It was always going to be the case that Robin Reliant 0 General Motors 0 would be one to test our credentials, to see how far we really have come in what appears almost an impossibly short space of time.
Lucky? Yes. Unable to keep the ball in midfield? Certainly. Needing a spark of inspiration up front? Oh, for sure. Out of the top three, we’re third, and that’s where we’ll probably finish.
But we’re also becoming hard to beat.
Which when it’s not happening for you is quite a useful trait to have. OK, Seb deserved MOTM and then some, but for the first time we’re showing that little bit of mettle you need to push on to the next level. We dug in, somehow ground out a result without – again – playing that well and we’re still top.
Will it be enough? Probably not. DK is a good player, but it seems other sides have worked out how to play him and stifle him. The amount of times even before the break where a header down, or a pass, or a cross just doesn’t quite find the player, shows where we really are in the pecking order. We’re not quite there yet. We still seem to be a little bit in awe against teams like Luton (though I don’t think we have too much respect of Crawley, proving the old adage that respect is earnt), although this will go in time.
That said, a point is a point, and a good one at that. We may not be bona fide title contenders this season, but we’re certainly good enough for the playoffs. We actually went up a gear in the final ten minutes, and who knows what could happen if we actually do click.
A quick glance at the 2011 planner in SW19 Towers shows that after this game, we still have about 19 games remaining. If we beat Woking, that’s even more of a backlog. It may not feel it this morning, but that opportunity is there for us, we just have to take it. Yes, Crawley are four games behind us with just a four point gap between us. They should overtake us, though stranger things have happened.
It’s been said before, but if you’re going to hit a run of form, now’s a good time to do it. Momentum, and all that. We’re certainly due to go on a decent winning run ourselves. Out of the top three clubs, there’s the least pressure on ourselves – Luton shouldn’t have been in this division in the first place, and the more that Crawley gob off the more fearful they are of not going up.
We’re not the best right now, but we’re stil picking up points…
Plus points: We didn’t lose. Clean sheet. Seb Brown. The woodwork (signed from the same team as A Divot at Thurrock a couple of years ago). Jamie Stuart.
Minus points: We didn’t win. Kept losing the ball. No left back. Second best.
The referee’s a…: He’s being tipped for promotion to the Football League, apparently. Hmm, yes, well…
Them: You expect them to be a League club next season, although I would have liked to have seen us with a better performing (ie more settled) squad against them. Some would argue that we actually played better against them when we lost 3-0 to them at Kenilworth Road, although I thought our defence was much shittier back then.
Decent away turnout, as you would expect from them, and I expect if we can’t win the title you’d rather them do it. They were probably the only team in this division who were able to win the bulk of those loose 50/50 balls. Their first XI was the same line up for the last four games, which is why they looked more of a unit. We can’t even keep the same eleven for four minutes. Then again, that might be down to the following…
Point to ponder: How bad has this virus around the camp been? A couple more of our players played when they shouldn’t have, if that makes sense. I’m not denying that this has been a particularly nasty strain, and that a mere cold/flu dose can end up being more than that (your editor is currently on amoxicillin due to an infection elsewhere caused by the lurgy), but how come it only seems to be us affected?
I’m not suggesting our training methods and all-round health kicks aren’t what they should be, but there always seems to be something with us that “prevents” us from going at full pelt. Before the enforced snow break, we were tired and leggy, which is why we weren’t performing. We’ve had that break, and now we’re all ill. Last season, we kept getting ACLs, or we were training part time. And if none of that applies, we’re a young squad and young squads blow hot and cold…
At what point do we have a fully fit and fully functioning squad? July?
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Good crowd (over 4k) and further proving the adage that our support is still one with a League mentality, that is most interested in the ex-91 clubs. There’s an article in this somewhere. (2) Premier Sports. Think it proves how far down peoples’ estimation they are when I can hardly see anyone who has it, has commented on the coverage and/or is offering copies of the game to people. Even though we were live on television, it just seemed like any other game.
Anything else? It’s all bubbling under transfer wise, isn’t it? So much supposition, so many unanswered questions, this section may end up being as long as the rest of the report put together…
First things first – farewell Chris Bush. Brentford have left back troubles of their own, and therefore the inevitable has happened. Considering that you would have expected Bush to have been with us until October, we’ve got a lot of mileage out of him and he’s ultimately done us a massive favour (see why in a bit).
OK, the timing could have been a little bit better, and we just about got away with FF at left back last night. This also may explain why he was apparently so shit apprehensive at Darlington – he got wind that he could be playing for Brentford, had just one more game with us but didn’t want to entirely put himself out.
But he’s done us a huge service in more ways than one. Firstly, he’s done his left back role admirably. OK, he’s had the occasional, ahem, youthful display, but for the most part you can see why Brentford have recalled him.
Secondly, and perhaps long-term the most important – he’s forced us to re-evaluate our transfer policy. To lose one left back is unfortunate, to lose two is careless. When he became first choice over Dre, we were always living on borrowed time in that position. I doubt if I’m alone in thinking that since Hussey left the left back role has been a big weakness.
It’s now clear that Mr Blackman is going to pastures new. It was a gamble that didn’t really work, and I think I feel sorry for the lad more than anything. OK, he had and continues to have a “reputation”, and the word that gets bandied about with him in conversation is “difficult”. It can get mistaken for having an attitude problem, and that may be his ultimate undoing, regardless of where he ends up. Football people can be an unsympathetic bunch at the best of times.
His and Bush’s departure is forcing us to finally look at the position, and it looks likely we have signed Gareth Gwillim is coming to us, although possibly on a loan until the end of the season. He was reportedly at the game yesterday, and may explain TB’s post match comment about a left back being a day away from getting signed up.
While I’m sure we’d all prefer a permanent signing, it does give us somebody one would expect to be there just about every game, without the fear he’ll be called back to do the manager’s filing. I also doubt if we’ll be making any more “gambles” like we did with Dre for the foreseeable future too.
OK, the very use of the word “loan” does bring in cold sweats about poor Nathan Elder and co, although one would hope that with being full time now, we can get a better idea of who we really need in, where they will fit in, likelyhood of them gelling with the rest of the squad etc. Our most recent imports – Stuart, Hudson and Mulley – don’t look out of place.
Speaking of fitting in, looks like Jon Main is going to go elsewhere too. On loan, for now at least. For all the talk about our system not suiting his play, it hasn’t really happened for him. And as we’re still top without his contribution, there’s only going to be one winner. Mind you, perhaps the club is paying him too much in goal bonuses, which is why he’s being left out?
OK, that’s a joke. I think. But his fall from grace is noteworthy, even if people are still living out the Conference South days with him. While Nokkers isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, he’s had more impact and influence this season than the few times we’ve seen JM, which kind ofÂ highlights the problem. Put it another way – if Main wasn’t our player, and we were looking into taking him on loan, would you be happy with that? Probably not.
Mind you, I wish TB wouldn’t say that somebody is going out on loan when a couple of days earlier he said that nobody was…
So, was it worth it? Result 1 Performance 0.
In a nutshell: We are top of the league. Just.