Now THAT’S a bit more like it.
League Losers 3 League Leaders 0? Really? I know that we’ve got some weird fetish about playing better against the top sides in this division, but I doubt if even the biggest arselicker could have predicted that.
Those with long memories may liken it to the best performance at KM since Fleetwood. Those with longer memories may even point to the first half against Port Vale on Sky as a comparison.
And there were more than a couple of people at half time saying “yeah, but we nearly lost that game”.
Last night was one of those fixtures you get once in a while, where we practically did everything right. We were on the front foot from the off, actually kept our feet on their throat and finally – finally – showed enough discipline to carry it through.
AA got himself onto the scoresheet, and it was a night where he was inching ever closer to it if he hadn’t. His header for his first was the kind of goal you expected him to get, and it seemed a weight had been lifted from his pretty large shoulders.
Although if it really was a weight, he could probably bench-press it.
Sadly, Sky Sports News this morning only showed AA’s first, as I would have loved to have seen the other two. Tubbs took his like you would have expected him to. The fact he got sent off was probably the only downer of the game, although it was two bookings so he only misses Morecambe.
Mind you, it had to be pointed out by some that he got dismissed to begin with. Seriously, just about half the crowd missed it, although I expect Tubbs suffers from being a professional footballer – namely, his brains remain in his feet.
The guy doing the PA feed apparently had a nightmare…
Nobody else did though. Hell, we even managed to survive a
Neal Ardley team talk Burton onslaught in the second half well enough. Looking back this morning, it was comfortable enough, although I’m glad we got the third.
All in all though, I think we played like we had a point to prove, and we proved it. We had energy in spades, and I think Burton didn’t know what hit them half the time.
If only we could do it more often…
Plus points: A win. Three goals. Clean sheet. Competent and confident throughout. AA finally getting on the scoresheet. Ben Harrison. Francomb returning. A performance to match the talent in the squad.
Minus points: Tubbs getting red carded.
The referee’s a…: Jesus fucking christ. Obviously been promised a blow job from a crack whore providing he booked as many as possible, so I shudder to think what extras he got for brandishing a red.
Also, he seemed to lose it when whoever it was was scrapping with their player in the middle of the park. As in, seemed to have no concept whatsoever of who was actually responsible. Mind you, if he had we would have been down to nine…
Them: If they’re top of the division then I doubt if we’ll have much to worry about this season. That said, their record before they started last night was W6 D1 L0, and only conceded three goals in that time too.
Apparently, we’re their bogey side (so obviously the 6-2 gubbing at the Pirelli was a bad dream, or at least I wish it was), so it might not have been a massive surprise after all.
They showed a bit more of why they’re at the top after we came out for the second half, although that could be as much down to us as them 😉
Point to ponder: Just where did Ben Harrison come from? And I don’t mean in the sense of asking his parents either (back of a Ford Mondeo, apparently).
Seriously, him and Tom Beere might be what we’ve finally been waiting for – talented yoof players coming through the ranks, slotting into games and playing like they’ve always been starting.
Which is the feeling I got from Harrison last night in particular. True, there were some moments where the Burton player crossed it a bit too much, but that has often applied to players we’ve bought in too.
He’s certainly confident, full of energy and earned his spurs already by getting booked. Whether he’ll be treated with kid gloves or keep Smith/Kennedy out remains to be seen, I reckon a bit of both. NA pretty much suggested that last night.
But if he does stay in, you wouldn’t be upset. Neither would you be if Beere was starting more often (and considering what SW19 was saying about releasing Sammy Moore during the summer, I note the increasingly negative comments towards him…), and the fact both of them are our own is pleasing.
One thing that has just struck me is how early in the season they’ve both come in. Usually you would have expected a few months of u21 games, then being brought on during those dead rubber games in March that we want but never get.
It’s September now, and two yoof products are either starting or coming off the bench. So the small(ish) squad we started with has already been increased, without us needing to dip into the loan market.
And this is what we’ve been crying out for, for so long. I’ll come onto NA later, but he does deserve credit for putting together the youth development – which was a failure before he arrived, quite simply – and make it finally worth our while.
There were many things to be pleased about from last night. That many have name checked a 17-year old defender called Harrison may be one of the most pleasing of all…
Three’s a crowd: I’m sure the attendance of 3195 was the worst at KM since the return to the Football League. If not, then one of them. It was certainly less busy than my previous trips to KM recently, although it still didn’t stop taking ages to be served in the back bar before the game…
True, evening games can be a bit trickier for people, apparently there were some issues with trains and there was CL football on*, but we’ve had better turnouts in the recent past even with all those caveats.
* – although I’ve never entirely understood that particular reason. While quite a few clubs suffer from the second club syndrome, at AFCW our matchgoers seem to support us first and foremost and tend not to stay at home for Chelski.
It just proves that our fans are as likely to tolerate crap as any other supporter base, and let’s face it – anyone who just sees AFCW games at KM has been pretty much insulted by some of the “performances”.
Or as we sung last night to Burton fans, how shit must you be when we’re winning at home?
Results like last night will help the crowds to return, of course, and for Morecambe I hope that even without Tubbs, we don’t immediately retreat back to the old habits again. By all means have the glow of beating the league leaders, but don’t live off it like we did beating Pompey 4-0 last season. We all know what happened after that.
Oh, and less than 90 Burton supporters? 86 to be precise, which even considering being on a Tuesday night seems a bit low. And they’re top. That said, it was a poor night for away turnouts, as five games in L2 had sub-100 crowds.
Plus Crawley as well. To be fair to them, it was their annual get-together of everyone who supported them in the Conference.
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) We won at home. I repeat, we won at home. 2) Seeing the M&M Football Academy van in the car park. For those who don’t know, it’s the one set up by Sammy Moore and Jack Midson. No truth to the rumour that it was full of Herbalife. 3) For once, looking at the KM scoreboard didn’t feel like masochism.
Anything else? Neal Ardley has, not for the first time since he’s been here, received more than a few brickbats. So he can certainly feel justified in being a bit happier this morning.
Results – and performances – like last night keep him on our side. The trouble is, and this may be a bit of a churlish point to make after a 3-0 home win, it just makes the usual shit against the strugglers worse.
It’s ironic, and not a little frustrating, that because we’re playing the team fourth top rather than fourth bottom on Saturday, we’re more likely to get a second home win in a row. We know – and boy, do we know – that this team has the talent.
Beating Burton didn’t happen by accident, it was a genuinely good performance all round. So why is it so difficult for the same bunch of players to repeat that against Hartlepool or Stevenage or whoever else you can name?
That is a question NA now finally has to answer. There has already been saloon bar talk about his future, and I have to admit here – at times recently, if he was to leave the next day I wouldn’t believe it would be a big loss.
He’s a hero this morning, needless to say, but he can very quickly go back to being Neal Ardley the UEFA coaching manual robot. It has happened before and if we’re taking a moment of sober reflection, it’s likely to happen again.
It doesn’t have to be like that, and if there’s a time and a set of players who can break that culture of failure, it’s now and this lot.
He might be helped by the two youngsters, who not only act like they’ve always played for us but don’t seem to have that fear that often cripples us.I didn’t notice it, but Harrison was apparently giving pointers during the game to Benno and Barrett. And they were listening to him too, which shows a fair bit of spunk from the young lad.
Either that or Benno/Barrett pretended not to hear him and just made mental notes to give him less pocket money.
NA could justifiably say he needs this season to push more youngsters through and finally break through that mental block against struggling teams. And to be fair, unless we go on 6/7 game losing runs we won’t be seeing his farewell speech before May.
It’s what happens after the end of the season that matters, and it would be a huge mistake by the club to automatically give him another campaign – from now until the last ball is kicked this season, he has to start winning the bread-and-butter games.
If he doesn’t, then there’s no point in him being our manager. We will have a youth development system set up, and if you consider that’s why NA came in to begin with, he would have done his job.
Not to mention that people do vote with their feet, and are already staying away from home games because of our record there for the last couple of seasons. Could we finally see the first sub-3000 crowd at KM for a game this season?
If he can finally figure out why we play so poorly against the crappier sides though, and more importantly act upon it on a regular basis, then we won’t need to be having this discussion. Especially after the best home performance in a good while…
So, was it worth it? Does this question really need to be asked?
In a nutshell: More of the same. Please?