Six games without a defeat…
So, that’s it then. Goodbye pre-season, and the faux excitement it conjures up.
Farewell to games where we don’t go at 100%, featuring players who are still trying to get their fitness – at least, the ones you get to see again.
Barring some sneaky training ground game against Fulham stiffs on Tuesday, the next fixture we play actually matters.
And should we lose at Blundell Park, watch any and all optimism disappear as quickly as it came.
Still, Stones Bitter 0 Kidney Stones 2 isn’t a bad way to go into Grimsby in six days time.
We looked mostly comfortable throughout, possibly could have scored a couple more, and almost gave a sense we’re ready for competitive action.
I said “almost”.
Maybe that’s a bit unfair to say that, as this reminded me of those Conference era pre-season matches, where we used to go to Woking and won about 3-0 with Kedwell netting.
What was clear yesterday was how much fitter we look.
Currie and Ninetown especially looked like they had something about them, and the former’s cross for Bugiel’s goal was something.
The header wasn’t bad either. And when was the last time we scored a similar goal?
I think we could have scored a couple more after that, we were certainly pressing – which is definitely a good sign.
I went to their tea bar outside towards the end, where they had a couple of dangerous set pieces. Obviously nothing happened.
Although upon my return, what did occur was one of their players getting stretchered off at half time.
It’s never nice at the best of times, and it manages to be even more so at a PSF.
I’ll be honest, I can’t remember much of the second half. We didn’t really look in danger, and we got the double treat of not only an AAH prod but a scramble as well.
Two old skool goals. Maybe 2023/24 has a bit of promise after all?
I think JJ can be happy with the last month of games, and he seemed content in his post-match comments.
And he touched on something that you might not have twigged until now – the past six weeks have flown by.
Again, that’s a good sign. I’ve experienced PSF campaigns where they’ve dragged, and we seem to have got the balance right this time round.
The only disappointment was Woking, and even then the wind played a big role in that.
Our record has been played 6, won 4, drawn 2, lost 0, 9 goals for and 1 against (and that was a defensive mistake).
If only we could have that run in the league…
Plus points: We didn’t lose. Looked comfortable and fit. Bugiel’s header. AAH off the mark. Crossing into box. Looking more solid than we have for a while.
Minus points: Wasteful after going 1-0 up. Not much happened after the interval.
The referee’s a…: Towards the end of the first half, the lino gave a goal kick to us but the ref gave Wealdstone a corner.
Them: I think many forget they finished mid-table in the National League last season, so replacing Southend with them wasn’t a bad move.
From memory, the last time we faced them was in Turdeyland, and I definitely remember watching us put about five or six past them at KM.
I had some horrible bug that very evening, which meant I had to sit down, so that’s my abiding memory of that game.
Grosvenor Vale is the sort of venue we go to in the first round of the FA Cup, where we put on a horseshit performance and are lucky to come away with a draw or win.
That said, it was quite pleasant to go to yesterday, although apparently it can get a little bit tasty with the Shrimpers and Daggers visiting.
It’s Ruislip Manor’s old ground, and it’s definitely ripe for more redevelopment if the need arises.
It’s easy to forget that Wealdstone left Lower Mead (their old ground) in 1991 – the same year we were shunted to SE25. I think their ground issues might have been similar to ours.
I wonder if they got as much grief for taking over their current venue as we did groundsharing in KT1?
For those who like alternative history, one wonders what would have happened if they got promoted automatically into the EFL in 1985…
Point to ponder: Are our transfer dealings over?
In a week that saw Woodyard go to York, I noticed that Lee Brown was nowhere to be seen yesterday.
No word yet whether he’s got the same “injury” that other now-departed players had, but you can’t help think there’s something in that.
If there’s one negative feeling I have from yesterday, it’s that I still think we’re a striker short and maybe need depth at the back.
We still have a month to remedy that, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we make more additions a couple of games in.
But it’s already a massive positive that we’ve got most of our dealings done with a proper pre-season behind us.
This is the time where it’s easy to scramble around for somebody – anybody – who is available, and I’m glad we’re not doing that this year.
I’m not going to tempt fate with injuries, but reading around this morning it seems like other L2 sides have been struck with hobbling players.
Obviously that will curse us now I’ve said that, but just for once – can we have a bit of luck over them…?
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) A police riot van at the ground. Why? 2) Speaking of things that make no sense, it was a 1pm kickoff. 3) Dave Beasant behind me in the first half. 4) Manbun adding plaits to his hair. Deserves to be on the bench for that alone.
Anything else? I’m not sure what else to add now.
I’ll try and do an update on Friday (emphasis on “try”) as JJ’s doing a Meet The Manager thing on Thursday.
I do think hostility to him personally has died down a fair bit, the way we’ve approached pre-season and our transfers has helped.
I know PSFs are solely about fitness, but you also want a good vibe from them. And I think that’s what we’ve got this time round.
We need more goals, granted, and I wonder about our defence if it’s put under sustained pressure.
But aside from that, I’m struggling to think what we’ve done wrong in these more-important-than-you-think fixtures.
I reserve the right to join the AFCW Doom Cult three games in when we’ve been spanked by Grimsby, Coventry and Wrecsam.
But maybe I won’t need to…
So, was it worth it? It’s always nice to win.
In a nutshell: The season really does start here.