The build up to the home game against Carshalton Athletic was different. After letting Leigh Dynan go, it was necessary to fill the first team manager’s post as quick as possible, but at the same time get the appointment right. Easy to put a tick into the first box, it was done as quickly as Tuesday evening, time will of course tell if the second box gets ticked.
After a number of interviews, the K’s board appointed Dean Brennan to the post and threw him in at the deep end to try and prepare a squad at short notice to face an on-form Carshalton Athletic team. There were two “new” players in the squad, with Rhys Murrell-Williamson returning, this time as a loan player from Woking, and Delano Sam-Yorke coming back on loan from Dartford, but Dean will not have had enough time to draft in anyone else. And anyway, the players that we have needed to prove something, not only to the new manager, but to us as supporters and, most importantly, to themselves.
I even allowed myself before the game to get carried away, we’re only seven points off the play-offs, we still have a chance, but realistically we have to have more sedate targets to begin with, targets that we must attain before thinking about higher things. When a team is on a losing run, it is desperately hard to put the brakes on, dig in and force your way out of the ditch that you’ve dug for yourself. So target number one in the Dean Brennan era was to stop the losing run. That target was achieved in an exciting and very difficult game. Target number two will be to win a game. That’s all, just win a game. That’ll do, get that done and then we can think about progress again.
The Carshalton Athletic game started superbly, with Rhys Murrell-Williamson scoring a ridiculous goal from distance in the eighth minute. Did he mean it, or was it a big stroke of luck? Who cares, if it was luck then that’s something we haven’t had in months. Rhys must love playing against Carshalton, that’s his third goal for us, all against the Robins, all goals from distance. The Robins then gradually took over and began to dominate the game and their equaliser, a lovely flicked header from Harry Ottaway, was not only expected but thoroughly deserved. Ah well, leading a game was nice whilst it lasted.
But the K’s were playing with some heart, there was a re-appearance of grit and determination (sounds like a comedy duo from the music hall era), something almost completely lacking in the previous couple of games at least, and whilst they were not the better team, at least the K’s were making a fight of it. Unfortunately for us, though, Louie Theophanous looked like he dinged a hamstring and had to come off during the first half, maybe our luck wasn’t in after all…
The second half was much more even than the Robins-dominated first half, and whilst we rarely looked able to score, the workrate was outstanding. One of the easiest methods to please the untrained Wooldridge eye is even if it’s not completely going the right way then at least work your proverbials off. Rob Tolfrey was called upon to make some of his trademark super saves, including a 75th minute penalty, the rest of the guys scrambled like mad to keep the Robins out and by ‘eck they did. Normal service recently has been heads going down after a goal is conceded and there’s no recovery, but this time they were able to dust themselves down and keep on competing, and for me, that means a positive result from the first game under the stewardship of Dean Brennan. That we worked hard enough to earn a draw against a good and confident Carshalton team coming straight from the end of a wonderful FA Trophy run and the previous Saturday’s clumping of Haringey Borough, well that’s a welcome bonus.
Where we go from here player-wise I haven’t a clue – usually a new manager means a new horde of players, I don’t expect much difference from that script, and so we’re once again in re-build mode. However, this is allowed this time because we’re in new manager mode, this particular re-build is one that piques the interest rather than slamming the alarm bells…
And so to Brightlingsea Regent on Saturday, the team that helped to begin to burst our bubble on opening day. It’s a new ground for me, and Rosey and I will be spending three nights in Colchester to coincide with the game. I pick all the romantic places. Seriously though, this allows us the time to visit some good places, with the historic castle and also the zoo high up on the list of priorities (though I’ve just realised it’s half-term, so the timing might be a little bit off…). It might be a good few days, hopefully the football won’t ruin it.
Here’s to achieving target number two.