Skip to content

Shot One’s Bolt

And a must win game becomes…..

I’m thanking Satan that Stacey Long whipped in that free kick to give us Pacifists 1 Military 1, because I’m not sure how pissed off I would have been had we lost this one.

By pissed off, I don’t mean one of those ones where you’re on top for most of it yet you still somehow come out of it without the three points. This is the worst kind of pissed-offness, the one where even though we didn’t lose it felt like we should have done.

Like Exeter, this was one of these sort of games that you should expect a middling League Two side to win. But we just can’t seem to do that. Instead, it’s the same old, same old shit – we struggle against struggling sides who see us as a good chance of building up their points tally again.

We did get a point though, which is pretty much more than we deserved. I know we’ve had to do a lot of travelling recently, but the way we looked so jaded was frightening. We had three up front, yet apart from Stacey Long’s goal, did we have much else to offer?

In his post match interview, NA said that because we’ve had so many midweek games he hasn’t been able to properly sit the players down and give them a full week’s training to change things. It’s always a case of, preparing for one game, rest then preparing for the next one soon afterwards. And we do it again this Tuesday and Saturday…

“But come on”, I now hear you say, “We’re now unbeaten in three games, and haven’t you said how important something like that is?”. Yes I have, and it does say something about our new levels of expectations that such a run has slipped under the radar.

However, we should be sitting and looking at the league table with a lot more comfort right now. Instead, we move up a place but we still look precarious – and still needing a good run of wins (and performances to match).

You can’t help but get a horrible feeling for Tuesday, especially when you find out Southend won 4-1 at Torquay yesterday. I know we’re mentally stronger under NA, and had this game been earlier in the season we really would have been spitting blood over yet another loss.

But you suspect that we’ll be running on fumes until January. A quick glance at the fixture does give us a bit of hope, because after THAT game we get weekdays off. Though one cannot help but think the FAC is going to take a lot out of us mentally (some of it being down to our own attitude and disposition that we really must learn to get over before it seriously cripples us).

We have found ourselves in that difficult limbo stage at the moment. The new manager honeymoon is over, if he had one to begin with. I don’t think we can keep chopping and changing the side too much more, though we still have January to come, and the games are still coming far too quickly for us to settle down and get some cohesion going again.

Not forgetting the psychological aspect of yet again underperforming in a match against a bottom team.

Sitting there in the uber-cramped press box yesterday, something horrible occured to me. I’m currently unconvinced we will pull away to mid-table mediocrity because we just do too many of these sort of games too regularly.

I know this isn’t really a NA squad as such, but that inability to take a game like this and get a win – and a comfortable one at that – is still causing us a lot of grief. We gub Brizzle Rovers then we lose to Gills and Exeter. We have a great win at York last week then we just about scrape by against Aldershot. We should have confidence going into Southend, but all of a sudden we are concerned about playing them because of yesterday.

That is what happens to teams who find themselves relegation candidates. And right now, we’re one of them.

One has to wonder how much more rebuilding we have to do to become a side that can beat teams down the bottom. I have a horrible feeling it will be more than we want to think….

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Stacey Long’s goal. Neil Sullivan’s ability to shout and give instructions.

Minus points: We didn’t win. Lacklustre. Curtis Osano’s ball “control”. Impotent up front. Looking like a collection of individuals too much of the time.

The referee’s a…: Probably somebody whose wife bosses him around the rest of the time and uses games to finally assert his manhood.

Them: Unlucky to leave Theme Park KM (the place where all visitors go home happy) with just a point. Actually looked like they wanted to win the game, battled hard etc. Right now, if I had to put money on either ourselves or Shots to be in League Two next season, I wouldn’t automatically put it on us.

Decent enough turnout from them, though given the distance etc, I was surprised it was only 500 of them. Mind you, our away attendances are less these days too, and it’s not like we took many more to Wycombe either…

Point to ponder: What do we do about Seb Brown? If NA really is hinting that we’ll have Sully beyond January, then Seb may not get too many games this season. Obviously, there’s something up with our former (?) number one, and it’s clear that Sully coming in isn’t just for a farewell tour.

But there was something in NA’s post-match interview that made my ears prick up. Basically, he said something to the effect that Seb had played a lot of games for such a young keeper. Have we simply over-used our Eastlands hero? Is he just getting a season long rest and (re) education from a former Scottish international?

Sully looked very happy to be here, and one suspects that NA really has asked him for a favour beyond a short term loan. In Seb’s case, if he’s bright enough he’ll learn all he can off him, and from our viewpoint SB is somebody who we’ll have to cash in on at some point. We do need him to become a good goalie, for more reasons than just keeping clean sheets…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) ITV in the press box, including one Mr C Tyldsley, scouting for THAT game. You will be pleased to know they were on exceptional behaviour, as they were allowed to leave at half time… (2) Kieran Djilali coming on, and maybe showing what he could do for us. Is it me or does he look a little different? As in, less scrawny? We certainly need him to step up to the plate more than Jolley did. (3) Speaking of Jolley, he scored for Newport yesterday.

Anything else? Dunno, really. I suppose all the while I try to be aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn over THAT game, it’s difficult to say much else. But I’ll try. We’re going to get a bit of budget that we didn’t expect from the cup run, so one has to wonder what we’ll do with it.

No doubt we will try and keep Byron and Midson, although if somebody came in for an offer with six figures on it (and I don’t mean £000001 either) for either of them we’d be mad not to take it. They do the job but they’re not indispensable.

But if it’s hinted that Sully may well stay here for the rest of the season, that you would assume a couple of the other loanees to do so too (unless they are to become permanent deals, giving us leeway in March if we need it), where will we end up spending?

If we assume that both Pim and C-Mac will be with us for this season, then providing Antwi is kept on we might just get away with the back line. Which to be fair has looked more solid now we have some proper defensive coaching.

Are we going to try to get a hard bastard in midfield? I’m not sure how we’d go about getting one in January, unless that too is yet another loan deal, but we certainly need somebody to ensure games like yesterday are few(er) and far between.

Indeed, could we find ourselves buying not so many players in January, but better ones? And if so, where? This approach is a risk, as said player could easily get crocked (think of Pim) or ends up disappointing (think of Pim again), all on a decent wage (the Dutchman isn’t getting much love here today, is he?).

One would hope our scouting has improved enough to ensure we get it right this January, and getting in Sully has shown us what sort of contacts N&N have.  One thing is sure though, they will need to fit in quickly…

So, was it worth it? No.

In a nutshell: One step forward…