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And another first round exit in the League Cup…

Actually, after Plough Lane 1 Lionel Road 3, it would probably be unfair to label it a failure. Unlike the Peterborough game last season, where we were let down by a completely avoidable fuckup, last night was simply a case of us running out of steam.

Maybe it was that one less PSF game catching up with us a bit? Maybe it was simply one of those things that happens to an ordinary L1 side against a Championship outfit? Whatever it was, we gave a good account of ourselves but we’re still out.

The first half was a strange one. They were on top, yet we were somehow ahead. I saw a replay courtesy of an SW19 reader at half time for the bar queue, and the goal didn’t look out of place in a compilation of Ryman League goals.

Not that I’m complaining, of course…

Strangely enough, I think we got better as the game went on. Which is why them equalising managed to be very annoying (haven’t seen the goal, but it’s hard not to think we should have cleared it earlier).

And yes, we could have won it after that. If only we could have kept at least one of those follow-up efforts about five feet further to the ground. Mind you, George Long saved us a couple of times as well.

So when extra time came, we looked increasingly dead on our feet. And their second goal seemed to kill us – one of our youngsters was getting a bollocking from NA during that weird half-time-in-extra-time period which I’m not sure officially exists in the rules of the game.

But that second ET period just felt, well, flat. I don’t think we deserved to lose 3-1 in the end, but if they hadn’t got their second goal just before the break, they would have probably ended up getting one in the final fifteen minutes.

I guess our aim by then was to get to penalties. But like Kaid Mohammed at Eastlands all those years ago, we might not have had much strength to kick them.

So, what? Well, it’s falling out of the League Cup at the first hurdle yet again – the second round clearly doesn’t exist in this tournament. At least Fleetwood are as shit as we are at them.

We started the game with a 17 year old in Hartigan, and we finished the game with him too. And he certainly didn’t look out of his depth. Whether the other yoof teamers who came on are quite ready yet, I don’t know, but I can see why NA is still reluctant to play them.

Appiah looks a bit off the pace, though like all strikers he’ll probably need a goal or two – he’s certainly not nearly in the Tyrone Barnett situation at this moment. Whether the rest of the squad will be creaking for Saturday remains to be seen, though Abdou and Trotter might have made more of a difference last night.

But the best positive from last night is that we didn’t look outclassed, and indeed with a bit more match fitness and against L1 sides might cause a few problems to sides this campaign. I don’t doubt we tried to come back, it was more a case of that we couldn’t…

Plus points: We didn’t disgrace ourselves. Hartigan. Long. Having chances to progress. Taking it to extra time.

Minus points: We lost. Ran out of steam. Three defensive lapses. Still failing in this tournament.

The referee’s a…: Got a couple of offsides given against us, which perhaps shouldn’t have been, but don’t want to send him to North Korea with a US flag this morning.

Them: Your editor covers a fair few games at Griffin Park, and Brentford aren’t a bad club to emulate – they bounce around L1 and the Championship, although they were nearly shunted off to Woking around the time the whole Franchise shit started.

They’re not badly supported, they’re pretty decent to watch and though they made a lot of changes, there were some familiar names like Harlee Dean, Nico Yennaris and Josh McEachran. And the guy who scored their second was last year’s EFL Young Player of the Year…

So if nothing else, it proves the level we’ll need to step up to.

Decent turnout from them, and like ourselves – they badly need their new ground and are wading through treacle to get it. Apparently, it sounds like they might have to reconfigure their new place already, and to quote somebody last night – we’ll be in our new ground quicker than they will.

Point to ponder: Is George Long the keeper we’ve needed for a good long time? He wasn’t at fault for any of the goals, he saved a few more, and you feel confident in him – certainly in a way that you weren’t 100% with Shea.

And to think we had Ryan Clarke and Ben Wilson not so long ago.

You can sense our defenders have confidence in him already, which is half the battle, and we’ll need to rely on that a bit this season. One wonders what would have happened already if Ashley Bayes had over-ruled NA in keeping our former #1…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The bar queues seemed especially slow last night. I don’t drink there except for evening games, but it seems from regulars that it was quite bad. Was it new staff? Or something else entirely? 2) 1800 or so of us was quite low, but then if you look at League Cup round one attendances even last night, they’re generally piss poor anyway. Which does make the time to get a drink even more strange.

Anything else? Yep – it seems that the mythical beast called the s106s are going to be signed in the “next few weeks“, according to Erik Samuelson.

Obviously, it’s August and people are away (and yes, they should be chained to their desks until the whole thing is signed off – no going home in the evening, either), but it seems like finally we can see the home straight in this, if we’re not already on it.

I don’t doubt that there are “five extremely detailed appendices”, and once they get completed and we get to read them, we’ll need a week just to get past the index.

Reason I mention this bit, apart from the fact it’s a tangible update, is that we might not need to get them signed PDQ anyway – it’s a myth that we have to wait until they’re signed before we knock down the current carbuncle.

The dog track owners can do that even before a stroke of a pen, but it appears that a) we haven’t been able to touch the site until August anyway, because not all previous tenancies have expired until this month, and b) the first thing that needs to be done is to clear the asbestos.

The issue there, apparently again, isn’t so much removing it (though that’s not a five minute job), but finding someone somewhere to dispose of it. It’s not particularly nice stuff to breathe in, and it sounds like it will take three months before we can even send the first bulldozer in.

So there’s no reason to get the s106s anything but legally water-tight because of time reasons – we can’t build until they’re signed and the judicial review period passes, but we can’t do that until March/April anyway.

I know “next few weeks” is suitably vague, but that would take us until September or October, and it’s not going to affect our timeline too much. Remember, this time last year when we ballsed up against Posh, we were still having to write in to Saqid Khan.

And besides, rather next few weeks than next few months. Or years…

So, was it worth it? Dunno.

In a nutshell: Roll on the league games.