Ten Points

Back in the days when the Dons were in the Premier League, and the Kingsmeadow bar was one of the few places a spotty and awkward teen who later in life would become the Anonymous Don could get served in his home town, trips to watch Kingstonian were a semi-regular experience when I couldn’t make it to Dons away games, which normally left a dozen or so K’s games a season, plus evening games in random cup ties. For me and my group of school friends it gave us a chance to go to football together, essential when we pretty much all supported different teams.

Following the K’s part-time was fun, particularly in the later years when they had a decent team and reached a pair of FA Trophy finals. It gave me a healthy respect for the competition and ensured when the Dons were reformed in non-League mode I could dream that maybe we would go to Wembley some day. Of course, I failed to realise that the shifting sands of football could intervene… Back in 1999 for Kingstonians first trip to the Trophy final they finished in 8th place, knowing pretty much from the outset they weren’t going to win the division and able to concentrate on non-league footballs premier cup competition. If the Dons were to win the Trophy but finish eighth there would be an outpouring of grief over missing out on the playoffs, fixture congestion, fatigue and the like…

Of course football has changed, back in those days only the champions were promoted, so apart from a handful at the top of the table and those in danger of relegation, league competition became less meaningful a lot earlier. Plus now, far from bookending the season, the final is now sandwiched between the final league fixture and the playoffs, meaning finalists still involved in the race for a place in the Football League have another big game to fit in just days before the two leg semi-final. I’m not sure how you can get over that scheduling problem. Perhaps play the final in early April, although that would mean the early rounds would interfere with the FA Cup, and possibly have to share a date with the Vase, something the FA would be reluctant to do.

Yet beyond the interference with our progress in the league, the Trophy is still a tournament worth winning. I’m glad TB is taking it seriously, and hopefully with the players he has brought in recently he can find the right balance, both tomorrow and in the coming months should we progress. Besides, if form drops and we end up plummeting down the table, it will be down to factors other than playing an extra game once every three weeks or so. Besides, we have the strength in depth now, and only the worst of injury crisis or bouts of injury will be enough to leave us struggling for players… and we’ve just come through that spell, twice in one season will be enough for me to seek out whichever one of you has been smashing up mirrors and wandering under ladders…

Yet there will be no point discussing the relevant positives and negatives of the Trophy if we find ourselves hosting Fleetwood on then 5th February, tomorrows game still needs to be won. One of the factors involved in classic cup upsets is a former legendary player returning to the club that discarded them . Or two, in the case of big Andy Little and Alan Inns. While it seems we have played enough BSS sides this season to have earned enough points to avoid relegation from that particular division if the fixtures were league games (did I use that joke last month? If so, sorry, but you get what you pay for…), we have managed to avoid defeat despite a tough series of matches. While you look at a side top of the division above and say, yes, they should be beating sides from the division below, you wouldn’t have thought that if you actually had to endure any of those fixtures.

In terms of a lineup, the big question is will our captain have earned a well-earned rest? We certainly have enough quality going forward despite the departure of Jon Main exclusively guessed on this here blog mere days ago, and Kedwell can of course be brought on if required to break down stubborn visitors. Just sticking with the Main situation, well I was getting frustrated with him making occasional appearances from the bench and not getting into the game. Now he has the chance to remember how to score goals and come back in confident mood, although a side struggling near the bottom of the BSS might not seem the place he can hit the back of the net with abundance, that might be a good thing. Remembering how to take a chance when it comes along is all he needs to do, in order to come back a more confident player, yet he still needs to pass Nwokeji and a possible new signing (I don’t actually know if we are going to sign another striker, its guesswork based on the failed Hylton bid…), just in order to play some part in a lineup (442) we have used approximately 10% of the time this season…

Main joins Chris Bush in leaving, and as I suggested in my last post the signing of Gareth Gwillim will have filled that particular hole. I also recently expressed hope that Andre might still have a part to play. The fact that TB has let him go to Oldham on trial betrays that we are almost certain not to see Andre in a Dons shirt again, although judging by Oldhams midweek stuffing at home to Southampton the last player they seem to need right now is a fullback that can’t defend… We can only hope Gwillim settles in as quickly as Jamie Stuart has…

Once again I’m out of time! I suppose you can blame Premier Sports for that… oh, and WUP, who set a deadline for this weekend which means I have to start writing… well, right now…

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