All’s well that ends well…
After what has been a pretty lousy few days, Blue and Yellow 2 Yellow and Blue 1 ended up being the reward for going through all that.
And boy, have we been through the emotional wringer.
Take a bow Ronan Curtis, who is clearly not fully match fit/sharp, but was in exactly the right place at the right time to turn this from a disgruntled weekend into a great one.
Yes, Mansfield had ten men (and what the hell happened when one of their bench got sent off?). Yes, we relapsed into what we were too often last season.
And yes, that 96th minute winner felt as good as it could be.
Maybe we were still licking our post-Franchise wounds, but this wasn’t quite the “big reaction” we were promised, at least for the most part.
We were OK, although I think today we’ll see what life post-AAH is going to be like (rumours he’s going to Ipswich are becoming more credible).
I managed to miss Bugiel’s goal, because I was getting a nice cup of tea**, but that’s par for the course with me.
** – from the coffee stall near the pie stall, where I had to wait for the
barista server to do the time-consuming rigmarole of frothing the milk etc.
I know half our lot think they’re in some Hoxton bistro coffee shop, where the milk is probably filtered through a thirty-year old newspaper, but all you need is some Nescafe instant.
Just think, Bugiel is now by far and away the most popular Lebanese person ever to be associated with Wimbledon.
Then again, the Lebanese mafia would be more popular than Hammam. Probably wouldn’t have fucked us up so much either.
Really though, in the second half we should have been out of sight. We were passing well, looking threatening, and it was only a matter of time before we scored again.
You know the drill.
Literally a second before Mansfield equalised, the bloke beside me said “let’s not have the sucker punch”. So we can blame him.
After that, I’m not quite sure what happened. All I can gather is that we lost our way, had to make some changes, and decided that we’d defend against ten men.
Our defence looked a bit ragged, certainly. Mind you, with Brown playing a rare cameo, Biler and PK suspended, Johnson injured and Pearce being old, one perhaps shouldn’t be surprised.
I have to admit, there was a bit of me that fully expected to be writing about a 2-1 defeat now, and I’m more relieved that they weren’t given a penalty.
When injury time came though, we started to snap into life again. Whether it was realising we were spluttering against ten men or not I don’t know.
But in the last minute, one more run to the byline, one more cross in, and there was Ronan Curtis on hand to poke it in and send us all into joyful bedlam.
I haven’t seen the replay of the goals yet, but I’m convinced it went in slow motion. Though probably not as quick as even that.
Not sure anyone cared though. I didn’t. And while I think we could have kept the ball just a bit better for that final minute – our shoulders just feel so much better without that weight on it.
Seriously, I think it was just relief as much as anything. Not just the Franchise debacle, but we haven’t won at all in 2024.
Reading JJ’s post-match comments, I think he’ll be as relieved as anyone. The usual suspects were sharpening their knives for him, and this sort of result always makes the evening better.
I think we’ve got enough to avoid the post-January slump this time, but I’d still prefer it confirmed in front of me.
So, what? Well, it wasn’t a classic (except the ending), but these kind of wins really do boost the confidence.
We can score without the Iraqi Scouser, and as somebody said after the game – it wasn’t too long ago when we would have lost today.
Granted, it won’t mean much if we don’t follow up on it. But this weekend has become a lot nicer all of a sudden…
Plus points: We won. Ronan Curtis’ foot. KJG. Bugiel’s goal. First win all year. Attacking at the end.
Minus points: Their goal. Not doing enough against ten men.
The referee’s a…: Sent off one of their players on the field, then another one off it. And didn’t give them a penalty at the end.
Wasn’t the best referee, it has to be said, though I’m glad his decisions seemed to favour us today.
Gave out eleven cards in total, though amazingly none for Harry Pell.
Them: Perhaps we might be a bit harsh on ourselves, because they’re in the automatic promotion places.
That said, considering they are – I wasn’t massively impressed by them. I think they drew against Sutton while we were getting our bottys spanked at Frenzyville.
Their fans thought the ref was going to join in with our celebrations, though with some of the horror decisions we’ve been on the wrong end of, I’m just glad we benefitted for once.
About 900 or so of them heading to t’smoke, and I can’t imagine they had a fun day in the end.
Point to ponder: I see we’re currently eighth, so perhaps the question should be asked – are we playoff bound?
Funnily enough, results like today don’t decide it. It’ll be the Doncaster/Crewe/Newport type games that will be crucial.
What we saw today was a Gordon who impressed until he got kicked off the field (including one where he ended up on the side hoarding – welcome to senior football, son) and who could be promising.
We also saw a Curtis who clearly isn’t fully match fit/sharp, but has enough about him to be in the right place at the right time.
And boy, did he enjoy the larging it up afterwards.
We have Bugiel who can score, Reeves and Little who are doing their usual, and maybe even Manbun could have a part to play?
As somebody pointed out about him – he got a sending off in our favour and injured another. Which is all well and good, but I’d prefer it if he scored goals.
To be honest, as good as today turned out, I don’t think we will be. Our defence looks weak, and we keep getting injuries/suspensions.
Lee Brown returned and was OK enough, but I wouldn’t want to rely on him too much now.
I suppose really what we want to see from now until May is not to freefall like we usually do.
I think we have enough to ensure we don’t do that, but it would be nice if we could still have interest in the season come Easter.
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Boca Juniors (Londres) in town, and seemed to enjoy it. All because of a shirt design. 2) “London Calling” by the Clash over PA beforehand. Guess we finally found out it’s mandatory for a club in the Capital to play it. 3) Wandle the Womble mascot alongside our normal one. This SW19 front page from August 2002 almost made me feel guilty.
Anything else? Apart from the likelyhood of AAH going, I wonder what else we’ll see in the last few days of the transfer window?
I expect we’re making do with the forwards we now have, and as said above – they’ll probably see us over the line this season relatively OK.
Nobody has come in for Jack Currie, as far as we know, although that too could change in the flash of a chequebook.
Perhaps we’ll dip into the loan market for another centre back? We seem to have the right amount of loanees this season, Gordon being the latest one, and I’m sure there’s a couple we’ve looked at from PL academies that might fit the bill.
All depends on the finances, and whether somebody has dropped 5p on the floor which we’ll use as our entire transfer budget.
And perhaps knowing how long Johnson is going to be out as well. Although Kalambayi should be back so maybe he’ll be the fill-in?
What is clear is that we don’t need massive surgery this time round. This particular group of players are good enough to finish comfortably mid-table at worst, and as such we don’t need to splash out so much.
The temptation to cash in on the Iraqi Scouser is a great one, especially if it’s true Ipswich are sending a medical team out to the Middle East to do a fitness test with him as we speak.
He’ll be an undeniable loss, but after today it does feel we’ve already planned for his departure.
One thing is clear though – I won’t be upset when 11pm Thursday comes…
So, was it worth it? Yes. Eventually.
In a nutshell: Oh, how I love last minute winners.