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A Team of Two Halves

All’s well that ends well, I guess…

I have to say, Dragon 2 St George 2 was the perfectly surreal end to a very strange ten days. That we could have come away from sunny (?) Cymru with all three points tells a rather bizarre story.

We could, and should, have been buried beyond redemption by half time. We could, and (perhaps) should, have done the almost impossible by the final whistle.

It was the Jeckyl and Hyde performance that sums up a Jeckyl and Hyde team. On this last Sunday morning before Christmas, none of it makes sense – even if it should do…

The actual game is as good as anywhere to start. The first half was, to be blunt, fucking shit. We were lethargic, clueless, plodding and looking like the latest clear-the-air meeting did absolutely nothing.

OK, Robbo going off for their first goal didn’t help, but Newport going ahead was coming anyway. The own goal just summed things up further…

Toonga started and was withdrawn for Akinfenwa, which did seem like a panic move. Especially as he then seemed to get in the way of everything.

As for the reaction at half time? More boos, unsurprisingly, and some people I would happily put in the pro-NA camp looking out for blood. Doesn’t matter whose blood, just somebody’s.

It was telling our current manager trapsed to the dugout about 3/4 minutes en solo before the team came out for the second half. It was hard to tell his demeanour from the other side of the ground, but I bet if you told him somebody in the SW19 comments section had shagged his missus, it wouldn’t have made him feel much worse…

We’ll never know what really went on in that dressing room at half time, just like we’ll never know what happened at Crawley in August. Or t’Stanley. Never have so many fans wanted to be insects on the dressing room wall, as they were at 1550 yesterday.

Whatever happened, it worked. Admittedly, Taylor pulling a goal back less than a minute after the restart helped, but it was as though something snapped.

Personally, I’m convinced the reaction in the second half was down to everything coming to a breaking point. The St. Evenage “performance” post NPL-decision.

The handling of the Xmas party afterwards. The MOTM debacle. The Ben Wilson stuff. The pre-training meetings. The very bad taste in the collective mouths since then.

And the first half clusterfuck managing to be the poop cherry on a cake made of horse manure.

This isn’t to say that we put in a swashbuckling performance that left Newport crying for their mother. They were just as likely to have made it 3-1 as we were to equalise, which would have exacerbated things this morning.

But they didn’t take their chances, and Lyle Taylor did. You could sense the relief right at the end, and it was telling that our double goalscorer got the biggest cheers of the lot.

So, what? Firstly, it’s nice that we showed a bit of fucking fight for once. I don’t think they dared doing anything else in the second period.

It was suggested post-game that NA told the players January was around the corner, and as such they would be put on loan to Woking if they didn’t respond.

I’ve just read our current manager’s OS comments, and if he didn’t rant and rave then you have to wonder what he did say. If indeed he said anything at all.

Your views on this will pretty much reflect if you’re pro-NA or anti-NA. If you’re in the former, you’d want to point out that he did get a positive reaction and he did change things for the better yesterday.

If you’re anti, you’ll ask why things had to get so bad in the first place to get a reaction. Not to mention us playing better with him putting in less input than normal.

Long term, this result and second half performance changes little, and there are some clear fundamental issues that are never far from the surface.

But at least Xmas will be a bit nicer now…

Plus points: The second half. Having a fucking go for once. Lyle Taylor. Could have won it.

Minus points: The first half. All round lethargy. Could have been buried by the break.

The referee’s a…: Hates the Welsh, apparently, and the home support didn’t seem enamoured by him. Didn’t do a lot wrong, at least not enough to warrant sending a yultide log with his Christmas card.

Them: Before we get carried away too much with the second half, they were 21st before the game started. That we made them look like world-beaters should give you an idea of how shit we were.

Needless to say, once we had a bit of a go at them, we proved why they’re down the wrong end of the table. And it also proved the notion that League Two is much of a muchness, and teams generally aren’t that good…

It sounds like the trains were buggered, apparently somebody decided to throw themselves on the line around Slough. Those who got there at half time have to buy drinks for those who endured the whole 90.

Newport is one of those clubs that I think are always destined to be in the lower reaches of the Football League. The “old” Newport County certainly were, and today’s incarnation are going the same way.

Mind you, their road back to the Football League was pretty tortuous, a lot longer than ours and as such I think we’ve got much more in common with them than FCUM.

Oh, and as typical per every visit to South Wales – the weather was shit. Although at least this time we didn’t get snowed upon

Point to ponder: Is it fair to say that yesterday was the whole NA tenure in a 90-minute microcosm? A lot of shit, an ability to fight and get a result when we really have to, and then wondering why we don’t see it more often.

And yes, we managed to struggle against a bottom-feeder as well.

Actually, this raises another issue that has never been properly explained away – now we know we can occasionally fight back, doesn’t that make the passionless clusterfucks even worse to swallow?

That has been a question that has been asked for about three seasons now, of course…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The almost obligatory minute’s applause before the game. For once however, it was for somebody genuinely connected with one of the clubs playing. 2) “It’s a shit song” to that “everywhere we go” chant with the drum. Which strangely got silenced as we sung it…

Anything else? Not really. I think we ought to give ourselves a mental time-out, at least until Boxing Day. At least we’ll have plenty to talk about when Brizzle Rovers beat us 😉

So, was it worth it? Yes, although as they say in Ireland – I wouldn’t start from here.

In a nutshell: Merry Xmas.