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A Valiant Effort

Yeah, it’s a slow march in March. But we’re still moving.

If things had been slightly different in the past few weeks, we could have been planning trips to Mansfield, Harrogate and Crawley already.

We may yet need to do so, but for now, we’re still alive.

Should we be a League One side again next season, games like yesterday could be another one where you look back on and pinpoint why.

Going behind (twice), then equalising (twice), then by all accounts looking pretty decent and maybe even getting the win is the kind of performance that keeps you up.

The usual “we only got one point and we need three” comments still arise, of course.

But as said on here previously, you grab any point you can and worry about the rest later.

That’s partly because there’s still plenty of weaknesses, especially at the back, and if we were that capable of going on a barmstorming run – shouldn’t we have had it by now?

Mind you, if we are due one – now’s not a bad time to do it…

I’ve looked at the goals for the first time, and while Longman had his best game for a while (and could have easily ballsed up his first goal), it’s a shame that we’re only starting to look like we can pass properly about two months too late.

Should we go down – or even if we stay up – then we may be wondering if we shouldn’t have changed managers a month earlier.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with either of their efforts, to be honest, and with our backline it always seems two steps forward and one back.

Not having Darnell Johnson makes a difference, and it’s clear that whatever happens next season, a legitimately good defender is a must.

Just as we should front-load our transfer budget next season to get two good strikers, we should do likewise at the back.

Many words have been written about our defenders, and the goals we’ve conceded this season. Most of them not particularly good.

So therefore, it is an immense pleasure to see another side play like a complete bunch of windowlickers.

Thank you Charlton for our second goal. It’s a thing of majestic beauty and simplicity.

Granted, it might not quite be on the par of this iconic moment at Dumbarton v Forfar, but for once a bad defensive error at our games isn’t down to one of our lot.

Lucky? Yeah, but so what if it was? If we’re to stay up we’ll need a bit of it, and we should take all of it.

I’m sick to the back teeth of games getting decided, and us losing points, because we’ve gifted the opposition goals.

So when we’re finally on the right side of one, I’m going to take it and embrace it.

And this week is a good time not only to relive our second equaliser again, but to take stock and have a breather.

Ordinarily, I hate the international weekends, especially when we’re playing, but this time round it’s done us a favour.

Because Rochdale somehow have two international players, they get to call our planned game for Tuesday off.

And that’s come at exactly the right time for us, because we need that downtime.

MR will be very happy to work all week on the training ground for once, and get off the Sat-Tue-Sat-Tue grind.

We tend to get one every February anyway, but since the start of 2021 (if you include the Mario Pizza games) it’s been evil.

We had time off between Wigan away on the 6th February to Peterborough away on the 20th, but that’s all we’ve had since the start of this year.

It’s unsustainable at the best of times, not helped with weather issues, the Rona** and a bizarre refusal of the authorities not to extend the season by a week or two.

** – anyone noticed that hardly any games get called off for outbreaks now, and haven’t for some time?

I’m sure there’ll be sporadic ones still to come, but like the country itself – it gets harder and harder to justify restrictions.

But it’s to everyone’s credit that we’ve finally got a breather, and we’ve come out of this run relatively unscathed.

As said at the beginning, we could have easily been looking at a run of games that could see us freefalling to League Two.

We’re now more difficult to beat, actually able to get points, and that all-elusive win doesn’t look quite so out-of-reach now.

The likes of Piggy could do with a rest, and after our latest Most Important Game Of The Season (TM) we get into the Good Friday fixture.

So we get another few days off before the final grind.

I wonder if that explains Robbo’s comments on the OS:

I told them ‘you’ve set a bit of a standard now’ in terms of the intensity off the ball, as well as a lot of the things on the ball, but it means nothing. They’ve got to come into work every single day and deliver those levels again.

Bold bit mine.

I take that to mean “you’re not playing a game but you’re not having a week off”.

I don’t doubt that there’s going to be a lot of hard work on the training ground this week, but it’s just as important to work smart.

Robbo’s post-match comments generally seem quite technical at times, and as an SW19 reader pointed out to me last night – psychologically technical as well.

We’re not very good, but we might be seeing the first real signs that something is getting through to these players.

Like the rest of us, they probably thought they were doomed when we lost to Franchise. Perhaps now they don’t?

If so, and with games like yesterday proving what they can do, the last 11 games aren’t foregone conclusions after all.

We do need a win though. And next Saturday wouldn’t be a bad time to get one…

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