And all of a sudden we’re not so bad after all.
What is it now, three wins on the trot? I have to admit, before Christian Jolley 3 Danny Kedwell 1, I would have snapped your right arm off for a 0-0 draw. OK, I suppose any old draw would have done, but we didn’t want to test DK’s reaction if they scored…
For once, we managed to play quite well in the first 20 minutes. Whether it was the heat, or whether it was just one of those things will remain unclear, but can’t we do that a bit more often? We practically won the game after that, even if it did feel a bit nervy after they scored.
What it does prove is that the side can concentrate from the off. The first 23 minutes yesterday were the most rampant I’ve seen us this season, perhaps even before that, and it’s hard to believe that Gillingham were ahead of us in the table before the game started.
True, he blows hot and cold, but Jolley was immense yesterday. As they all were, to be fair. I think this must have been one of Jamie Stuart’s best games for us, certainly. Perhaps the Indian Summer isn’t just confined to the weather?
But then, it’s a confidence thing. After the game, I got an interview with Jolley for the nationals, and while you’ll have to buy the Daily Star and the Times to see what he said 😉 it does seem apparent that the three wins under our belt have lifted a side that – let’s be honest – was looking a bit like relegation fodder after the Northampton game.
No doubt we’ll get cut down to earth at some point, but it was telling in TB’s post match interview (last week) that he thinks we’re still going to get whalloped on occasions, and (yesterday) we need to keep our feet on the ground and he’s looking at the bottom two rather than the top three.
In just a couple of seemingly short weeks, the expectations game has changed beyond comprehension. Suddenly, being in the playoffs isn’t such a pipe dream after all. And in this division, one only has to be in the top three to find themselves in League One next season (imagine THAT in Turdeyland or the Conference).
Or to put it another way, you can see why Tuesday’s opponents in the JPT managed to find themselves in League One a season after they too got promoted from the Conference.
OK, it’s only October, and there’s plenty of time to fuck it up yet. I still think a top 12 finish is likely, the second half of yesterday still suggests that on another day we will be on the end of a botty spanking, and in truth I’m not convinced about Brett Johnson these days.
But this time last year we would have killed to even play Gillingham, let alone beat them relatively comfortably…
Plus points: We won. Three goals in first 23 minutes. Looking more and more of a unit. Christian Jolley. Jack Midson. Jamie Stuart. Forcing them to score a cracker to get past us. Playing well in the first half for once. Return of James Mulley.
Minus points: Their goal. GG and Luke Moore getting injured.
The referee’s a…: Well, he either had a quiet game or I’ve become so used to the shite standard of refereeing that I’m now simply immune to them. I’m trying to rack my brain to think of any major incident that he messed up, and the only one I can think of was Seb Brown discussing the weather with their striker.
Them: They’re not crap but they’re not good either. Not auto-promotion good, anyway. One suspects if they lose Luke Rooney and Nouble goes back to West Ham they’ll struggle. Also, was it me or did they look like they wanted to kick the shit out of us as soon as they went 3-0 down? Then again, some people remember Andy Hessenthaler as a player…
Remember last week when I said that by playing Bradford it feels like we’ve come full circle since 2001/02? Well, we played another team yesterday who we faced in the WFC-era in the Championship, and we didn’t think any more of it. Perhaps we really have settled into life in the Football League again?
True, the distraction of a certain ex-player helped, but as we quickly found out in the Conference – playing such sides isn’t really that big a deal. At least in the fuck-me-we’re-playing-Gillingham way that we had when we played Wycombe or Torquay in the FAC/FAT. It’s become AN Other local/big game, and that’s a very good thing.
Oh, and they didn’t seem impressed with our turnstile operators…
Point to ponder: Anyone else worried that Brett Johnson’s return could make our defence turn shit again? We hope that we can keep C-Mac for a little while longer, especially now we’ve got some injuries at the back. But BJ? He came in at left back yesterday and looked a tad off the pace again.
True, he’s come back from injury, and Mulley was the same (although his touch will return), but remember that we lost him for a period last year too. Could he be the new Paul Lorraine?
It would be a shame if he was, as in the Conf he was one of the best defenders around. Though as Yak, Lewis Taylor and plenty others will tell you, being more injured than not can curtail your AFCW career pretty damn quick. BJ has time on his side, and we’re more settled as a squad to give him some game time, but when you’re playing well, the weaker members of the squad become more apparent…
Incidentally, your editor got up close to the lesser spotted MMK yesterday, and it’s obvious why he keeps getting injured – the guy is so tall, there is no way the human body could support such size healthily. Seriously – he is massive. Anyway, he may be finally making his debut against Stevenage on Tuesday, so we get to see what the fuss is about. I hope we’ve made him avoid things that will put him on his sickbed for another two weeks, like opening a door.
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Spot the cheeky song on yesterday’s playlist before the game. (2) I don’t know how long this has been going, but the players now have a post-game meal in the
carvery match day restaurant afterwards. Not sure if the idea of doing player interviews in there quite works, but it does seem to foster a bond between the players. And to be fair, the grub looks nice – C-Mac piled his plate though…
Anything else? OK, I’ve got so far without analysing DK’s return to us. And to be honest, I feel as much today as I did when he went – perhaps even confirmed it once and for all beyond any doubt.
We’ve got a better deal in Jack Midson.
True, the reception DK got was genuine, and he seemed legitimately appreciative of people wanting to shake his hand etc. He reacted in the way everyone hoped he would, and I think he might have had second thoughts on leaving if he’d left for anyone else but his boyhood club.
But I’m now convinced that Midson is a brainier player, and doesn’t rely on sheer brute strength that DK did. Don’t get me wrong, DK helped us to where we are now, but our strike force this season is improved. Midson and Jolley have now got into double figures between them, I’m not convinced if DK and AN Other would have.
On a similar note, TB appeared to let the moggy out of the rucksack yesterday with him saying that we sold DK for Â£60k. Whether it comes with add-ons is unclear : it’s possible that we may not have got too many anyway. DK is nearer 30 than 20, he had one year left with us before he could leave on a free, his League experience was pretty miniscule and chances are we would have preferred the cash.
It’s unlikely Gills would sell him to a side higher up in the divisions, so there would be no mileage (for us) in a sell-on clause for that. Perhaps goals and appearances, but Â£60k is probably what we really should expect. We got a bit spoilt with the Chris Hussey transfer, and if we were going to compare DK joining Gills to that one, we would inevitably end up disappointed.
In all honesty, I’m not too sure why a side in League Two would want to spend money if it doesn’t have to – we got Midson on a free, after all. I can understand it if you’re pushing for promotion, or if you’re Crawley, but when you consider how much you can spend and how much you can get away with spending at this level, we really did get a good deal.
Lest we forget that we got Kieran D for nothing (although Palace stand to do well out of the sell-on clauses), and he’s certainly as good as anyone we would have paid money for. Perhaps that’s a lesson for us too, in automatically assuming our best players will be bought? We may need to strengthen with the minimum of transfer fees, but it’s something many other clubs also do…
So, was it worth it? Oui.
In a nutshell: Danny who?