And that’s the third league loss in a row…
I wasn’t going to do much in the way of a report for Tata 1 British Steel 2 last night, and this won’t be as in-depth as I could otherwise make it.
But I think we saw the best and the worst of AFCW.
The latter is the easiest to write about – at least, the first half was. It was same old, same old basically, and it could have been Walsall last week. Or Posh.
Your editor caught the goals on SSN this morning (where anchor Mike Wedderburn linked from the Franchise game before hand by saying “From MK to Wimbledon”….), and we have no complaints with either of their two strikes.
Kelly was to blame for the first, in fact Scunny saw him as a bit of a weak link and this being League One, they knew how to exploit it.
The penalty was one, unfortunately. We’ve all seen them given…
To our immense credit, we put on a spirited second half display. Maybe the players (and management staff) realised what was happening – NA hinted that on the OS – and maybe we were unlucky not to get anything.
And yes, that was a fucking penalty right at the death. It never rains, and all that.
But we’re still bottom of the division, and we’re still without a point. And it’s still early days etc etc. And points made yesterday on SW19 still stand.
Again, it’s a game that brings out the mixed feelings. The first 45 made you mentally prepare for League Two again, the second period gave you some hope that we might be OK after all.
Although of course, it’s the hope that kills…
Plus points: We scored. We came back. Perhaps unfortunate in the end.
Minus points: We lost. We’re bottom. We have no points. First half. Kelly’s defending. Usual inability to keep goals out. Taylor going off.
The referee’s a…: Feel free to go all Michael Conlan on him for that penalty decision that never was. Come to think of it, he disallowed a goal of ours that apparently came off a defender. And they say that L1 refs were better…
Them: Found a couple of obvious weaknesses and knew how to exploit them. And that’s pretty much how they won last night.
Are they a “top” team? We’ll be in trouble this season if they’re not, because they had that bit of extra tactical nous that we last saw against us in our first L2 season.
That said, they were clearly rattled by our second half performance, and got the bit of luck we didn’t have. Although they did eventually manage to neutralise us.
Decent turnout from them, as it goes, although how many of them live in t’Smoke I don’t know. There were more of them waiting at the bus stop afterwards than I would expect for a Tuesday night game, anyway.
Point to ponder: Are we going to have to be brutally honest about our back line, even at this very early stage? I notice more and more comments were/are getting made about Fuller and (to a lesser extent) Robbo, and while our right back has a knock, the doubts are definitely starting to creep in.
Kelly had a bit of a shitter as well, although his block late in the first half redeemed him (and us). But when they scored their first goal, everyone seems resigned to it.
And that’s not a particularly good sign.
There’s a reliance on Meades returning to LB, but there’s also rumours that he might need an operation. Like Nightingale, it’s troubling when you’re hoping for two injury-striken players to help you out.
So, do we make final moves in the transfer market, while we still can? If so, who and in what position? Again, I’m not against the idea of a young(?) loanee in who might give us that extra bit of oomph.
Lest we forget that we admitted before Walsall that we’re light at the back anyway, and this might finally force our hand. One player may simply be enough for now, if he can make that difference between the ears.
As said earlier, there’s an assumption we’ve played the “top” teams, which may end up being a damaging underestimation. And already, we might have to rip up some best laid plans.
It’s taken four competitive games to expose our defence as L2 standard too often. It might improve, and if it does we can get away with it until January (where I think we’ll need to strengthen regardless), but the confidence in it has plummeted.
Seriously, you don’t trust it to keep a clean sheet at Sixfields, and at some point on Saturday you expect us to be behind. Just like last night…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Nice to see Rygas have their own reserved parking space. The perks of sponsorship (unless they’re doing our boilers of course). 2) A Vitesse Arnhem fan next to me. He thought we were cheated out of a penalty as well.
Anything else? I’ve written more than I intended to this morning, so I’ll use this bit for brief positivity.
Our midfield and forward line isn’t actually too bad – there were times in the second half where it looked like it was coming together a bit more.
It’s not perfect by any means, and we’ll finish nearer 5th from bottom rather than 5th from top. But I think we properly got going for the first time this campaign, and that might end up saving us.
Losing Lyle Taylor didn’t help, but Tom Elliott is currently playing like a man with many points to prove. He changed things last night, and will deserve his first goal when/if it finally comes.
The move up to this level was always going to be painful, probably more than we expected, and we’ll have to do some distinctly unL1-esque tactics for a little while yet.
But as said a couple of times during the summer, figure that out and this division is a good payoff…
So, was it worth it? At least Ryan Clarke played better. Some will still blame him, though.
In a nutshell: Still pointless.