use of word “apparently” said in a querying, almost dismissive tone. Reportedly, some of our fans didn’t receive tickets upon entry…
Anything else? Yeah. Did we show the first signs of coming-of-age yesterday? I could be churlish and suggest that teams who win championships normally do the play-shit-and-win escape act in April rather than October. But I won’t. Yesterday, we had an unlikely sniff at victory and we took it. That’s a good sign, and one we need to learn to repeat more often.
Yesterday, we didn’t look a side in 2nd. Come to think of it, we didn’t look as high as a side in 12th. But somehow, somehow, we came through it. We may not want to admit it to ourselves this morning, because we won, but we do have some deep-seated problems with our consistency. If you’d asked most of our support at 2.59pm yesterday whether they expected a poor performance, you would have seen some furious head nodding in agreement.
At times, it’s almost like we’re expected to play like twats, and at half time yesterday TB finally lost patience.
For all the talk of catching up Crawley, we have to sort out this mental block of consistency, because if we don’t we won’t be in the playoffs. Harsh, but all too true. Yesterday was probably the first time this season we’ve put in a stinker yet somehow knew how to come out of it. I don’t really count Southport because that was more even, and first games are usually unreliable, I’m thinking more about Rushden and Kiddie – although I could say the same about Newport and FGR.
The squad need to learn that ability, and for once we did. Nobody is going to care a month, or two, or even six months from now how we played on 9/10/10. All that matters is that we got the three points. Time will tell if this is a once-off performance and we revert back to type, or the first sign of the maturity we need to push on upwards. If it’s the latter, certain people may well be getting worried…
So, was it worth it? Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…
In a nutshell: Possession is 9/10th of the law.