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Post Millwall musings

It is clearly the opening week of the season, as once again we find ourselves out at the first hurdle of the League Cup…

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much else from our trip to sunny South Bermondsey last night. A two-division gap is just that, after all. Even so, I walked out of the ground pretty pissed off – which I’m not sure is a good thing or not.

To lose 2-1 away to a Championship side doesn’t look too bad in the stat books. To concede the first goal with a goalkeeping fuckup that wouldn’t have looked out of place in 2012 does stick in the throat though.

Worner may very quickly learn why he has to quickly learn. It’s not going to be good for him to rapidly gain a reputation for costly blunders – ask his understudy on the bench.

If he hadn’t done his impression of an AFCW keeper at Tonbridge Angels, the game would have probably gone into extra time – Millwall really were there for the taking, and I think that’s why last night has ended up annoying me.

We were waaaaaaaay too negative last night. To stick one up front is bad enough, but Teddy’s kid? I know it’s far too early in the season to properly judge him, but he hasn’t exactly shown the promise so far that Smith demonstrated at Torquay.

Mind you, it’s  not like he got too much in the way of service to begin with. In fact, I’m wondering if the thought in the last SW19 about this game – about it coming around far too soon for this squad – turned out to be true after all.

NA himself said after the game that it was a performance that was inbetween two stools. With the amount of new players we’ve got in, they’re still not going to have deep levels of telepathy the second game in.

Perhaps we went out not entirely knowing how to approach it, although whether our boss has this hangover from last season about going behind so early on remains unclear. It’s possible that we’re going from one extreme (leaking goals but scoring) to another at the moment (vice versa) and we need that happy equilibrium.

Or in other words, was it fear that undid us last night?

That said, there were some definite positives last night – the defence looks as solid as I can remember for a long, long while. I didn’t have that sense of foreboding whenever Millwall attacked, put it that way.

When we controlled the ball well, we did it as good as a Championship side did. And we almost snatched it back at the end. There’s definite signs of something there, and you can at least say to yourself that once we start sussing out effective game plans and know what these players can (and can’t) do we won’t be strugglers.

Until then, we’ll have to watch passes go astray, some lingering confusion and a lack of cutting edge in our play. I seriously hope that NA plays Smith and Midson on Saturday, because it really was no coincidence that we played our best when we had to get a goal.

One up front is bad enough to watch for these sort of games, and if we go for such negative tactics at KM…

I mentioned Midson just then, and I really don’t know what the craic is with him being on the bench. We know full well he’s capable of scoring goals, and we looked more potent when he came on.

Is he injured? Are there (continuing) issues between him and the manager? If it’s the latter, they’d better get sorted out quick, because Sheringham and Strutton are no immediate replacement for him.

Come to think of it, will our forward line become our achilles heel this season? None of them (even Midson) had a particularly inspiring pre-season, I’m struggling to remember how many of them found the net, and it’s carried on beyond the start of the proper campaign.

We had this problem towards the end of last season, if you remember. And while all teams have barren patches like this, one suspects with us we need to settle down as a squad and with an effective playing style before we start properly scoring.

Other on-field observations? Seems that Sammy Moore isn’t universally as loved as he used to be, judging by some post-match discussions. Chris Arthur is very good at running – if he could cross the ball, he could be lethal.

Our corners seem a lot, lot better now Kennedy is delivering them in. Some of our other crosses even managed to have a little bit of quality on them. And it was good to see Barry Fuller get forward…

There were of course two off-field incidents that people will remember from last night. The first was the pretty amateurish way of getting in the ground – if you have 300+ visiting supporters who don’t arrive early (for whatever reason – there were train issues from London Bridge), then try opening some more turnstiles.

To have one – one – turnstile open to process that many people who were paying cash is something we’d have a go at for a club in the Ryman Prem, let alone a club two divisions above us.

Did they really only expect 800 of us? And even if we did take that, that we apparently had 200 pre-sold tickets should have given them just a tinsy winsy bit of a hint that maybe they ought to be a bit less dopey?

I’m not joking when I say that it felt more than a bit unpleasant with that amount of people trying to filter through just one turnstile. Thankfully, the vast majority of us aren’t idiots and can behave themselves…

Which does lead us on to the second incident that may well end up having repercussions for us all. For those who don’t know, towards the end of the game some flares were let off, which led to stewards getting involved, which led to standoffs/arguments/punches allegedly being thrown between those who started it and pissed off Wombles around them.

And which eventually led to a steward being pushed down the stairs and ending up in hospital and subsequently a number of arrests made.

First things first, apart from your editor being about 8 rows down from where it all started. Those who got nabbed and who may end up being charged and convicted really haven’t got anyone else to blame but themselves. Especially if anyone gets done for the steward incident.

Letting off flares is a bit sad and cliche, to be honest – apparently, Yeovil fans let some off at Roots Hall last night too – and having stood directly under one in the Cork City end at Dalymount Park once, I can safely say you’ll definitely need to get the shampoo out afterwards.

Whether seven got arrested or whether (as some social media sites are suggesting) it was four doesn’t really matter. To get nicked as opposed to just ejected is obviously more than acting up and “having a laugh”.

There does seem to be a bit of confusion who they are – one of the group was apparently from Palace, and according to a steward from last night some were local hoodlums, but many of them were definitely recognised by our supporters in Borough Market before the game.

Whatever their identities, either the club(s) or the coppers are going to be handing out a few bans after this. Even if they aren’t immediately issued, there were enough people taking notes and pictures and the mood right now is to ensure they never return.

You really have to be brain-dead to openly act up in that manner at a Football League ground these days as it is, especially down the Den where they’ve had all too much experience in the past.  But then, none of them seemed particularly bright.

This does cause issues for the rest of us. There were a couple of confrontations when it was all going off involving “ordinary” fans, and if any of them got injured (or worse, arrested themselves), that really isn’t good.

What it does mean for the ordinary travelling fan is that we might start facing a few restrictions if this doesn’t get nipped in the bud.  If you ignore what happens on the pitch, travelling away with us is mostly a joy – you don’t get hit with all-ticket games, you mostly get treated well by opposition stewards, and we do tend to do well with the allocation at away grounds – more than most teams at KM get.

I would hate it if because there’s always a brain-dead little “army” intent on living out their fantasies, we start finding we have to buy tickets in advance, or we start finding stewards being a little more heavy handed in future, or away games generally being a little less “fun”.

None of us should be naive to think you’ll ever eradicate anyone who wants to act like a dick. But we don’t and have never had much of a reputation – and we’re better off without one….