Too long, didn’t read (or TLDR for those of you who love WhatsApp): I woke up fizzing with excitement like a giant human Alka Seltzer and ended the day as flat as a deflated balloon.
Still, at least it’s taken until the last week of pre-season for me to get back into the ballet of emotions of standard-season football. Look, today wasn’t disastrous, but it wasn’t great either. When I looked at the schedule of games as they were announced, it did seem odd we’d play Wimbledon in between West Ham and Brighton. I felt that, of the three, the Seabirds would prove to be our toughest opponents (hey, remember that crazy time when we were on a level with them? (if not better)) of the warm-up campaign. More on that later.
Pre-game, we headed to the hotel bar to sup something. Upon entering the fabulously furnished arena, it was clear you’d never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Anywhere. Ever. It was truly a sight to behold. Baseball caps were paced at jaunty angles on pensioners’ heads. Bottles of Appletiser were strewn across tables like confetti at a low-budget wedding. One chap even had a paper and an espresso on the go. I gritted (grat?) my teeth and swallowed a pint of Grolsch like it was 2005.
Upon leaving the confines of easily the most middle-class bar I’ve ever been in, it was clear that the attendance would be very low. And so it turned out, with the number hovering around 4,000 in total.
The first half wasn’t ideal. We hardly touched the ball and, when we did, we gave it straight back to the visitors. It wasn’t long before the early pressure turned into a goal. We weren’t horrendous defensively, but we had no outlet moving forward which put extra pressure on the midfield and back three.
The second half continued in much the same vein, with a goal coming early in the second period. That seemed to spark us into life as we moved to a 3-5-2 and instantly looked more attacking. Good pressure resulted in a stone-clad penalty being given to us with Yaks converting. Was there a chance that Brighton might have been soccered? No, there was not.
Junior had a nice shot slapped away and Joao came on and promptly injured himself (good thing we haven’t completely frozen out Puscas, isn’t it...). Aside from those events, nothing really happened and the game rolled down.
All in all, a mixed bag. We won’t play many teams that are better than Brighton this season, so it’s a reassuring we didn’t get completely rolled over score-wise. That said, we played very much into their game plan when we started as a 3-4-3, allowing them to have far too much of the ball. 3-5-2 looked marginally better from an attacking sense, but the key is how we set up next week against the Tangerines.
Hold off on lighting the bonfire of negativity just yet, I think this team has a bit more to offer.
Until next time.