For once, your editor didn’t end up going to Bournemouth and find out afterwards that we conceded late on. Shame that we decided this time to let in two goals way before the final whistle…
Anyway, Jampot braved it for SW19. Medals have been awarded for less.
Back to the Future â€¦ Theme Park KM Reopens for Winter
I really am still perplexed what to make of today. For the first 20 minutes there really was only one team in it. Us.
But, perhaps indicative of our season ahead, we did not create enough real chances to make it count. And ultimately there is a lot of anger about Crocodile Shoes 0 Cobblers 2. We certainly didnâ€™t have any snap today and got nailed. Mugged was another description.
We really still do not cope with really physical sides. Of course, a ref that doesnâ€™t protect your players doesnâ€™t help but you have to accept that, move on and find away around it. We didnâ€™t. There seemed an undercurrent of dissent in the ranks borne of frustration at how things were going (Porterâ€™s booking came from that) and generally too many players having an off day.
Given it was the usual suspects out there, including the normal bench, this was quite surprising. Even the rock that is Bennett was struggling and Smith had his worst game by far, probably since arriving.
Midson came on but I donâ€™t think I noticed him and Arthur, though providing some crosses was again just too quick for a forward line that never got into the box enough, perhaps because of deep defending or a misfiring midfield where Pell seemed to deep and SMoore played it backwards to much.
There was a lot of effort but generally a lack of quality. Over the game I noted three key points:
– We were trying too hard
– We were over-complicating things (didnâ€™t they read my KISS article last time, did they Ed?)
– We were trying to do things too quickly and defeating ourselves.
A question of â€˜Keep calm and play your football.â€™ After all, weâ€™re AFCW not bloody Real Madrid!
Couple that with the players getting too emotionally involved, whether it be a misplaced pass or a targeted challenge and you could see the difference. Northampton committed the foul and moved on, we let it fester. They hit the channels; we tried to constantly play it across the back and through midfield with little movement up front. They played to a plan and as a team. Simply, we did not.
So itâ€™s back to the drawing board for NA this week. He looked quite pissed off walking off in a thoughtful kind of way. Two losses on the trot and another next week will mean a hatrick against the bottom three. Doubt he wants that on his record.
To move forward we have to solve this goal scoring conundrum. We have to learn to deal even better with the physical teams like Northampton. We still need to be more â€˜professional in the foulâ€™ milking it if we can.
And we still have a lot of work to do on our set-pieces.
The first goal for them was straight off the training ground â€“ though Pellâ€™s late effort probably was too â€“ and itâ€™s easier to score them from 3 yards rather than Pellâ€™s attempt at 30.
NA is going to have to earn his corn this week. Two weeks, two defeats, down from 3rd to 11th and a tricky game to come. Thereâ€™s the slight fear also that is this the first season coming around again, good start and then the drop off in form.
Heâ€™s done well so far improving this team. Now he needs to bring in the next phase in the great plan. Stop the temporary rot by beating a team at the bottom of the table. Comprehensively.
Plus points: Franchise lost (thanks in part to 2 DK penalties and, during the game the story going around the ground was him revealing an â€˜AFCW Only took 9 years t-shirtâ€™ in a goal celebration that prompted a MKDong player to lamp him and get sent off). We at least kept trying, and trying different formations.
Minus points: Getting there. Watching this. Getting home. Horrendous travel whatever your mode of transport. Our inability to mentally get our heads together to beat teams we have lost a lot to in the past
The refereeâ€™s aâ€¦ soft touch (see below). Reservations had already been made about Andy D’Urso. His decision-making was OK with only the odd one wrong but it was his naivety or lack of ability to nip in the bud the â€˜professionalismâ€™ tactics employed by Northampton, given his experience.
OK, we accept that to a degree this is part of the game even if we donâ€™t like it. But a player going down supposedly injured, after the team has scored a second goal to wrap up the game and who wasnâ€™t even involved in the move for the goal, to waste time deserves at least a booking and preferably a sending off for basically cheating.
Them: The polite term is professional. The impolite is thugish.
OK, letâ€™s get it straight. They had a plan. Get in our faces. Foul us and stop us getting any momentum going. For the first 15 or so they struggled. Then Reid took out Porter. It could have easily been a straight red. But the yellow meant they knew they would get away with the ref and they did.
We did not man up enough to put ourselves on the line and didnâ€™t produce enough killer balls into the box. So it made them look good. As some behind me said we were technically better than them. But they played as a team.
Points to ponder: What has happened to Francombe? He was better today playing on the left side opposite Porter than he has been of late, but still didnâ€™t do enough for NA not to replace him with Arthur at half-time. Is it a case for him he should not have come back? Or are the instructions preventing him blossoming? I have the feeling it might be the latter.
We still canâ€™t seem to shoot. I am happy to stand corrected that Pellâ€™s free kick, 37 mins into the second half, was the first decent shot and real save by their goalkeeper in the game. Corrections to the Editor.
Why is it we cannot beat the teams at the bottom? OK, perhaps Cheltenham and Northampton should not be there. But they are for a reason this year â€“ they lost a lot of games – and we should have beaten them both. We missed our chances against Cheltenham in the first half by all accounts. Today I think we thought we just had to turn up to win. A dangerous state of mind. Learn again guys!
Why do we seem to play shit when we donâ€™t attack the Tempest (Eco-House) end second half?
Threeâ€™s a crowd: Somehow, we got 4,233 into the ground given horrendous travelling conditions to the game. A slip lane onto the A3 was shut, grid locking Shannonâ€™s Corner, and then a person hit by a train at Wimbledon. Another decent crowd, pity about the performance.
The Cobblers didnâ€™t bring as many as I thought they would â€“ 398. Maybe some of them just didnâ€™t get there but it looked pretty empty in parts of the terrace. Only sung when they won. Bastards!
Anything else? I think I am pleased at the moment I might not be there for Accrington as we have just a bad record against them as we have against Northampton!
However, trying to be positive we are after 10 games on the same number of points as we were in 2010-11. So we are at least back where we started. And thereâ€™s not that dread of last season to contend with. Well, maybe after todayâ€¦.
Was it worth it? If we learn from it, do not do it again, and beat Accrington next week, then yes.
In a nutshell: COBBLERS!
Your editor would like to apologise for the cliche last bit of that report that is mandatory whenever anyone plays Northampton.
Sometimes, you just get a weekend that is shit from top to bottom, and it seems that yesterday was it. The obvious stat of P4 W4 at KM, with Northampton having a P4 L4 record away was always going to be predictably broken, and it shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
Add to that the traffic and I can imagine what this game must have been like to live through.
For once, switching tactics during the game didn’t work. We also do have a problem about physical teams that every so often makes us come a cropper. To be fair, I think we’re better on that score these days, but it still doesn’t make it any easier when we look powder puff.
We’re now 11th, which is one place above where I still believe we’ll finish this campaign. Be honest, are (were?) we really a playoff level side? Let alone one that was in third place with good reason?
There’s been the usual knee-jerkism, along with extended bouts of knickerwetting and more than enough panic after this performance. The reality is, we’re not shit enough to be relegation candidates any more than we are legitimate playoff contenders.
We played badly yesterday and got suckerpunched last week. We’re a mid-table side, and shit like that happens to teams. Two losses in a row and suddenly everyone is running around frantically screaming “Help! Help! Panic! Panic!”?
None the less, there is enough for NA to be thinking about this week (haven’t properly checked yet, but I think this week sees the first anniversary of him taking charge. How time flies).
We have to play t’Stanley, and that will be one of those games where psychologically at least, we need a good result from it. Against a side we’ve never even got a draw from.
Our run of form isn’t good at the moment, and no goals in two games isn’t good. But lest we forget we’ve had blips like this before in 2013 – remember April when we went three games without scoring and the last day of the season to win a game again?
Teams have bad runs, and we’re in one now. We’ll get over it. Even so, we do now need to move on to the next stage – we’ve gone behind far too often recently, and we don’t always come back from it.
We really need to start looking at goalscoring again, and whether we need to tinker how we do things. We need to start asking proper questions about how effective Jack Midson really is – whether he’s simply living off the last two seasons without much scrutiny over what he’s done in this campaign.
Do we bring back Strutton? He’s scoring goals in the Conference, but as we know that division and this one are two different kettles of fish. Do we already write off Sheringham? He’s already becoming injury prone, and you can’t exactly rely on him to be available each week – even if he isn’t the best striker we’ve ever had.
Do we dip into the loan market? Or do we expect this side to get out of this little rut? After all, they’re good enough to, and maybe yesterday will be a much needed kick up the oversized luggage compartment.
One does wonder if, like many fans, the players themselves got a bit ahead of themselves before the Cheltenham game and yesterday (there was after all as much of an expectancy of winning yesterday as losing). Still, it’s brought us back down to earth…
There are plenty games to go in this season, and this isn’t last campaign by any stretch of the imagination. We will have many more games of frustration, just as we’ll have plenty of York/Burton type victories too. If nobody else knows it, the players and manager certainly do.
Remember – yesterday was only our second defeat at KM in 2013…