There are wins which lift you off your seat, that stay in the mind for a long while and define seasons.
Those sorts of wins happen once every ten or fifteen games, even for the very best of clubs. I look back to 2006/07 and think of Swindon, Walsall, Barnet and Rochdale. I look at the National League and think Forest Green, Tranmere and of course, Macclesfield. This wasn’t one of those wins. This was Wycombe at home in 2006, or Maidstone in 2016. It was the sort of win you need to be a success, functional and enjoyable for those who were there, but not one you’ll talk about as a season highlight.
Why? Certainly not because of the way we played. I’m a little late with my analysis for several reasons, one being I wanted to watch the whole game back on iFollow. I couldn’t be there this weekend, I’d promised my partner a nice meal out and stuck true to my word. I don’t want to come on here and write about games I’ve not seen, hence the lateness.
No, we played well from start to finish, which was as much as a reflection on us at it is Cheltenham. I quite like the Robins, they’re a team I admired in the National League and one with which I’ve never had any real issue. They’ve never been unfair and although we’ve struggled to beat them up until recently, I didn’t have cause to dislike them. Listen to their manager’s comments last night, I still don’t. He was honest, truthful and gave us credit for what we are; a good side.
When you’re a good side, games like this are almost expected to be won. Not by Danny and the players of course, they know better, but by us lot. The armchair pundits, bloggers and pod cast presenters. The fans, you expect it too, right? Did anybody truly think we’d go to Cheltenham and lose? That wasn’t a lack of respect for our opponents, but was it the sort of game Accrington lost last year, the Champions of the division? No. They won 2-0. The year before, second-placed Plymouth won 2-1. Luton and Portsmouth, both promoted in those seasons, drew here.
If you want to win leagues, you get something at Cheltenham.
Which is exactly what we did with a methodical and confident display which is becoming a regular sight now. The slips against Bury, Crawley and Northampton, poor performance which brought six points from nine, have been forgotten. The early season tinkering which saw us play 4-3-3, 3-5-2 and 4-4-2, has stopped. Even the rotation has ceased. Ladies and Gentleman; Danny Cowley has found his method. The players are getting on board and it’s all clicked into place as we lead the table by three clear points.
There’s a couple of talking points to cover and I suppose John Akinde has to be the first. I find it amazing that some fans choose to single him out despite the fact we’ve won (again), despite the fact were top (still) and despite the fact he’s top ten in the division for both goals and assists. Yes, he missed a good chance and granted, his goals from open play haven’t flowed as yet, but his all round contribution has been excellent. I know people will say ‘we didn’t sign an all round contributor, we signed a 20-goal striker’, but surely if we’re top, leading scorers in the division and he plays every week, he’s doing something right?
Isn’t he? Or is that just me trying to look on the bright side? I just don’t understand how some are calling out a player who has been a key figure in our rise to the top of the table. I know y’all love Matt Rhead but here’s the thing: he played for 70% of last season and we never went three points clear at the top. I love Rheady, but he ain’t a top of the table League Two striker, week in week out. John Akinde is, the proof is the fact he plays, week in week out, and we’re top.