You don’t lose for the best part of four months, then within the space of ten days two teams beat you. That’s football.
It’s looking suspiciously like we could have lost all of our matches after MK Dons and still won the title, such is the desire of the chasing pack to throw it all away. Ilias Chair ensured Mansfield’s biggest crowd of the season went home gutted, MK Dons can’t put their riches to good use and the best result of the day was probably Bury getting their match postponed.
It’s crazy, I’ve started writing about Lincoln’s game and as yet, haven’t really felt an emotion about it. So, we lost. Meh, whatever.
Perhaps becoming Champions has dulled my emotions when it comes to these final few games, but I can’t get excited about records like away wins or fewest defeats. I can get excited about the thought of trips to Ipswich and Sunderland and maybe, just maybe that’s why my disappointment really isn’t evident tonight.
We’ve not been playing badly, not one bit. Danny won’t be settling for defeats either, one or two players might be feeling the wrath of our ambitious manager this evening. I noted with interest his post-match comments about not wanting consolidation next season… that hot on the heels of a suspiciously long pause after being asked if the board meet his ambitions in the presser. I wonder if perhaps the feeling that getting to League One is the big achievement is weighing on the gaffer’s mind a little? He was vehement with his comments about consolidation. His life is too short, he wants promotion again. I love the drive and determination, but there’s going to be a huge funding gap next year. All I hope is Danny can address the issues he feels we have with the budget we offer.
I don’t want to bring the doom and gloom, in most of our play today I felt we were adequate. It was a difficult match against committed opponents under hard conditions, but at least two of those criteria have applied to every match we’ve played. It seems we’ve never come up against disorganised clubs in disarray, not if you listen to the official rhetoric. I’d argue Notts County early doors were a club on their arse and Yeovil were awful both times, but in the main League Two is much of a muchness. It’s about desire and quality.
We’ve got quality, but we’re lacking it in front of goal. We missed a host of chances for the second or third match running and I think that’s an indication of what the squad needs this summer. John Akinde’s qualities have been obvious and even today, I thought he had a very good game. What he needs is a partner, even if it is someone coming from deep to put the ball in the net. Craig Robertson will undoubtedly cry hypocrite when he reads this, but we need a James Norwood.
Genuinely, on today’s showing I think we’re a striker away from being a top half League One side. Sure, the squad needs peppering elsewhere with some loan players and a couple who can cover, but in the main decisions are being made about some of our players right now. We’ve made them ourselves, of course we have. Danny will be looking at one or two and wondering if maybe they’ve got what it takes.
Today will have helped him. The late free kick for instance, should Neal Eardley have grabbed the ball? Shay obviously wants to impress and is eager to earn himself a full time deal but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s Shay’s role that we’re going to work hard to replace. If so, will we be breaking the bank for a player who, with respect, has finished the season on the bench?
I know this isn’t the usual write-up of a game, but it’s not the usual game. We’re champions, over a 46 game season we’ve won the league. Danny will hurt tonight at the defeat, but I’ll be smashing a my dinner in front of a Netflix film tonight with little bothering me. Sure, we’re on a bad run of results but a season is the sum of 46 matches, not four or five in a row. It’s like when people were saying we were 16th in the form table earlier in the season. I said don’t worry and I stand by that. Anyone who thinks our run doesn’t bode well for next season is way off as well; when the big kick off comes this form will be forgotten.
We always knew we had a tough run in and believe me, it won’t get easier with Colchester next week. We’ve not faced anybody in the last few weeks with nothing to play for and it’s unusual. The truly tough matches, away at Mk Dons, Forest Green and Bury; that’s where the league was won. now, in the ones which looked more ‘straightforward’ on paper, we’re finding out exactly how close this division is.
Okay, we lost today, but what did Newport create that was clear cut? One chance in the first half? Credit to them, like us they work hard, press well and defend stoically and it’s perhaps why after going 1-0 down we struggled. Carlisle did the same but with 11 men we would have beaten them. Today, we missed decent chances and should have been coming away with a draw, but take nothing away from Newport they looked very good.
In fact, had they not had some distracting cup runs this season, I think they could have been in the top four. That doesn’t mask the fact we’ve lost, again, but come August we know whatever happens, we’ll be in League One. It makes defeat easier to swallow.
Next Page: What the performance tell us about next season