It’s funny what difference a win can make, especially when it’s your first of the season! The weekend prior to last, I found myself moaning at a woeful display at home to Plymouth that saw us lose 4-1 at home. I write (or wrote as it was last Saturday!) this on the back of Friday night – our first win, against Northampton Town. Once again the weather was fairly miserable, but the football wasn’t, at least in the second half!
Like many others, I was caught in the traffic on the M25 which soon extended as far as the A1081 into Barnet, so I missed the first twenty minutes or so. Having spoken to a couple of people, it sounds like I didn’t miss much, and the rest of the first half wasn’t up to much either – with Northampton creating the best of the chances.
The second half was very good, and I think I’d go as far as saying it was the best 45 minutes I’d seen so far this season. It wasn’t even a case of Northampton looking extremely poor (did Stack even make a save?), we just upped our game. There have been times this season where I’ve been bored senseless at our attempt to pass the ball around, largely unsuccessful and to no avail. I’ve seen performances where we haven’t even had a single shot on target, whereas other times we’ve created chances but had no end product. On Friday we created opportunities and finished them – and we did it in some style, alright!
The main man
For most of Thursday and Friday, match previews highlighted the fact that Edgar Davids was eligible to play, having been assigned the number 38 earlier in the week. Maybe it was the cynic in me that said “he won’t play and if he does, he won’t last long. The club are using it as a ploy to get a decent crowd (like at the Plymouth game) and for obvious media coverage”. Boy was I wrong. He started, made himself captain and played all 90 minutes – also getting the ‘Man of the Match’ award. I think Yiadom deserved it, but never mind. His experience was there for all to see – his presence on the pitch was great: telling players what to do and encouraging the little ones, running his socks off and playing some great passes. It’s true to say he certainly hasn’t lost that skill – even at 39!
Even looking back, I don’t really think anyone had a bad game. Oster was exceptional, him and Davids had a great partnership in midfield – and he capped off his performance with a super goal. The central defence partnership look reasonably more assured and even Kamdjo had a couple of good touches here and there. I saw a few negative comments regarding Hyde on Twitter, someone said he looked “anonymous” – he may not have looked likely to score but he held the ball up well for others and had plenty of options left and right to give the ball to. In the first half I thought we missed Holmes’ pace and skill down the wing, but having banged four goals in, I thought we did okay without him!
It was always obvious that Davids would come in and get the credit when we finally won a game and in my opinion that was the case after Friday. Of course it’s largely down to his status within the game. At the final whistle, the team from the Football League Show followed him off the pitch, interviewing him as they went. The post-match reports again were largely dominated by the famous Dutch man. But what was nice to see was the manner in which young Andy Yiadom celebrated his goal – running towards the bench and hugging Mark Robson. It was just lovely to see that his efforts (whether you think they’ve been good or bad) haven’t gone unnoticed with the team. One thing I will say about Friday is, the tactics looked a lot more positive than usual – there was still an awful lot of back passing which I imagine will be eradicated with confidence, but the ‘total football’ paid off.
The win got me to think about our previous form. The last time we won 4-0 at home was against AFC Wimbledon (28/04/12) – we won our following game (2-1 away at Burton on the final day of the season). The last time we scored four goals in one half, we won away at Burton (02/04/11) and Steve Kabba scored all four – we won the following game then too (2-1 at home to Crewe Alexandra). With the facts evident, I thought we’d win away at Wycombe (last night), as it was, we drew 0-0. Four points from six isn’t bad at all, especially with two consecutive clean sheets. Chesterfield away on Saturday – three points would be perfect, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!