Well, that was……. interesting.
I’ve no idea what those glancing at Sky Sports News last night would have made of a 5-3 scoreline at Griffin Park, but it was ultimately well worth the fiver to get in…
First things first. 7pm kickoffs suck, no matter if you do end up getting home at a reasonable time. I’m pretty certain there were still some people coming in at around 1930.
Those who did get into the ground on time witnessed quite a few things from us, both positive and negative. The usual bad stuff first : I wouldn’t fancy our chances with one recognised centre back in any game, let alone a contest against a decent L1 side.
To be fair, putting Fenlon next to Weston worked OK enough until they scored. Although we were pretty much camped in our own half by that stage. When Weston went off though, it was as though Stuart Cash had come back for one night only as defensive coach.
Your editor saw the goals on SSN this morning as he was typing this, and a couple of them really were piss poor to concede. I don’t think we’ll face that caliber most weeks, but even so you don’t want to see the ghosts of last season returning any time soon.
Oh, and our goals were pretty good.
Annoyingly, injuries have already started to hit us. One can only hope Weston, Arthur and KSL were precautionary ones. We can get away with Weston because Benno is back and Framo will be playing at Bootham Crescent this Saturday too.
Speaking of KSL and Arthur, maybe last night showed why they’re still going to be used as impact subs for a while. And if we’re being honest, one could put Midson in that category too.
I guess in the case of the guy that makes Kedwell look a prolific goalscorer this season, he may simply need a goal to kickstart himself again. Last night would have been an excellent time to get one, but again it didn’t happen for him.
It’s not for the want of trying, but the last time I saw a striker look so desperate to score was the first JM at AFCW – one Mr Main – in the two Conference seasons. And we all know what happened there.
The one big positive from last night was our fighting spirit – at 5-1 down it could have easily been a crippling humiliation, but if anything ten more minutes and we could have taken it to penalties.
I’m not ramping that up, either. OK, if we had that blatantly obvious spot kick in the first minute of the second half – and boy, was NA pissed off by that – things could have been very different.
But I think there’s something in this squad that gives you hope whenever things get tricky. 5-3 looks a helluva lot better than 5-1 for a start, and to score that second goal when we were losing like that…?
We let ourselves down when we went to Millwall through failing to attack. Last night was a lot better in that regard, and we got somewhere with it. With a better defence, we could have been talking about the prospect of meeting Franchise in the next round this morning.
Or to put it another way, we had a go.
We’re still a work in progress, and that means mentally too. I think we’re starting to finally lose the timidness of our attack, now we’re not so obsessed with not losing games. The hangover from last season seems to be finally clearing and this was the kind of performance I expect. Even if we did let in five up the other end.
Last night did highlight one big truism though, that isn’t a positive or a negative – there is most definitely a gap between a team that’s fourth in League Two and a side that is fourth in League One.
I’ve no idea how strong that Brentford team was, but they seemed a bit sharper, a bit fitter, a bit more clinical and just all round a bit better. OK, they’re in the L1 playoff zone, should have gone up last season and I imagine the lower reaches of that division are a bit crappier, but if we did find ourselves in the old third division anytime soon, it’s going to be a lot harder than we expect.
It’s said on here, and elsewhere, that L2 is much of a muchness. L1 is definitely harder, and teams like Chesterfield, Wycombe and Bury in recent years have found themselves back in our division almost as quickly as they escaped it.
Granted, that’s not always the case – ask Stevenage and Crawley – but us stepping up into the third tier may be an ask too far for now. One could look at Gillingham, who are already struggling, and don’t be entirely surprised if they’re down there at the end of the season.
We’ve made a good start under NA professionalising the whole AFCW setup, with the u21s and improved training and tactical prowess. If we do end up in the Franchise division within the next couple of seasons however, we’re going to have to really up our game as a club…
Other thoughts : 1200+ for a JPT game with a stupid kick-off time was an excellent turnout, and one wonders how many we could take in a proper FA Cup tie on a Saturday.
We got lucky, because Brentford isn’t too far to get to for most of us. Imagine us having to go to Torquay last night, as Pompey did? Mind you, even Gills v Leyton Orient got 1,630 through the Priestfield gates.
Perhaps the novelty of the JPT for us still hasn’t quite worn off? Although your editor does remember being in a very low turnout of us at Southend last season, so maybe we shouldn’t always be so smug.
All the above mentioned does hide one thing though, and it’s that yet again, we’re out of a cup competition at the first hurdle. The complete inability to have a cup run is such that I’m now wondering if we’ll ever have one again.
The JPT you can put up with going out of, because it’s one of those competitions where you’re not really into it until you reach the semis. Bit like a Senior Cup competition for League clubs.
But not for the first time, it will have to be the FA Cup for us this season for a bit of genuine giantkilling and giddyness. Hopefully we get to play a proper club in the second round this time round, should we manage to win a first round match, because I could quite easily do without the circus for this season.
Maybe we could find ourselves with the football equivalent of what firemen the world over often say : the longer you go without dealing with a big fire, the bigger the one you do eventually fight will be.
Christ, imagine us actually getting to the third round and doing the modern day equivalent of beating Burnley in 1975? Which to put in a 2013/14 context, we then go to Old Trafford and Ross Worner gets us the draw…
That’s for later though, and there’s plenty of games before then. York on Saturday (and your editor is still trying to scrounge a lift for that one as I am able to go to this one), and I would very much like our first win on the road since Aldershot away.
York isn’t my favourite place, or team, so I’ll be quite happy to see a repeat of last season’s 3-0 gubbing. I doubt at all if that will happen, but if we’re due a decent cup run at some point, we’re also due to give somebody a massive hiding.
And yes, Midson to score a couple.
Oh, and one final thing – has anyone gone to that restaurant that was advertised over the PA whenever they scored? I don’t think I would want to now. And can you imagine the same thing happening at KM? “In association with the carvery…”