I suppose if you could describe Ingerlund 2 Cymru 0 in one word, it would be “professional”. Job done, done well, and now we can go home and prepare for Burton.
Which in this, the February From Hell, is no bad thing.
If a game needed to be won at this time of the season, it’s this one. We’re at home, against a side that is equally as beatable as we are, and following on from two decent enough results.
And mostly, we got it right.
AA will rightly take both the plaudits and the poison darts for this one. His two goals were what we got him in for, especially the first one.
As for his penalty….. well, we won and he got the second one to calm the nerves, because if we had ballsed that up today, we should be locking him out of Nandos as punishment.
Seriously, was he in two minds when literally stepping up to take it? Was he acting all cocky and living up to his self-styled BMO image?
Has hanging around with the likes of Henry and Drogba at NBA games gone to his head? Thankfully for him, his second goal was payback, because perhaps we need to have a little word about what his job description actually is…
But we won, and we can laugh about it now. Well, almost.
Which is a shame, because generally we did all right. A bit on the backfoot at times, and Fuller does seem to need to give Nightingale and Deji some bollockings occasionally.
We could have won by more, but I suppose we were in less danger today than one may think.
This was your editor’s first league game at KM since Daggers in November, and I think we’re looking a better side than we were back then.
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I think the whole squad has grown into what they’re supposed to be doing. Whether that’s NA finally learning how to be a football manager than a UEFA coaching badge robot is anyone’s guess, but I’m glad that’s the case.
OK, it helped that we had a man advantage, but we did (eventually) kill the game off. We did similar against t’Stanley, albeit with everyone shitting themselves late on, and that’s a good trait to have.
Connolly reminds me of Tubbs a lot, namely he knew where to get into position and when. When he scores, and he will, he may well put a few more away in his last season.
Then again, he was one of my favourite players in the arse end of the Selhurst Park days, so I would say that.
Azeez looks good, perhaps more as an impact player for now (Tanner didn’t come on, so can’t judge him). At least we have four forwards who make a difference in one way, shape or form. Last season, we barely had one.
Midfield looks stronger than I remember it, and maybe it’s because everyone had a generally good game that I think that. Doesn’t stop some people having a go at Reeves, although every team has a player who needs to be blamed for everything.
All this positivity is making me woozy. And a little bit nervous. To be honest, unless something catastrophic happens, I don’t think we’ll be bothering the relegation dog fight this time round.
Nor should we be…
Plus points: We won. Clean sheet. AA’s two goals. Deji growing into the game. Nightingale’s first half. Learning how to kill a game off against ten men. Nobody playing badly.
Minus points: AA’s “penalty”.
The referee’s a…: Hmm. Will that suffice as a description?
Them: Were sixth before the game, are sixth after it, and I still cannot work out why they’re so high.
Seriously, if they can reach that position, then so can we. I know they’ve just suffered the indignity of losing Justin Edinburgh on a matchday, but they won’t stay in the playoffs if they’re anything like they were against us.
And that was the case before Feely got red carded as well. I’m glad we got the second goal, because that drained all life out of them, but if they had come away from Theme Park KM with the usual visitor’s gift, it would have been us to blame.
Lest we forget that Newport are the AFCW B side anyway. Remember Feely playing for us? Neither do I. Yakubu has done well with them considering he was tossed onto the scrapheap after Eastlands, although today made me glad he’s not our CB.
And as the SW19 reader next to me said during the game, it’s the ultimate indignity when you’re substituted by Lee Minshull.
All we needed was Christian Jolley to remind us why we sold him in the first place. But he’s gone from them after starting so well. Funny, that.
Still, I don’t have a problem with Casnewydd, even if their town is a moody border settlement which reminds me of Dundalk. It’s hard to think that they were in the Conference South at the same time as we were, and they too have had to get through football’s backwaters to become part of the 91 Club.
Though they still got to play in Europe and we didn’t…
Point to ponder: This defence of ours? To be honest, Deji and Nightingale would be better if one of them was next to an experienced CB (either one) as they seemed to get in the way of each other.
Both did get into the game a bit more, so maybe both of them need to live together for a few weeks to know each other more, down to how much either one farts in bed.
When our main (OK, only) fit and experienced CB came on for Nightingale, we seemed a bit better at the back. Maybe Phillips could be the unexpected solution after all? At least, until he inevitably fucks up against Burton.
But Nightingale didn’t look too shabby at all. Occasionally, you forgot how young he was. He does have a problem already though, and it’s nothing to do with how he plays.
He went off injured, and he’s already come back from quite a bad injury a couple of seasons ago, and he doesn’t need to start becoming a crock at such a young age.
We want him to be the next Andy Frampton. But for his playing record and not his medical one.
Which would be a shame if he will be vulnerable. Many around the club have rated him, and this is one of those few times where the hype may be justified.
Could Goodman find himself struggling to return to the back line? Come to think of it, will Jack Smith? I have to say this about Kennedy, he’s had this second chance after getting released last summer, and he’s taken it well.
The real tests will come in the next two games, and come through them both and who knows…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” at the Newport fans. OK, it’s a pisstake of rugby, but even our lot aren’t middle class enough to support that sport. 2) Matt Tubbs has scored for Portsmouth. You may now get on with the rest of your life. 3) No sign of Benno. Maybe I missed him, but would like to have heard he got a decent sendoff.
Anything else? So, dare we dream of the playoffs?
No, that’s not a pisstake, nor has this place suddenly succumbed to giddyness. That is a genuine comment that has come from a) looking at the game today, and b) the league table.
For the first time in fuck knows how long, we’re five points away from the playoffs than five points from the drop zone. We are 12 points away from York in 23rd, 13 points if you add goal difference to that, and as said so many times – we would really have to collapse to even be close to it this season.
So that means we’re now looking up, seeing where Bury are and thinking “hmm”. This may, and probably will, end after Tuesday, let alone Saturday, but even if we did lose both, it’s still mathematically obtainable.
NA is having none of that right now – his aim is the magical 54 point mark as soon as possible. We’re 14 points from that target, which is “only” four wins and two draws (yeah, I know).
Given that the aim always has to be getting safety around Easter time, we basically need a point a game average from now until Easter Monday (April 6th) to be safe. That’s thirteen games, in case you’re counting.
But league tables are like skirts – they’re better when you’re looking up. NA may have gone for the 54 point target, but this is also what he’s told the OS:
“We are really pleased with the squad and we have lots of options. It was important to win this home game with a tough schedule ahead, but confidence is high and the boys are in good spirits.
The experienced boys are always talking to the young boys, but the youngsters are showing that arrogance and confidence.
Between them they are looking like they want to do something creative and it might be best to let them get on with it!”
You do have to think whether the players themselves are starting to think they’re two wins away from the playoff positions. Don’t underestimate the power of momentum and confidence in a side (think Eastlands).
They’re certainly not looking down, they’re looking towards extending the season beyond Cheltenham at KM. It may happen, it may not, but they’ve got seventeen games left to do something creative.
If that sounds a bit far fetched thinking about this, just look at the sides who have reached them in the past five seasons. Two of them are no longer in the FL, and just look at York in 2014 and now.
Possible? Yes. Likely? Who knows. But one thing is for sure – it will sure be fun to give it a go…
So, was it worth it? What’s Welsh for “too fucking right”?
In a nutshell: The playoff push/relegation dogfight starts here.