Yesterday at Colston Avenue, especially in the second half, was an improvement. With confidence in the team very low, I didn’t expect too much out of the game with Carshalton Athletic. Not really a feeling that I like, but having seen us play very poorly at Potters Bar Town, I had serious misgivings about playing away to a side that I thought would have speed to burn and cause angst aplenty.
The first half didn’t completely assuage my misgivings, though the Robins didn’t have as much dynamism as I thought they would have. In fact, most of the first half was a bit of a non-event, but then we conceded a poor goal. Thoughts of “here we go again” surfaced immediately, though (and I wish I’d noticed this at the time) we didn’t go into a shell. Our midfield was showing positive signs – having Shaun McAuley and Manolis Gogonas in there was an immediate improvement. Whilst chances were at a premium at both ends, we finished it encouragingly when Toby Ajala hit the bar with a cross-come-shot (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and insist that it wasn’t a mis-hit…).
So half time came and I was still in a dark mood. This mood masked the fact that we had improved from Tuesday. OK, it was a low bar to overcome, but it was better. It got even better when Louie Theophanous equalised so early in the second half and it became more noticeable that things were threatening to become normal. Players began to play for each other, began to put in a big shift, began to play as a team. Shaun McAuley was replaced early in the second half by debutant Connor Dymond and he impressed immediately.
Greg Cundle was unlucky not to score after snaffling the ball after a defensive error but he hit the post from a very acute angle; Rob Tolfrey made an outstanding save from a very clever free kick by Jordan Cheadle, but in truth we deserved a winner.
We are now off the mark. One point in nine is not what we wanted by any means, but thanks to the availability of three guys – Mano, Shaun and Leo Chambers – we looked a different side. It’s nowhere near perfect, there are still certain parts of the team that I have reservations about, but we have belatedly built a base and the guys showed some heart and desire. With expectations having been lowered significantly after the first two games, anything positive is welcome.
Tuesday night against Bracknell Town is not going to be a picnic – our second consecutive match against a team of Robins, this League Cup Preliminary Round tie will be against a team promoted from the Hellenic League last season and have won both their games back in Isthmian life this season. They are used to winning games, but a lot of what happens will depend on our attitude. If it’s good then we can have a fun evening, but if not then we could be grinding teeth again. It’s a big seven days coming up on the planet Kingstonia, not only this trip to Bracknell but then home games against Dorking Wanderers on Friday night and (provisionally, depending on Saturday’s result) Corinthian-Casuals on Monday afternoon.
Let’s try to get this ball rolling.