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Back to Earth

Oof – and I bet you’d forgotten how painful a kick in the nuts letting in a last minute goal was.

There’s definitely something about your editor being sent to report at a game down in Bournemouth and us conceding right at the death. We did it at Torquay, and got the point when it could/should have been three.

And we came away from Waddon Road empty handed because we concentrated for 93 minutes instead of 94.

By the sound of it, it really was that one lapse of concentration right at the end that undid us. And that is another lesson for these players to learn and hopefully act upon.

Just because we were flying high, and playing against a team struggling, does not mean that you’re going to automatically win. The last SW19 update was pretty much saying that you would hope we would build on our recent good form, and last minute goals at Cheltenham are a step backwards.

It’s not a massive hammerblow to us, more of a gutting irritation. Those who saw the players at KM after they got back were suggesting they looked pig sick. As I would want them to be after losing like that.

We’re at home for the next two games now, and they’ve got the ideal opportunity to make amends.

This was however a first proper test of our promotion credentials, and they did get a setback with this. Teams that get in the playoffs work out how to win these games at some point.

And there’s a sense that we’re not quite there yet on that score. Exeter may have been another example of this, and it’s possible we may be finding our actual level in the upcoming months.

If we are a top ten side, then so what? That’s one helluva improvement there already, and the fact we’re disappointed we’re not third and we’re seventh is proving just how far we’ve come.

There does seem to be a pattern forming already with us, and providing we do what we should be doing against the bottom two will further highlight that – we seem to have moments where we get into the automatic places then immediately slip out of them the next game.

However, and this is important, we are then able to regroup and push upwards again.

This will be a testing couple of weeks now. Not only because of the need to get back to winning ways and the potential banana skins, but because the memories of two years ago still linger.

That was then and this is now, of course, but there may still be a bit of a hangover from even that first FL campaign lingering. Not only that, but even now there’s still some little annoyances that IMO are preventing us from moving up to that level of legitimate playoff contenders.

A case in point : in the last six league games, we’ve gone behind in four of them (Cheltenham, Burton, Chesterfield and Scunny). That was a trait that almost killed us last season, and it’s something we haven’t quite shaken out of the system.

The last update mentioned about us finally gubbing somebody. Perhaps it’s just as important that we also start properly taking control of games and not need that kick up the arse of going behind?

Quite a few of our wins have been down to NA being able to change tactics during the game. All well and good, and I’m certainly not decrying that, but we do still seem unable to take charge of a game from the off.

Apparently, we took it to Cheltenham in the first half, failed to take advantage and found ourselves on the back foot far too much after the break. Teams in playoff positions can take advantage, we can’t.

Not yet, anyway.

Still, that’s what being a work in progress is all about. At least we’re not terminally useless these days, and if improvements are to concentrate a bit more and to be more ruthless in taking advantage of playing well, they’re not bad things to work on.

We were literally seconds away from our first 0-0 since, er, Cheltenham on the 21st Feb 2012. And that’s quite an amazing stat in itself. If losing on Saturday means we start working on closing out games then it does become worth it.

Though needless to say, that still doesn’t numb being kicked in the bollocks with a last minute goal…