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Newport State of Mind

Crap defending, shit weather, hostile hosts, even more hostile view (see above), and a feeling of impending doom by about half-hour in. Followed by a comeback that nearly matched West Ham all those years ago in the WFC days, more shit weather, and capped off with an equaliser and top goonage not seen since Steve Evans popped down to Kingsmeadow and discovered all those Danny Kedwell t-shirts.

In other words, a traditional Wimbledon away day.

If truth be told, we would have taken a point at 2.59pm yesterday, but at 3.20pm we would have accepted a mere 2-0 defeat. As it transpired, Conference South Champions (2010) 3 Conference South Champions (2009) 3 was probably the fairest result, but it’s asked a few questions of us to which we’ve answered some. And others that need further research.

Before we gloat on the comeback, it’s obvious that our old frailties are still there. Their first and third goals were so soft, they may have come gift-wrapped with a nice bow on them. Christmas obviously isn’t over in South Wales.

Having watched the highlights (here and here) again this morning, while their second goal was a bit unlucky in a way (what isn’t obvious in the highlights is that we were putting some pressure on them at that time), there is no excuse for the first and third goals. And believe it when one suggests it could have been even worse.

We have a problem which may possibly scupper our promotion chances, and it’s this : we are such slow starters it’s unreal. We should have been buried by half time. Last season, we probably would have been. TB’s warnings of dire consequences thanks to our illnesses after Handy were about to come home to roost.

However, yesterday also demonstrated something else.

This is probably the first time this season, certainly since Tamworth away last season and even as far back as the Conference South days, that we’ve taken an impossible looking position and nearly could (should?) have taken all three points.  If only Nokkers had had a bit more luck/skill/something right at the death, we could have been on here right now buzzing about taking nine points out of a potentially fatal Xmas period.

Still, a point is a point, and as this place pointed out after the last game – perhaps we’re having the Footballing Gods smile on us after all? Forget how Crawley did at FGR, they should be out of sight by now but aren’t. In a couple of weeks time we may or may not still be top, but we are starting to look like a side that has the belief to fight all the way to retain it.

As I type this, there’s precious little post-match comments from TB. What he eventually says will be interesting. TB’s post match comments are up here. although I’m sure we’d all like to hear what he said at half time 😉 At some point though, the lurgy/tiredness/lack of match practice/moon in wrong position excuses become, well, excuses.

Yes, we came back well, but we shouldn’t have to put ourselves in that position in the first place. When was the last game we had when we were comfortable from start-to-finish and we didn’t have to rely on a good break like a member of the opposition getting sent off?

While you ponder that, here’s…

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Going up the required three gears in the second half. Ability to come back.

Minus points: We didn’t win. Defence shite in first half.

The referee’s a…: Nobody was calling for his blood, which is a good sign I suppose. Have to admit, thought he was going to abandon the game when it got to 3-3…

Them: A bit like us last season in a way or two, although it’s hard to say whether they’re full time or not. If not, they’ll fall away when the fixture backlog bites, or Judas Holdsworth goes off to Bristol Rovers. Had their player not hit the post when it was 2-3 and it had gone in, they probably would have won it. Although from the highlights, it did look a tad offside…

Still don’t get the pro-Franchise songs from them, of all teams in this division, and the guy on the turnstile was a right prick when I accidentally handed him three £10 notes instead of two, but then this is Wales. And the most anglicised part of the province too, apparently. Fuck knows how the rest of Cymru behaves then…

Point to ponder: How badly will we need Yak and BJ back and firing? Don’t get me wrong, Harris and Franks show a lot of promise, but the first half yesterday still showed they have some way to go.

Forget the illness situation, it’s a bit worrying that Johnson and Dre and Minshull come to think of it seem permanently crocked. It’s been suggested elsewhere that BJ is “the fittest he’s felt for a long time” and is hoping to get some game time in the stiffs this week. If he does come back stronger than ever, he’s going to be like a new signing.

Dre? Forgot about him (boom tish etc). Seriously, with Bush making the role his own – and one hopes Brentford allow us to keep him until the end of the season – he does seem to spend an awfully long time on the treatment table for somebody so young. His last game was at Ebbsfleet, he made the bench for Braintree in the FAT but he seems to have disappeared since.

It’s the same with Minshull, who seems to have a couple of games then disappear for a month with another new injury. And you do start to wonder if the clock is ticking on a few players. As previous years with the likes of Chris Sullivan and Ross Montague have proven, injury prone players never seem to be kept on…

Weather with you: See above. Seriously, this was taken around 4.25pm yesterday, so forgive my shaking, and by injury time you couldn’t see the markings on the athletics track. What is it with Newport and shit weather? Last time, it was pissing down (in sodding August), and after the game yesterday I have never been so glad to have a working car heater…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Newport – the Middlesbrough of the south west. Hey, it’s got a transporter bridge that looks pretty kewl at night when it’s lit up. What other comparisons were you thinking of? (2) Unsure about attendance from our lot, it was clearly way down from what it could (should?) be, but still better than most teams in this division. The Met Police copper before the game was surprised at how few came on the train, anyway. Sure we’d take more if we didn’t have four long away games this month…

Anything else? Wonder what type of signings we’re going to make this month? TB did hint on Saturday that there will be “hopefully” two coming in this week. Now, not going to bore anyone with tactical discussions and shit like that, but as “Point To Ponder” above suggests, who TB gets in may give us an idea of who’ll be shipped out.

If we get a left back in, you have to assume that Bush will return to Griffin Park and Dre is considered too unreliable. This could be quite a crunch time for some people – the youngsters (or should I say, the less established youngsters like Harris and Franks) will probably be safe, and the last thing we need is to rely on them too much lest they get burnt out. We may want to see Reece Jones play some games, but this season at least, we shouldn’t be relying on him.

We are however in the first stages of the business end of the season, and our management staff have to make some pretty important decisions this month. There’s still relatively little pressure on us right now, but if we’re still within title contention by about March/April, we’re really going to be tested. It will make the latter stages of the Conf South campaign feel like an effortless breeze.

Yesterday’s comeback was certainly eyebrow raising, but should we be surprised? After all, with gems like Mulley popping up and scoring goals when needed, there’s suddenly some competition for places. And when you’re chasing the coveted top spot, that can only be a good thing…

So, was it worth it? All I can say is, thank christ for Rashid Yussuff.

In a nutshell: Still unbeaten this year.