For me the unthinkable has happened tonight at Boreham Wood. I didn’t imagine us losing the game, and coupled with the 95th minute winner for FGR I feel like we’ve all been kicked in the stomach. I labelled tonight’s games as pivotal to the season, and I now hope I have got that wrong.
The clash with Forest Green on Saturday could now not be more important. Forget the ‘eleven cup finals’ mantra, right now we have one. I believe the match is a winner-takes-all 90 minutes that will decide the National League season.
Firstly on to tonight. I confess I’m gutted, and that isn’t a negative comment, it’s genuinely how I feel. After matches this season I’ve always felt that I can sit down and write, but tonight I almost felt like I couldn’t. You’d think with all the kicks we’ve had over the years, just being knocked off the top of the table would be easy to take, but it isn’t. It’s important to note that FGR also lost at Boreham Wood though, proving that they’re capable of a good result. We shouldn’t be too down, we’ve stood up and been counted enough times this season to earn the cushion of three games in hand. When our opponents have faltered, we have strode on and because of that we’re still in a strong position. Boreham Wood offer much more of a threat than, say, Solihull Moors did when we went to their place. To be able to bring on a player of Morgan Ferrier’s quality shows they have a decent squad, and whilst we did win there a few weeks ago this was never going to be an easy game.
I’m not a manager and therefore my opinions are merely that of a layman, but I was surprised with the starting line-up tonight. I have no doubt Rhead and Bradley Wood were dropped with one eye on Saturday though, and I’d also imagine Jonny Margetts is struggling for match fitness. Perhaps there was an element of a forced change there, but for me our defence looks far more stable with Brad at right back. I also like to see Alan Power in the midfield, he has bags of experience at this level and has looked good all season. Again though I suspect the change may have been more of an enforced move. I’m not being critical or negative by the way, I’m merely expressing an opinion. I wasn’t at the game but it did sound as if we gave it a good go, and were competitive and attacking in spells. We may be dropping points, but we do look like winning games. We should have been out of sight against York in the first leg, we should have had a couple in the first half tonight, and we absolutely battered Arsenal for thirty seconds or so.
Perspective: We still have three games in hand, we still have the advantage and if we avoid defeat on Saturday we’ll still be favourites for the title. In essence tonight has made it interesting for the neutral, but our job remains the same. Win on Saturday and we will be back on top. Draw on Saturday and we have three points to make up over the course of three games. With our goal difference we could draw three games in a row and still win the league. Tonight’s turn of events may be disheartening, but we’ve shown time and time again this season we have a team of big game players.
Look at Tranmere home and away, or Forest Green away. On the big occasion we have proven we can perform, and I’m not talking about Burnley, Ipswich, Brighton, or even Oldham. When the big league matches come around we have almost always got the result we desired, and I don’t expect Saturday to be any different to the Tranmere match in December. Forest Green won’t lump it like Barrow which is usually our undoing. They’ll come at us with an attacking formation and although it might be a threat going forward, it will mean we can get at them. It’ll be a packed Sincil Bank too, 8055+ (the 55 will be from FGR) and I’m sure we can thrive in that atmosphere. Remember on Saturday we won over the 90 minutes, we were undone by the first leg and a late decision. When we’re at home and the crowd are behind the team we are a real tough prospect, we haven’t lost a home game in front of more than 3,600 fans all season. It does make a difference and as much as 650 fans can cheer at Boreham Wood, or 2,000 at North Ferriby, nothing can the lift the team like a packed home crowd.
I’ve hopefully written enough to ensure I get a good night’s sleep. Like everyone I’m disappointed as I bid farewell to Terrible Tuesday, but every good story needs a late twist or a turn and this little blip of ours might just be it. Being second is an odd feeling, but bear in mind we’re into March and this is the first time we’ve found ourselves off the top spot. We still have three crucial games in hand, we still hold the aces and on Saturday we all have a pivotal role to play by being upbeat, positive and most of all fully supportive. In August f you’d been told we’d be second going into the final six weeks of the season, and we’d have three games in hand, I’m absolutely certain you would have taken it.
Did someone say pivotal? Not me. Steve Thompson was right, tonight wasn’t pivotal at all, but I assure you Saturday will be.
City till I die.