Hark, is that the sound of the giddyometer revving up again?
To be fair, after another win on Saturday, you can’t blame anyone for getting just a tad carried away right now. Hell, we’ve even got a positive goal difference in double figures as well…
Whilst your editor was proving Charlie Koppout right by watching Fulham (at QPR), not one but two people wrote me something. Firstly, Jampot:
It was only after the self-inflicted defeat to Yeovil last time at home that I discovered that apparently Lyle Taylor had been ill that week; it explained his lethargy.
But two weeks on, he was again instrumental in catalysing the continued resurgence of AFC Wimbledon as a proper League 2 team as he helped himself to a brace in New Nets 4 Outlaws in hair nets 1.
Not, to be fair, that he didn’t have some good support from his team mates. However, how we ended up at half-time 2-0 is still a bit perplexing to me.
It had been a very scrappy, bitty first half but I suppose HAFSOG is now so embedded into this team, such that Sweeney could claim his first senior League goal before Taylor converted again after some excellent, not-giving-up-the-cause effort by Barcham to keep the ball in and ‘put it in the mixer.’
And second half – even after they scored and for a moment you wondered if they would get back into it – we continued to put in there and chances came, went and were taken.
First Rigg from the edge of the box shot through players and it went in; and then Taylor’s sublime strike as he hung in the air, both feet off the ground, from Francombe’ s corner. It felt every time we went forward we would score.
In the end we were comfortable winners in a game where we played well, but not exceptional. That little cameo moment of Rigg bring down the ball on to his foot and then balancing it on it summed up our dominance towards the end.
OK, we had a bit of luck with a deflection or two in the first half but if you don’t head or shoot you don’t get those chances. And simply the difference between us and Luton was we took our shots and took our chances.
Plus points: Sweeney and Roos’ debuts; a very solid looking back 4 and potent front 2; never looking in real trouble all game; substitutions being like for like and keeping the momentum going; Barcham going forward, Rigg going forward.
Minus points: Not scoring 5 to hear Hawaii 5-O; the injury to Reeves; hearing Osbourne might be out for 4 weeks; how easily Meades was turned for their goal (but lovely finish I must say); Barcham coming back, Rigg coming back (Barch seemed to leave Meades quite open and Rigg never ran back as fast as he ran forward – where they were both very good it must be said!
If that is true then an emergency loan CB must be on the cards for although Sweeney did OK when he did win headers in competition he still seemed to end up losing the ball; needs more physical presence and not to be so ‘nice.’ Perhaps that was nerves.
The referee’s a…: reasonable standard though I thought both the Reeves injury tackle and another one on Elliott both deserved a yellow. Also there was a tackle on Bulman that could have been a red. Luton were ‘physical’ at times shall we say.
But he booked the guy who ‘handballed’ their ‘second goal’ in (correct) and the linesman for once was allowed to make an autonomous decision. See they can be useful!
Them: Odd. Played a lot of possession football but most of it seemed to be in their own half across the pitch. OK when they did break forward they did make some in roads but always seemed to run out of steam near our penalty area, almost like they had started ‘too far back’ and could never reach their destination.
Whether they were trying to draw us out or not I wasn’t sure, and it certainly didn’t work.
It almost seemed at times we were playing like an away team and them a struggling home team. And struggle they did. This was overall a poor Luton performance by their standards and past games between us. I don’t think anyone saw that score coming!
Point to ponder: Was today’s performance influenced in any way by the U18 FAYC tie earlier in the week, inasmuch even though we were 4-1 up we continued to attack like the U18 have in their exploits?
Perhaps that Alfie Egan quote about us being Wimbledon is pinned to the dressing room door and people are starting to take notice of it.
The next 22 days or so with I think 8 games to be played might well define our season, but is it not great to be contemplating going higher in this league rather than looking below us?
And +10 in the goal difference, 6th best in the League. Nose bleeds indeed.
Where do we play Francombe? He is proving to be a right enigma; half the time cannot clear the first man with his corner yet yesterday, getting 2 in the right spot that we scored TWO GOALS FROM CORNERS IN ONE GAME!
He seemed later on to be playing more central midfield but her remains lightweight and too easily disposed. He lacks either the confidence/conviction to go past people and he lacks outright speed.
Yet he remains at times comfortable and reassuring if frustrating. Perhaps the new boy Smith might replace him. Who knows the solution of the problem that is George at the moment. I guess as we are winning and we don’t want Tinker man Ardley to do too much, we let things be.
Truth is stranger than fiction: On the one occasion when a Luton player did break through bearing down on goal, Roos saved at his feet and the ball went out for a goal kick.
The double fist punch up in the air and verbal roar at his success was as great a celebration as for any goal scored. He looks a character already. Nice touch too to go and thank the Chemflow crowd specifically at the end.
Thinking it was booing and then realising the Chemflow end were shouting ‘Rooooooooosssss’ as he took free and goal kicks. Saves having to sing.
Talking of which for the first time in ages I heard pretty much all the ground rise up to sing ‘Wise men say….’ Almost brought a tear to my eye….
Anything else? Nice new goal net resplendent in yellow and blue, courtesy of sponsorship at least in part by the Womble Underground Press (WUP) bulged nicely when the goals went in. Someone suggested perhaps they had ‘magnetic’ qualities or something to attract our shots on target.
So, was it worth it? It always is when you don’t expect a result like that
In a nutshell: Hanging in there baby, hanging in there ….
Looters 4 Looted 1
Well, that was that game you get where – regardless of how shitty a season you’ve had – everything comes together and you see what a tem is capable of.
Disclaimer, I missed most of our glorious post-Satanage turn of form as I was busy enjoying a rather balmy January out on the west coast of Canada and the US.
So, after coming back in time to see the Yeovil bottom-feeder business-as-usual blip, this was the first win in the upturn of form that I’ve seen with my own eyes.
Perhaps other Wombles have gotten used to this sort of display now, but it was certainly a joy for me: SFAWI, quick passing and movement, pressing the other team, tempo, HAFSOG, routines that connected sweetly, bending but not breaking (too badly) when defending.
Let’s get that last bit out of the way first: to be fair to Luton, they kept the ball – or we allowed them to a little too much (viz NA screaming at the players from the touchline when the midfield tired and stopped pressing) – they also kept going, even at 4-0 down – and even at 4-1. Fair play to them.
First half: We got a couple of decent breaks to go 2-0 up, then managed to hang on (and sit back a bit too much, ugh) to go in at half time with the lead intact.
I know NA and others like to talk about the ability to “control the game”, but in League 2 – where shitty refereeing decisions and defensive frailties cause the majority of goals – no lead is safe.
We ourselves have fucked up from 2 goals up – as well as come back now. I preferred it when we were pressing and harrying the ball carriers into a mistake, just like other teams have done to us… especially bottom-feeders. When we slip back and concede ground and territory, it makes me nervous.
Speaking of nerves, from my vantage point, I thought our new loanee goalie, Roos, had a bit of a jittery start (palming a long range shot off to the side, rather than trying to catch it; a couple of bobbles when he did with softer shots/crosses). Nevertheless he did well, has a great kick on him and did nothing wrong/made good choices.
Second half: We came out well and wide-awake for once – not looking to merely hang on to a two-goal lead, but actually push on and score. Kudos to the players, but particularly Barcham and Rigg who did a lot of taking on the last defender and putting a cross in or forcing a corner.
Lots of quick movement and counter-attacking and we were quickly 4-0 up. Well-taken goals and it’s great to see a midfield that has SFAWI and makes movement and tries to do something with the ball apart from put its foot on the ball before passing it sideways – and not always to a team mate.
Even with a Luton team still desperately trying to get back into it, it was lovely to see us still push and press, and look for a fifth or sixth goal.
Earlier in the season, NA wouldn’t have even let the players go for the third – let alone fourth goal, so we can see some evolution in his mentality and the players’ will during the only 90 minutes in the week that really matter.
Long may that continue.
Quick note of interest: there was yet another lob/cross/kick in the second half that looped worryingly close to the top corner of the net at the John Green end. Seeing as we’ve both scored and conceded with those sorts of speculative/lucky/well-placed kicks, maybe that goal is haunted…
Second note of interest: The referee was – yet again – a spineless, useless bag of shit, who would give Luton a free kick every time one of their players felt a gust of wind on their back.
However, allowed them to kick fucking lumps out of our players (Reeves off injured after 20 mins or so, Elliott barged into from behind, goes down clutching back of head, ref finally stops play for treatment and a drop ball, etc…etc…).
What. A. Cunt.
At least the lino spotted a deliberate handball to knock the ball in for Luton’s disallowed second goal. Probably forced the ref’s hand and got a bollocking for ‘showing him up in front of everybody’ in the dressing room afterwards.
Oh great and powerful goddess, how I hate this thugly, shitty division.
Worth repeating: Luton’s never-say-die attitude, immediately trying to get back into it when the fourth goal got banged in. They worked all the way through, even into the 94th minute.
If that second goal hadn’t been denied, then we could have been looking at a nervous final fifteen minutes. As I pointed out earlier, a two-goal lead isn’t insurmountable.
Credit to them for continuing to chip away, regardless… and contrast and compare with our players’ fizzling out against Yeovil and an even cuntier referee than this latest one.
Final point: The rump of League 2 is much of a muchness: as can be seen by the fact that there’s about 8-9 teams vying for a playoff spot (and we are one of them, whether a certain faction of our own fans like it or not) all within 5 points and/or games in hand.
If we continue with this sort of positive mental attitude, we’ll get to enjoy the rest of the season, regardless of where we end up. Fingers crossed this season doesn’t fizzle out like the last couple under NA’s stewardship.
It’d be nice to finish in the top half, let alone experience the thrill of a playoff game or two.
After all, we are Wimbledon. Who the fuck are you?
Yesterday, losers who got smashed 4-1, apparently.
And long may it continue.
It has to be said, you don’t win five out of the last six without doing something right. Especially when we could have easily stumbled further after Yeovil.
Come to think of it, if we’d lost to Brizzle Rovers as well, the momentum would have truly stopped, and we might not have the collective glow this weekend of yet another victory.
As it goes, that word “momentum” is going to be critical this next month. Seven or so games in 21 days will test anyone, regardless of who you are.
Keep this up, and who knows? That’s not a catch-all comment, by the way – we can genuinely have trepidation of the good kind.
Let’s be honest here – since we got back into the FL, we’ve been shit. The first two seasons, we didn’t even look like a Football League club (let alone a team), and the other campaigns have fizzled out about this stage.
In 2016, however, we’ve got a good chance of extending our season beyond the 7th May. We’re not alone in that, of course, but we’re second in the form table and for good reason.
Part of that, as alluded to earlier, could be down to the yoof team showing the way in terms of commitment and the winning mentality. I didn’t write up the FAYC tie against Chelski, but they were refreshing to watch and played in a way that any AFCW fan can identify with.
Perhaps they’ve even embarrassed the first team a little bit with their exploits? There are doubtless a number of factors in our current good form, but is it coincidence that the first XI started playing well once since our youngsters beat Newcastle…?
The next month will put the marathon into the marathon-not-a-sprint cliche, and it sounds like we’ll be getting a centre-back in on loan, perhaps even announced today.
Plenty will think that we should be giving Sweeney the nod instead, although if Osborne is injured we’ll need a CB in anyway. As long as it’s not Dave Winfield, we should be OK.
It’s tempting to look at who we’ve got coming up. All games except Oxford** are winnable, though equally we can fuck up all of them.
** – if we were in the Champions League, and Oxford were in the Conference South, and we played each other we still wouldn’t beat them.
It’s that kind of run-in, which makes it quite exciting. OK, I made the comment just then about never beating the Us, but perhaps this is the time we finally do it?
Feel free to come back and call me a cunt when they gub us 5-0 on Saturday week.
Can we get in the playoffs? For the first time, we have a legitimate fair chance. True, we’ll need a fair bit of luck, with injuries and rubs of the green.
We still have to face all teams bar one currently in the playoffs, and more dangerously all bar Yeovil in the bottom five.
And if we’ve got eyes on it, so have the likes of Orient, Carlisle and even Exeter. There’s always one team that finds itself slumping to near (or actual) relegation, but there’s also one team that hits form at exactly the right time.
Could it be us? In the Conference South season (and was that really seven years ago?) we were as moribund in the first half of the campaign as we have been this time round, yet hit form around December and never looked back.
No, there’s no Chelmsford this time round, or H&R, and there’s certainly no promotion bottleneck in League Two. But back in 2008/09, we had Jon Main and Danny Kedwell finding the net with aplomb.
That duo clicked almost under the radar, as has the Elliott/Taylor duo today. Oh, and we played Newport County back then as well.
So anything can happen, and it probably will. It might be just an Indian summer, or it might be the start of something big. We just don’t know, but it’ll be fun finding out what happens.
Just as long as we don’t decide to get Craig Tanner back on loan again…