Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Classic Blackpool - the Mighty vs Northampton Town:

There are many things that are 'Blackpooly' - just a few of them include: red brick Edwardian houses with mock Tudor gables, Jimmy Armfield playing the organ, 1930s semis with bay windows, Ballon d'Or winners jogging down the beach and playing football with a tennis ball, sunsets to die for and sunrises to live for, a spectacular adjunct of suburban aspirational property types and grinding poverty stats, milk roll, that Nolans song, the all time greatest FA Cup final ever, mad shit you just don't see elsewhere that you could go on forever listing like those lit up first princess horse drawn carriage things as just one example, late 1920s balloon trams with green and cream livery, not going to town in summer if you can avoid it, piers, towers, parks, boating lakes, play off glory and tangerine, tangerine, tangerine. Fucking beautiful tangerine.

There's many more things that are Blackpooly. Some are great. Some less so. It probably true to say that Blackpool is more distinct than anywhere else I know.

Here's the thing... to twat the top of the league away from home (and to look like Brazil, combined with peak era Ajax) and then to fail to turn up at home, (against some random club that are from some random place that have never really done owt and you don't know who any of their players are as we play like we've never met before and are in fact a team of trainee clowns doing a comic impression of a shite football team) is probably the most defining quality of Blackpooly things that there is

Northampton. It's somewhere. In that void where nowhere places are. Shoes. Purple kit. Used to play at a cricket ground. Not actually anywhere near Southampton. Not sure what else there is to say. Had Bez Lubala for a bit probably the only thing I can remember about the last decade of Northampton related things. They're like one of those Scottish teams that just are. Why, no one is sure, but there they are always. You're never quite certain if they're in Div 3 or 4 at the moment. Graham Carr. That's another thing...

I'm frankly terrified. I'll take one going in off Beesley's arse whilst he's looking the other way and then hanging on for dear life...

We're unchanged. That calms me a bit. The moon is high and bright. The air is crisp and anticipation mixes with nerves. Into em' Pool. Maybe my nerves are just a way of trying not to get involved in all the expectation shit. That'll be it. Nothing to fear. Total sexy football all the way. Nothing can possibly go wrong...


It starts out ok enough. Actually, it doesn't. Marvin has been back, back, back with a vengeance of late, but he kicks off the evening by inexplicably miscalculating everything and giving them a shooting chance that Grimmy saves in spectacular fashion, full on superman dive with a trailing arm that is flung up to turn the ball over the top.

That should wake everyone up.

We chuck the ball over the top a lot which seems like it might work when Bees wins a few but doesn't really lead to anything too meaningful. Dembele gets a breakthough and is haring towards goal, Beesley yells for it, Kaddy* gives it and Beesley goes for a spectacular first time effort. Don't get me wrong, it's actually lovely and heartwarming to see that Bees has the confidence to do that, but he could have probably popped down a picnic blanket, trotted over to Ian Brunskill, collected a hamper (I'd assume of all the backroom staff, Ian Brunskill is the most likely to be in possession of a hamper) got out a pork pie, sliced it and had time to take the lid off the piccalilli before he'd have been closed down so it might have been an idea to control it and place it instead.
*I'm not sure why I'm calling him Kaddy. Critch does, but if I took 'Critch does' as a measure for my own behaviour then I'm not sure where I'd end up. Probably earnestly reading a document on the best tyre pressure for fuel efficiency at legal motorway cruising speeds and ordering my clothes from a 'smart sportswear' catalogue in bulk.

There are some shots. They aren't very good. Kaddy and Rhodes get polite applause because they are Dembele and Jordan and we're lucky to have them so we're always nice to them. Other efforts get a more typical groan. We'll be alright though. We're just going through the gears aren't we? These are just sighters. Preliminaries. We're football genius now. We can't score all the time. It would get boring... Only a matter of time. Dembele takes a really good corner. See. It'll be grand...

Then the nightmare manifests itself. I can't really remember what happened. Who remembers the other team's goals anyway? (you can fuck off if you're going to say stuff like 'you should if you're going to write a blog about it' cos I'm not watching the highlights just so you can read me tell you about a thing you could just look at yourself.) Essentially, suddenly everyone seems very wrong side and it looks for all the world like they're going to score and they do, indeed, score. It doesn't seem to my untrained eye like we dealt with it as we should have done. Fuck's sake Pool.

We respond by everyone generally looking like we might have just got off the bus from Pompey about an hour ago. The first touches aren't there, the little stretches and slides aren't in their legs. A move bursts into life, but someone doesn't run or the pass is behind them. It's lethargic.

Beesley runs at the defence. Rhodes, Dembele and Carey offer runs. Beesley elects to shoot. He hits the legs of their defender. Again, it's nice he has the confidence but...

We have a little splutter of attack around half time. Carey whistles one over the top after what is probably the most convincing move for 30 minutes. There's maybe a corner or two. There's a lot of booing at Northampton's sluggish taking of set plays. It's all a bit frustrating.


Critch hasn't rung the changes. Quele surprise. 'Go and give me some fire lads' he might have said. We get sodden wood and a little bit of grey smoke. Did anything happen until we put the subs on? I'm not sure. I've forgotten that bit of the game. I can't even do another passive aggressive comment about not watching the highlights because there wasn't anything that would make the highlights. Even Dembele isn't very good.

I do notice the following. Their no19 is giving Marvin a horrible time. We're booing him for reasons I've failed to notice. Marvin looks like he's in the wrong gear. He keeps chugging after the ball quite slowly when surely it makes sense to run quickly. I'm not a UEFA licensed coach, so it's probably not my place to say it but it's weird. This lad was utterly sensational on Saturday.

I also notice their no 7 is quite rotund. That pleases me a bit. It's ages since we've had a convincing 'footballer who looks like a real person' and Northampton's (*checks the internet*) Sam Hoskins (300+ games for them and he also played for Southampton) is the best one for a while.

We make a whole substitute. Kyle Joseph for Jake Beesley. C'mon Pool, drag yourself out of this torpor for fucks sake. CJ has it. He runs a bit. He lays off, Dougall crosses, Rhodes rises and YESSS! We're back in it. It's a lovely header, absolutely in the style of a goalscorer who needs just a sniff. Everything is right with the world again. The floodgates will open, those nowhere, purple shoe fetishists won't know what has hit them.

They swap the 19 for a lad with a headband. I think he must be good because he has a head band and long hair. He looks a bit like a poundshop Tom Eaves who is a poundshop Andy Carroll. I wonder about if you could create a set of russian dolls of similar players with the most famous one as the biggest doll and then tinier and tinier versions of less and less famous players till you get to some bloke who plays for Weeton Seniors but has a pony tale at about doll no 13. I think we're learning that this game wasn't a spectacular feast of footballing moments aren't we?

Jimmy. He's the model of reliability. He's the formally topknotted god. He's been absolutely outstanding this season. He goes around not putting a foot wrong. You know absolutely what you are going to get from Jimmy Husb.... WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?

Hubby has his head in his hands. He's just sold Grimmy short with a no look back pass that was expertly intercepted and neatly tucked away by the surprisingly rapid Hoskins. For fucks sake Pool. Fucking hell. I can't be angry at Jimmy. He's Jimmy. I'm just angry at the world. The fucking state of everything. It's all gone to shit. I stare at the roof of the South Stand. It stares back, slightly faded panelling that impassively watches my agony. I sigh. C'mon Pool.

Albie 'the new Matty Virtue' Morgan comes on for his scheduled runabout. I'm a bit surprised to see Dougall go off as he's looked the one player who has dug in a bit and gone toe to toe a few times. Andy Lyons comes on as well cos possibly Dembele got a knock. I fucking hope not. I don't even want to imagine a world where he's crocked. We play a weird 3 up front type thing with CJ in there.

We scrap but we can't get hold of it properly. For all the boos, I can't help but admire the solid and committed approach of Northampton. They've fought, fallen over and lingered over things like they've been reading 'How to be a Shithouse, by G Madine (aged 33 and a bit)' and that's football isn't it? They've kept us honest by having enough threat to make us think twice and also got solid and dared us to unpick them. We haven't. The ref is a bit crap but we're really not making much of anything. CJ has a run. He appears to kick himself over. I think that's probably the highlight of the game. 

There's a scramble. A shout for a pen. It's not a pen. I can't see it really, but I can tell from the shout. Then we go again into the box. Marv is up. There's a mad big shout. That's something. The ball is flying around in the box like a squash ball being knocked about in furiously masculine business way by some high flying executive type that'll work for the club for 12 months before parting ways as they all seem to do... the keeper is flapping, the ball is in the air, Owen Dale has seen his chance... It's all gone slow motion... the goal is gaping and.......

Owen... Dale... heads... it... over...

For fuck's sake Pool. Fucks sake.


Here's the irony. The tinkerman didn't tinker when perhaps (definitely) he should have done. Had he tinkered, I'd have probably moaned a bit and rolled my eyes performatively at the tinkering. It was a game too far for the same 11 and the energy of a player or two with a point to prove would perhaps have galvanised the tired legs of players who'd already proved some points in the previous performances. I'm not sure I can really rage at Critch for doing more or less what I'd have done though. I just hope this doesn't set him back on his road to attacking enlightenment and mean we have to revert to fearing and setting up to counter the counter of teams like Northampton because I honestly think that had this game come first, the energy and crucially, the movement and pace in moving the ball we showed at Portsmouth would have been too much and once we'd have got in front, we'd have seen them unravel and got at least another.

I think I've already said something like this this season - Critchley mk 2 appears to have modelled us on a Steve Macmahon team. For the kids, that means - When we're good, we're very good and we can look a division or more better than we are. When we're not good (which is at least as often, if not more often than the former), we're inexplicably prone to calamity and lethargy and the previous footballing superpowers we possessed in the moments of glorious fury and fire appear to be entirely alien to us. Who knows why? Not me. I am but a shite blogger and the best I can manage is the frankly lame and superficial 'they looked a bit leggy to me Clive'


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Saturday, November 18, 2023

Shrews swept aside - the Mighty vs Shrewsbury Town

Straight away, I like the team. It's not always about the individuals, it's about the balance and it just feels right. The product of thought, not of a roulette wheel. We're playing Shrewsbury. There's nothing to learn from pretending we're playing Real Madrid and trying to grind it out. Go for it. Treat yourself. Kick the autumn leaves into the air and spin around in giddy delight. Live a little.

I'm surprised. Critch doing this seems a bit like him getting involved in a touchline bust up or slagging off the board in a post match interview. He's released the handbrake. The car is rolling free. The top is down and the wind is ruffling his side parting. Neil 'carefree' Critchley unbuttons the polo shirt, puts on his aviator shades and gets ready to enjoy the ride. Hell, he's even going to overtake that caravan ahead without triple checking his mirrors first. Caution to the wind Critch. YOLO Critch. Critch and Mike, like Thelma and Louise, driving the car off the cliff... 


I'm slightly panicked at kick off. What if this is an illusion. What if he's *actually* playing Dembele as an extra centre half? What if Sonny's job is to kick people? What if CJ's been told under no circumstances to cross the halfway line? 

The first few minutes are slightly wobbly. Shrewsbury give the false impression of being up for it and being anything other than haplessly bad. Mainly though, they foul Dembele. Again and again and then... ref for fucks sake... again...

The ref isn't bothered until he is. Carey with a quick thinking header to not only block a clearance but to also cleverly direct the ball to Rhodes who in turn plays a deviously intelligent, beautifully executed pass to the little wizard who is instantly clipped. The ref is blowing before he hit the ground. To be honest, it looked less like a foul than the ones the ref didn't give, but if your game plan is essentially 'kick the other team's best player and nothing else', then you reap what you sow.

Rhodes looks so cool as he waits. We chant his name. He's calm. He's calmer than a meditation tape voiceover artist on his annual relaxation retreat. Calmer than instant karma Then, one step, two step and bang. Never. In. Doubt.

Jimmy is causing havoc. He's clipping little fizzing balls into a channel, just where they don't want to defend them and they're completely overwhelmed by this approach. He's whipping a cross and we're somehow not quite turning it home.

Dembele is just pure delight. Cushioned touches, twisting turns and graceful,gliding meandering that becomes a sharp sprint in a split second. We're good with the ball and when we lose it, we just win it back, pressing and harrying and forcing Shrewsbury into all manner of panicked, ugly touches.

There's a cross to the far post, it's Dale or it's Sonny, (I don't remember, both of them playing nicely, carrying the ball, working with purpose, moving and taking it in and moving it on) and it takes the merest of deflections and goes just over Rhodes' head.

CJ, a deft moment as he seems to step through his man and reappear with the ball, a feint that takes him away from a challenge and he's away, he's in and will he shoot? No, he squares it to Beesley who can't miss and despite seeming to do everything in his power not to score, the ball is over the line and Jake is running away. That's a lovely moment. CJ is all redemption and rebirth of late. Maybe, just maybe, as unlikely as it seemed last week, Jake could be too.

There's 9 minutes injury time because someone in the Kop needed treatment early, Grimmy running out as fast as I've ever seen him move to alert the ref. I think and hope it ended up ok. The half certainly has. We've been virtually untroubled.


Please don't sit on this. Please. It never fucking works.


Will Shrewsbury come out with fire in their bellies? They emerge and look more like a damp box of spent matches than a raging inferno of stung pride. Nothing happens at all for a bit. We move it around in leisurely manner, entirely unhurried by anything they do. Marvin is having a lovely afternoon, again, far more himself than the jumpy early season Marv. Dougall is just purring away in midfield, ratting with a biting purpose, swaying his hips and turning away from anyone who tries to nick the ball off him and prompting from the heart of the pitch. Only Pennington really looks less than totally comfortable, slicing a couple of straightforward touches, maybe a little discombobulated by playing against the team that finally gave him a home after a peripatetic loan career up till signing for them. Even then, he doesn't really do too much wrong and nothing comes from his couple of shaky moments.

Through the middle we go. It's touched off and Carey has it, a little step inside, I'm on my feet, I love a Sonny goal, but his low shot is well saved and then Beesley's sharp follow up is brilliantly stopped by an arm thrown out almost impossibly quickly to claw the goal bound football out of the air and push it away. Bees has done well today, winning his fair share, linking nicely and running the channels with purpose. Maybe it's the effect of Rhodes - other strikers seem to suddenly understand their own game just by standing next to him.

Shrewsbury fans do the Poznan. They do some weird dance. They then pretend they've scored and go mental. They sing about losing and going on the piss anyway. They briefly chant for their sacking of their manager. Then they sing about being on the piss again. I like them. They're not taking it all too seriously.

We're treading water ever so slightly. I don't like it when we do that. Albie Morgan comes on to be a bit of an enigma as he always is. Kyle Joseph replaces Rhodes who hasn't had his best performance but has still looked class. That's the level he is. It's a privilege to watch him play really. I like the subs. It's just a bit of fresh energy, a couple of players with something to prove and no reason to cruise the last 20 minutes. I like that he's left Dembele on.

Critch plays a bit of football when the ball goes out of play. He kind of toe pokes the ball a few times back to the player waiting for a throw. He looks a bit like a dad who doesn't really like football on a park wearing his work shoes. I wonder if he ever joins in when they're training.

Then Dembele receives it from the right. He drifts, he's like a moon walking sand dancer, a fluid liquid joy of a thing. A little diagonal, Joseph, a little touch to find space and then SMASH! The net is lifted up by a rocket of an effort that might have reached orbit had it not been caught by the goal. It's a moment to cherish and what slight gathering tension their was at our failure to put them to the sword dissipates. It's over.

Joseph isn't done though. A sublime little bit of control, taking Morgan's hard won ball forward in, swivelling and chipping a perfect little sand wedge pass to Beesley. Jake is bearing down on goal, Jake is feinting to go one way then dragging the ball the other, the keeper staggers and goes to ground, Beesley is an acre of space now, the goal at his mercy, the keeper erased like an errant pencil mark by his skill and there he is, tucking the ball home and trotting away to acknowledge the roars like he's always just doing this, it's no big deal and we're home and dry, with the fire on and our slippered feet up, drinking a warming mug of 3 point brew.

Lovely stuff. 


We played well today. Shrewsbury were rank bad, that is without question, but we never gave them a sniff of getting into the game and sometimes, in fact, quite often, we struggle against bad teams. We didn't so much blow them away as just power past them with cruise control on. This wasn't the kind of manic 20 minutes where we got back into the game against Fleetwood, or tried in vain to claw back Peterborough. This was probably our first really controlled and convincing 90 minute performance of the season. They tried to bully us and couldn't. That's a good omen. We'll play more sides like this. 

We probably can't play exactly the same next Saturday. That's fine. You can do be justified in being more balanced and thinking about the other team when you're playing a decent side and Portsmouth aren't bad. Now we've risked it against an average side though, there's no reason to not repeat this sort of performance at home against pretty much anyone. We played the best team we could and we let it attack. It wasn't ever close. Shrewsbury's fans were great. Their team were really poor. We were fairly subdued, lulled into a kind of contented appreciation of us finally properly showing up for an entire game and looking like we all hoped we would when we told ourselves 'we should be good this season' in August.

Well done Critch. A lot better.


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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Jekyll and Hyde - Fleetwood Town vs the Mighty

I'm sat in one of the dark side streets that run on to where the docks used to be. I'm eating chips. They are good chips. They always are here. A police car cruises by very slowly. I'm just eating chips. Why is it so interested in me? A few minutes later another car parks up in front of me at a weird angle, headlights shining at me. It waits. It's like it's watching me or expecting me to do something. It's a big car with tinted windows. I eat some more chips. I like that if you ask for plenty of vinegar in Fleetwood, you always get it. I think I might have accidently parked up in some kind of drug dealing/some other kind of vice spot. I decide to eat my chips elsewhere as I don't really want any Fleetwood narcotics. 

I park up in my alternative spot and finish my meal undisturbed. It's windy. It's always windy here. When I lived here, the absence of wind was more noticeable than when it was blowing forty miles an hour. I stand in a puddle. It's really unexpectedly deep. Fuck's sake Fleetwood. The chips were good though. 

Highbury Stadium is a stupid name for a ground. It's like us playing at somewhere called 'the Goodison Ground or the 'Anfield Arena.' It has rubbish floodlights too. They're more like something you'd get at a supermarket car park.  

What's this team? I can hear Critch now. 'Mike, lets give the same lads another chance - let them show us what they can do.' Fleetwood aren't, by any measure, particularly good. They've sacked a manager and replaced him and got a little bit better but we seem to have set up to counter them. I realise that in Critch's mind, the fact he's dropped Thommo for Dale is a sign of intent. I suspect he's a man who thinks Bryan Adams is heavy rock music. 


We're definitely better than them. It's weirdly not at all windy in the ground. They look ragged and we're quickly on top. Our decent start yields a shot from Rhodes that smacks the bar. All is going well. Fleetwood are limited to a couple of breaks and it seems only a matter of time before our fundamental superiority tells. Super Sonny Carey has a go, he absolutely smashes one from out side the box following a nice run into open space and as ever, finds a keeper just about able to claw it out. He scored last week, but I wasn't there. I make that 7 goals I've almost seen Sonny score this season. 

Never mind though, because it's only a matter of time. 

Except it fucking isn't because Fleetwood have scored. What the fuck was that about? They just ran up the pitch, passed it to their striker who waltzed past two challenges and poked it in. There's some classic small dog in the face of the big dog action as their lad celebrates in front of us. The ref picks up the paper cup that heads in his direction and takes it to the police like it's important evidence. Chucking shit at people isn't good craic really, but it's a fucking paper cup. Fuck's sake Pool. 

We're not immediately back on the bike. In fact, the bike seems to have got a puncture. We're dazed by the goal. Wobbling about uncomfortably and not really in control. Then, the chain falls off and the whole idea of being on the bike at all goes out the window. They loop a long ball in and then, in a way that we don't seem to keen on doing, commit loads of players into the box. The lad who scored wins a header, a shot comes in. Grimmy is possibly guilty of smoking a slightly stronger strain than usual as he acts quite surprised by the sudden movement and just pats it back to their best player (their no 14 who I noticed earlier had lovely control) and he can't miss from about 4 yards out. 

What happens next is we're fucking shite for ages. There's no maelstrom of intent. No stung pride and desperate scramble to get a goal back. Next to me, I hear someone predict the exact pattern of play we churn out before it happens and watch it come absolutely true. We knock it square between the back 3, the keeper and then give it to Dougall in the desperate hope Kenny will conjure something from the array of static bodies in front of him. Passing football requires movement. If you've no movement you need a plan B and Kylian isn't really cutting it as a Madine replacement, so that's not really working either. 

The highlight of the latter 32 minutes of the half is CJ running back, fighting, making a good challenge, getting the crowd on his side, then crossing the ball. Into his own box. Ole. 

Fleetwood could have scored again. We're absolutely shite. It's basically Owen Dale vs Fleetwood. 

I'm not one to lay into players but Oakley Boothe is stretching my sense of charity. Football is hard. Players have a weird job, training all week for a performance they ultimately can't control. Imagine being an actor but someone keeps trying to change the words of the play and stop you reaching the right entrances and blocking your exits. That's a bit like what being a footballer must be like. He's really not looking arsed though. I don't know if I'm guilty of just reacting to his body language and making assumptions but he looks diffident and a bit surly. Like, it's somehow a bit of an inconvenience having to play. He then pulls out of a tackle and responds by shoving the player who has beaten him in the back. It's not so much shithousery as just shit. It's a (lack of) effort that makes Carey look like Gary fucking Brabin and surely, the only reason Oakley Boothe is on the pitch is to carry water for others and if he can't be bothered doing that in a committed way, then I don't know why he's there. Maybe he's not fit. If not, why is he there? 

Not on the pitch


It's not so much conceding the two goals that has pissed me off but the limp response. Goals happen but we look so devoid of ideas and in some cases desire. 


On the pitch

The atmosphere is instantly changed. Lavery (the White Pele) and Dembele (the new Messi) are on. Immediately we start chanting for Lavs. There's a sense of intent from the very first second of the half and the crowd respond. Football isn't played in the stands, but it's that sneaking sense that what happens in the stands feeds onto the pitch that makes being there special. From the off, we're chanting Lavs' name and he's bustling, hustling, hovering and at his annoying waspish best. We roar our approval, he draws breath and hares after the ball again. 

Then the moment it properly turns... Sonny, on the edge of the box. He's dallying... He's dropping his shoulders left and right. There's an easy ball outside. He's hanging on to it too long, Sonny, make your mind up, he's pushing out of his feet, he's hitting a shot and it's through a crowd and it's in! YESSSSS! Down the terrace, into bodies, back up again, grabbing a coat of a random person, someone yanking me back, YESSSSSSS! I fucking love this. Game on. 

We're everything we weren't in the first half. We're snapping into everything, we're moving it quickly and crisply. We're penning them in. Dembele is wriggling through, he's like a little ball bearing bouncing off the walls of some kids toy maze game, he's fucking magic jack in the box, he's laying it out to CJ, CJ with a cross, it's deep... Carey, Picks it up... Picks his spot.. hits the spot!!! YESSSSSSS. Mania again. This is football. I honestly almost black out. This is the boy doing what the boy can do. All goals are great goals etc... 


Then it gets better. Lavery to Rhodes. Rhodes with a little touch round the corner that Madine would be proud of. It's absolute class. Lavs is racing onto it. He's going shoulder to shoulder, he's poked it ahead of himself, he's shot and though I can't see it hit the net, I know it has from the ecstatic roar that I become part off and the ensuing pandemonium that seems to lift me from my feet and launch me not just down the terrace but somehow far above the ground at the same time... It's honestly the best thing ever being on an actual packed terrace when the Pool score a goal like that... The players are in front of us, CJ is imploring us for more noise... We give it. 

I've no idea when or what order the following things happen in. Some of them came before the goals and I think some of them after. Stop complaining. I'm not carrying a notepad just for you for fucks sake. You can literally watch the game back for 2 quid.

There's a fucking mental bit of control from Dembele, he takes the ball with his feet like someone catching a ball with their hands. He teases the defenders like someone torturing a dog with a treat they keep whipping bag from it's slavering jaws. He's outrageous. There's another moment where he bustles through, hitting the ground and bouncing up, coming out the other side of a sandwich of bodies like a cork tossed on a waves surfacing and floating again towards shore. We lap it up. 

There's a cross field pass for CJ that he stuns and charges onto his own touch like he's pure class. There's numerous shots charged down and a sense that we're way, way on top now. I read on a forum a thread about us needing to think of something witty and original to sing about Pilley. We rise to the occasion with the subtle, eloquent and elegant 'Pilley's getting bummed' which I think encapsulates a lot of stuff about life, justice and power and such. Sonny plays a divine ball, conjuring a swerving, spinning pass to Lavery who tries and almost achieves burring down the line and smashing it through the keeper. Maybe he should have pulled it back. Lavs' best feature though is the fact he's stupidly desperate to score. 

Then somehow, it begins to ebb a little. There's a gnawing sense that we're tiring perhaps. That such a blitz can't last forever. There's no real sense that Fleetwood are coming back into it particularly, just that now, it resembles a game of football, not a training exercise of attack vs defence. A ball back to Marvin. He flaps. He freezes. He gives it away. He saves himself with a superb challenge but I didn't like that at all. 

Subs. I'd take Sonny off. He's given his all. He looks knackered. Critch takes off Dale and Rhodes. I'm not sure. I think the midfield needs stiffening. There's a kind of rumble of nerves around the terrace. Sonny has it. Dembele is darting, he's peeling off his man. Sonny tries a little cute pass. He stubs it a bit. Tired legs. Tired pass. They break. They run right through us. It's a knife through butter. The 14 has it. He's good. Fuck me. That was very good in a horrible, horrible way. 

I feel empty. The hideous, tinny, awful Captain Pugwash theme plays. I am fucking gutted. It was a sublime finish. Where the fuck did that come from? 

We go again. There's 10 minutes. From flares and stuff I assume. 10 minutes. C'mon... C'mon... It's been an absolute heartbreak moment, but if we can pull it back again, then it will be insane. 

Lavery. He's got Sonny just inside him. In acres of space. On a hat trick Pull it back! He doesn't. He's Lavs. One of Lavs' best qualities etc.. Fucking hell, c'mon. A shot. from I think Dougall, a scream for handball. It looked quite handball to me. A ball in. There's some kind of mad hacking mayhem. A shot. I can't see. It's blocked, saved brilliantly. Someone (Marvin?) is on the ground. Another shot. I can't see. A howl of agony from behind the ball. It's hacked away from the line. C'mon. Seconds are left. We dither at the back. It's launched finally. It comes back to Hubby. He can't control it. It runs out. The ref blows. 


The end felt so flat after all that. It was almost a wonderful turnaround and then it wasn't. The two players who really added most second half got caught out trying to add a fourth and I don't care about that. We conceded an equalizer trying to put the game to bed. If you're going to moan about that, then in my humble opinion you're missing the point of what we need to do more of. Fuck 'game management' and stuff. It's that thinking that drags us into our shell. 

What I do care about is the fact we keep giving ourselves a mountain to climb by 'respecting the opposition' and trying to be solid, but we're shit at it. There's no point playing a kind of patient, measured football, if you can't do it and it's not the first game of late where we've looked wank trying to contain and brilliant just going all out.Oxford, Wank, then brilliant, Stevenage - brilliant, then wank. Peterborough, wank, then brilliant with 10 men. Today, fucking utter gash, then incredible for a bit. We haven't got it in us to be a contain and pounce team. It's just not us. Our flair players are better at being flair players than our solid players are at being solid. 

Dembele just being there gives everyone hope. Honestly, I don't see the point of being all compact and tight and having a system and all that shit if we don't find a place for this kid. No, he doesn't have all the positional discipline and make great recovery runs (I don't actually know what a recovery run is) but he literally seems the point of having a system in the first place. The system is the platform for him. Surely. Otherwise, it's like going to watch a concert and there being no artist, just the lights and the wires and shit.

We're a big club in this division. It's all relative. Listen to us at away games for fucks sake. The low roof of the stand reflects back the chants. The chants radiate out. The players attack. It gets louder. We're desperate for players to show no fear. We love that football.

Why do we fuck about worrying about the other team? We've got a kid who is sensational. Can you imagine Barcelona deciding not to play Messi against some tinpot La Liga side? Because he doesn't track back? Because he's not disciplined enough? I can't. What is it we fear? I know we can't attack like that for 90 minutes solid, but when we play with the bit between our teeth we look a genuine force. When we trot around, we look like we're waiting to get picked off. 

Last time we went up, it was all about solidity. I honestly think Critchley needs to realise that perhaps, this time it's about something different. I credit him with showing the intelligence to realise he couldn't just come and work the same trick twice and try something new. I really hope he understands that we can be something special if we properly commit to being what we are, which is a team who needs to attack. It's evident. It brings out so much more in what we have. Surely to god he sees what we see. A side that is fleetingly great to watch when we let ourselves loose and painfully average when we're constrained. 

It was a good game. It was a heart breaking game. I hate that Pugwash theme. I'm sure they're delighted that I do. 


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Yet another bad owner. Where do they breed them?

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