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The difference a few days makes…

To be fair, I don’t think anyone really expected anything other than a flat performance from last Tuesday.

Players, management, and indeed those in the stadium.

The lack of buzz when I was walking down PL an hour before kickoff, and when I got in the stadium, was very notable. Even for a bog-standard evening game as well.

This wasn’t so much after the Lord Mayor’s Show, but six months after everything got packed away.

While it’s understandable why people treated beating Franchise as promotion, the World Cup Final and the LSC Final rolled into one, Grimsby was always more likely to be the test.

We stumbled through it, only really got going in the last ten minutes and deserved nothing more than a draw.

Hell, the visitors managed to hit the bar, which was more than we did.

But it’s where we are now, and I guess it proved (proves?) why the playoffs always remain a possibility than a likelyhood.

This was a time where strength in depth would have helped. Indeed, we were disrupted a bit by Bugiel injuring himself in the warmup.

Ronan Curtis may well be the slayer of Franchised beasts, but I’m not sure he’s so effective playing the whole game.

Kelly is starting to be another goalscorer who doesn’t score goals. One hopes his confidence isn’t being shattered each game, but we don’t seem to want to play to his strengths.

Indeed, goals generally seem almost impossible to come by right now.

Ever since you-know-who left, we’ve gone back to being a bunch of eunuchs. And for a legitimate playoff push, that’s not good enough.

That is, of course, whether you think they were ever realistic enough to begin with.

Your view on that depends on whether you think pushing to extend our season was a unexpected bonus, or whether this is going to be our only chance for a good while, and we’re blowing it.

I’m in the former category. We are probably underestimating just how much we’ve turned a failing squad already – and there’s a lot more rebuilding to come.

I can understand why some think we’ll revert to mediocrity next season, but why should that necessarily be the case?

Granted, a percentage of our support enjoy catastrophising over anything AFCW related, and there’ll be a number departing, but for once we have a decent nucleus going into next season.

Indeed, a certain Mr C Cope says we’re still building the foundations that he thinks will take two summers, and his view should be more trusted than anyone else’s.

With that in mind, this season is turning into a nice surprise – but it shouldn’t be treated any more than that.

Your editor has long believed our fate will be decided by Easter, and in truth we’ll probably be (realistically) out of the playoffs come Gillingham next Tuesday.

That doesn’t mean we should switch off the season all the while we’ve got a chance, and I’d like to think we’ll put in a decent display at Notts County tomorrow.

I can’t remember the last time we went to Meadow Lane, though we’ve sold a lot of tickets for it and we may well even reach the four-figure mark.

All those going deserve a good performance, but will they get one?

If there’s one thing I want from this season, it’s a strong finish and not the usual collapse. Nine or so games remain, and if we win 3 or 4 of them it will end up being a better campaign than expected.

Hell, we did manage to draw on Tuesday. Last year, we would have lost that (and we would certainly have not won the game before that).

To be fair, Balmer and JJO’T have stepped in well for Lewis and Johnson, and Lee Brown too hasn’t been a liability in recent weeks.

I wouldn’t keep him past this summer though, nor Pearce or indeed Harry Pell.

The latter has managed to get himself an FA charge for allegedly kicking balls at the Franchise knuckledraggers during a warmup.

Of course, anyone who has seen his shooting at the best of times will think that he really was trying to find the net.

Just about everyone else in the footballing world thinks it was deliberate, and he’s probably likely to get a fine and/or a ban.

He doesn’t really feature too much any more, and last Tuesday might have been a good game for him to do something.

So him not featuring might give a clue for this summer.

If he does get suspended though, and it proves to be his last meaningful contribution to the club – you can’t say it’s a bad way of leaving us…

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