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Sheer Terra

This headline is to be said out loud in a south London accent…

Yes, I’m back. And yes, what an excellent game to return to, if your criteria is the ability to depress yourself.

This was dire. Awful. Beyond redemption. Akin to a self-leucotomy without painkillers. And that was just the weather.

I could cop out here and say there are no words to describe Bottom of Conference South 1 League Two Middling 1, but actually there are plenty of mots.

It’s just that most of them involve swearing. Or words referencing various body parts, or objects, and orifices.

Probably both.

First things first – we’re still in the second round draw tomorrow. We don’t deserve to be, but we are.

To slightly paraphrase what this place said after beating Curzon Ashton almost six years ago – we fell into a barrel of thumbs and almost ended up sucking a tit.

We can be thankful this morning that we’re not Cheltenham, who lost to seventh tier Alvechurch.

Nor are we Lincoln, Sutton or Doncaster, who managed to go out to Chippenham, Farnborough and King’s Lynn respectively.

We should be in that motley little group. But we’re not.

Yet it all started so well for us yesterday, being on the front foot. And when Assal finished after about five minutes, that should have been the game there and then.

Perhaps we decided the contest was over? Without getting the second goal that would have killed the team currently bottom of the National League South?

I’ll repeat that in case you’ve blocked that out of your mind – the team currently bottom of National League South.

Who have won just one league game and drawn two this season, after playing fourteen matches.

Just thought I’d mention it.

That’s not the National League proper either. It’s the regional one where we played the likes of the Axewounds, Chelmsford and Team Bath.

We stopped being a remotely competent football team, and they started to visibly grow in confidence.

And there was nothing we did to stop that.

We shouldn’t have been happy to see half time, but I’m glad it came, as surely we would snap back into life again?

Well, we didn’t. In fact, it managed to get worse. Tzanev had to pull off a very good save, before the Terras got a free kick on the edge of the box.

The rest is painful history. And what’s worse of all is, they thoroughly deserved it.

As they would have deserved going ahead, which they didn’t. Presumably down to their own fatigue and perhaps them bewildered how bad we were.

I’ve seen more games this season than I anticipated, and this was definitely the worst of the lot.

I can’t comment on what Guiseley was like last season, but I’m reliably informed this was close to it.

The Bulgarian Kiwi couldn’t kick. Our passes were either too short or too long, and wouldn’t have reached another AFCW player anyway.

We got robbed in the middle far too easily, and if we were still playing now we’d have gone 2-1 down if Weymouth had left the field on 90 minutes.

I should have felt relieved on the full time whistle, but like most around me I felt embarrassed instead.

It was mostly abuse from our lot, certainly a lot of booing, all of which was fully and totally justified.

A few people clapped, which is something I’ll never understand after such whale wank. Maybe they’re the types who think only positive encouragement is “true” supporting?

Personally, I think they’re the worst fans of the lot, because they’re happy to accept any old shit that’s served up.

So, what? Well, after driving back past in vile conditions, past all those Dorset towns with “puddle” in their name, I was sort-of wondering what JJ was going to say afterwards.

And he said our players need to demand more of each other. Which was a bit, well, I don’t know.

To be fair, the video** is “better” than the transcription suggests, our current manager is clearly annoyed.

** – if anyone from the club’s media department is reading this – if you have a microphone that cuts out the background noise, put it in front of the person you’re interviewing in future.

I did notice there was visible frustration (or tension) between our players the more the game went on.

I’m also very aware that what any manager says on an official media outlet is for public consumption, and the real comments made are behind closed dressing room doors.

Your editor has been in press conferences with Patrick Vieira, Paul Ince and Ryan Lowe in the last 48 hours, and I bet they only ever said 10% to the media as they do to their players.

But the knives will be out for him again, from those who have decided he’s got to go.

They’ll get their wish eventually, even if right now I don’t think changing our manager will do much good.

It’s a profound rebuild that we have to do, deeper than we first thought, and there’s still a lot wrong with the squad.

Yesterday was the most painful performance so far, but we’ve got a second chance. We don’t deserve one.

Plus points: We didn’t go out of the cup.

Minus points: Everything after Assal’s goal.

The referee’s a…: Again, the usual not-his-fault-we-were-so-shit but maybe he could have given us a couple more offsides.

That said, before half time there was a clear handball by somebody in our area, so maybe we should all keep quiet.

Them: Bottom of the National League South, eh?

Made us look like dicks, and can justifiably be a bit disappointed they didn’t knock us out yesterday.

I’m seriously glad the FA Cup still has replays, because they wouldn’t have needed penalties yesterday.

I wonder if they might have felt they’ve missed their best chance of progressing to round two? For our sakes, hopefully so.

Former AFCW keeper Zaki Oualah was in goal for them, and beforehand he felt he didn’t get a fair crack of the whip with us.

I suppose him being 5ft 9 and not even able to catch Covid in a hospital might have had something to do with it.

Bit of a step back in time to the 2008/09 season for us, and back then going down to Weymouth on a sunny day would have been a good away day.

Their fans seemed friendly enough, and at least they got a good laugh at our expense.

Their floodlights were a bit weird – about four or five bulbs on all of the pylons, three of which pointed downwards and the other one/two outwards.

Seemed to be effective though, as unfortunately we were able to see the game.

Point to ponder: We can’t play any worse in the replay, surely?

Actually we can, and that’s the worrying thing about this side right now.

There’s definitely something missing about us at the moment, even if we’re unbeaten in five (?) games in all competitions right now.

That run will end against Leyton Orient on Tuesday, and that will be a heavy defeat if we’re even twice as good as we were yesterday.

I know we were missing more experienced heads like Lee Brown and Alex Pearce yesterday, and the need for somebody to grab hold of us to get a grip was obvious.

There were too many lost souls out there yesterday, and we nearly came a cropper as a result.

I also think we approached the game in the wrong way, as we tried to play too much football without taking heed of a) the weather, b) the opponents, and c) our lack of football ability.

How do we remedy that? We’ll definitely need to give whoever is in charge more than £1.50 for January transfers, and if I’m being honest – JJ is as good as anyone for that right now.

I think he knew what he needed as far back as the last transfer window. And for reasons we can accurately guess he didn’t get the final players he wanted/needed.

We’ve still got a number of games before then, and we’ve got to make sure we’re not circling around the relegation plug hole.

Yes, that’s totally at odds with the playoff aim that was set out, and some of that is the fault of JJ.

But it’s not all his doing…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The post game “discussion” by the unofficial coach. More lively than our performance, anyway. 2) Bumping into our new MD and Ivor Heller at Fleet services. Welcome to AFCW, Mr Macklin. 3) Disturbing sign on M25 saying “Oncoming Vehicle”. I know that we were shit yesterday, but that’s a bit of a drastic over-reaction.

Anything else? Speaking of over-reaction, maybe we could be in danger of doing exactly that over Weymouth.

It is the FA Cup, and there’s plenty of games in each round that are like the horseshit we served up by League sides.

I mentioned the teams knocked out above, and while I haven’t been on their forums I bet they’ll be even more scathing than us.

Some highly-paid sports psychologist could work out why League sides often play poorly at this stage, but I reckon it’s down to not being at full throttle.

If we were yesterday, we would have won about 4-0, and 99 times out of 100 we’d do exactly that.

I expect we’ll have a bad week now, because Orient and Salford will beat us, and you can imagine the reaction by about Wednesday.

Yesterday was a very bad day at the office, and people are always going to react badly to poor displays regardless of who you support.

We could – and should – be better, and there’s no excuses for Weymouth. But we also might not be as bad as we think.

Before your editor went to the US, we played well enough at Rochdale and only let ourselves down with poor concentration after going 2-0 up.

There were good reports coming out of the Crewe and (eventually) Harrogate games, and this with the same bunch of players who shit the bed in Dorset.

This is going to sound a tad hypocritical from SW19, and I’m guilty as charged, but perhaps we over-analyse things at this club too much.

The games, the team, the squad, the manager, the club’s structure, the ownership, even the amount we make on bar takings.

Sometimes, bad things happen and there’s not a lot you can do about that.

Some of the reaction we’ll get this minute is the trauma from last season still hanging over us, which is something we’ve not yet properly dealt with.

But our fanbase is uptight at the best of times. And as the upcoming Dons Trust elections will prove, even neuroscientists don’t dissect things as much as we do…

So, was it worth it? *snorts in derision*

In a nutshell: The magic of the cup, indeed…

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