Continuing our game of leapfrog with Crawley, the Dons beat Altrincham 2-0 to go top of the league once more. The win was mainly thanks to a brace from Danny Kedwell, finding his scoring boots just when I was starting to worry his gran might have thrown them out with the rubbish. Just reward indeed after a tough start to the week for Dons fans.
Of course I wasn’t at the game, Altrincham have been poor this season and a win was expected, but I’m sure all Dons fans will be hoping we have turned the corner after what has seemed like months of dire performances – in fact before last nights game our winless run in the BSP stretched back all of, erm, one game. Yet amid FA Cup scraps we haven’t been playing well at all of late, and its only natural as supporters we look for any tenuous sign that the corner might have been turned.
For obvious and unavoidable reasons the FA Cup is going to be a much bigger distraction than we would have liked, at least for the next week or so. But Saturdays game at Barrow gives us another chance to visit a side struggling at the bottom – you sense Barrow will be a different proposition, but three points are still there for the taking, a victory will be huge before we face the cameras once more at Ebbsfleet.
For now though, I want to talk about news from last nights game – Kedwells return to scoring form is obviously a major boost, but equally so was Jon Main’s return to the first team. The forward line has looked a little tired of late, Jackson and Jolley have done nothing wrong but we seem to be a little over reliant on them, which causes problems when Jolley isn’t on the pitch and Jackson isn’t performing – as per Saturday.
You wonder how Brown will line them up at Barrow, will Main continue to hold his place while Jolley kicks his heels in the stands? It’s a cliché that’s easy to trot out on demand when a forward isn’t playing well, but he just needs a goal to get the confidence flowing, then we’ll see him running past men and raining shots in, operating down the channel just off Kedwell as opposed to Jolley’s naturally wide position. It for this reason that Kedwell was pleased Main returned last night, or as he says in the local Guardian “When you have another striker up there with you it makes a massive difference.”
Plus if Brown is going to revert to 442 at any stage this season, Main is the obvious choice to partner the skipper. Don’t get me wrong, the 433 has been by and large a massive success, and I’m still not sure we’ve really been ‘found out’ beyond those who have stuck five in midfield with fingers crossed. Because of this it seems unlikely we will return to 442 on a permanent basis, particularly when this will involve removing a man from midfield at a time when the midfield already looks a little lightweight. It relies on the wide players, previously let off the leash, having to tuck in from time to time, or even worse removing them from the equation completely and playing orthodox midfielders in the wide positions. Yet 442 will mean a return to Jon Main playing in his favoured position, with his prefered strike partner, so in certain circumstances it might help break down what has previously appeared to be a resolutely locked door late in games.
It was also great to hear Lee Minshull returned last night. While not an obvious starter, Minshull at least gives us the option of literally bulking up the midfield, a different sort of midfielder coming back just when it appears we need less snap, more bite. Plus Minshull is the sort of midfielder you feel you can rely on to hit the back of the net. We seem to create an awful lot of chances for our midfielders, chances that we really need to take. Before last nights game, we had notched only two in four… we need to be scoring more as a team when Kedwell isn’t weighing in, as we seem to be relying on him to do it all himself.
There just seems to have been too many efforts like Sammy Moore against Ebbsfleet, when he put his head down and scuffed the ball, straight at a goalkeeper who found himself on his backside before the ball had even been struck. Its infuriating, as it must be for Terry, but not nearly as bad as watching them pass across the edge of the box. It almost got to the stage you were glad to see Blackman blaze well over, because at least it meant someone was prepared to take responsibility, albeit the wrong man at the wrong time.
Anyway, I seem to have gone off on a bit of a tangent… I’m getting a few things off my chest I was planning on doing for the Ebbsfleet report until events took a turn for the worse and I put it on hold. Plus now I have fulfilled my contractual obligations by mentioning Andre Blackman it might be time to put this post to bed. Can I just say what a pleasure it has been to simply concentrate on the football for an hour while writing this? I’m looking forward to when the circus leaves town and we can concentrate on whats important once more…