Cod Almighty | Article

by Alistair Wilkinson

19 October 2010

Five goals in two away games, and only one of them from Connell. A good return, which shows signs of improvement against the lesser sides and a commitment from the rest of the team, in particular Eagle with three, to weigh in with some goals. Three of those five came against Forest Green and two against Kidderminster, so the goals were shared between the games as well - no 5-0 thumping followed by a bore-draw for us.

If only that were the case. Those five goals for were outshone, outdone and just generally outed, routed and touted by the six against. Two goals down in 18 minutes against Forest Green and in only 11 against Kidderminster, it was dreadful first-half performances that led to one point from a three-all draw with the former and 3-2 defeat to the latter. The fragility of the Conference was highlighted again, as in both games improved second-half displays meant that we could have taken all three points from both games, with Connell uncharacteristically goal-shy in the first and everyone characteristically pants in both.

Our season in the dark is turning into an encounter of car park sex: exciting moments interspersed with urgency and desperation but in the end it's cold, embarrassing, your knees are full of gravel and the car alarms are giving us all a headache. Will Southport give us a quick tumble behind a Ford Focus or will we be throwing up bar snacks on our date's back while her boyfriend's getting his mates together to give us a lesson in morality?

I'm feeling a little bitter this week.

The grass is looking a bit greener over at Sincil Bank right now. On the face of it their recent appointment, Steve Tilson, seems like a respectable version of Newell: a double promotion with a footballing Southend and no financial scandal funding the ascent makes him a good candidate for further success with the Imps. Annoyingly. Sutton's stewardship looked likely to bring them down the hole and now that crumb of comfort has been snatched away.

"We go away to Tamworth next week with a real possibility of leaving the FA Cup before it's even started"

We go away to Tamworth next week with a real possibility of leaving the FA Cup before it's even started. We've already lost there, our Luton hangover clouding heads. We can't compete with these sides. Put us against the former league sides and we're okay (three years too late) but the scrappers and the fighters are entrenched in this swamp of a division, so much so that they wait and they find space against us and make us look the clumsy ones. My expectations are that I expect us to go out; not a pleasant feeling.

And more frustration as I sit at home and listen to the Southport game on the radio. It's my second home miss of the season and my inner jinx is assuring me of a 5-0 victory. I'm missing it because my wife is poorly and so I've got the kids. It's essential that they're kept as healthy as possible. This government's attack on universal benefits looks set to continue and soon they'll be up chimneys to keep me in the manner to which I'm accustomed - see: head, roof over; table, food on; and DVDs, zombie.

I think my inner jinx is the only optimistic part of me. We concede an early goal, again; we fail to play or even compete against a poor side, again; we fail to beat a poor side, again; and I'm not surprised, again.

Radio Humberside have come in for a bit of criticism for 'negative' coverage. Comparisons with former Town sides and former opponents lack relevance in this newest of new territory, but it's difficult to disagree with Jamie Forrester when he says we "lack quality" or when the manager describes us as a "shambles" for the 20 minutes after conceding. A couple of texts said that said it was as bad as it sounded, along with a half-hearted dig at the ref.

I didn't hear much ref-baiting from the crowd. There must have been some but in these days of lowered expectations and easier acceptance it's down to individuals to vent their frustration rather than a thousand shouting, angry, laughing voices inquiring as to the parentage of the man in the middle. Childish? Yes. Enormously satisfying? Yes.

I'm always disappointed to miss a match, whether performance and result be good, bad or indifferent. Going to the football is a release from life. I see and speak to people that I have no contact with outside of Blundell Park: old friends, football friends and even my wife's friends who we've lost touch with since parenthood. By missing Southport I know that I've missed something, an argument in the crowd, a spat on the pitch, another new low, a check on Steve Wraith's hair as he bounces along the front of the Pontoon and maybe, just maybe, a tiny piece of skill - I've missed Connell's twelfth, a goal that would grace fields way above ours. Life has few constants, however humdrum it may feel from week to week, and Town are one of mine. Constantly pants, maybe, but a constant nevertheless.

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