(before Plaid Cymru start getting arsey with that title, I speak little Welsh…)
Who said end-of-season wind-downs are supposed to be dull affairs?
If truth be told, had we applied ourselves in the last couple of months as we did last night, then Dungeons 2 Dragons 2 would have been counted as a frustrating blip in our playoff push. What might have been, eh?
I’m not going to start gushing about a game which quite simply we didn’t deserve to lose, but if we put on a late burst of form, we’ll all get excited about going into the Gateshead game needing a victory and a slip-up elsewhere to maybe get in the playoffs. Personally, I think we’ve left it too late to do that now, but for a little while last night, we got our mojo back.
When we had that penalty saved, you could just sense the collective rolling of eyes and shrugging of shoulders. Like Barrow last week, our heads dropped. Though unlike that wretched game we did perk ourselves up again. But I hope their first goal gets shown on S4C or wherever the game at the Racecourse got shown.
I want to see it again as I don’t quite believe I saw it first time around. Basically, if you want a goal to sum up our plight at the moment, it’s Pullen’s OG – Quiche stretched a clearance off the line, and it rebounded off Pullen (who was in front of him) into the net. And you thought the Wrexham goal at their place was weird.
To our credit though, it did wake us up a bit, and when we eventually equalised you probably thought that was that. Maybe another late winner for us if the Football Gods were in a good mood. So you can imagine the reaction when they netted two minutes into injury time. Funny thing was, deep down people seemed to almost accept it…
Then came penalty #2. And Frank “Chelski reject” Sinclair. By all accounts, he decided to punch DK, which is not a clever thing to do. Primarily because he got sent off, but because of DK’s jaw would have fractured Sinclair’s wanking hand…
As an aside, it says something that somebody like Sinclair was a regular Premiership player over a decade ago. When you moan again at the amount of foreign imports in the game at the top level, just remember that the likes of him were considered the top standard back then…
God knows what would have happened if Poole hadn’t put that late spot kick away. Thankfully, we’ll never know.
What is becoming clear is that the players are now on trial for next season. The likes of Conroy and Blanchett started, two players whose futures are still listed under the “undecided” category. Neither of them did themselves any harm, especially our left back.
This does make me wonder if the club itself has decided it can justify going full time next season after all. Yes, I know it’s got to go through an SGM etc etc, but as we all know it will get rubberstamped by the DT members – what the club wants, it usually gets. If this is the case, I expect the likes of Blanchett, Conroy and Poole have had a full time contract waved in front of them and been told they have over a month to earn one. You would assume the likes of DK, BJ, JM, Ricky Wellard and Luke Moore have more or less been guaranteed full time employment.
And then, there’s James Pullen………..
For the third straight game, he showed he’s as much a liability as much as an asset. He can bitch and moan all he likes about the reaction(s) he’s getting right now (he has form for criticism by the fans, after all), but poor Seb Brown got elbowed for far less. While I expect he’ll still be an AFCW player next season, we can do better.
If I was doing a “proper” SW19 report, I would have put Sam Hatton’s substitution and Nathan Elder’s token five minutes at the end as a “point to ponder”. Though in Hatton’s case, maybe a “Truth…”
OK, I jest – maybe – but those going to the remaining games of the season can have fun predicting who’s staying and who’s obviously on the way out. Elder is clearly not getting kept on – he’s gone from playing the whole game with Kedwell to 45 minutes off the bench to 5 minutes at the end. Which considering JM is crocked is rather telling.
In fact, the front line is going to be an interesting one in the weeks and months ahead. You would assume that DK and JM will be the first choice next season (big money transfers notwithstanding, though I’m told this might be more unlikely than first thought), but after that we’re back to the same square one we’d had since the BSS days.
Monty seems to have become the new Jon Goodman/Gareth Ainsworth. I know he was tracked by TB for a good year or so, and Brentford really did want to keep him. I don’t know whether he’ll be back for the new campaign, although reportedly he’s about to give himself another injury do the Velo and Blue trip to Gateshead. If he can keep injury free he may well be a good asset. But then, “if” is such a powerful word…
We hit unlucky with Luis Cumbers convincing himself that Gillingham still wanted him. His loss. Our ability to find a decent third striker – and one who fits into our side in the way Elder didn’t – may be the difference between playoffs next season and not. Perhaps going full time will make that task easier?
Anyway, we’re entering into an unfamiliar stage for most of our fans – the time of year when you realise you have nothing substancial to play for. The sentence “there’s always next season” is not one often uttered at AFCW until now, but it’s something we now have to get used to. In fact, it’s going to be a novel experience full stop : when was the last season where we could have an end-of-season wind-down without worrying about promotion or playoffs, or getting sold off or franchised to another part of the country, or other ways that the club were actively looking to make life as miserable for us as possible?
Somehow, this next five weeks could end up being quite enjoyable…