Lets get to the point straight away, partly because my recent inactivity has left me seemingly unable to come up with a snappy opening. A win is a win, and three points at this stage of the season are massive however they come, but the performance reminded me of the Kettering game (without all the goals, of course…). A good first half performance wasn’t built upon, with the Dons ending up desperately holding out at the end.
Yet after three defeats on the spin, I’ll take it. I read my WUP contribution before the game (which was initially written ages ago, before the Kidderminster and Crawley defeats) and was struck by how positive it was. I’ve been in a different frame of mind over the last couple of weeks, seriously considering whether the squad even had it in them to squeak into the playoffs, so we really needed any kind of result in the hope it will instigate a spell of good form going into the playoffs.
And I don’t think the football gods will be too bothered by that statement – we might not be able to hold off Luton for second (despite their defeat at Southport), but with the fixtures we have remaining I’ll be very surprised if we don’t find our season extended into May.
As for yesterday? Although its fair to say if the game had gone on for another five or ten minutes we would have conceded, we probably did enough to deserve our win. Seb made a couple of great saves towards the end, and the visitors probably went away feeling a little sorry for themselves… but to be honest with you, victory in such circumstances feels all the more sweeter.
I would class Rushden among the more unlikable clubs we have come across on our journey, they seem to have the full set; cynical gamesmanship on the pitch, jealousy in the boardroom, brain-dead supporting-by-numbers style support. Their combined attempts to get Steven Gregory booked in the first half for a nothing challenge were outrageous, but fortunately too obvious for the referee to fall for on that occasion – but it was going on all over the pitch, so-called men in yellow collapsing in the vague vicinity of a Dons player, suckering the poor official into awarding them a free-kick time and again – especially during the last ten minutes or so…
I got the impression the visitors went away from the game largely blaming the performance of the referee for defeat rather than their own teams deficiencies, a less kind commentator might suggest this was down to bitterness but I’ll put it down to the poor view you get stuck in the corner of the John Smiths. In fact the referee did everything our opponents would have expected of him – including giving a free kick against Danny Kedwell for a challenge that resulted in a broken nose for… Danny Kedwell, as well as his interesting interpretation of Law 12 which resulted in Sam Hatton giving away a free kick for handball in a dangerous position on the edge of the box despite not really knowing where the ball was and gaining no advantage from it.
Fortunately, the official wasn’t corrupt or favouring towards our opponents – he just had a very low tolerance against any challenge which could be regarded as foul play. Which ultimately worked in the Dons favour when Corcoran bundled over Kaid Mohamed in the box, elevating the challenge from ‘being worth a shout’ to ‘nailed on spot-kick’. Kedwells blasted effort from the spot bulged the net to the point it almost struck those standing in the front row of the KRE, and won the Dons the game.
That Mohamed picked up the sponsors man of the match award suggests they actually made the decision half an hour into the game… the man who wants to be known as ‘Mo’ had a really positive start but didn’t see much of the ball in the second half, understandable really considering the Dons found themselves pushed further and further back into their own half as the game progressed. The argument that you can’t give an MOM award to someone for half a performance rules Seb Brown out, despite his vital saves at the end he barely touched the ball in the first half. My choice would have been Gwillim, who had his best performance so far in a Dons shirt – like one or two others in the squad, now would be a really good time for Gwillim to put in displays like that on a regular basis.
Looking forward the Dons have a great chance to put together something of a run over the remaining half-dozen league games. There is an element of trickiness about all of them, but they are all very winnable, the sort of fixtures a side looking for promotion should be picking up the points from. I’m not expecting us to win all of them, and I have a very bad feeling about the Grimsby game for some reason(especially if we need the points), but there is no reason to go into April (and – touch wood – May) with any fear, there is nothing to be lost from being positive right now… of course our team might give us cause to worry after the Barrow game,or at Cambridge or Histon, but I’m going to do myself a favour and worry about that if it happens…
One final thought… We all love Depeche Mode, but their music has no place on a football terrace. Lets just all have a little think about that…