A few brief musings, as I’m in continental Europe from tomorrow for a good six days.
– Blimey, where did this AFCW come from?
We ran, we tackled, we worked hard, we worked as a team, our heads didn’t drop, we looked not just like we wanted to win the game but we actually could.
Amazing what a change of emphasis does.
This was the sort of performance we’ve been threatening in patches for a while, and for once we finally delivered it. That we were 3-0 up at half time was no accident. OK, Brizzle Rovers might have had injury issues, and we tailed off a little in the second half, but that’s never always worked to our advantage in the past…
– So, what went right? To be honest, I think it was just one of those performances that clicked. Nothing for the past year has done that, at least not properly – granted, we’ve still have a couple of decent scorelines, but they didn’t have that air of comfort that tonight did.
Previously, had we gone 3-0 up then 3-1, it would have been 3-2 before long. But this was a more mature AFCW tonight – Rovers had to score a decent goal against us to get anything.
Players were putting their bodies on the line (remember Osano putting in a header and ending up floored – this with about 10 minutes left), in a manner I can’t recall doing for ages. At least not to this level of intensity.
– One therefore does have to wonder if this is the new management boost? The players are certainly playing for their careers at AFCW, and given that NA has said that he has to get 20% extra out of what he has, he’s started well.
But then, our new boss seems to have a plan and some sort of idea what he wants to do. More importantly, it already seems to have some basis in reality and how this division works. And yes, it’s a work in progress – we’re going to have more setbacks just as we’re going to have more shots in the arm like tonight. The difference here is that we’re actually having such shots to begin with.
This may sound an odd thing to say, but we looked like a Football League side tonight.
– Mentioned it in passing above, but Brizzle Rovers were pretty poor tonight, and I can see why they’re struggling with the rest of us lowlifes. Even so, that’s never been a guarantee of us winning (0-4 at Barnet, anyone…?) but that might be one of the most important lessons that tonight has taught us.
If you’re playing a team that is also struggling, you have to learn to put them to the sword.
Last season, I lost count of the amount of times we played and lost against teams that on tonight’s showing would have got the win. Even games against Stanley and Rochdale (not to mention Daggers) this campaign seemed like opportunities wasted.
But then, one suspects we are starting to develop a different mentality already.
Walking out, people really did seem to be looking forward to the Gillingham game on Saturday. That’s Gillingham, who are currently top of the table. No doubt we’ll get brought back down to earth with a thump, but suddenly that doesn’t seem to matter.
Should Danny Kedwell get a hat-trick against us, we seem to have (or at least started to have) developed the mindset that we just move on to Exeter in the next League game (the York double header nothwithstanding). A win on Saturday would be a bonus, but for the first time there’s a little expectancy that we may well get a point.
And when was the last time that happened?
– Speaking of times past, this was the first time since April 21st that we have gone two consecutive games undefeated. Or to put it another way, 17 games. And I am cheating a little bit and including the COC game inbetween us beating Shrewsbury and us beating Chesterfield. But neither victory was as pleasing or generally convincing as this one.
– There were the usual negatives. Poor Jack Midson just can’t seem to find the net at the moment, although if he looks at his strike partner he will know that form is temporary. We would have kept a clean sheet had we not buggered about in midfield. We did seem to wonder what the hell to do when we were 3-0 up. And while we can mention players who have stepped up to the plate in the N&N era – wither Christian Jolley?
The good thing is that all of those, with perhaps the exception of Jolley (you can train hard, but can you be coached?), none of these are insurmountable. Midson will start coming good again if he finds the net. As said just now, we haven’t had two games in a row without a loss since last season, let alone being a good few goals up by half time. The more we do that, the better we’ll handle it.
And just think – a couple of weeks of proper training has already put us in the position where one can write the above and mean it.
– I see Warren Cummings was back on the bench – I guess everyone is being given a clean slate after all. It’s in our interest to see him play well rather than not, so if he has a Lazarus type comeback…
– Perhaps we can see a bit of how NA is going to be a man manager already. When we scored our second goal, he called Osano over and gave him instructions, as if to tell him to concentrate. When one of our players was down at 3-1, most of the squad were called over during the treatment – again, not for drinks but to give them pointers.
Now, Stevenage under Westley were good at that, even if they did put the injury stoppages a bit too zealously, and if we ape half of what they have done, we’ll be all right. People who get into the ground early have noticed the entire team (including subs) warm up together. Maybe NA has decided that one problem has been that we’re not actually a team? We certainly looked more like one tonight, that’s for sure.
– Some old chants I haven’t heard in ages – “Same old Wombles, taking the piss”, and “We’re proud of you”, two that have been sadly absent for too long. Our manager got a good reception, but I don’t think I’ve heard Byron chanted for so loudly.
– And finally, I didn’t really pay attention to this but others did : Gregs was captain. Now, considering he’s here on a 3 month loan, is he an earmarked first January signing?
It was certainly odd that AFCB let him go on a three month deal, timed so that when it was over it would be right in the middle of the transfer window. And with their own managerial merry-go-round at the world’s best car park, for him not to get called back immediately by the new boss says something about his availability.
In fact, does that also signify that we may be keeping the loanees a bit longer? If so, the likes of MMK and Pim may suddenly find themselves out of favour, especially if the respective parent clubs believe they’re getting a better deal playing for us than their reserves.
There is going to be some movement out come January, there has to be. But it’s suddenly become a little less clear…..
– Anyway, I’m done for now. See you next Tuesday. And no, that’s not a euphemism…