Though I was going to go with The Only Way Isn’t Essex as a headline.
Like last week, we come from behind and go 2-1 up after a poor first half. Unlike last week, we actually managed to see it through this time.
Strangely enough, I thought we were better at Valley Parade than what Triton Shower 2 Roman Bath 1 eventually turned out to be.
But the old adage about playing worse in games you win remains as true as ever. And it’s a nice feeling either way.
This report very nearly didn’t happen, as it goes. I was earmarked to be at Reading today, which got cancelled (work wise).
The strangeness of the day got more pronounced when we announced before the game that Will Nightingale will again be spending the next few months in the hands of BUPA.
I wonder if he’ll get loyalty points for being such a regular customer at their clinics?
OK, that’s taking the piss a bit, and it’s not his fault he was offered a 3.5 year deal. But it’s as predictable as taxes and death.
Also strangely, we announced Courtney Senior before the game, and those who missed the announcement will have been surprised to see him named on the bench.
He’s here until January, he’s a 25-year old winger, and can “go both ways” apparently. Insert quip about Dons 4 Diversity here.
Anyway, it was something to read on the Great Long Bus Journey to SW17, although I somehow managed to see kickoff.
A few people didn’t even get into the ground until Colchester scored their all-too-easy opener.
Which would have to be scored by Mr Championship-Quality. Wonder how the prick feels right now? I bet he isn’t cupping his ears, anyway.
But it was yet another suitably lousy first half, where we didn’t seem to improve as the game went on.
Granted, we had a couple of chances, but they weren’t exactly on target.
People seemed resigned to it at half time, and many were staying for their half time pint/cuppa** instead.
** – for the record, it was £2.30 for a lukewarm brew behind the east stand, and £2 for something more decent by that desk by the Phoenix.
So you can well imagine the reaction when everyone heard the collective roar when Davison scored.
Don’t ask me how he netted it, by the way.
What I did see was us going on the back foot again after they scored (or more accurately, as I went back to my seat).
We needed something from somewhere, and Assal’s all-round shithousery got us the penalty that ultimately gave us the game.
He seemed to want to take it, but I’m glad Davison did instead.
You can’t help but feel confident when he took it, certainly compared to other players on the field, and it seemed to lift us.
Had we got the third goal that our play threatened, it would (OK, should) have been a nice and relaxing last fifteen minutes.
Needless to say, this is something you’ll never see with us, and Colchester started pushing us again.
The five minutes before injury time felt significantly longer than normal, and apparently there were six additional minutes in injury too.
I say “apparently”, because the assistant didn’t flash the fancy board up. I wonder if it’s worse not knowing how long is left, rather than being fully aware you’ve got to hold on for about 360 seconds more?
The Bulgarian Kiwi made a very good save, but in hindsight that was as close as they got. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time.
Maybe it was because of last week, or maybe it’s because we haven’t won at Plough Lane since July, but it felt more like relief than jubilation when the final whistle went.
Not that it stopped Towler and especially JJ at the end acting all fired up, giving it the big fist pumps and whatnot.
Helpfully, the OS has some post-game thoughts from our manager, and I think the photo says it all.
He seems very well aware of the nervousness and the mental block over conceding so late last week after a winless run.
I wouldn’t blame him if he’s got a nice beer in front of him with a wry smile on his face.
You can’t argue against any sort of win, even if you try to be an edgelord. Again, it illustrates us at our best – and worst.
Slow starters, still too loose in defence, times where we look absolutely abject up front and as bad as anything post-Ollie Palmer.
Then we wake up, start looking like we justify the pre-season hype and can fashion out goals from all over the field.
And of course, finishing off with a mixture of resolute defending and blind panic which leaves you drained regardless of the result.
We’re a bit schizo in so many ways, but tonight we can at least sit back and actually enjoy the three points until next Saturday.
Maybe Davison will even buy some new shampoo for his hair with his goals bonus…?
Plus points: We won. Came back. Two goals for Manbun. Saw the game out. Towler at the back. Assal’s gamesmanship.
Minus points: Their goal. Defence still a bit weak. Assal’s occasional petulance.
The referee’s a…: Managed to miss the ball going out of play right in front of him, leading to a corner for them.
At times, he seemed to have a strange habit of not playing the advantage (for us) when there was no need to.
Still, he gave us the penalty, even if he later booked Assal for the same thing happening later on.
Them: Started the game like they were trying to impress their new manager, but thankfully reverted to shit type.
I have to admit, I didn’t know Appiah was playing for them now, and he managed to take his header well.
He did remind us why he still remains Ardley’s worst transfer, as he was largely anonymous the rest of the contest.
It’s academic now, but I wish we didn’t sing “Kwesi what’s the score” when there was still fifteen minutes left.
Oh, and it seems the feeling is mutual as he’s reportedly blocking some of our fans on Twatter who are feeling a bit vindictive.
I think it’s the first meeting ever in the AFCW era, and certainly the first in 40 years. Though I definitely remember playing at Layer Road in a 2001 PSF.
That was soon after Koppout announced the MK move, which was a weird day all round from memory.
Not as many from them as I would have expected, but surely it’s not that difficult to get to PL from Essex even with no trains?
Point to ponder: Did we have to win this one today?
By that, I mean had we drawn – or even lost – the pressure on JJ and co would have ratched up even more knots.
It would have made Bradford last week look like a blip, certainly.
All seems well again, and the squad, manager and supporters seemingly on the same side at this moment.
I deliberately hung around to see the post-game celebrations on the field, and there’s a definite attempt to get some sense of direction back again.
Because let’s face it – the team (and club) has looked like Wil E Coyote when he goes off a cliff edge, and suddenly realises it.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think JJ’s job was in as much jeopardy as some seemed to think, but this month could be pivotal.
With all due respect to Colchester, and indeed Walsall, Slutton and Rochdale, we should be looking to get some points on the board against these teams if there’s something about us.
But today and last week shows that we can at least come back when we’re behind. That’s not a bad trait to have.
OK, we’re still nowhere near the finished product, and one could justifiably argue we keep going behind too much anyway.
Yet it does feel like the rot has stopped, and we’re slowly starting to turn it around.
Whether Carlisle away proves to be the loss too far we’ll never know, although it’s no coincidence we’re playing more direct and not losing.
Play like this again for the next few games, and we’ll be OK. It’s not spectacular, but right now it might be enough…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The worst traffic I’ve seen since we returned back home. That said, I seem to remember KM being as bad more often than not – and with less people. 2) That bottleneck on the roadworks outside Dees. Would it hurt the police just to temporarily stop traffic so the crowd could walk on the road? 3) Speaking of said road – I wonder why there’s none of the ubiquitous burger vans on Plough Lane? A council thing?
Anything else? It went a bit under the radar, but welcome to AFCW Danny Macklin.
Our new MD has to get to grips with an organisation that has, let’s be blunt here, lost its way in recent seasons.
Mick Buckley has done well steadying the post-Joe Palmer ship, but we do need something more permanent now.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, Wimbledon (both AFCW and WFC) has done better when there’s a single strong figure in charge.
While Erik Samuelson himself will have admitted he had his faults, and it soured towards the end of his reign, I doubt if it would have got as bad as it has done if he was in charge the last four years.
As much as I dare not say we had a sense of direction under Hammam and Koppout, they were more effective than our previous MD.
Joe Palmer still has the touch of an estate agent, and while I accept PL might not have happened without him – we do need a stronger, more visible character now.
I don’t know if Macklin will be the answer, although he’s had experience at similar clubs to ourselves.
None the less, we should wish him well, and that he leaves a positive footprint on us.
It appears he’s quite active on t’internet though – if one goes to the Leyton Orient forum, he replied to somebody on there after we announced him.
Should he be pro-active on line, he might end up living to regret that in some corners of the AFCW internet.
And I shudder to think what he’ll make of this place when I’m in a tetchy mood…
So, was it worth it? Of course.
In a nutshell: Three points. That is all.