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Rs and elbow

Still unbeaten in pre-season…

OK, there’s clearly some tightening up to do, especially at the back. But I can’t say Dave Clement 1 Stan Bowles 1 was a bad result one bit.

Or indeed, a bad performance.

Yeah, it’s a friendly and all that entails. It’s solely about fitness, even though you know it isn’t.

But I would have been disappointed if I walked out of Plough Lane afterwards seeing us lose.

Of course, we managed to fuck it up after about two minutes. Ryan Johnson underhit a back pass to Lyndon Dykes, who rounded Bass to slot home.

And I have to admit, there were times we were on the back foot a bit too much for my liking.

But we put a few crosses in, James Tilley forced Asmir “I trained with AFCW” Begovic into a decent save, and you wonder what we’d be like with the Iraqi Scouser back.

He played in the Brentford B game yesterday, by the way. Along with a couple of interesting names.

Ninetown’s equaliser was a thing of beauty though, and he’s marking his pre-season with some decent strikes.

One has to be careful of the Derek Duncan Syndrome, however.

For those who don’t know, which is just about all of you, the DDS is named after Mr D, a player from back in the non-league days.

He was the dog’s bollocks during the pre-season fixtures, yet became a pair of actual bollocks when the competitive games started.

Maybe AFCW itself suffers from DDS? It would explain a lot.

QPR made a load of changes, we put on Harry Pell, and maybe we could have won it in the end.

Oh, and Mr P was involved in a little “discussion” before injury time on the field. Of course he was.

So, what? Well, I think this is probably closer to what the starting XI at Grimsby is going to be like.

It was quite pleasing to see most of the players getting a full ninety minutes, and even more so when they didn’t look drained of energy at the end.

More on that a little bit later, but the back line does feel more comfortable with Bass in goal.

There were a couple of times where the defenders and keeper weren’t quite on the same wavelength, though there were also a couple of decent blocks too.

Reeves was captain, I think, and definitely sounded more vocal than previous skippers.

Davison needs to find the net though, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see him rotated up front.

That’s a bit picky though, and a credible draw against a Championship side isn’t to be sniffed at.

JJ himself appears content, and as a manager it must be good to see what you’re planning starting to come together.

Especially as half the support at your club wanted you out yesterday…

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Tilley getting in there. Ninetown’s goal. Looks more cohesive in parts.

Minus points: We didn’t win. Their goal. Second best at times.

The referee’s a…: Should one suggest an official is a bit biased during one of these sort of games?

Tough shit if not, I’ll happily suggest he favoured them more than he should.

Them: I covered QPR v Coventry at Loftus Road last season, and I noticed that seven of their players (Dunne, Dozzell, Field, Chair, Richards, Willock, Adomah) featured today.

They struggled that afternoon, and they might well struggle again this season.

Obviously, the main connection is Gareth Ainsworth, although his side hasn’t yet morphed into the Wycombe of the Championship.

In tribute, we played two tracks from his band. Now, I don’t think we play nearly enough rock over the PA, but they did sound a bit generic.

To put it another way, they sounded like the supporting act for Def Leppard when they play in Austria.

Speaking of throwbacks, their kit wasn’t much different from the last time they played at Plough Lane.

About 2000 of them turned up, and it was hard not to feel a little bit outnumbered, though a lot of them pissed off before the end. Not sure if I blamed them.

Point to ponder: As alluded to earlier, could our fitness already prove to be an asset next season?

One thing I’ve noticed this pre-season already is how we don’t seem to huff and puff. We’re looking a tad sharper, even during the Reading game in Spain.

I don’t doubt that’s deliberate, previously we’ve done splitting squads and only giving a 90-minute run-out in the last game.

It was telling – and pleasing – that most players were on for the full match and weren’t on their knees at the end.

This with two phoney war fixtures to come as well.

I do wonder with some of the collapses last season whether they were physically strong enough to see games through, which affects the mental side of things.

Today, we didn’t look in too much danger of letting it slip at the end. If that continues into the season proper, we might do all right…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) A bit of a Selhurst throwback with Last Train To Transcentral. And the Steptoe and Son theme tune. 2) The weather. It’s July, not November. 3) Have we got a new scoreboard? It seems wider. 4) Singing “Your support is fucking shit”. Serves us right that they scored soon afterwards.

Anything else? Helpfully, when I came to write this bit JJ told the SLP that we’ll need to send more out to get some in.

Who that will be I don’t know, although Brown and Woodyard featured against Brentford B, and Tzanev can’t even get a token half hour now.

I don’t doubt he’s looking at games like today, and Woking, and see what else he needs to do.

We can see the difference having a better keeper does already, one feels a bit less panicky with Bass between the sticks.

And the defence seems to think the same too.

But then, it was always down to patience, and perhaps Craig Cope wasn’t bullshitting when he talked about a massive squad change after all.

There’s always scrabbling around at this time of the season, at all clubs, and I do fully expect there to be some well-known departures.

Plus of course we still need more strength in depth. While it was good most players featured for ninety minutes the subs bench did seem a bit weak.

One does wonder if the send-out-to-bring-in suggests we’ve used up the transfer kitty, although nine players already may be a statement of intent…

So, was it worth it? You could have been watching the cricket instead.

In a nutshell: Enjoy your weekend.

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