My, what a fine week this has turned out to be.
I have to be honest, I didn’t share the pre-match expectancy that others had before Movers 3 Shakers 2, because a good few days in the AFCW world usually ends up becoming a bit shit.
Obviously beating Franchise has done us a world of good.
Today was one of those days where if we had walked out of KM sans three points, I would have felt my weekend – and the good vibe since Tuesday – snatched away from me.
The fact is, we deserved what we got. And that’s not blue-with-yellow-trim tinted specs on either. We took the game to them in the first half, managed to go two ahead again straight after their first goal – that “R” word again – and held on pretty resolutely when it was 3-2.
Looking back on it now, I wonder how close we were to it being 3-3? Probably not as much as it was at the time – it was proper back-to-the-wall defending that would cause a cardiologist to ban you from games for your own health, but at the same time we were able to play it out.
No thanks to a penalty they got given. Let’s just say that Hussey knew what he was doing, and leave it at that. Of course, it meant he got treated to a warm rendition of “Fuck off Hussey”, although considering the guy put a lot of people off him the second time he came here, perhaps we just needed the right time to say it?
Oh, and no – I haven’t forgotten Barnet. Or forgiven.
That was then, and this is now. And Adebayo is certainly improving his brand and t-shirt sales. His first goal was a bit of a carbon copy of his winner at the Frenzydome, although his second one was the kind of one you dream he’d get.
As your editor put it after his second, he’s like a good John Gayle.
With AA, I think he might be genuinely unplayable at the moment. By that, I mean defenders get the better of him for some of the game, but then all of a sudden he gets the one effort he needs and, well, if he wants to be noshed off in the car park afterwards he’ll have plenty of offers. From females as well.
To be fair, everyone played well. The defence looked pretty solid and as a unit, which is something you haven’t been able to say too much this season. If it’s been going backwards on too many occasions this season, it took a step forward today.
Oh, and Sammy Moore going off for a head injury. At least it won’t hurt him…
Plus points: We won. Finding the net. AA. Tubbs getting on the scoresheet again. Turning the screw again when 2-1. Defence looking strong. Rounding off a pretty good few days.
Minus points: More nervy than it should have been. Although that’s thanks to…
The referee’s a…: The good thing about winning these sort of games is that you can call the official a cocksucking fuckstain who loves goats without it sounding like sour grapes.
Seriously, I’m sure he put money on them to be top of the table at the end of today, because he gave us that little. Did we run over his cat? Did we ruin his week by beating Franchise and doing him out of £30?
Them: Didn’t realise they spent shitloads during the summer, which will probably mean they’ll go back to being bankrupt again in about five years time. Still, many were saying they were the best team to be seen this season, and that’s probably right.
They kind of remind me of Port Vale when they got promoted a couple of seasons ago, and I don’t just mean we were 2-0 up against them at KM. As their record already hints, they’ll have the consistency throughout the season to win these sort of games most of the time.
That said, they deserved to lose purely for their fans having a drum. At least we were able to use the word “percussion” in a chant.
Point to ponder: I wonder if NA is enjoying himself at the moment? If he isn’t, he should be. So far, his gamble during the summer is starting to pay off more often than not : namely, load your roster up with two genuine players of quality (AA and Tubbs) and let the rest sort itself out.
This is probably the most “complete” I’ve seen an AFCW side for a good long while – on effectiveness, I don’t think it’s yet reached the one that hit the purplest of all purple patches before Eastlands, or the Conference South squad when it overturned a nine (?) point deficit against Chelmsford.
But this is at a much higher level, in a much more competitive league, and one that I don’t think we’ve properly adapted to until now.
So, where can we go from here? To be honest, I think our next stage should be to finally beat teams that struggle. Tranmere springs to mind here, and it was only just over a month ago where we were crashing to Hartlepool and St. Evenage.
Get that right, and I think we could genuinely be thinking of sneaking into the playoffs with a fair run of form. We are certainly good enough to be a top ten side, but we’ve still failed to prove that even in this campaign.
Confidence is high though, and our record in the league since we lost to t’Stanley is W3 L1 D1 – repeat that over the campaign and we’ll get to play Franchise in the League next season.
While we can wax lyrical about beating Burton, Morecambe and now Bury (and I bet Wycombe will be working hard on us in training this week), not losing to Cheltenham may have been the biggest result of the lot, as that’s the sort of game we usually get zero points from.
If it is coming together, then it’s about time. If it isn’t, enjoy this good feeling while it lasts…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Minute silence for Roy Law, brilliantly observed. He was before my time, so I won’t understand as much as those there the significance of his death, but if it’s true that Brizzle City wanted to sign him once, he must have been good. 2) How shit was the traffic beforehand? 3) Mikey T playing One Direction before the game. There are no words. Although to be fair, he did balance it out with Cretin Hop by the Ramones – now, if he could play Commando or Rockaway Beach, I’ll be happy. 4) Seeing a Doncaster Rovers fan after the game. Although if you think that was the strangest opposition fan sighting, there was a Plymouth fan walking around Raynes Park an hour after the final whistle.
Anything else? So, it’s Brizzle City in the JPT. Or another trip to Ashton Gate, which you’ll either remember for the horror show in the Peter Withe era, or a pre-season friendly we played there after we went down, but the last full season before the shit hit the fan in the worst way possible.
Speaking of early millennium nostalgia – how fucking shit is Soccer AM? While it was always aimed at those who play by live railway lines, it’s managed what I thought was impossible – it’s now even worse since Tim Lovejism pissed off to further his dwindling career, and it really doesn’t do the JPT any favours by a supposedly fair draw being done by a Play Your Cards Right pastiche.
I turned it off by then, but apparently that skank Helen Chamberlain did a dig at us – as she also did after we drew Franchise. But then, she reportedly didn’t cover herself in glory at KM when Torquay played here once, so perhaps we dented her ego.
There wasn’t a universal “ooh, we’ve drawn Bristol City” reaction afterwards, some moaning that we’re not at home because we won’t get much money (because being at KM would pay for AA’s next fifty Chicken Cottage meals), or we’re not on telly, or some other whinge that makes you wonder why some people bother.
Me, I think it’s a great draw. We could have also drawn Northampton, Plymouth, Gills, Leyton Orient, Crawley or Coventry, and only the first two are in L2. The rest would have all been difficult, home or away, without the relative glamour and if we are going to go out in the next round, I’d prefer to do it at the home of the L1 leaders.
In fact, perhaps it will be the motivation we need? We could lose 3-0 to City, but we could just as likely lose 3-0 to Crawley. Think about how shit the latter would be.
The one big thing above all other big things this past few days is this – a cup run is worth its weight in gold if you’re in our position. I don’t mean financially, although every little helps, but you think at how the JPT run has boosted our confidence.
We got away with it against Southend, but it made us think that luck could be on our side. The trip to the Buckinghamshire town was a massive one in so many ways, but it proved how well we could play against higher placed opposition.
And now it’s the Robins, who may see this as a distraction. Equally, they may not, and of course our run could end there and then. But let’s be honest – it’s nice to be talking about such a tie for the next few weeks.
I know we faced Coventry last season, but that was a first round game and it killed the AFCW career of Seb Brown stone dead. One thing we’ve been poor at in a few years is playing and beating teams in higher divisions, so if we can turn that around so much the better.
Arguably, we wouldn’t have won today without winning at Franchise, although our record against the top teams is good. But the players especially must be thinking that it’s starting to come together a bit.
Maybe this really will be our season after all? We’re due something better than the last three.
So, was it worth it? If it isn’t, check your pulse for signs of life.
In a nutshell: Inwards and upwards.