Another game, another win…
So, fifth place eh? The giddyometer is truly overheating right now – hell, some people are even suggesting the automatic promotion slots.
And with a straight face too.
I guess after last night, you can’t entirely blame them – we could have easily lost it, yet we got the one break we needed and it’s another three points.
OK, perhaps two breaks with their goalie getting sent off. And come to think of it, their finishing was a bit shit. So that’s three bits of good fortune.
None of that quite matters this morning though. The sun is shining just a little bit brighter. The frost is a little bit sharper, the birds are twittering a bit louder, and all is currently well in the AFCW world.
Christ, even beating – beating – Oxford on Saturday has suddenly become a lot more achievable.
This was your editor’s first game since Yeovil, and I noticed a couple of things. Firstly, we look more solid as a unit than at any time during our Football League tenure.
True, that’s not saying a lot, but even up until the middle of December last year there was always something missing. That “something” has been found, if only for now, and we’re getting the rewards from it.
It helps when you’ve got two strikers on genuine form. Taylor and Elliott are as effective as Kedwell and Main were in the Conference South days, and that’s what’s proven the difference.
Never underestimate the value of a decent strike duo. Carlisle got in behind us a couple of times, and with better finishing we would have been collectively moping this morning. And when Azeez and Akinfenwa came on, you saw the difference with us immediately.
And not in a good way.
What also has helped is that Roos looks decent as well. He never looked like he was going to flap at anything, and as we’ve found out this season alone, having a shit keeper does strange things…
I noticed in his comments that he’s taking the que sera sera attitude to going up – as in, let’s continue to play the games and just see what happens.
No doubt that’s partly trying to take the pressure off, and lower some increasingly skyrocketing expectations from the overexcited brigade.
But I think he’s best as a manager when he’s taking the less-is-more approach. He’s never appeared to fully trust the players in the past, but now he seems to let them get on with it more.
He’s taken a gamble on Sweeney, and last night he didn’t look any more out of place alongside Robbo as Osborne has. He’s also found that Elliott and Taylor work best together (with TWO up front) and has resisted the temptation to change that.
Granted, with the amount of games coming up there will always be tinkering needed. But as long as it’s done to avoid burnout and not to change a winning formula, that won’t be an issue…
So, can we reach the playoffs? Absolutely. Will we reach the playoffs? Ask me after we’ve played Dagenham away on the 19th April.
That’s not being entirely snarky, by the way. It’s very nice to look at the standings this morning, needless to say. Indeed, if you go to Google (after you’ve read SW19), type in “league two table”, you’ll get quite a pleasant surprise.
But there is still plenty to play for, hence that Dagenham comment. We catapulted our way back into the playoff positions last night, but after Saturday we could equally find ourselves out of them again.
It’s that kind of division right now.
You wouldn’t have predicted Pompey losing to Barnet, for instance. There will be many more of those coming up, and at least a couple of them will involve us.
It does make it genuinely exciting though, and unlike previous promotion pushes there’s no bottleneck. When we were going for the Conference South, we had to finish top or run the risk of failing in the playoffs.
Ditto the Conference itself, and I have some sympathy for making that three up, three down. Although then again, I think we should bring back re-election.
League Two is a totally different kettle of fish. I know it’s a historical hangover from the old Division Three regional days, but four going up makes it worthwhile for so many sides.
Ask yesterday’s opponents, who on another day might have come away from KM with all three points. Even they’re not that far away from extending their season.
It really is all to play for. Who knows what will happen in this next 2.5 months? Personally, I’m still treating this season each game as it comes – our current form is a bonus, and my own expectations still remain us finishing about 9th/10th/11th.
Our confidence is sky high, although our squad depth and ability to put in stinkers against the bottom feeders may ultimately scupper us.
But at least you can look forward to going to the games right now – and how many times have you said THAT in the last four years…?