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Strike Farce

Or in other words – normal service has resumed again.

I suppose the good thing about Conference South 1 League Two 0 is that it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know.

And by “know”, I mean what we’ve sussed out long before last season ended.

Which on a sweltering day on the south coast is the main takeaway – and something that is causing doubt to set in.

This really was the game of two halves cliche, something that JJ himself picked up in his interview**.

** – note to whoever does these post-game videos – get a separate microphone with a windscreen. Even this club can afford one of those off Amazon.

More on what he said later. But we were missing McCormick, Lee Brown and one or two others, presumably because of injury and nothing to do with the trip to Cheshire in the week.

The first 45 minutes had the kind of starting XI I would expect a bit more in normal games.

The Bulgarian Kiwi, Gunter, Marsh, Assal, Chislett, Pearce and – if his crossing at set-pieces is anything to go by – Bendle.

And yes, the Bendle It Like Beckham quip stopped being funny as soon as the first recorded saying of it happened.

Triallist 1 also played, or Josh Parker to 99% of us. It’s interesting he’s still around, and even went on the pissup training camp in Cheshire.

To be honest, I think he might be worth a punt if we also sign two other strikers. He wasn’t afraid to have a strike on goal, even if opposition defenders annoyingly got in the way.

I wouldn’t break the bank for him, and I certainly wouldn’t make him our main forward.

But he’ll be more of a come-off-the-bench-for-something different type player. And they’re always useful to have.

One other thing I’ve noticed about our triallist is something I also twigged about him at Bedford last weekend.

Namely, he already looks part of the squad when you see him doing warm-ups and walking back to the coach.

It’s only a minor observation, and it’s not something that should make or break us signing/releasing him.

But when managers talk about having the “right” players, it might be what they mean.

A lot of our fans don’t seen keen on Parker, to put it mildly. But he looked like Mo Salah compared to what our second half strikers gave us.

After the break, it was Broom, Nightingale, PK, Zach, and a couple of triallists who’s identities I’ve already forgotten.

Put it this way – Eastbourne had an attack on goal about two minutes into the second period, almost scored from it, and it didn’t get much better.

We did have a couple of occasions where we attacked. But we looked powder-puff, to the point where even I would have had stronger shots on goal.

Then Eastbourne scored late on, and you could have headed back to the bar. You wouldn’t have missed anything.

So, what? To be honest, I don’t know – I guess this must be one of those all-about-fitness type friendlies you hear about.

I fully expect Farnborough to be similar to yesterday, unless we snap up at least one new forward between now and then.

And yes, I’ll be there. I get the feeling a lot of other people won’t be though…

Plus points: It was a nice day out.

Minus points: We lost. Second half. As eunuch-esque up front as ever.

The referee’s a: Bit of a hard-nut. When the players went off for drinks break, he didn’t touch a sip of anything.

Them: When I saw Chris Whelpdale playing for them, I had a bad feeling. Which got worse when he scored their goal.

They were lively, caused us a couple of issues in the first half and too many more for my liking in the second.

Did we do due diligence in selecting this game though, with their 3G pitch that didn’t look the best?

I know we eschew a lot of places for PSFs because the pitch/facilities are dodgy, and this might have been an oversight.

Other than that, a nice venue to go to. Plenty enjoying the alcohol, and a tenner wasn’t a bad entry price either.

I’ve been to EBFC about two or three times, and not once have I ever gone down to the seafront.

I expect for many if not most, going there afterwards was the highlight of their day.

Point to ponder: I wonder if JJ has already thrown a gauntlet down after yesterday?

His post match OS comments (link above) ties up with his Friday update about being patient with new signings, especially as there’s places up for grabs.

He seems confident that there’s new players coming in, it’s possible one might even be signed already.

And apparently not Josh Parker either.

He’s probably happy with the most senior players (Assal, McCormick, Marsh, the ones he’s already signed), but not so impressed with some of the others.

A lot of those who featured in the second half yesterday probably won’t be visible too much next season.

I doubt if we’ll see the two particular triallists again (watch them now sign) and I doubt if he was impressed with Zach.

We’re fast coming into the stage where we have to start snapping up players now.

Partly because we need to fill in some more positions properly, but also because our wish-list starts dwindling.

I’ve long expected a loan striker, but I’m also convinced we’re waiting to see what we get for Rudoni.

The rumour mill is churning away as we speak on him, though as usual treat with signficiant amounts of sodium.

Your editor still believes he’ll be gone for anything above £650k, and we might even accept slightly less than that if there’s decent add-ons as well.

It might be counter-intuitive to say this, but sometimes it’s better to accept £50k less up front…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The Danish flag with the AFCW badge on it. Never seen that before. 2) Some Eastbourne Boro fan had a drum. At a PSF.

Anything else? I didn’t realise until this morning, but 20 years ago today was the first game of the AFCW era.

Time flies, and all that.

The aim two decades ago was to get back home eventually (done), get our EFL place back (also done), and – while we wouldn’t openly admit it – play Slutton in a league game at some point.

We get to do that this season. Though I bet nobody at GGL that evening would believe it would be in League Two.

I’m sure everyone there has their own memories of that evening, and it’s easy to forget how far we’ve actually come.

And while we angst over lack of strikers this season, along with the first relegation of the AFCW era, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that we were literally nothing just two decades previously.

The truth is, twenty years on we’ve still got a lot to learn as a club. The upcoming season will be another major schooling, because we have to reverse the downward momentum.

AFCW is still immature and amateurish in some of our thinking, and it’s only life’s experiences that will twat that out of us.

We can console ourselves in 2022/23 that we have adults as the coaching staff, and in Mick Buckley an adult making the very important decisions.

That has not always been the case in recent years, as we’ve brutally found out.

The club has to deal with increased expectations, that we should be pushing for a return to League One.

And we also have to make sure we don’t go to Eastbourne Borough in a league fixture…

So, was it worth it? If you had a barbeque yesterday afternoon, you had the better deal.

In a nutshell: Deja vu all over again.

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