The close season is officially over – the Capital One Cup draw is upon us.
To be honest, I’m more than happy that we’re going down to the Den again. OK, it’s not the uber-glamour tie that QPR would have been, but it’s also not at home.
It’s certainly not THEM (and I wonder how much Northampton will have to spend again on defumigating their away end?), nor is it Crawley. In fact, out of anyone who we’ve faced before, Millwall are probably the best of the lot to have.
The Den is a good venue to go to : we won’t take as many as we did for the FAC tie, but we’re still likely to take a good amount. With the painful lack of games in the South East this season, this might be one of the few the more casual type fan will make an effort for. Especially for those who work up in that London and can commute there after they knock off from being a corporate banker/barista/hooker.
That does mean a few extra pennies in the club’s kitty, too. I think we get something like 40% of the gate money, so we’ll probably make more than the we-have-to-have-a-home-tie-no-matter-what fixture against a Yeovil.
It’s also going to be interesting to see how much we’ve improved (or not) since our last visit there. Firstly, we went there in November 2009 – it proves how much has happened since then when you link back to that game and you realise it’s close to four years ago.
Back then, we were a part time team just getting to grips with this weird and professional looking league called the Conference. I offer no comment. We know what the craic is today, and it’s a good chance for an early scalp.
Is this game winnable? Of course. All games at this stage of the League Cup are winnable for lower division sides – squads haven’t fully gelled, the rustyness from pre-season is still there in some instances, and if we can catch them on a bad evening…?
I’m sure some statto somewhere has calculated that the first round of the League Cup has the highest percentage of “shocks” in any tournament. And you have to admit it makes a potentially worthless trophy a bit more enticing to watch.
This is a bit of a no-lose for us : we’re not expected to be victorious, so there’s no pressure as such on us. We can’t do any worse than we did in the opening stages last time out, so with a decent pre-season under our belt and a point to prove, who knows what can happen?
If we do lose, then all that matters is that we put in a decent performance. To be fair, we did that the last time we went to the Den, and it’s forgotten that while we lost 4-1 we did pull it back to 2-1 with some of the game to go.
That particular fixture wasn’t like the Wycombe one before it, where I think we let ourselves down a bit with our Keystone Cops defending (sounds familiar…). And to be blunt, we should expect a bit more of a fight from us.
If we play well, if we leave the ground thinking that there’s promise there, that things are gelling, that we’re not going to repeat the horrors of twelve months previously, then it gives us hope.
And that’s something we’ve been lacking for a while.
Anyway, you can now start planning your stroll from South Bermondsey station already, before you wait for the fixtures to be released on Wednesday. Me, I’m going for Cheltenham away first off, with an away trip to Wycombe on Boxing Day.
It will be Southend at home on or around NYD, we’ll go to Fratton Park on one of the Easter holiday dates, and we’ll finish off at home to Morecambe. Oh, and we’ll continue to play Oxford away in the evening.
While you wait to see how completely wrong I got it, we may even have a new signing or two to take the field in South East London. Hell, we’re still waiting for one for the game at Dartford.
Oh, and one more thing – will Red Jacket Man will turn up this time……….?