I’m so angry I could swear. How the game hasn’t added a +3 or even a +1 to our points total is genuinely beyond me. Yeah, there will be those saying “don’t overreact” and “chill out, have a lager” and “we’ve done better than last year”. And I would not disagree with any of those sentiments. But I think, what I can say, is that the automatic promotion spots might be out of reach. If we get there, I will send Paul Clement a belated Valentine’s Day card, but I don’t think we will.
Having parted with another 10 dollars to watch us on iFollow (when are we on Sky again?!), I was pretty confident of a good showing. After all, we were excellent in midweek despite the loss and had no reason to fear an in-form South London team. The changes were fair: Andy Yiadom was OK midweek (hard for me as I am very pro-Tom Holmes at the minute) and it was probably about time Omar Richards sat out.
Millwall lined up in a shirt that would not be out of place in 1994. Was it a mountain? An inverted arrow? An Arctic glacier to represent the need to address global warming? None of these, dear reader! The pattern on the front actually depicted the jaws of a mythical sea creature first hypothesised by sailors and fishy people who frequented Millwall docks in the mid 18th century. Whilst being fairly accurate, it makes for terrible kit viewing.
On 52 seconds, our esteemed local journo made reference to throw-ins. You’d have thought he had received enough backlash in the week for his performance, but here he was, chatting away about the most mundane of all football skills. How I missed Stephen Hunt.
The game started with bluster (or is it “a bluster” or maybe “at a blustering pace”?) and it gave me heartburn. I’ve been finding recently that the games are causing me more stress than they were previously - don’t know why, but maybe it’s because we are well and truly in the mixer for the end-of-season slug fest.
Shortly after this, we opened the scoring with a goal that wouldn’t look out of place at a family-run circus, such was the comedic value of the goal itself. I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now, so there’s literally no point in me describing it to you. What I will say is that having thrown the ball out, the visiting keeper (can’t be bothered to Google how to spell his name correctly) was caught hideously out of position.
Alfa Semedo was able to expertly carve the ball round the two players who had lost possession, over the tops of the remaining defenders’ heads, past the keeper and into the net. As I said, I won’t describe it fully, but it was hilarious. Not the best goal I’ve seen us score against the Lions (Convey in August ‘05 gets that accolade) but certainly up there.
At half time, I treated myself to a tin of Shipyard and a Ginsters! Actually, I didn’t have a Ginsters, it just sounded good. In fact, I haven’t had one for well over a year on account of the fact that I’ve not needed to get diesel or visit a petrol station outside of the county. Ginsters is my go-to driving snack when stopping off during long journeys.
As the second half commenced, my mind and then eyes wandered as I thought about the table and then began looking at the actual ‘in-play’ table and the other teams and possible permutations around the end-of-season battle royale (the play-offs).
And just as I did that, Holmes was subbed off for Yiadom. This gave me an unusual feeling, but I didn’t know why at the time. I just felt it was a really odd decision, the kind that inexperienced eaters make when they order a curry. They don’t want spice, yet get a dhansak. They want to be adventurous, so go for beef-based curries. They order too much: samosas, bhajis, pakoras and prawn purées. They don’t like raisins, yet choose a peshwari naan. You get my drift.
In hindsight and looking back on the game and the goals (which is hindsight, basically), it seems like an even more farcical decision to take off Holmes, considering that Yiadom (I’m not slagging him off) was not going to light the fire that was severely lacking in the forward players’ arsenal, nor was he going to maintain the defensive solidness that had seen us through most of the game with Holmes. The goals were poor, very poor and it ended the week on a fruitless and negative note.
For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the game itself and I genuinely think we will make the play-offs. It’s clear that with the news of Richards’ impending exit to Bayern Munich, Pauno needs to start coming up with other options at LB and Gibson did himself some big favours with a solid performance. It’s unlikely any teams in the mid-table section will put together any sort of a cohesive (always makes me think of glue, that word) run and it’s unlikely we will go on another catastrophic sequence like we did just before Crimbo. A trip to Bristol is a good place to get back to winning ways and a big opportunity to really cement our play-off hopes.
Oh and by the way, in case you didn’t know, it’s cold out there...
Until next time.