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At the races

A few quick thoughts on last night at Cheltenham, from a rather overcast and grey looking Bristol. Then again, when isn’t that part of the world…?

– Football, eh? To be honest, how many of you were expecting an act of immense sodomy last night? And Cheltenham to stuff us as well.

We all know the drill – they beat Daggers 5-0, we’ve been going backwards, we couldn’t score to save our lives, that kind of thing. Therefore, a goaless draw simply had to be on the cards.

– So how come we didn’t lose? In fact, as the game went on we got stronger and with a bit more up front we could have won. And not nicked it either – justifiably got three points, too.

Credit where credit is due – our defence has upped its game. OK, it had to, but it didn’t seem to be its usual panicky self for most of the time. There’s still the usual over-playing in the wrong areas, and that’s a major fault line, but it’s hard to be too churlish this morning.

Maybe the back line has woken up and realised what exactly it’s throwing away? Christ, I even saw Jamie Stuart shaking hands and encouraging MMK and Chris Bush during one corner down our end? Though this being JS, it probably was just him saying “please” after threatening them 😉

– Actually, I wonder if the very real threat of a relegation scrap has woken everyone up. The attitude seems different, and the way we slipped back after those three wins was pretty unnerving.

We are at least starting to get draws where even a couple of months ago they would have been certain losses. The psychological scars are still there though – ven last night there was still something in the back of our mind about us conceding late on. It would have been a major injustice had we lost, but nobody stayed up by morality.

Could it be that changes are afoot and we’re just reacting to that? You have to wonder if there’s been a slight twitchy feeling in the boardroom right now, and words have been said.

There’s a tendency to be a bit paranoid and suggest that people in charge don’t want to contemplate the horror that we might struggle and go down. And if that really was the case, I wouldn’t want them anywhere near the levers of power.

If “representations have been made”, then good. It may have put a couple of noses out of joint but I’d rather that than face having to go to Barnet and needing points.

– This wouldn’t be SW19 without some negativity. It’s typical that as our defence starts performing for once, our attack suddenly becomes as potent as a eunuch without viagra.

I don’t know whether the rush to buy 27 forwards has affected things, but there’s not much belief that we can score more than the odd goal. Harrison was benched (and for our recent record signing that’s not a good sign), came on but managed to underwhelm again.

Midson was put into his position that saw him get frozen out at Oxford, and as such he’s far less effective. Without checking back, when was the last time he scored?

As for Jason Euell…….. Seriously, if anyone is living off his name and reputation, it’s him. He looked unfit, he seemed to get in the way whenever we did try anything, and it’s no coincidence that we looked more potent when Billy Knott replaced him.

Was he really a panic buy (OK, panic loanee) to placate a pissed off fanbase? There’s a sense amongst some that he’s only being used to get match fitness for Charlton’s promotion run-in. Which is fine I suppose, but not when we’re still fighting for our own survival.

As somebody behind me said last night, Euell was Premiership class….. in 2000.

– OK, enough churlishness. We did get a point away at the division leaders (before the game). And to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed by Cheltenham – they don’t look in Swindon’s class.

As I was walking back through that park behind the away end last night, two locals were bemoaning that they didn’t create any chances. Which is good for us, because needless to say we would have been shitting ourselves over yet another loss if they had.

It’s a nice little ground, and proof of how a club promoted from the Conference in times past can build itself up. £20 is steep though, and clubs in our division really need to wise up over that.

Oh, and the 12-year old ultras (complete with obligatory Nu Football Fan-esque drum) really were a sight to behold, weren’t they? Still, they were talking about it in their maths lessons this morning.

– All this doesn’t matter if we don’t start getting some wins under our belt. We should be more confident going up to Gresty Road on Saturday, and we could almost secure L2 football in a couple of weeks time if we start to find the net and our back line keeps up this newly found form.

There’s been a lot of angst and teeth gnashing in the past couple of weeks, and in reality even last night’s result won’t have addressed the fundamental issues.

But we’ve bought ourselves time, and just as importantly bought ourselves some mental breathing space. Right now, the pressure has been slightly lifted, and I’m not sure if we’ve been properly relaxed this season.

Don’t underestimate the bonus of getting such a seemingly unlikely point as last night, especially if we start winning….

– Finally, a quick shoutout to a couple of people. One is Wes (?), aka the guy with the half-AFCW half-CTFC shirt. He was a WFC fan first and foremost, but as he was local to the area he supported the Robins. He was in the local paper yesterday, apparently, which may have confused some readers.

At least he didn’t have to decide whether to cheer or not when CTFC scored.

And another hello to SW19 poster Dons4Div4, who lives in Cheltenham and used to play squash with Mike Richardson. And is an accountant himself, who says that under Erik Samuelson AFCW is very much run in lines with how an accountant runs things…