Three pre-season games gone, and we haven’t managed to lose one of them yet. Maybe this will be our year after all?
OK, when it’s April 2016 and we’re about to go back to the abyss of non-league football, you can take that last sentence and sigh wistfully. Before sending me IEDs or even worse, unfollowing me on Twitter.
But for now, South West London 1 South East London 1 will do. Like last week against Watford, we didn’t deserve to lose. Unlike last week against Watford, we fell to the 90th minute equaliser, although Millwall had been pushing hard.
Other than that though (and Lyle “Lovett” Taylor scoring for the fourth time this week), there’s plenty to be content about. It was a good workout, and when we now talk about a unit, we’re talking about everybody rather than just Akinfenwa.
I felt this in the last half-hour at Basingstoke as well as most of today – we’re starting to look like a team, even at this very early stage.
Maybe it’s because we haven’t had the massive upheaval that we’ve seen in previous close seasons, but the newbies don’t seem to have settled in too badly. Taylor has looked like he’s always been here, and Osbourne already looks like he’s starting to find an understanding with Nightingale.
Sometimes, and especially in THAT last pre-season campaign under TB, there was always a hope that things would come together quicker than they were. This year, it’s more of an expectation.
There’s some obvious ring rustyness here and there, and like Basingstoke proved I don’t think the bulk of the youngsters are quite ready enough for League Two.
Plus, once again, our dogmatic insistence on bringing just about everyone back for an opposition corner seemed to undo us. And yes, I know we had nine men by that stage, but I don’t care if Premier League teams do it themselves.
Still, it’s all better than a loss. Even in pre-season…
Plus points: We didn’t lose. Good cameos from our defence. Taylor. Looking like we have some idea of what we’re doing.
Minus points: We didn’t win. Kennedy’s injury (not as bad as it looked, apparently).
The referee’s a…: His name was Charles, and also an athletics coach. I know this because I was standing near a student of his, who along with his mates got the chance to tell him what a cunt he was.
He seemed to enjoy it when they shouted his name, though not as much as he’s going to enjoy their next training session…
Them: Lots of them turned up, quite a sedate time all round, although they celebrated their last minute equaliser against nine men in a friendly like they’d just gone back to the Championship.
Millwall, by the way, are what happens when you fail to sack a manager in time – had they got shot of Holloway a couple of games earlier and put in Neil Harris, they would probably be facing Franchise next season in the league.
Your editor had the misfortune to sit in too many post-match interviews of “Olly” last season, and his whining, self-pitying rambling managed to finally annoy even those who report on them weekly.
I get the feeling they’ll do all right next season, like Huddersfield they’ve always been that sort of club that bounces between League One and the Championship, and if nothing else Southend away will be a fun weekend for all concerned.
Oh, and you just know we’re going to face them in the JPT at KM.
Point to ponder: Could we see Akinfenwa not being the automatic first choice next season? Lyle has already made a good impression these first two games already – Derek Duncan Syndrome™ notwithstanding – and Elliott seems to cause trouble (in a good way) as well.
Those two give us another dimension up front, assuming that our training sessions don’t drum HAFSOG out of them, and we’re not going to be 3-4-3 all the time.
If those two deliver and Akinfenwa has the same goal drought he had when first with us, then dropping him doesn’t become quite so unthinkable after all.
We over-relied on the man who flogs BMO t-shirts last campaign, which was “assisted” by a mixture of transfers and inepitude, but even just three games in, that doesn’t look the case this time around.
Don’t get me wrong – Akinfenwa is still going to be a big part of things, a statement as obvious as the jokes about his physique. But we saw glimpses of what alternatives we have when Azeez and Tubbs were doing well in December last year, and we now have two new players who can do that.
Speaking of Azeez, he does look like he’s going to be the first one to head to the graveyard of AFCW players. Or to give its proper term, going on loan to Woking.
Even today, he didn’t seem to offer as much as the strikers ahead of him, and he obviously didn’t spend the summer learning how to spring offside traps…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Mikey T announcing Cardiff as an “international” fixture. 2) It hasn’t been changed yet, but the Nongshim is no more – it’s going to be the John Green Stand. OK, I still don’t know what he does, and I’m double of the age of his target audience, but at least it’s a proper sounding stand rather than some “Nerdfighter” wank.
Anything else? Not really, it is still pre-season.
So, was it worth it? I guess so.
In a nutshell: Now, who’s for La Manga?