… don’t know where, don’t know when.
I wasn’t planning on doing an update until before the York game (which I will be at – yes, really), and I certainly wasn’t banking on anyone willing to relive our third 0-0 in six games.
But you can trust Tudor to come up with the goods. And not even a haiku in sight.
More from me on Friday (probably)…:
The Spirit of Wombles Past?
Okay, so let’s face it. A cold Tuesday night. Us still hung-over from that disastrous trip to bottom-dwelling Hartlepool and their -29 goal difference.
And given the attendance, many of our fans at home seemingly celebrating ‘Hinamatsuri’ Doll Day with their Action Men/Barbies/GI Joes…..
Apart from both sides hitting the crossbar once (although their shot may or may not have bounced down ‘towards’ the goal-line) it was pretty much a night for both sides to dick about – running about just to keep warm, rather than try to win the game.
However, we did just get a draw against a Southend side that’s entrenched in the playoff places. Okay, yes, our achilles heel is a fucking disgraceful record against bottom-feeders – but our dithering style of play last night has been the consistent frustration throughout this season…as well as last.
When we’ve played well, we’ve done what Southend did to us last night – pressure and harry – force mistakes and turnovers. SFAWI and HAFSOG. Much like Shrewsbury and others up the top, when they got the ball, their midfield and forwards had only one direction and one speed (codename Charlie Strutton). Quick passing, incisive movement.
By contrast, we looked like we were wading through treacle once again. Perhaps it’s a confidence thing… and perhaps, deep in his heart, NA doesn’t believe in “direct action” and hence isn’t committed to encouraging such behaviour in his squad.
I’m sure that makes him a delight on the training pitch, and with loan players and their clubs, but the point of the men’s first team is to try and win and score goals – especially in this bare-bones division.
Perhaps in League One we’ll be given the time to FAWI and try and side-pass it into the net… But not in League 2. Ardley, let alone the players, should know that by now.
Positives: Our young goalie did well on his full debut – although the Cristian-Ronaldoesque fancy footwork was as annoying as the mansculpted primadonna himself… perhaps McDonnell should concentrate on learning how to kick the ball upfield properly, rather than his constant tipsy-tapsy baiting of opposition players? I suppose you can’t knock his self-confidence though!
Speaking of self-confidence taking a knock – you have to wonder whether Ross Worner was given Jack Midson’s old locker or something? I suppose one good thing about our squad is an abundance of depth at the number 1 position.
As for poor old Azeez. The only player who could get caught offside a yard within the opposition half. Okay, the aforementioned dithering. He has the pace – so there’s really no need for him to anticipate balls in quite such an excitable fashion.
Quite why our fans seem willing to give up on a playoff place with a dozen games left to go in the season is beyond me. Even if we “only” finish 8th or 9th, surely better than freefalling.
Seriously – why not take every opportunity we have? We’re just 7 points off a playoff spot – and our record against the better/skillful teams shows we can continue to nick points off of them and drag us closer up the table.
And for late runs into the playoffs, you only need to look at York last season – they snuck in and, although they lost, why would we want to turn down vital experience like that?
Last night the famous Womble Spirit was lacking, both on the pitch and off it.
Okay, I admit it – and I’ll say it again and again – I hate this division: the nasty cheating cloggers, the godfuckingawful refereeing (last night’s kung fu assault on Tanner in the penalty area? seriously?) half the teams playing rugby, linesman who will always err on the side of caution and raise their flag for offside (qv Azeez).
Even if there was only a slim mathematical possibility of making the playoffs, I’d be clawing the air at it.
And for those who just want to “bed in” for the season and we’ll build for next – again, you only need to see what happened to York this season as an object lesson in that: now they’re scraping along at the bottom of the table, while the previously-godawful Wycombe are in the automatic spots for promotion.
It’s anyone’s division, any time, any season. It’s too much of a lottery to think you can play your way out of it, or eschew an opportunity to fluke your way out of it. Next season might very well be your last…. Just ask Grimsby, Bristol Rovers, Barnet…
Perhaps that’s what was frustrating for me last night – and indeed the games since the fantastic do-or-die approach versus Luton – the tipsy-tapsy fucking about with it: that shot-shy unwillingness for someone in a good position to HAFSOG, but instead just try one more delicate pass in a frail string of them, against a team pressing and pushing and hoping to force the inevitable error.
If we had been scrapping and holding on for a hard-fought point against a team in the playoffs last night, I’d be happy to settle for a point. But we weren’t. We were – and are – so much more than that.
Which, I suppose, is a positive thing.
If only we would play like it.