On Paper

After missing Fleetwood last night, I’m now getting over the fact that our huge Merton (in Kingston) derby against Colliers Wood tomorrow night has fallen foul of the weather… rearranged for next Wednesday to ensure I don’t feel left out missing the Bath game either. On paper last nights result against a side occupying a play-off position was a decent result… which is good as because I wasn’t there ‘on paper’ is the only method I have of judging the performance…

Being difficult to beat is a sign of a side who are going to be there or there abouts this season, and while our four drawn games in a row might have effectively extinguished our fairytale title dreams, we have to look at how we have progressed. Earlier in the season given such a daunting run of fixtures we surely wouldn’t have escaped without a defeat somewhere down the line.

Plus the fact we have technically only picked up four from twelve available points despite remaining unbeaten is one of those unfortunate statistics… there are those who suggest a more fair system would be to give an extra point to the away side in a draw, but surely then everyone (and I mean everyone) will stick as many men behind the ball as required to escape with a 0-0? If we are going to ever alter with the points system to take into account the minor home/away advantage, it would have to go to the extents of making the league table unrecognisable (i.e. twelve points for a win, five for a draw away from home, bonus points for goals, etc) and I’m sure it’ll be like watching F1 for a few seasons with the system being tweaked here and there…

Was in danger of going on a massive tangent there, probably an argument I should explore in more detail over on Control>Shoot (if it was still active…). One of the benefits of drawing with Fleetwood (and Newport, Luton, and to a lesser extent Darlington) is they don’t pick up the points either. With a better record and a comfortable points cushion, we are still in prime play-off position. Also, without wanting to place undue pressure on the squad, our next three fixtures are more than winnable.

With Crawley in backlog due to their cup commitments, victory in those three games WILL see us return to the top of the table, albeit our rivals will then have several games in hand… I like that idea. I want us to be the thorn in their side, more importantly I want them to at least have to work for it. The same goes for Luton, who we have a slightly more realistic chance of trumping. But ultimately the only real benefit in the playoffs is finishing in the top three, and thus getting a preferable playoff pairing (not that it helped Luton last season…).

Beyond that, I suppose it could be argued that if the top three remains the same we could see a Grimsby or a Mansfield come flying into the equation and be the form side from fourth, but then equally a Wrexham or Fleetwood could hold them at bay. The fact that I didn’t mention Newport among those clubs has plenty to do with my opinion that the South Wales club are this seasons AFC Wimbledon. In other words they’ve shot their bolt already, although the managerial change won’t have helped.

As many of you will know know our game against Crawley has been moved to the Friday… more to assist Crawley than anything by the sound of it (although we might be able to fit a county cup game into the free Wednesday…). Now I have to say I don’t mind Friday night games at nearby places like Crawley, still a mission but I’m glad I don’t have to get up for work the next day, and its ten times harder when you lose… While this game is live on Premier Sports, our biggest games of the remainder of the season are the return against yesterdays hosts, the rearranged fixture at now fourth placed Wrexham, the two fixtures against Grimsby and York, both ominously positioned in the table and set for a playoff challenge if they can put together a run of form at the right time.

Can we even question our right to simply presume we will gain a play-off place? Right now, we deserve to be in the position we currently find ourselves in. Yet we will have to prove ourselves more than once in the run in, against hungry sides with everything to play for…

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