January From Hell

Given the virus that has been doing the rounds, two wins from two with six goals scored is a fantastic result from our pair of holiday home fixtures, regardless of the relative strength of the opposition. Hayes caused us a few problems yesterday, at half time you wondered where a goal would come from, but a rare triple substitution and change of formation by Brown unlocked the plucky visitors.

Plus, dare I say it, a bit of luck came our way. These two fixtures were ultra-important going into the January from hell, we needed six points to give us a platform to work on. The Dons lined up with the 442 formation that served them so well against Eastbourne but it wasn’t clicking in the first half. The Dons had chances, Ryan Jackson lofting over the bar with Hayes Harrison backpedaling following a poor clearance, and Nwokeji firing against the legs of the Hayes keeper when played down the left channel, but it wasn’t convincing. And had ex-Don Elliot Buchanan made the most of a couple of half chances the Dons could have faced a real uphill battle.

Hayes midfield were having much the better of things despite the return of Sammy Moore, who was fairly anonymous, who along with Rashid Yussuff seemed to be suffering with what I can only describe as ‘concentration problems’. I mean Toks has never been the sort of player to crunch in with the challenges but he gave the ball away easily far too often to suggest he was fit enough to be on the field.

I have to say when I have a virus I normally have enormous difficulty just getting out of bed, so I have huge respect for those guys who gave it a shot during the first 45, it says a lot about their basic fitness that they even managed to remain competitive. Yet at half time reinforcements were called for. As well as Moore S and Toks, Nwokeji was withdrawn, replaced by Ed Harris, Luke Moore (not entirely fit himself apparently) and new boy Kirk Hudson.

Normally I pride myself on second guessing what TB has in mind with his changes, but this one took a couple of minutes to work out and it only clicked in my head when I realised the formation had switched to 433… And it worked, big time. Harris slotted into centre half, with Fraser Franks moving to right back. This allowed the other new boy, James Mulley, who had looked slightly overawed at times filling in for Sam Hatton at right back in the first period, the licence to get forward and add some much-needed energy to the midfield.

It quickly became apparent that Hayes couldn’t live with the pace injected by Hudson and Ryan Jackson, and it only took four minutes for a clever Luke Moore ball behind the defence found Jackson haring into the box, his strike finding the bottom left corner across the keeper. A well worked goal, but the Dons fans were about to see something special from Mulley…

I don’t remember much about the build up, the chance seemed to have passed when the ball was half cleared into the path of the Dons new boy. When the ball sits up like that you feel an element of anticipation from the crowd, we do have a few boys who can hit a ball but so rarely have the confidence to do so. Mulley struck it on the half volley and the ball slowly rose into the top corner. The feeling when you see the ball stretching the netting as it flies in, as a supporter, is second to none and Mulley was quite rightly delighted with his hit. The WUP guys have brought a fair bit to our club with the donations they have made over the years, but those hanging goal nets they bought a few years back were designed solely to make goals like that look ten times better… I can’t wait to relive it on AFCWTV…

So far so comfortable for the Dons, but Hayes pulled one back with fifteen minutes remaining ensuring it wouldn’t be quite as comfortable as Tuesday, but moments later Hayes Jamie Hand wrecked his sides chances committing a brain dead foul on Luke Moore and earning a second yellow to leave his side facing an uphill battle. The Dons really finished the game as a contest with five minutes to go, another wonderful goal as Fraser Franks hit a long diagonal ball for Luke Moore to sweep home at the far post. Any description of the ball from Franks would fail to do it justice (a cop out on my part perhaps, but if you haven’t seen it yet you will understand upon viewing the highlights!).

Regardless of illness or injuries, a better performance WILL be required in order to bring something home from Newport tomorrow. Don’t be fooled by their defeat to Bath on Saturday, this is a tough game against a fellow playoff contender…

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4 thoughts on “January From Hell

  1. maliniok says:

    Great! I will rely on SW19 for today’s report and look forward to reading this site after Darlo! Have a good trip and see you some time at KM.

  2. maliniok says:

    Thanks for the report! Descriptive as usual. Are you going to Newport?

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