Skip to content

(Still) nearly there…

Another game, another point.

Some will argue we’re safe already, although the mathematics still can’t make us fully relax. Anyway, Jampot has come up with the goods for the Newport game…

“What time does the game start?”

Surprisingly I was asked this outside of the ground before the game by someone who genuinely seemed surprised it did. I don’t think it was by one of our players …

But I wonder what the score would have been if we had decided to turn up for the first half. Because in the end AFC Wimbledon 2 AFC Wimbledon Old Boys 2 was a missed opportunity to finally put any relegation fears to bed.

I’m sure that it’s not going to come to that. But with just 2 changes in the team from Southend – Fenlon for the injured Richards and Sammy sideways for Pell – people expected the team to perform well after what some had expressed was possibly our performance of the season at Roots Hall.

For certain this was not the performance and the enigma of the class of AFCW for 2013-14 remains.

First half we were outmuscled and generally couldn’t string 2 passes together. A goal behind to the sweetest shot Zebroski will have hit this year, we made a very average Newport side look pretty reasonable.

Admittedly twice we did managed to get the ball in their box and each time a goal nearly resulted but this was all too familiar. It’s what makes people consider if they want a season ticket!

So after hearing the dressing room paint peel from over half way down the Paul Strank stand we went 3 up front and conceded a penalty with the first tackle of the half; Arthur on Jolly (this was/is probably the most damaging impact a ex-AFCW player has had on us yet!) So 0-2 with 43 mins to go.

It certainly helped that Appiah got a goal back within two mins as Midson was strangled in the box and Francomb’s deflected strike was deserved as much as his man of the match award but, for the width of the paint on the goal post that kept out Midson’s shot we might have won it.

But yet again, we didn’t.

So we remain just behind them in mid-table obscurity now awaiting the end of season which in some respects cannot come soon enough, at least for us home supporters!

NA has an interesting job to do this year because despite some good individual performances today, they only occurred in the 2nd half and you can’t play only half the games in this league.

Plus points: We drew after being 0-2. Going 3 up front. Francomb. HAFSOG.

Minus points: Still being in the dressing room until about 4.05pm

The referee’s a…: I thought he was ok compared to some of the shit we have seen. However there was poor game management when the linesman tripped over and got injured. No one seemed to know what was going on. The long delay probably cost us the win as we had all the momentum and were flying at the time.

Them: I was quite surprised how ‘basic’ they seemed; the reminded me of a Conference team with limited abilities; limited confidence and limited movement .

Once we turned up every attack seemed to bring about the chance of a goal and they resorted to having people like Minshull just blocking people out or feigning head injuries. In that respect though they are more clued up than our lot.

Ex-AFCW Watch: Minshull, Porter, Jackson and Jolley all started. Porter did ok but was a bit anonymous at times; Jolley started well and got the penalty but was taken off to a warm round of applause (which he reciprocated which was nice); Jackson I don’t recall having that monstrous long throw which seemed to be their main threat on our goal; and Minshull see above. The AFCW B team didn’t embarrass us.

Point to ponder: Was this another team selection error by NA? Given the team was essentially the same as played at Southend, an away game where we would expect to defend and then break, was the incentive immediately passed to Newport before a ball was kicked?

Our inability to start games quickly has certainly been a feature of our performances this season but also Newport came out with the attitude to have a go at us. Why can we not do that in games at KM?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Newport STILL have not managed to beat us in all our recent meetings. Long may that continue… we need it. (2) A crowd of 4,300+ again and people around me were describing it as full to capacity. WTF? If a poster on the WUP guestbook has got it right apparently our home average this year is up 200 on last year. Funny that I thought crowd numbers were going down. They certainly seem to do that in the last 10 mins of many games …

Anything else? What has happened to Fenlon? Arsenal’s next ex-Wimbledon full back has, shall we say certainly gone off the boil. Shaky all first half it was almost as though Jolley was his best friend and he didn’t want to tackle him.

Rumours abound of disciplinary trouble being behind his sudden absence from the first team squad. Yesterday was an opportunity for him and he did not take it. I wonder if he needs to write this season off and start again with a new preseason next year. Providing of course he is retained….

Seen on a lady Newport supporter walking into the ground – a t-shirt with a cartoon sheep’s head and the NCAFC logo as a lapel badge. Caption read: We know what we are…. Couldn’t but admire the ability to laugh at one’s self.

It’s not the surge of confidence we were hoping for in these final few games is it? I wasn’t expecting 4 wins but I hoped for it 😉 OK, its perception that makes me feel the away fans have had a better time of it than us guys who generally only watch at KM.

The table suggest different with 7 wins at home and only 5 away. But that is skewed as 4 of those wins were at consecutive at the start of the season.

It just seems that at a time of optimism regarding the possibility of a new stadium and a side that is showing signs of getting some of its shit together the entertainment value seems at times dire.

Whilst diehard fans will accept that new fans and floating fans – which we no doubt have some – might just vote with their feet. And at times can you blame them?

So, was it worth it? In the end an exciting game but….

In a nutshell: Teacher’s report would undoubtedly say could do better!

This game seems to sum up our season – crap in parts, looking more the part in others, yet ultimately being left unfulfilled and waiting for something more to happen.

A loss probably wouldn’t have made too much damage – five points (six if you include goal difference) between the bottom dwellers and ourselves could have made things a bit extra twitchy, but a point is always useful and it just means one more win will definitely do it.

Yeah, I know.

We now have three games left, the first one being a trip down to the West Country on Monday. Your editor will be there, although don’t expect a report until Wednesday. I’m having my waterworks done, and that is NOT a euphemism.

One senses we’re at that stage where we’re just clock-watching, knowing we can’t piss off home early just yet. Perhaps our first half performance was as much down to thinking the season was already over?

Still, it was good to hear that even at this stage, we do have that ability to buck our ideas up and grab points we otherwise wouldn’t have got. Hell, we even managed to score two goals in the process…

The problem of going behind to begin with will not be sorted in the last three games now. That’s for NA to work out why during the summer, and plan accordingly so it doesn’t become a major issue again next time around.

There is a sense that we’re just waiting for the season to end though. It has been a bit too testing at times, more so than it needed to be, and the entertainment levels have taken a drastic hit.

Will we get a nice relaxing three games, where we go ahead and always look comfortable? I don’t know, I suspect not if truth be told. There would be no harm in hoping though, and we have shown glimpses of what we’re all too infrequently capable of.

I have to be honest here, I’m getting a bit bored of writing about this season now, which isn’t always easy to do from afar. And I suspect that many if not most are bored of a) reading this, and b) watching the actual games.

Once again, attention gets drawn to the ins/outs during the summer. There was much discussion before the game about who to get rid of and who to keep, and according to a private audience with NA yesterday, we have ten players contracted, three with options and another ten needed (be it newbies or current squad members).

There may not be as many coming and goings as last time out, but there’s a feeling that we need to move onto the next stage. Or at the very least, the end of the season won’t come with too many tears shed.

This will certainly be the last three times you’ll see some popular players in AFCW shirts, and it’s hard to think for most it will be their home swansong a week today. And unlike last season, some of them about to be released will be missed.

Perhaps Fenlon will be amongst them? Your editor saw him in the LSC semi at Cray Valley PM and he looked shaky even then. Couple that lack of form with alleged disciplinary problems and he could be one of the first names on the out list.

That would be a shame, but for all the clamour to put in youth and stick with it, they also have to be good and reliable. Fenlon may be having a loss of form/confidence, and it will be a judgement call by NA and perhaps equally Shaun North as to what to do with him.

If he requires a few months next season on loan, so be it. But AFCW is a football club, not a charity, we literally can’t afford passengers. The club’s policy can be quite ruthless on this anyway – your editor’s mum once overheard Erik Samuelson at a senior cup game taking a call about a senior player who constantly kept missing training, and saying that he was just wasn’t worth keeping on.

The player, not Erik.

NA also apparently said in yesterday’s meeting that the youth teamers aren’t ready to make the step up to the first team, even for the last three games. Again, that’s a judgement call, and one that won’t be popular amongst some, but it’s something we’ll have to get used to.

There’s no automatic guarantee that any yoof teamer will be involved in first team games, nor should there be. Fenlon may have come through the ranks, but if he’s going to become a liability then he shouldn’t be playing.

Ask Seb Brown what happens when you become one of those.

From what I’ve seen of the youngsters in Senior Cup games, I don’t think they’re going to be ready until next season at the earliest anyway. Scoring five goals against Franchise, or scoring in pre-season friendlies doesn’t mean they’ll step up against L2 opponents who give our senior players a hard time as it is.

It’s worth stating again – the AFCW youth development system is not the WFC youth development system. There is no automatic conveyor belt, and we may have many years of failure yet with it. It’s certainly worth sticking with, but we may be producing more Mark Quaminas and Mark Fiores than Jason Euells for a while.

Or even Neal Ardleys.

Anyway, the end of the season is in sight, and at least we’re not Brizzle Rovers. Or Wycombe. Or Northampton. Or Torquay. Or Exeter. Or Hartlepool, who are suddenly finding themselves doing a Lincoln.

You can imagine how tense Wycombe v Northampton was, or Pompey v Brizzle Rovers today. Thankfully we’re very unlikely to go through those sort of wringers. It’s not going to be a nice time for them, which should motivate us even more to have the dead rubbers.

And for those going down to Plymouth on Monday, Torquay can be relegated at Exeter. If that does happen and you see a Gulls fan afterwards, try not to point out that Forest Green Rovers have a nice clubhouse…