Facing the league leaders at their place who haven’t dropped a point under their new manager and won six on the spin. With ten men. And, ahem, other disadvantages to boot.
It was only ever going to finish Were Top 0 Were Twelfth 0, wasn’t it?
There are some scoreless draws that should be filed under “EXCELLENT”, and this is certainly one of them. Even if we now come a cropper in the rest of February From Hell™, we’ve done ourselves many favours from this and Newport already.
And yet it could have got even better. True, they hit the post and their player followed up with the sort of airkick one sees on park pitches, but if Tanner was more accurate we could have really been spunking ourselves dry this morning.
Indeed, we had a couple of chances and possibly the best attempts of the game. Thankfully, we weren’t punished for not taking them, and it would have been a bit of rough justice if we had.
NA was praising our resilience, although who knows what he really thinks about the Phillips sending off? I managed to see it again on SSN this morning, and I don’t think he helped himself.
If somebody has a link online to it, look at it a couple of times. It’s basically a bit of a tangle, handbags and all that, yet Phillips seemed to react to something and put his hands on their player’s face.
And you just can’t do that, no matter how hard done by he may feel.
If he hadn’t, he (and the Burton player) would have both got a talking to. With Phillips getting booked and the Burton player not. And what makes it worse – the referee called back the game when he did it…
So we’re now without yet another centre back. We could play Fuller there, although that would be like playing Terry Gibson there too.
But we’ve already fast run out of options. Smith played in the LSC last night (which we lost on penalties – the indignity of the holders going out at the first stage. Reeves out) and is probably not ready for first team action yet.
We know about Nightingale, and I’m not sure when Goodman is back. But this now leaves us with a big problem at the back when we face the new league leaders on Saturday.
This is especially annoying, when you consider last night before the dismissal we were growing more into the game. Everything got changed, and we basically had to settle for the point there and then.
And it doesn’t do the cause of Phillips any good at all. In many ways, he’s still on probation with us – Barrett was ahead of him in the pecking order, and it’s only because of Framps’ injury and Benno’s return to Cork that he was playing to begin.
Which he was doing well in. Last night, he looked solid, reassuring, and not going to cause you a heart attack by just looking at him. He was the experienced CB we needed.
Whether we’ll now need to move quickly to secure a replacement I don’t know. I get the impression we would prefer it if we didn’t. That said, we only need one for a month.
On the plus side, Deji is improving somewhat. The pre-signing hype seems to be justified, so with luck he won’t get injured/sent off/caught in a field doing unspeakable things to goats anytime soon.
Still, that’s for the near future. It’s a shame the sending off distracted from a damn fine performance, because this could easily have been a horror show.
We had a bit of mettle behind us last night, which is something we haven’t always said this season. I wouldn’t go so far to say we were in danger of losing, but if we had gone behind it might not have been over…
Plus points: A point. Clean sheet. Most people played well. Deji. Learning to cope with the sending off. Having a couple of chances ourselves.
Minus points: We didn’t win. We didn’t score. Sending off. Bayo was pretty poor.
The referee’s a…: All I can say is, I guess he had a bet on Burton to be winning at half time and at full time. I’m not going to blame him for the red card, because Phillips gave him the opportunity to show it, but I can blame him for everything else.
Foul against our player? Oh, he didn’t see it. Foul against theirs? Straight on it. Decided to book Bayo for not getting off at the speed of light when he was subbed.
I think we know what NA felt:
“It was a tough evening in many ways and I have to be careful with what I say. It’s really hard when you prepare your team perfectly for the game, but certain things go on that you cannot do anything about.”
And when we got a rare free kick towards the end, Bulman decided to sarcastically clap the decision. Wisely deciding to do it while the official’s back was turned…
Them: I can see why they’re up the top end of the table, and you certainly can’t argue against their winning record at the moment. Don’t be too surprised if they’re in L1 next season.
Even so, like the game at KM, they did underwhelm a bit. They weren’t like Port Vale or Swindon from campaigns past, put it that way.
This was my first time to the Pirelli since THAT 6-2 gubbing. And for those who like to relive it, here’s the report from back then.
But something struck me about the whole which I didn’t warm to. It’s a nice stadium, it’s got bars under the away end which is always welcome for many (it is a big brewery town after all).
It seems to be inflicted with the same vibe that you got at Rushden and Diamonds (remember them?) or even Crawley. The whole thing is just sort of “there” – like a Dunelm shop is “there”.
Our home games may be like Trappist monk monasteries at times, but at least you can’t deny there is a bit of “feeling” around the place (as there are at most other clubs, before the self-congratulatory comments start).
The manufactured atmosphere you get at these sort of venues doesn’t help, a drum and pre-arranged chants pretty much marks you out as having no soul.
Oh, and their PA guy was far too excitable for the occasion.
I’m not going to slag them off for “only” getting 2399 – demographics are different, and we sometimes forget we’re quite a well supported club at this level.
But when you see their car park almost deserted fifteen minutes after the final whistle and your editor thinks he’s back in the days he did NLP stuff, you do have to wonder…
Point to ponder: Dare we continue to dream? We’re now 11th, five points off the playoffs (albeit with worse goal difference) and a game in hand.
And with one of the horror games out of the way.
The players this morning could be forgiven for thinking along those lines. I think it’s fair to say that we won’t struggle against relegation now this campaign, if we do more than a few need a visit from ISIS.
But it’s about these times of the season where seasons start getting made (or broken), and teams that hit the purple patch can really start motoring.
We managed to overcome the loss of Tubbs and Barrett quite well in the end – a couple of games to readjust, but adjust we did. Though both Connolly and (judging on last night) Tanner need a goal.
Results like last night don’t hurt, and can often act as springboards too. It’s been the case that if we can get through this month relatively unscathed then anything (good) can happen.
Two games into it, and four points. That’s not a bad return already. And if we can keep that up…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Was last night National Close All The Roads Night? M1 southbound closed around J19, M25 closed at J17 (and I really enjoy being gridlocked at 1am in Denham), and the A3 was its usual at that time of night. I shudder to think what time the coach got home. 2) Finding out Don Arnott (“King of Caravans”) is just the name of a local caravan and motorhome firm. You can imagine how crap their local radio adverts are.
Anything else? Not really. I guess if one was to sum up last night in a sentence, it would be “job done and done well”.
I have to be honest and admit I haven’t really looked at who’s down the bottom of L2, and have made more glances at L1’s bottom feeders.
In our division, you have to say Jeff Stelling’s lads look increasingly fucked – even if they do get their customary three points against us this month.
I don’t particularly like York, so I wouldn’t be upset if they went down. Mind you, for those teams down the bottom, it was one of those nightmare evenings if your side didn’t pick up points.
Remember when we were struggling in seasons past and every other team bar ourselves picked up unlikely wins? Long may we remain out of that for ever more.
League One? Looks like we might get our long-awaited trip to Orient after all. No wonder Barry Hearn got out of there when he did, he must have known what was coming.
It’s a real shame to see Crawley struggling, especially with a goal difference that could kill them. Honest. At least that will be the Boxing Day fixture sorted.
Either one of Yeovil, Colchester or Coventry would do, the last one especially. As we seem more confident as a L2 side these days, we shouldn’t fear such a famous name or two so much next season.
Assuming we don’t do a York from last season to this.
Finally, I rarely if ever look at the Conference table these days. Non-league football interests me very little. Still, Barnet going up would be good, even if we no longer have to endure going from Morden to High Barnet on the Northern Line to get there.
It’s Canons Park now.
Out of the others in the horrors that are the Conference playoffs? Take your pick, really. Macclesfield, Grimsby and Brizzle Rovers aren’t unknown to us, though I sense many would like FGR in the Football League.
Whatever happens, at least we should be comfortable enough to be thinking about any of this now. I said “should”…
So, was it worth it? Certainly was.
In a nutshell: Never has a 0-0 felt so good.