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Monkey Business

So, we hung the monkey rather than spanked it last night? Still, three points is three points, and Jampot was there to record it all for us…

Well, that was a pleasant if unexpected surprise. Because for the best part of an hour and a quarter, there was no way it was going to be Comeback Kings 2 Shot-Dragging Queens 1. And yes, thankfully quite a few shots of their shots were dragged wide of the goal…

Ambien Tablets Online For this was not a performance to get too excited about. If you are an optimist this was a ‘gelling’ performance, after radical changes in personnel and playing positions.

If you are a pessimist then this was Groundhog Day at KM, were repeats like this remind you of a flatulent bum after a particularly hot curry. I’m a pessimist by nature; if I look at the worst that could happen, when it goes right it seems so much sweeter! So, having not seen Saturday’s ‘performance,’ I left the game happy with the 3pts but certainly ‘meh’ about the performance. Wednesday morning, there will be two camps of thought: Neal Ardley is a master tactician; or we used up another of the rabbit’s feet of luck (and remember he only had 4!). The truth lies between both. Undoubtedly, the substitutions worked for NA but you have to ask: ‘Why was the team he selected to start with so poor and so fragile in confidence?’

For about the first 2 minutes we went forward, but then we mishit a pass or clearance or two, they had a little run at us, and you could see the confidence drain through the ground like the rain. Backs to the wall then on for about 20 minutes. It’s not what you expect to see as the home team. Having created really only a couple of goalmouth scrambles of note, you could sense it might be a long night again when Hartlepool converted their own goalmouth scramble, with us eyeing up the safety of half-time, being all square (fail by 2 minutes). Was the one or two boos at half time unsurprising, if only borne of frustration?

The introduction of Wyke and Hylton for Midson and Sheringham certainly immediately provided both a more physical presence but also speed and movement, items severely lacking throughout the first half.

Midson tried hard but was sandwiched out in that rugby-league style that’s allowed in League 2, whilst Sheringham’s nice touches and thoughtful runs just did not come off. St Luce remained but just wanted to see the ball for once! That he did see more of it and he caused problems helped, but even in a better second half he was often isolated like our front 2 still became as the half wore on. Of course 2-1 up with 15 minutes to go, old habits die hard and defend deep we did. As someone said when we scored our second we needed to keep the attacking tempo going instead of surrendering it to the opposition. We didn’t, but survived. So that’s 38 points now, nosebleeds all round as we are somehow 9th albeit others around us have games in hand. I’ve always preferred points on the board.

However, on this date last year (29 Jan) we were bottom with 27 points and 9th place was held by Rotherham with 43pts, so the scepter of relegation hasn’t been totally banished.

Cheapest Price For Zolpidem Indeed it’s questionable if that usual safety target of 50 pts for a season is anywhere high enough; Barnet remember went down with 51 so perhaps 55 is more suitable. Torquay though are 2pts down on the point total of the second lowest team in last year’s campaign however. I suppose you can say we are getting there but not with style or confidence, but just bloody hard work and commitment. It’s just for once, as someone said last night: “Be nice to be 4-1 up and relax and enjoy the football”… Plus points: We won. Two wins on the trot at KM. Worner, Wyke and Hylton. Hylton’s hold up, turn and finish.

Minus points: First half. Anyone other than the 3 named above. Same old, same old. The referee’s a…: Generally OK but the odd decision you come to expect at this level. His reputation not to give out cards was substantiated when he only produced a yellow for a pretty pre-meditated foul on Chris Arthur. But I like the linesman for once… confirmed our equalizer! Them: Played very well as a unit that was very mobile. Noticed at the end of one attack they had 7 players in or around our area. Wish we could do that. But for the attacking prowess like all League 2 clubs get into the defence and chances happen. Thankfully Worner made the good saves he need too but they really did drag a lot of their efforts wide. Seems they use the same shooting coach as Exeter did, thank God! Point to ponder: When are our fundamental flaws going to be addressed? Eh? What? These are: – Defence plays too deep and drops even deeper when we go ahead. – Attackers are always isolated with minimal support from others in the team. – Why can we not move forward or back as a single unit instead of three – defence, midfield and attack?

– Our mobility off the ball, particularly at throw ins is atrocious. – What is the problem with taking responsibility if it presents itself and shooting yourself?

– And finally a more strategic point to ask: Can League 2 players who have played 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 ever get to grips with ideas like 3-5-2 when they’ve used the former pretty much all their footballing lives? Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) That Pell’s partner is pregnant. The way he played last night where he was all over the place, I could have thought he was the one with hormone problems! 2) Guestbook comment from Silk summed it up for me: “Football is about scoring goals, not playing well”! Bit hard to hear on the coach back to Hartlepool I suspect 3). This was better than the Exeter game..apparently. I’m grateful for the win as not being there Saturday a loss tonight would have labeled me a Jonah 4) Hylton just had to score didn’t he given the reservations about his signing. So is it Super Danny Hylton or Diving Danny Hylton now? Anything else? How significant was that Harewood miss midway through the second half? Rumour has it Worner got a fingertip on it but he should have scored. Asked myself at the time: ‘Will he rue that miss?’

Crowd wasn’t fantastic at 3730 with 239 away fans but it was Hartlepool, it was a Tuesday and it was wet. Why we have small clubs like this on Tuesday nights mystifies me at times. Add into the equation the longest month of the year between paydays and it will be very interesting to see how much the We Are Wimbledon fund raised.

Finally, I got surveyed on my travel to the game and possible route to New Plough Lane (NPL). Professionally done, short and sweet. Suddenly made the prospect and project more real.

To me NPL is the National Physics Laboratory, but if that goes defunct or gets absorbed into private practice we could do worse than adopt both the TLA. And, if we could find a sponsor for the new stadium with the same abbreviation…

So, was it worth it? A win is a win.

In a nutshell: STILL (after all these years) a work in progress.

I was wondering what to write about a game that got us three points, and sounded similar to Exeter, but seemed to have generated as much negativity as getting stuffed 5-0.

But the “In a nutshell” bit might have done it for me. I think we’re starting to evolve into the mid-table mediocrity we pined to be a mere twelve months ago.

Yes, NA’s tactics and inability to get us off to a good start stopped being funny a long time ago. Yes, we’re able to come back from that, which is a skill that is often underestimated.

There’s still too much tinkering, and I’m still not sure if NA has quite figured out what to do with the talent he has available. In addition, the Torquay debacle still seems to have a mental effect on a lot of people – although that was just one (admittedly awful) game…

But it’s better to be playing poorly and winning rather than not. If you’re getting three points when you shouldn’t be, that does get you out of the rut – especially given the grey matter between the ears can be pretty mushy in our case.

And to be honest, most teams in/around our predicament are like that – your editor has been fortunate (?) enough to be covering League Two games since we were in the Ryman Prem, and if last night was anything like Exeter it proves this division hasn’t changed too much since then.

NA did apologise for the tactics at half time, and I wonder if this is his inexperience showing through right now. The problem for us, and NA especially, is that it’s only something that can be overcome by getting your hands dirty and learning from your mistakes.

Last Saturday, your editor heard Phil Brown on the radio, and he said that this division is the nuts-and-bolts level where you have to be pragmatic. And to be fair, we are able to overcome these mistakes and change games – it’s just that we currently put ourselves in shit beforehand.

I guess until NA finally starts filling in his gaps in his knowledge, we’ll still have to put up with that until May. He’s still in his first full season as a senior manager, and we may forget sometimes just how big our strides have been.

Fortunately, most of the division isn’t good enough to take advantage of our errors most weeks. It’s been said on here before and elsewhere, but most of this division isn’t that special, and the bulk of teams are a much of a muchness.

Obviously, it’s good that Hylton marked his debut with a goal, even if the Guardian and Independent readers of our fanbase were having conflicted emotions about him scoring 😉

However, it was disturbing to read that he decided to turn and shoot at the net rather than pass it out to the wings and be intricate. No doubt he will have this coached out of him and be forced to play the “correct” way.

Indeed, it sounded like the second half was a matter of being more simple. Not for the first time, Wyke seems to bring out more from his strike partners, although if Hylton becomes more effective than Midson…

It also sounds that time is running out for Sheringham, and it really wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go on loan to Woking before long. He hasn’t had too many chances, and he hasn’t impressed in the ones he has had.

So we’re winning games without people getting massive hard-ons. I think this might be a lesson for our supporters as well – being ordinary in mid-table isn’t the same as being shite and down the bottom. One suspects that adapting to being an ordinary League Two side is still quite an adjustment for some, as we’re not really any better or worse than the Exeters and Hartlepools of this world.

If we do manage to work out why we start games so shit, and if we work out how to beat teams in the bottom four, then we would be playoff contenders. But then, so many other sides in this division could ask the same questions.

Still, it’s Oxford on Saturday, which we are guaranteed to lose. Funnily enough, this may be our best chance of getting something as Wilder has buggered off and we’re actually on a decent run of form. Even a draw will be the first time in the AFCW era that we would get anything off them.

At least we can all – OK, most of us – can go to the Kassam and not worry about defeat quite so much on Saturday. We were aiming for a target before Exeter of four points in the next two games – we got six.

We have points on the board rather than the games in hand, and we have an ability to get results even when we’re not playing well. So while we may/will slip down the table again, we would have to freefall very, very badly to need a win at t’Stanley to stay up.

Our form this season is an almost equal W10 D8 L10, with 31 goals for and 31 against. If goalscoring has been our main problem this season then keeping them out at the other end has been our bedrock.

While there’s plenty of paranoia about everyone else below us catching us up and throwing us into another relegation battle, if one is being objective here – is there that much to worry about?

Or at least, is what’s fundamentally wrong going to kill us as opposed to just hinder?

One other thought. Apparently the fundraising drive raised £1425.25 last night, which doesn’t sound a lot. Although it seemed pretty odd timing to do it, with the transfer window closing and people feeling a bit brassic.

Mind you, the whole venture to begin with was to raise £400k extra (per annum, don’t forget), and I think it struggles to clear a tenth of that. It was pretty optimistic (OK, unrealistic) to begin with, especially as years of prising open wallets are now leading to them shutting.

Maybe it would be better to scrap the scheme and just put an extra £30 on each season ticket? It would raise £60k if you assume we’ll always sell 2000 season tickets, and tickets are something that the rank and file is willing to spend money on*.
* – match tickets have always been a bit inelastic – in other words, unless you’re on a tight budget you aren’t particularly less likely to spend £330 on a season ticket as opposed to £300. It’s not as though you’re making a small outlay to begin with, and if you can’t afford £300 you’re not going to buy one anyway.

Fundraising in the past has always been more effective when it’s aimed at something specific, like the awning by the back bar. Raising money for transfers always seems a bit “wooly” to sell, and I don’t think it’s been massively successful in the past when it has been tried.

Especially if you think the manager is crap.

Whatever is raised helps,  but it is practically the football equivalent of raising some coins to go for a beer or two. And it’s not like buying players is going to get any cheaper…