Although I can no longer brag about the unbeaten start, I still believe we have plenty of reasons to be positive, despite the two disappointing results of late.
A football season is made of 46 League games, numerous amount of cup games and a hell of a lot of ups and downs. The first 11 games of the season were safely navigated without defeat, and despite a slight dream of recreating the Arsenal ‘invincible’ season of 2003-2004, a defeat was of course inevitable. Unfortunately that came against Margate in our last League outing as we suffered a narrow 1-0 loss. Of course it was disappointing to lose, but one defeat is certainly not the end of the world. It is easy to get carried away when you are winning football games, and likewise when you suffer a defeat. Before the Margate game, we had won 8 of our last 10 games in all competitions, and spirits around the club were naturally high. Those victories did not mean promotion was guaranteed, just as a defeat does not signal a crisis. Defeats happen, it is how you bounce back from them that really count…
So, onto the following game and what an opportunity to put things right as we faced Hornchurch in the FA Cup! Despite having two weeks to reflect on the game, I am still struggling to explain what exactly happened. I don’t think anyone in the ground, or in the world for that matter, could have predicted the final score line (I am not putting in the score because it offends my eyes.) Quite frankly, it was a disaster. We can blame the referee and we can blame the pitch but that is all rubbish. The only thing that really is to blame is Sean Cronin’s knee, for pushing itself into a Hornchurch player, completely by accident of course! The red card naturally didn’t help, but there are no excuses for the score line or the performance. Sometimes in football results like that happen, and it is impossible to pinpoint why. Perhaps the only positive to come out of that fateful day, was the performance of the travelling Wealdstone fans. Your support is always appreciated, and to still be singing despite the heavy defeat emphasis what a great bunch you are.
After the defeat, Gordon obviously thought there was something missing from the team so took decisive action in the transfer market to correct it. What could it be that was so horribly missing from the Hornchurch debacle? A reliable goalkeeper? No, apparently not. A right back who doesn’t dangle a loose leg in the area just after half time? Again, apparently not. Of course, it was a lack of experience! So in came Mark Bentley, to bring the average age of our squad up to 36. The main problem with all these 30 something’s in our team, is that poor Brookesy doesn’t understand all the big words they use! But I’m sure the signing of Mark will help bring some solidity into the middle of the pitch, and a player of his experience can only benefit us in the long run.
Moving on from the FA Cup, last Saturday saw the return of everybody’s favorite FA competition, the FA Trophy. Having been injured last season, the game away at Leiston was my first outing in the Trophy since the semi-final against Newport two seasons ago. Admittedly, the surroundings were slightly different as was the atmosphere, but it still brought back some fantastic memories for me. A win was essential both for confidence and to stop the mini rot, and we achieved that with an emphatic 3-0 win. But just as importantly, it sets us up nicely to have a go at going one step further that 2011-2012! It’s a long shot, but why can’t we go all the way this year? It is something to aim for, and we certainly have the quality of players and the, ahem, experience to make a real good go of it!
On the playing front, it has been a pleasure to watch Petty torment opposition back lines this season. In many ways, you really do have to feel sorry for him. I mean, how many semi-professional footballers have to admit that their girlfriend is better than them at football? Despite being really rather good, it must be awfully depressing knowing that you will never quite be as good as your other half! During my time at Wealdstone I have played with the likes of Keiron Forbes, Alex Dyer and Alan Massey who have all moved up the Leagues and acquitted themselves exceptionally well higher up. On current form, our time watching Petty running through defenders legs may well be limited. A few more years practicing with your girlfriend Tom, and you may well be ready for the move up!
On to today’s game and the visit of Grays Athletic. I have to admit I do not know an awful lot about them, but they are currently only a couple of points behind us suggesting it will be another tough afternoon. I know recent results have been frustrating for fans, with the Hornchurch result being particularly tough to swallow, but happier times are always only a few wins away!
As I said at the start, it is a long season and it won’t be the defeats that define our season, it will be how we respond. The victory last weekend was great, but the League is our bread and butter, and 3 points today is essential to keep us moving forwards.