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Hattered

luton2015And right on cue…

To be fair, Vauxhall Viva 2 Volkswagen Diesel 0 wasn’t actually too bad. We tried hard, we were only undone at the end with two goals and ten men, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen for you.

Or as SW19 put it on Friday, it would be sod’s law if we played well at Luton and lost.

Maybe the negative reaction after Notts County had something to do with it? I don’t doubt it stung manager and squad, which is why we started off like we had a bit of a point to prove.

It was one of those games where we could have got something if Osborne hadn’t got sent off. By the way, if you look at the replay, while our loanee was unlucky with the second – you don’t give the ref an opportunity two minutes or so after the first.

Although that does presuppose he has a brain…

Even though we played better than recent weeks, we were always vulnerable afterwards. Especially as we now have one senior centre-back for the Northampton game.

Their first goal had a bit of inevitability about it in truth, although looking at the highlights I’m sure we could have done a little bit better. Second goal was the usual sucker-punch-whilst-chasing-the-game, although it did seem a little bit shambolic.

I’m glad NA didn’t go OTT in his post-match comments, even though his “we go again” quip does sound like Brendan Rodgers (I presume our manager doesn’t ape the Liverpool boss too much, with creepy face touching and alleged tranny shagging).

For all the good play and injustice from yesterday – we still lost. Maybe it’s the Footballing Gods balancing out things from last week, but it’s important to remember that.

We were OK yesterday, not too bad in places, but we still weren’t brilliant. We continue to look ineffective up front, and those thinking Akinfenwa would be best in the MLS next season didn’t have their minds changed.

And yes, I know that he forced Tyler into a fingertip save late on. But I’m yet to be convinced that his all-round effectiveness hasn’t dropped this time round, and he needs to find the net to stop papering over the cracks.

He’ll have a chance to rectify that against his former club on Tuesday. More promising was Egli “Don’t Call Me Egil” Kaja coming on, so at least we have another youngster who won’t shit himself playing first team football.

All in all, though, I’m glad we’ve got Northampton up so soon. We have two winnable home games in the next seven days, so knowing us it will be 0 points from 9 by this time next week…

Plus points: Played OK. Debut for Kaja. Rigg changing things at half time.

Minus points: We lost. Osborne red carded. Ineffective up front.

The referee’s a…: In these times of heightened litigation, I will not state my honest opinions on somebody I hope isn’t allowed to operate machinery or a motor car without adult supervision.

Them: Not significantly better than we were, but knew where the net was and unlike ourselves took their chances and their bit of luck.

Mark Tyler seemed to take his, ahem, gentle ribbing of Eastlands well (suppose getting promoted back to the FL eventually helped). And if you farted in a crowded lift within the last 24 hours, you are still more popular than Ryan Hall ever will be.

And your botty burp will stink less too.

As for Luton, it’s always been a club that has an element of decay about it – even since the 80s and 90s. The away end, with its lack of legroom and terraced house entrance, has always been the stuff of legend (which is why I think we took less than 600) but it did have an away fans bar in the ground.

It has its sad sack element – the parrotheads in that executive box taking selfies after they scored their first goal reminds one of those gormless Ladbrokes Life “mates”. And I expect when Watford come into town, they cause many ┬ús worth of improvements.

If you ever hate the gentrification of places like Wandsworth, Balham and Clapham, then Luton itself will remind you of what they were like pre-poncy wine bars. And just like SW18, it has a rebranded Arndale that still feels like the original…

Point to ponder: Could Osborne’s dismissal be the first nail in his AFCW career? It was telling that a few people afterwards (not just on social media but in “real life” too) were openly wondering if we could return him to Brizzle City and get two new CBs instead.

It’s fair to say his tenure with us hasn’t exactly been beloved, and while he’s this season’s scapegoat – somebody has to be – he hasn’t helped himself at times.

He got the blame for needlessly conceding set-pieces that we subsequently conceded from, and although he’s since got better there’s not so much upset that we’ll miss him.

Certainly more will miss Nightingale, and not just because he’s a youth product.

Regardless of popularity, his dismissal leaves us very short at the back. For reasons best known to NA, Sweeney isn’t playing so we’ll probably either risk him for Northampton or we’ll be scouring Cardiff’s youth academy the country for a replacement.

TBH it wouldn’t do us, or Sweeney, much harm to start on Tuesday – it’s only one game, the type of fixture we usually lose in anyway, and he can only learn from it.

You never know, he might even be quite good. You know, just like Ed Harris and Fraser Franks were against Crawley all those years ago…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The alley between the home and away ends. Bet it’s fun at night. 2) Speaking of which, “I Predict A Riot” from the Kaiser Chiefs over the PA before the game. Guess Millwall visiting in 1985 still haunts them. 3) Was it me or did we come out about 3/4 minutes early for the second half? Or were Luton late?

Anything else? As mentioned above, it wasn’t a very big turnout from us, relatively speaking. 588 is still plenty, but for one of the nearer games in the division, it’s still disappointing.

But then, people are starting to pick and choose away fixtures nowadays. Those all-ticket (Mansfield, yesterday) always end up getting less than you would expect, as many decide on the day whether to go.

Obviously, new venues will prove more popular than regularly visited ones – Yeovil had a good turnout, and Leyton Orient and Barnet’s new gaff should see four-figures.

And the nicer the more established away trip is, the more people want to save their pennies for. York is a good example. So on the flip side, you can’t blame people for giving Field Mill or Kenilworth Road a swerve.

But then, even as far back as the WFC era and CCL days of AFCW, you could never quite predict when we’d collectively decide to travel.

I remember Aston Villa stewards panicking when more than 500 turned up at Villa Park, although given the climate of supporting WFC back then it was the club apparently under-reporting the likely turnout from us.

Equally, I remember how poor our turnout was at Upton Park when Di Canio scored THAT goal against us, but then that season saw some genuinely awful attendances at places like Spurs too, as people just got disillusioned.

The CCL saw us go en masse to Southall the first year then practically half the next season – and they weren’t the only ones.

Since we got back in the FL, we’ve always taken lots to Pompey, Barnet, Crawley and Gillingham, yet we’ve never done likewise for Wycombe, Luton and even to an extent, Southend.

Further afield, we perversely seem to take more to Plymouth (one of the most arsey journeys anywhere, though Plymouth itself is nice) and Carlisle than relatively nearer ones like Bristol Rovers and Newport County.

So as the novelty finally wears off, don’t be surprised to see more empty spaces at a few more away trips. At least in the league, because FA Cup ties at the same venues always get more. Maybe, just maybe, we’re turning into a proper L2 side with a proper L2 fanbase…?

So, was it worth it? Meh.

In a nutshell: How does the chant go again? “Could be worse…