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Not “Bye Bye Wombles” just yet…

Smash and grab? Winning ugly? Nabbing the points?

Who cares?

After COC First Round Losers 2 COC Finalists 1, I certainly don’t. Yes, it was a shit game to watch for most of the contest, and I’ve no doubt many were genuinely thinking of relegation when we went a goal down.

But should we stay up this season, this game may have been a turning point.

See, how many occasions (at KM) recently have we heard the same old comments? You know, “we played pretty well but a lapse at the back cost us”. Or just as importantly, “we just couldn’t get the goals at the end”?

Yesterday, we did what teams who fight themselves out of relegation do – we came back. We fought, and we didn’t use playing shit for most of the game as an excuse, like we’ve tended to do recently.

We may simply be papering over the cracks, but for the most part yesterday we played like a team that was scared to lose. Which is different from being outright crap, and “better” too.

Your editor interviewed GA for the nationals (see tomorrow’s Daily Star and the Times for EXCLUSIVE comments – assuming Jacob Murtagh hasn’t used them himself beforehand 😉 ) and he made a point that had Bradford not scored, it would have ended up scoreless anyway.

Funnily enough, us going a goal down rejuvenated us. It certainly forced NA into playing Midson with GA, and I really, really hope that Midson is only benched because of a fitness issue we don’t know about. If there has been a row, then it needs to be resolved and quick, because we’re not going to stay up without him starting.

Now, as the ring rustyness of this report suggests, your editor doesn’t get to many games these days. Especially at KM on a Saturday. This was my first weekend trip here since Rotherham, and perhaps more worryingly one of my previous visits was the Brizzle Rovers game.

I could simply be getting the wrong end of the stick here, but I think we’re a team of two different types of players. We have those who seem to make a difference (Sully, Midson, GA, Bennett, and to an extent Meades and Pell), and then there are those who increasingly seem to be making up the numbers (Sammy Moore, Toks, Hussey, MMK). If we do stay up, it will be down to the efforts of the former group and not the latter.

That we’ve rebuilt enough in January to even have one group of players who are capable of getting us out of the shit we’re in is major in itself. Imagine having to get out of trouble with the pre-rebuild squad…

Yesterday, we gave ourselves a good chance of getting out of it. There is clearly still a fair bit wrong, and you have to wonder how unified we really are. We battled hard yesterday, although as usual there was still that something missing for much of the game.

But the last ten minutes was old, traditional Wimbledon. It really was a genuine fuck-you-let’s-win-this approach that we’ve seen far too little of in the past couple of seasons (which is ironic considering how many games we’ve won in the last minute).

You really can’t deny the emotion of that second goal. We all know we’ve got a long way to go – fifteen games worth – but we couldn’t have gone on a mentally downward spiral for too many more games.

Suddenly, we have a bit of hope.

Northampton is still a ought-to-win game, but a draw or even a loss now won’t be the end of the world. When you look at who we’ve played in 2013, we’ve managed to overcome most of the top teams intact. Of the games remaining, most of them are against teams tenth and lower, and if we go down it really will be down to our collective attitude – although one that is still a tad suspect.

It’s a bit of a shame that we can’t enjoy a week of the glow of a win, and that we’re back to the grind on Tuesday. We could really do ourselves some massive favours between now and after the Cheltenham game, but we have to work twice as hard and make twice as much own luck as we did yesterday.

The game itself? Oh, that. Again, without Bennett fitting well into the culture of our defence, this would have been 0-0. As a game, it would have struggled to reach 1/5 in a match rating near you. There seemed a helluva lot of aimless hoofing, and a lot of it was pretty agricultural to watch. League Two personified, although the pitch was shit.

You realise quite quickly that this is what a lot of L2 football is like, which not only makes you realise just how utterly bizzare trying to make us play a Barcelona style was, but how at least some of this squad is able to do the ugly stuff these days.

It probably wasn’t surprising that a mistake led to their goal, and it wasn’t any more gobsmacking that we scored with the only two decent deliveries into the box. Football really is a game of fine margins, especially in our position, and it’s still not too late for us to finally take that approach.

Be honest, you can give it all the snark you want this morning, that it was a shit game etc, but I bet you were jizzing in your undersized pants when GA netted late on. Literally, in one or two cases.

But we need lifts like this, because this season has been absolutely fucking demoralising. It wasn’t that we started the season well, nor was it coming off the back of a promising looking campaign last time out. Even during our relatively good run in January, we still ended up slumping to the bottom, although the League table looks a little bit more easier this morning.

Yesterday showed us what can be done, and perhaps may make me start not actively hating this group of players. Tuesday would be a good place to start putting a run together – as the last update stated, we’re in the business end of things now.

Believe it or not, I’ve had to look up what specific format the traditional SW19 report uses. It’s been a while…

Plus points: We won. Coming back like we did. Jack Midson. GA. Realising that without another defensive fuckup, it would have been a clean sheet.

Minus points: Still dire at times. Conceding and realising the very real specter of relegation. Only starting with GA up front.

The referee’s a….: Fucking hell. I’m surprised he even allowed us one or two corners. Was he under strict instructions not to let anything happen to the Bradford squad before next Sunday? While I don’t think enough of this squad is cynical enough to play the referee, although again I think the “older guard” of players are more guilty of that, had we lost we could have had a scapegoat…

Them: Whether they had one eye on Wembley or not I don’t know, but they really will have to put a “Cup Final” performance on if Swansea aren’t going to stuff them.

Apparently, they weren’t significantly better than they were yesterday at Wycombe, and if anything it shows that if we get our application right and not be the usual brain dead cunts in defence, we can still get the results.

Fair play to their support, over 600 of them turned up to experience the shit view in the still-unsponsored East Stand. Guess there won’t just be 600 turning up in North London next Sunday though 😉 Even if they had a drum.

One other thought – their manager gave one of the most painful (and telling) post-match sideswipes when they stuffed us 5-1, when he said we were easy to plan against. I wonder what he’s thinking now..?

Point to ponder: I expect plenty of sternly written emails over this, especially from people who watch more than the occasional game, but am I the only one completely unimpressed with Chris Hussey?

I know our defence isn’t all that anyway, but he doesn’t look the player we saw in the Conference (or was it Conf South?) days. While we clearly look better with Bennett, occasional balls up notwithstanding, I have to be honest and say that Fenlon looks better at left back.

Was he signed because he was an ex-player? I know mention was made that Bassey was instrumental in bringing him back (and doesn’t do much to change your editor’s mind in releasing him in the summer), and I really don’t think that having players for a second time around works that well anyway.

Hussey is only here until the end of the season, and you suspect regardless of what division we’re in, he might find he won’t get a contract. Especially if we can find somebody to replace Cummings too.

Speaking of our back line, we did look better when Pim and Bennett linked up. Or at least, not quite so panicky as when MMK plays (and it’s all very well for him to say that he’s spent too much time in the Conference and doesn’t want to go back there. Perhaps it’s because he’s a Conference level defender?).

Don’t get me wrong, Pim has been very disappointing this season, but he is playing below the level he’s capable of, and perhaps Bennett will start getting the best out of him? I can’t deny I would prefer Antwi to partner our favourite Corkonian, but we do still have a passable option.

And Satan help us if Pim and MMK end up being our back line any more………..

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Our first league win at KM since October. Our first win at KM on a Saturday since the first game of the season. And you wonder why we’re bottom. (2) The PA in the Main Stand cutting out before the game. For those sitting in those seats, Mikey T announced the secret of KFC’s herbs and spices, what really happened in the Oscar Pistorius household and the surefire way to cut out the mistakes at the back. Needless to say, Bennett didn’t hear it…

Anything else? Like a lot of people, I can’t wait until the 28th April when this season is finally over. It could be a good ending, or it could be the one so many of us seem to fear when we went 1-0 down yesterday.

Much will be written about mistakes made this campaign, and there are been far too many – and needless ones, as well. But wouldn’t it be nice that given the last decade, can’t we just have a normal, neither-going-up-nor-down season that doesn’t wear us out next season?

And I don’t mean being mid-table shit in the Conference either.

This is going to be yet another emotionally draining run in, and it will be worse because the stakes are so high and the errors could be extremely costly. If we do go down, then so be it, but we shouldn’t have to go through that to push the club up to the next stage.

I think it could end up being pretty damaging to the psyche of AFCW supporting if we stay up but we continue to gear ourselves up to constantly struggle each season. It will inevitably relegate us anyway, which will cause more damage than it’s worth, but collectively one senses the fanbase “needs” a season of the proverbial mid-table mediocrity.

Or in reality, a good couple more seasons of it.

That’s one of the problems we will have if we get out of the current shit. There will be massive fallout if we go down, as one would expect, and that would probably mean some high-profile resignations. It’s part and parcel, and shouldn’t  be avoided.

But if we stay up and start having another season like we’re having right now, then what? It would be our third season in the AFCW era as a Football League club, and it won’t have the novelty of the first season nor the “second season syndrome” of this one. A third straight campaign of miscalculating the division would just be outright incompetence.

I guess whatever happens this season, when the final ball is kicked against Fleetwood the club starts doing it “properly”. That means putting in an under-21 setup, that will mean being more flexible with the funding, and that will mean going up the next level with our marketing and commercial. It will need a big rethink if we’re going down, but we will get badly – and fatally – exposed if we stay up and we don’t.

We’ve learned a lot this season already, and some of the conclusions have been brutal. I got the sense at KM yesterday that we’re scraping through this season before some major overhaul(s) of the club itself kicks in, and they can’t happen soon enough.

It needs to.

So, was it worth it? If we stay up, then yes.

In a nutshell: One nil down, and two one up….