My goodness me. I realise this is the third match running I've written something critical and I bloody hate myself for it.
Yes, we got through. Yes, we progressed. Yes, we overcame a banana skin. Yes, we beat 'plucky' (hate that patronising adjective) underdogs.
A few things tiddled me off this afternoon.
Last week I was called out by a member of the coaching staff for bemoaning our second half. If any one of them wants to stand up and defend that first half then they are a braver person than me. Pathetic doesn't begin to cover it.
Credit to Deeping, they were compact, organised and punished us but flip me sideways, there was no intesnity, no tempo, everything was slower than pedestrian and we created a single chance.
Players were ambling around and one in particular, who should know who he is, has the gall to start imploring supporters at the start of the second half to make more noise - this a player who put in such a lamentable effort (not performance, effort) against Cockfosters so as to be un-noticed. Sorry, not having that. He's put in a couple of good 20 minutes off the bench and all of a sudden a 45-minutes today out of nowhere. Put in a full 90 with that intensity, movement and desire and I'll back you to the hilt.
The full-backs, for all their defensive deficiencies, at least put everything into it.
Absolutely seething at the break. Seething.
Yes, credit where it's due for changing things at the break. Dan Williams made a difference but we still needed Chris Grace to come to our rescue with two big saves and some opportune goal-line clearances to keep us ahead at the death.
Pleased to have come through the game, but frustrated as heck by this side - one or two exceptions - given the level of experience available to us.
We'll probably get Wealdstone away next up and beat them 1-0 just to shut me up.
I truly hope so.
Take the positives....
Our frailties are there for all to see but here are some positives...
- We won (yay!)
- We came from 0-2 down and playing badly, to win.
- Our strikers bopped in a couple of beautifully worked goals.
- The 2nd half was hugely entertaining, with tons of action at both ends.
- To come from behind might be the shot in the arm we need.
- We will get a much needed £6,750 for winning yesterday.
- Even if we lose in the next round, we will have got a total of £15,000 prize money.
- If we win the next round, our prize total will rise to £28,750 minimum (eeek!). That makes the next game a massive game for the prize money alone!!
- We're in the draw for the next round.
I felt last week as things were coming to a head. Honestly, I questioned if the players were playing for James. I felt our fatally, well documented flaws had become an excuse/natural expectation allowing us to further implode. I posted below, going into Dorch, that post these 2 games, irrespective of results, we would really have to make a determination if/what could be done to address our underlying issues. To be fair to James today, I thought the lad made a consciencous effort to rectify our formation and moreover it was apparent to everyone in the ground that we needed to add width/pace to further upgrade.
I also posted, the rumour that Dan had gone - correct or not - and my disappointment. His hat-trick for Chalfont, Tuesday, only demonstrating further the lad has some scope. Moreover, I've always maintained, 3 up-front, you require all 3 functioning. By the grace of god, we may have actually, by virtue of those changes and an own-goal have hopefully set in place a structure from which to build. Hopefully, the first 46 minutes was the rock bottom required. If so, then presumably Ryan goes central. No-one more than I have been more bloody confused by that lad's role - to the degree, I fully maintain, however we go, the solution is a missing point elsewhere. I still think we need to address the gapping holes behind our midfield as games get stretched - usually in the second half - not a co-incidence. Ryan today, first 45, has difficulty in passing players wide, reverts back to his natural role. Players, hopefully more naturally akin to that role will give us proper balance.
By no means out the woods but, I will take the 'progession' title above and hoping that the bottom is in start hoping that we have something at long last to work with. We have a plethora of individual talent, there's plenty of issues and this really could be the turning point in an upward direction. I think we need a plan and stick to it.
The management, staff, players and supporters deserve it. Shout out to the keeper - cracking couple of games. We've got a decent group of lads - if we get our system right and the players in situe, we can only get stronger.
The 2nd half yesterday reminded me of our 2-1 win at Dulwich in the 2nd qualifying round 3 seasons ago. Why? Then, we were up against an in form Dulwich and not fancied to win. But a front 3 of Kahle da Costa, Niko Muir and Karl Oliyide worked brilliantly, stretching the opposition on the flanks with not just pace but strength to support the central striker (Muir). All three moved upwards to higher leagues, but yesterday we were faced with an extremely difficult task at the interval and found a remarkably similar formula. We could have been 4-2 up in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half. Williams and English this time supplied the pace and power on the flanks and Calcutt was at his very best in the centre.
This should be a real springboard for the season ahead.
Well done lads for turning it around in the second half. First time I've seen Williams play and nice to see he's able to get the shot away nicely.
Time to build on this and move forwards.