Now, how can I mention our opponents in the FA Cup without making a joke about a certain word in their name? I mean, fancy having your town containing the words “thorpe”…
To be fair, I’m happy with Scunthorpe at KM – it’s a team we’ve never faced before in the AFCW era, it’s going to be difficult but still ripe for a potential upset, and it’s not going to be a crappy game like Workington and Woking in the FA Trophy.
Would we have wanted the Sheffield clubs or Charlton? Of course. Did we want Stevenage or Crawley? Absolutely not. And I doubt if I was alone in needing new underpants the longer Franchise were still in the bag…
So, the Irons (Lincolnshire version). Deserve a big kiss for knocking out Franchise in the playoff semi a couple of years ago. A team whom your editor saw in the resulting playoff final against Millwall and who were in the Championship while we were still in non-league. A team who we disposed off relatively comfortably in the WFC era in the 1990s, if I recall correctly.
And a team who are, at the time of writing, 15th in the division above us.
It’s going to be tricky, and we’re going to need our new-found defensive resolve (cough) to help us get an upset. But unlike other fans, I don’t see this as a boring tie. One of those would have been somebody in our division, or somebody we’ve played since the Conference South days (which is why Slutton v Leverud would have been an interesting tie too).
It seems like Kieran D on Twatter is up for it, too. So you’ve already got one player who will be trying hard to avoid an injury so he can play in this. So we’ve already got a bit of needle which will no doubt grow in the coming weeks. Until he inevitably gets injured against Barnet.
No, it’s not glamourous, nor will it be live on TV. I would imagine Luton v Northampton, Morecambe v Wednesday, Halifax v Charlton and/or Maidenhead v Shots would be shown ahead of us.Â That’s no bad thing either, if you consider the hype before some of the other FAC games we’ve had and their subsequent results. Being “ordinary” has never felt so refreshing.
But it’s a fixture worth going to, if only to see what the gap is between an ordinary L1 side and a middling L2 one. It’s also one of those ones you can’t lose in, regardless of the result. If we get defeated, we shrug our shoulders and say that it’s because they’re higher than us/we’re crap.
Get a replay or even win it, and it becomes a big boost at a time when we could do with one. And you can bet that Scunny won’t be liking coming down here. Whether TB will be back from compassionate leave or not by then remains to be seen, but it’s the kind of game that can help kickstart a season.
Which leads us on nicely onto yesterday. When was the last time we had (a) a 0-0 draw and (b) one where we reportedly parked the bus? Have we finally figured out how to grind a point out in this division? No, it may go against our attack minded “principles”, but then principles can easily become dogmatism and often do.
This might not be the right thing to say right now, considering real life and the shit it can throw up, but I wonder if SC taking charge yesterday may have had a little bit of an impact? Accounts suggested we were pretty pragmatic, even though it was as entertaining as watching the Axewounds play Walton and Hersham on a mudbath.
But then, that’s what we want isn’t it? Rather that than go to Macc or Torquay and get buttfucked 4-0, anyway. Of course you want to go out and turn on the style, but contrary to what people would have you believe about the gap between L2 and the Conference, you have to learn how to defend in this division.
It is just one game, of course, and no doubt we’ll be back to conceding three goals every week before long. But if we have finally learnt how to stop being the naive farm boys wandering around the big city they call the Football League, then that can only be good for us.
To be honest, I haven’t heard much about chances or anything we’ve done wrong from those who went, and I’m not sure if we could put up with it every week. But I don’t particularly like reading that we conceded twelve goals in the last three games.
I guess another part of the reason for the clean sheet yesterday is down to that hanging over our heads. The amount of people (and not just your editor) predicting with all seriousness another 3 goal spanking was pretty telling, and you can bet that the professional pride of the players was somewhat dented.
We’ve experienced that before this season, where the players seem to dig out a result and performance at the right time. After that run of games which culminated in the loss to Northampton, the buildup for the Cheltenham encounter was much the same as the past few days – jokes about our defence being like the Red Sea and the odd nervous glance at the Conference table again. We all know what happened then.
If we’re to progress, we need to stop doing that so much and have a bit more consistency (in a good way), and going up to the Shrewsburys and grinding out a scoreless bore draw is part of that. We made a step forward yesterday, let’s hope we won’t be making more backwards in the next month…
Finally, and in yet another nod to the past – Carl Cort played for our reserves yesterday, and scored. To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of him being back in a Dons shirt, though I would hope he’s much more mature and grateful for what he’s got now.
Obviously, the rumours that he was training with us were true after all, and we assume he knows MG, but would we want him if he became available? He’s
33 34 on Tuesday, he’s 6 ft 4, and for all the questions over his past atttitude, he does know where the net is. Do we need another striker though? If we really do, we could do worse and have done. Nathan Elder, Drewe B and Baz Savage spring to mind here.
Perhaps he’s just using us to keep fit and for anyone who wants him? Remember Barry Hayles played in our stiffs a year or two ago, and he was last seen down in Cornwall. It wouldn’t be the first time a known player has trained and played for a side like us, and I would still be very surprised to see him down on an AFCW first team starting eleven anytime soon.
But then, stranger things have happened. Hell, we managed to keep a clean sheet yesterday….