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Two steps forward, two steps back


Your editor is back in t’smoke, after a mixture of failed laptops and failed football teams…

I’m really not sure what to say about losing 4-0 to t’Stanley. All I hope is that the common consensus holds true and it really is a blip – and not the critical loss of form that we all fear deep down.

I have to admit, I think yesterday was coming. Firstly, I was going, and I’m definitely a jonah (although to be fair to me, I was also at Southend…). I will accept offers for my Rotherham ticket.

Secondly, according to those who were at Aldershot, we did get a bit lucky when they missed their open goal and we didn’t. OK, after last night that game became even more of a vital three points, but it still didn’t make this gubbing any easier to take.

But I think there was some kind of, well, complacency going into last night. Three wins on the spin, and there was almost a bit of acceptance that us being safe was when, not if, and us being eight points clear this morning was a given.

Instead, we’re only two points ahead.

Last night was dreadful, there are no other words for it. There were no redeeming features about the game whatsoever, apart from it only lasting 90 minutes. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did go wrong, except for a sending off and a major injury to an important player.

Why Jack Midson didn’t start again I don’t know, and I hope that wasn’t NA trying to be too clever again. We need points on the board, not points to be scored.

Mind you, we were lucky it was only four (and you could see how Stanley went 3-0 up over Barnet). It’s pointless singling out players, because nobody played well. I don’t know whether it was us thinking we had it in the bag, or whether four games in eleven days just started to take its toll, or what, but we needed this and other results like a bullet to the cranium.

But there really isn’t any point in lingering over this. We dust ourselves down again. I noticed NA’s comments on the OS, especially this one:

“I got the boys together in there and we had a bit of a group hug,”

I think what did it was the bit right at the end, when firstly Sully jnr went and clapped the travelling support, then shook hands with those down the front. Then the rest of the team followed suit, and so did NA.

That might have been the post-game team talk right there : 200+ of us let down in a big way by players who let themselves down. If that wasn’t motivation to bounce back on Saturday, I don’t know what is with this lot.

And plenty were saying exactly that from the terrace – “Saturday”.

I don’t think there’s much cause to change what was said in the last update – last night was the worst set of results for us we could have had, but we had the best set a week ago. We still need to pick up points, wins then draws, and the other teams do still need to win themselves.

And if it sucked supporting AFCW last night, imagine if you were Aldershot or York.

TBH I think this team is best if it’s given a cattle prodding each week. We never seem to fully take charge of our own destiny, we always have to let it slip away again. That’s a mental issue, and it’s not really going to be changed with this particular group of players.

Should we stay up, it will be as much to do with other teams being even shittier than us, or them simply running out of games.

We do have the character to bounce back, and I think on Saturday they’ve got no other choice. I got the sense – and I certainly hope – that players and management realised what they done last night as they walked off. This might explain NA’s “group hug” comment – sometimes, you don’t need to bawl them out.

If we do what we ought to do on Saturday, and we get lucky with results elsewhere – which, in truth, we have to be, but so does everyone else – then it becomes more comfortable for us. Remember that we only have to better the bottom two…

Time is running out, but we still have the slight advantage. And every little bit in our favour, every little slice of luck, gets magnified big time. And yes, it works the other way round.

Just as Accrington (d’oh), Plymouth, Barnet and Torquay winning stung us, our three-game-in-a-row winning run put a few feathers into the ruffled position too. I really do think whoever works the hardest will stay up – our heads may hurt but they haven’t dropped.

So, we’re dragged back into it, and I suppose with the way this season has gone we shouldn’t have been surprised. It will continue to be squeaky arse time, but you didn’t expect any different.

We obviously cannot afford (m)any more games like the debacle last night, and you can certainly forget our goal difference now (unless we win 6-0 on Saturday and other teams get a whalloping). But just as we dug ourselves out of what almost felt like being permanently bottom of the League, one more push will probably do it.

It’s in our own hands still. Although that does worry me.

One other thought, which was mentioned in the last report but I saw with my own eyes – how quiet the buildup was beforehand from the locals. Accrington effectively shuts down at 1730, and even going into the ground 10 minutes before kickoff, it could have been a Conference game.

If Stanley do stay up, they do seem too small to keep defying gravity for too much longer. It happened to Macclesfield, Rushden and Kiddy, and eventually it will claim Barnet too. And is why NA said earlier this week that should we stay up, one of our priorities is to ensure we don’t ever look like we’re going down.

We’ve been there and done that with the too-small-to-survive thing, and I’m not going to blame any team in that position from trying to get a Francis Jeffers to keep them up. And I’m not one to play the victim over financial doping – it’s up to our results on the pitch to do the talking, nothing else matters.

Besides, every team who tries to spend what they don’t have becomes a cropper at some point.

With luck, our players will be hurting from now until Saturday evening, they need to be. Otherwise getting stuffed yesterday in deepest Lancashire will be the least of their worries…