The cold has decided to affect my brain, so this might make even less sense than usual…
I have to admit, before Magic Roundabout 0 The Wombles 0 I would have happily seen this game succumb to the cold.
Lying in a nice warm bed before an apparent pitch inspection appealed much more than it should.
That they did well to get the game on deserves immense credit, considering how dangerously icy the shaded bits of Swindon looked on the drive in.
It’s just a shame that the game could have been better.
My over-riding feeling post-match was how much it reminded me of Salford a few weeks back.
That too finished 0-0, and I think it reminds us again that especially up front, we’re still not quite the finished article.
Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t bad – at times we were pretty decent – but next month we’ll need to sign somebody different to score goals.
This was one of those games where you just wished we could put somebody on who wasn’t akin to a baby camel.
I think Hudlin even managed to lose out on a header when he made his cameo.
Before the game, your editor overheard two locals talking about Davison getting a hat-trick against the club he was on loan at last season.
Sadly, it didn’t happen, although Manbun did force a good save out of their keeper in the first half.
The longer the game went on, the more our inability to change things up front showed. Assal had one of his more selfish games, and nobody else did much of note up front.
Which let Swindon back into it. Though thankfully their ability to score goals matched ours…
And that’s really all worth writing about. It was the proverbial Good Point(TM), we’re still unbeaten in the League since Sutton.
Tzanev gets another clean sheet bonus, and we look a better side than we did earlier in the season.
JJ himself seems content, although he didn’t seem keen to put on the returning NYC unless we were “chasing the game”.
I don’t doubt he’ll start in the Mario Pizza Cup at Plymouth on Tuesday, alongside Gunter and Pearce.
And what were the odds of those two in particular being bench warmers in December…?
Plus points: We didn’t lose. Clean sheet. Defence looks well marshalled. No longer feeling we’re going backwards.
Minus points: We didn’t win. Tzanev’s kicking. Increasingly impotent up front.
The referee’s a…: Picture the scene – towards the end we start breaking, and put on some speed.
Paris (?) and one of their players collide with each other, but we continue to break. The official suddenly decides it’s a foul and books our player…
Them: I didn’t realise they were above us in the table, albeit just two points ahead, and just outside the playoffs.
They did prove that there’s nothing for us to fear in this division, if we strengthen in the right areas come January.
That said, they were getting stronger as we were getting more lethargic, and a sharper side might have killed us late on.
Crowd wise, they’re above us in the average attendances by about a thousand, and they’re not a small club (and neither are we).
Like us, they have “potential”, and I note that they’re going to start redeveloping their ground which really can’t come soon enough.
The concourse at half time was a joke, as everyone in there yesterday would have twigged after a minute.
Mind you, they didn’t seem much more organised than we are at times. As those collecting tickets beforehand found out.
At least the walking kept them warm.
As said above, kudos to them for getting the game on when so many other fixtures were called off.
Actually, it wasn’t as cold as one may have expected. At least it wasn’t until the sun went down…
Point to ponder: So, are we a “solid outfit” as JJ said post match?
I think you have to say that on recent form – we are. And that’s credit to all involved.
That hasn’t always been the case this season, needless to say. The less said about Sutton (and for much of Harrogate) the better, and I still remember the pre-game doom at Bradford.
But I no longer get those feelings of dread when a game kicks off, and that’s the best compliment I can give us right now.
Yesterday, I had a quiet confidence that we could do something. That’s not an act of delusion, nor misplaced arrogance.
I’m fully aware we need more strengthening, and we’ll need to know how to get back on track after a loss.
But simply the difference of stepping out onto the field without the inferiority complex that has dogged us for so long.
If that’s supporters saying that, you can bet the players themselves know it too.
They might well think that yesterday was two points lost, and they might be right. Should they believe that, then it proves their mentality is in the right place.
And really – isn’t that all we’ve wanted from AFCW for so long?
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The water boiling machine in the burger van outside not working because it was frozen. 2) When was the last properly cold day we’ve played a game? And not one of those ones where it’s actually warm(ish) but the on-field product drops your temperature.
Anything else? 529 of us in deepest Wiltshire yesterday, which isn’t too shabby.
Pretty vocal too, with a rendition of “Ring of Fire” but with a first line that no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t make out.
Some pretty creative other songs too, like the “Merry Christmas Everyone” tune featuring Ethan Chislett.
Oh, and “Santa is a paedo” before the game** to some poor guy dressed as Father Christmas on the field.
** – a thought struck me this morning. Remember when a couple of grounds – especially up north – used to feature cheerleaders with some *very* young girls involved?
All of a sudden, that stopped when Operation Yewtree came to the fore. Funny, that…
I heard our youth choir an hour before the game, whilst sitting in my car keeping warm, so it was clearly a pre-Xmas outing.
I mention all this not just because it made for a good atmosphere, but how we seem to be getting more new faces at away games.
Home fixtures have seen more and more newbies, for obvious reasons, but it seems they’re now starting to travel.
They’re certainly younger, not just the singers, and us going into League Two clearly hasn’t put them off.
While fixtures like Rochdale are for the older heads still, it won’t be too long before the juniors start becoming a large minority at away games.
Part of that is a natural progression. The elders stop going for various reasons and the newbies take their place. Twas ever thus.
But I think it’s also because of one of the often-overlooked aspects of being back at Plough Lane.
The demographic of home game attendees has changed, so why shouldn’t they start going to away fixtures too?
Swindon would have been a good fixture for many to go to a rare (or their first) game on the road.
We’re playing well, it’s not that difficult to get to, but it’s still a nice day trip.
A changing demographic has long been talked about in terms of how it will affect things, even down to how the club is run.
But if yesterday in Wiltshire is anything to go by, the change in those turning up to games is already happening…
So, was it worth it? It might have pleased people more than the World Cup.
In a nutshell: Brr.