Ah, spring! The season ‘officially’ began on 21st March, the Vernal equinox, yet in reality the start of a season cannot be pinned down to one specific day. The beginning of spring roughly coincides with the run-in, the hugely important last half dozen or so games of the football season where promotion and relegation places are decided, and dreams made or broken.
There was a slightly different atmosphere at Kingsmeadow on Saturday… a feel good factor we haven’t seen for a couple of months. The number of people walking around Kingsmeadow with smiles on their faces seemed higher than the normal percentage. The Dnms victory last week certainly helped, as will the problems Wrexham and Luton encountered suring the week (and dropping points…). There is a feeling the dodgy spell of form we spent all season dreading has come and gone, and now its another teams turn to suffer…
This resulted in a Dons performance that should have seen our visitors dispatched by more than the two goal margin the home side eventually dished out. It almost sounds selfish coming away expecting more goals – this was a decent Barrow side, one that had held Luton in the week. Always welcome visitors are Barrow, their fans noisy and arriving in the sort of numbers that would put clubs travelling half the distance to shame – yet are friendly enough to justify allowing soft segregation, something both sets of supporters can benefit from.
Its worth remembering the Dons had been unable to take a win from Barrow in our previous three meetings since promotion, perhaps that game at Luton took a lot out of the visitors – yet they still played decent football, they still created a few chances of their own… but they were ultimately taken apart by a Dons side looking a different outfit to the one we saw in March.
Dare I say it but Broughtons departure in the week might have had a lot to do with some of those smiles I mentioned earlier… as I said when he arrived, I didn’t see his background being an issue, and I understand the idea behind having a big lump to hold the ball up when its knocked forward. Yet theres playing to your strengths then theres playing to OUR strengths, and already it seems Kaid Mohamed is a much better fit in a Dons shirt. You wonder if Broughton had stayed, just how much game time he would have seen between now and the end of the season? Everything Mo touched on Saturday went wrong – he stabbed wide and blazed over when well placed, he found himself robbed of the ball when trying to take opponents on – but didn’t you prefer watching him actually putting in some effort, chasing down lost causes, and finding himself in a position to miss chances?
Another positive was the return of Ricky Wellard. It almost seems as though going to Cambridge and being an automatic pick for them has done his confidence the world of good – and we already know he has the vision to be the best passer in the division on his day. His game still needs a bit of work over the next two or three years, but you get the impression if he can take that next step becoming a leading Conference midfielder will probably be the least of his ambitions.
Moving on, the Dons face the prospect of safeguarding their playoff place as early as Saturday, yet the ambition should now really be to ensure a top three finish. With a seven point advantage over Wrexham you sense a couple more wins should be enbough to ensure second leg home advantage. We start with a winnable trip to Cambridge on Saturday…