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HAFSOG. QED. Part Deux.

And just like a London bus or two, you wait a little while for a match report on one of the most remarkable results of the season…

It’s a double whammy this very morning for yet more reports on Saturday. First up is Brighton Don, who should be thanked for his patience as he sent this just as I updated last night…

Well, a second half to never forget after a first half you would want to.

Somehow it finished Self Expression 4 Self Destruction 3 when it was just 1-0 at half time. The first half offered much the same of what we have been served this season at Theme Park KM.

Of course, we did not score in the first twenty-eight minutes. Of course they took the lead and of course they looked like the home side for long spells of the half. Just like York did two weeks ago.

I was left wondering at the interval why I bother travelling up from the coast to be served yet another shit sandwich. Their forwards looked sharper and quicker than us. The labouring Sweeney looked like a luxury player we just cannot afford to have in the team at present.

A team that desperately needed that drive from midfield that only Harry Pell can offer (on a good day). Richards was also out of sorts, frequently hustled and pressured into mistakes by their winger.

So it was good to see NA had noticed this and made the necessary changes. Nicholson came on for Sweeney and I was surprised Harry was overlooked but NA obviously felt that Nicholson deserved a chance and it paid off.

Yes, he made a few mistakes, he did look a bit lightweight and he did try some trickery at one point and then remembered that he was in League Two now. No need for that sort of thing!

He did play a lovely ball to the far post at one point so there was some evidence to suggest he could be a good player for us in the future. And of course he HAFSOG and the ball ended up in the back of the net, good luck to him.

King Arthur then replaced Richards just ten minutes into the second half and probably played one of his best games for us. I never really get that excited when he comes on, like I do when Kevin enters the arena.

I never feel that Arthur will terrorise the defence like Kevin does, as an impact sub should. But yesterday he put some good crosses in, showing that part of his game has certainly developed since the beginning of the season.

For their second goal, the game seemed to stop, I thought there was a man down. Our midfield certainly stopped and we were 2-0 down on forty-nine minutes after a good move and finish. Byron skinned Frampton, cut the ball back to that little shit, McGlashan and that was that.

Or so I thought…

NA had spoken to the players about expressing themselves and if the first fifty minutes is a reflection of this, then they obviously don’t have much to say.

It is interesting that he had spoken about this, as it has been what is missing this season. Everyone seems so preoccupied with fulfilling their role and following NA’s tactics to the letter (for fear of being dropped if they don’t).

That creativity inventiveness and improvisation has been almost non-existent. There is also no coincidence that our matches have been utterly boring to watch, devoid of creativity.

It all seems to be about these bloody stats. If Michael Gove was a football manager, his team would play like ours did for the first fifty minutes.

But then it all changed in an incredible two minutes. A two minute spell the fans will never forget. A spell where we did express ourselves and tore Cheltenham apart with three forwards, yes three, not one!

Jack did some great work and Hylton did his best to miss but it went in. He really needed that goal as did the team. Nicholson then HAFSOG that actually went in off another deflection, but we couldn’t have cared less.

Then a great flick by Wyke (who worked tirelessly throughout) to send a confident Hylton through and he produced an excellent, calm finish.

Of course they scored again with an unlucky bounce for Ross. They looked like the team that could get the winner so I would have settled for the point, but we just kept going, showing the spirit some fans had rightly been questioning this season.

Wyke then did really well to nod down for Jack and we in the Eco House end went absolutely ape shit, for want of a better expression.

Plus points: 4 goals at home. Self expression. Fighting spirit. 2 forwards scoring and 4 assists from the strikers. 3 vital points. Singing ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’ at the end.

Minus points: Conceding three at home. 50 minutes of much of the same.

The referee’s a… Don’t get me started. Terrible display. Awful decisions. Should have booked their little shit for diving in the box. Gave Jones a card then exactly the same offence occurred at the other end and he gave nowt. Really poor.

He did book their little shit McGlashan, eventually for, well, being a little shit. So the little shit should not have been on the pitch in the second half in which he scored.

Them : Quite direct and very bright up front. They looked better than a mid table team. I won’t say anything else nice about them because for some reason I cannot stand their manager.

Point to ponder: As mentioned on the guestbook, we would have 4 points less if it were not for two late, late, late goals in the last two games. Will we look back and say those two goals were turning points in keeping away from the drop zone?

Truth is stranger than fiction: Losing 2-0 after 50 minutes and winning 4-3 with the last kick of the game, you couldn’t write the script. At half time I was wondering why I bother and the second half showed me why.

And then from regular SW19 contributor Jampot, who posted the following in the comments section but really should be published here for a wider audience…

So … WTF happened there then? Honestly I have no idea what turned things around. But I liked Wimbledon Boys 4 Cheltenham Ladies 3

I was certain their well-worked second goal was sealing our fate but obviously Ardley had view otherwise. It was a very brave move to substitute Collins for Hylton – I thought we’d be overrun in midfield – but with three up front, I suppose by then it was boom or bust! And boom, boom, boom it was.

And, finally the ball ran for us; the deflection of Nicholson’s shot still went in; likewise Hylton’s first and the flick on by Wyke for Hylton’s solo goal. Apart from Mr Divot’s intervention for their third.

It’s hard to criticise our effort – Francomb was out on his feet when he delivered the winning cross – but this was again another fractious performance that for 70 mins failed at the most simple schoolboy error level to deliver, across the whole of the pitch.

And confusion in the ranks – no one seemed to know whom they were marking at their first goal – Richards was again totally lost as to what to do, and that’s got to go down to the management.

Not that the management is anymore together than the team it seem. Something is awry.

Ardley and Bassey had a bust up such the latter didn’t celebrate any of our goals. Perhaps the pressure of today go to them all; the all too audible expletive-infested chastisement of the players by Bassey may have been the start but Ardley throwing him down into the dug out?

Whatever happens at the end of this season I do not know but something, somewhere has to change. Whilst we are 3 pts closer to safety – and generally results went with us today – it could so easily and maybe should have been worse.

The fact we are replicating our first season in the league; have only shown visible improvement in one part of the team; and are driving paying fans away with our total ineptitude playing at KM shows this to be the truth.

When Dave Anderson was in charge he was given 3 years to get us promoted: he failed, he resigned. I wonder what deal NA and co is on. I’d hope it was first year survive; second year consolidate; third year hit the playoffs.

Unrealistic? I don’t think so. I think we have players to do this but they just do not play as a team. And that comes down to selection, patterns of play and confidence. I wonder if we have all 3 of those.

In part we saw that today but apart from going 3 up front I wonder if it was the players that made it happen, without the manager’s help? I could believe so.

Another observation on today – when Hylton came on the pitch Midson asked the bench how they were to play. No obvious response came. So the players just got on with it.

And it worked.

So maybe as I have proposed before in the pre-match huddles the captain should be saying: “ Remember Cheltenham when we didn’t know what the gaffer wanted us to do? Well we went out there and did it ourselves. Lets do it again and feel good!”

Final Point: coming back from Burton, it was suggested Cuerton’s last minute goal at Cheltenham had been a turning point in our early season, knocking our confidence. Wonder if this late goal again might be another turning point too? We’ll really know Tuesday night!

Tomorrow now becomes a very interesting game, although perhaps not for the reasons they might have been before Saturday.

Do we start as we finished against Cheltenham? Can we finally – finally – put our absolutely appalling record against struggling clubs to bed? Does NA go with his newly discovered HAFSOG approach or will it be back to the same old, same old again?

And if it is the latter, how will the players react to it?

For the first time in a long while, there seems to be light at the end of a tunnel that shouldn’t have been this dark. We are a couple, definitely three, victories away from having a nice relaxing few games where we can take stock.

This being us, they will be hard to come by – those predicting a loss at Sixfields may be guilty of knowing what we’re capable of a bit too well. I expect the good feeling we’ve got right now to evaporate come Wednesday morning, because that’s exactly what we do.

But then, perhaps turning points mean we do actually get something from these games?

This morning, on cool reflection, there’s a sense that more will need to be done this summer and that there could well be another cull coming. As JP said in his report, something somewhere is wrong and that will need to be addressed in the close season.

Of course, if there are tensions in the camp (and was the Bassey /Ardley/Framps bustup a heat-of-the-moment or something deeper?) then things could get interesting if we’re safe and there’s nothing to play for.

Hopefully it won’t come to that, and we can enjoy a remainder of a season that promised more than it delivered. Tomorrow will be one of those games where it would be very nice to do what we’re supposed to do, rather than what we actually do.

And hey – we HAFSOG on Saturday. Come on, you’re allowed to do it again…