Well, last night certainly turned into one of those nights, didn’t it? And I’m not referring to the detours aplenty your editor ended up having to make on the way there and back. At least I now know how to get from Addlestone to the A3 via Woking.
OK, we never seem to do well at Oxford. We had a penalty shout or two, which without seeing any replay may have been justified. Although any Bradford fan reading this right now may be having a bit of a wry smile.
Yeah, we played better than the last time I saw us (Plymouth). Mind you, after that particular performance, the kids who play up Morden Park would have been an improvement. And no, it’s not nice to have two losses on the trot.
But in truth, I’ve just shrugged my shoulders at this one.
There was a tweet by our cab-driving coach last night which came across as a little bit, well, odd. Probably nothing to it, but I’ll repeat it below anyway:
To be blunt, I think that our style of play contributed a lot to us losing a game we could have actually won. There was the usual pretty passing in triangles with precious little cutting edge, and we hardly created anything beyond half-chances. When we were 1-0 down we still played like it was 0-0.
Had we been set up to be a bit more direct, a bit more in-yer-face, a bit more like 90%+ of teams in this division, we probably would have got something. We started doing exactly that with two minutes of injury time, and we had a penalty shout and came the closest we did to scoring.
QED, and all that.
Their goal had that somewhat depressingly familiar feel – trying to soak up pressure too much, finally letting it slip and for the god-knows-how-many-time this season, we go behind. At least we managed to play the first half last night, and one day we might even learn how to play for 90 minutes.
Thankfully, the results last night mostly went in our favour, which is always useful in relegation battles, but as said in the last SW19 update – the time for talking about not conceding goals and getting the points on the board is over. It’s a shame the message has still to be heeded.
As we know ourselves, a couple of wins can very quickly turn into a couple of losses, which in turn raises the anxiety levels again – right now, we’ve had as many instances of “L” against our fixtures as “W” in the last four games. Fail to win on Saturday, and it becomes yet another run without a victory.
True, we’re playing (relatively) better – partly because of Pim at the back, but also we’ve still got Plymouth in the back of our minds. TB’s post match comments suggest he genuinely thinks things are picking up, that a corner is being turned and there’s still life in this setup.
But even so we’re still losing games. And that’s the only thing that counts right now.
Which is why Burton has become yet another most-important-game-of-the-season. Their form speaks for itself, although we all know how we do against teams in a rut. While it won’t be (or at least, shouldn’t be) as pant-soiling as Dagenham was, it’s going to ask some serious questions that will finally have to be answered.
Does this particular setup still “have it”? Were we merely unlucky in the last two games or is it just spin? Are we actually capable of sealing the deal for this season, by the end of this month? Is the talk about tightening up our goals-against column just talk? Will Jack Midson have to keep the scoring up by himself? Are Harrison and Djilali going to step up to the plate themselves? And will we really need points at Underhill to be safe?
We’ll have to wait and see. But if we are to have a last push, or a last hoorah if you prefer, the next couple of games is a very good time to have it…