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Hole In My Shoe (01h30am edition)

Because I refuse to do any “cobblers” related quips.

Yes, 98% of you will be reading this on Wednesday. Yes, it’s a proper SW19 report. Yes, I’m still trying to work out if the game was tonight or last night.

And yes, we’re in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

But I will remember Second Round 0 Third Round 1 for a long time to come. And not in a good way either.

I think the best – or kindest – way I can put that is “laboured”. As in, laboured in putting any sort of decent play in throughout the game.

It’s not on the OS as I type, but MR’s comment that this is the worst he’s seen us play since he’s taken charge isn’t wrong.

When you get players raising their arms at each other, because a pass has gone inbetween them and out of play, you know what a shitshow you’re watching.

We were well on course for a penalty shootout, which given the way the game went would have probably still be going on by the time you read this.

But cometh the hour, cometh the Hart…

I think the Livescore app listed his strike at 95 minutes, which was one minute over the allotted time.

It was the complete reverse of this time last week, when Gillingham fluked their equaliser. Northampton fans will be looking for their own canines to metaphorically boot.

And yes, it was completely, utterly, comprehensively and gloriously scabby.

Am I being a bit unfair? Watching the “highlights” from the game on Sky Sports, and despite being second best too often we had better chances than I remember at the time.

Mind you, we didn’t half ride our luck on occasions, and a good bit of desperate defending held us out on one occasion.

But the much improved Anthony Hartigan sent us into almost embarrassed raptures just as MR was starting to write his list of penalty takers.

It was a decent strike, helped by a goalkeeper who, well, I’m not sure what he did. Neither did he, I suspect.

Even the celebrations afterwards seemed a bit muted, probably out of shame and guilt as much as anything else.

I think my reaction afterwards was one of laughter, because of the sheer audacity of us winning in such a fashion.

Did we deserve it? No. Am I grateful for it? Absofuckinglutely.

I’m sure you’ve read enough on the game. So…

Plus points: We won. Hartigan’s strike. Clean sheet. In the next round.

Minus points: Most things between 19h45 and 21h35.

The referee’s a…: I didn’t take any notes, as I thought I could get away with an SW19 update on Friday.

Can’t think he did anything too much wrong. Or right, come to think of it.

Them: Must be absolutely sick right now, and I can’t say I blame them.

Clearly up for it, even if they lacked quality where it really mattered, and if anyone was going to get an injury time winner it would have been them.

But I suppose that’s why we’re in League One, and we survived at their expense last season.

The sharp eyed among you will have noticed Mitch Pinnock and Dylan Connolly playing for them.

I guess they would have been more than useful for us if we went down to L2 after all, but I think tonight showed why they both moved on.

For the first time since the Curzon Ashton game, I genuinely felt sorry for an opposing team we beat in the last minute.

Maybe they should be in the third round draw instead of ourselves? Then again, we deserved it purely for their “Are you MK in disguise?” chant.

As the photo above shows, we were in their scaffold stand, AKA the one they’ve spent about a decade trying to complete.

Shame, as I liked being behind the goal. Then again, they were probably trying to get us to pay their massive loan off…

Song sung blue: An impromptu chant that went thus :

“Paul Osew, Osew. He’s faster than me and you. He’s gonna score one or two. Paul Osew, Osew”.

I prefer that one to the ABBA “Voulez Vous” song, that sound a bit too camp for a football chant.

Also, “It’s here, it’s there, it’s every fucking where, scaffolding, scaffolding” and “Shall we build a stand for you?”.

It’s ironic that finally, we can take the piss out of other clubs for their own stadium issues…

Point to ponder: Are we suffering from a bit too much chopping and changing?

I understand fully why MR is having to do this, and I’m in no doubt once we don’t have a fixture grind we’ll understand each other more.

But so much of tonight was disjointed, and as I overheard at half time, we’re treating this like a PSF.

As much as I want all our players to succeed, Aaron Pressley struggled a bit too much tonight, and he’ll be playing second string to Ollie Palmer.

Had Assal, Woodyard and Nightingale played a part, I expect we would have won more comfortably.

But we didn’t have that luxury, and ultimately – the Carabao Cup plays second string to League One.

Last week against Gillingham proved what we can do when we’re on it. Unfortunately, tonight and Sunderland also showed what happens when we aren’t.

True, winning this game may kick us into life a little bit more, but there was a real sense we got away with it.

As stated in an earlier SW19 update, we’ve got to wait ten games before we can properly grasp where and what we are.

One thing is clear though – I don’t think our players will get an easy ride the next time they go into training…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Just how did we win that? 2) Getting into the third round of the League Cup for the first time in the AFCW era. And since 2000 generally. 3) Knowing we’ll either get the shittiest, most demoralising draw or the best one going. No inbetween. 4) It’s standard for a popular band to get played a lot when one of their members die, which is why the Rolling Stones “Start Me Up” got an airing. For this reason alone, I hope Mick Hucknall finds the secret to eternal life.

Anything else? For all the pisstaking of their stand-building exploits, Sixfields isn’t a bad place to watch a game.

Some would call it identikit, but at least it’s close to the action and if this was an FA Cup tie it would have been much more than the 302 we had tonight.

But after locating the nearest chippy beforehand, something struck me.

I know that when it comes to Merton (or Sutton, or Wandsworth, or even Kingston), there’s no such thing as an out-of-town (OOT) venue.

But if we’d been offered such a site within the past three decades, we would have snapped your hand off.

Now we’re back home, I’m glad that we were never in that position.

Your editor often works at Reading, and I’ve been to Derby in recent years. Both are OOT a la Sixfields, and I’m increasingly happy that PL is in a built-up area.

If one was to leave Northampton at 6pm, or the Madejski (I refuse to call it by its new sponsorship), or Pride Park, there’s hardly any post-game buzz.

Why? Because people are too busy trying to get transport away afterwards. They don’t want to hang around too long.

If you’re in a more urban conurbation, there’s, well, life. If the club pub is shut, you can walk to a nearby one and hope they let you in.

Or you can raid a nearby offie, or grab some grub while you’re there.

Tonight, one could have gone to a McDonalds, or KFC, or some chain restaurants. But not much else unless you were prepared to walk to it.

All these OOT venues are OK if you drive, but many of them are a nightmare if you don’t. And even getting away afterwards took ages.

Indeed, while finances and pragmatism ultimately rules, you think how clubs try and move back to more built-up areas if they can.

We did, ditto Brentford. Spurs remained at WHL, and even as low down as Leamington (hi Pete) looking to move much nearer their own town centre.

You only go OOT if you have to now, it was a 1990s fashion that kind-of works, but you are often left with the feeling that they’re in the wrong place…

So, was it worth it? I’m writing this at 01h30. Even then, the answer is still “no”.

In a nutshell: We’re going to win the Carabao Cup.

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