Potters Bar Town away. Too early to call it a “must win”? Probably, yes, but a performance was demanded after a poor afternoon at KGF against Brightlingsea Regent.
And we got one.
From Potters Bar Town.
From most of the K’s, we got hardly anything at all, and it was very painful to watch. Potters Bar Town were everything we were not – a team, a unit, a set of players playing for each other, maybe even a set of players for which the total far outweighed the sum of the parts. Former K’s man Lee O’Leary is the Scholars’ captain these days, and he was magnificent. He quietly ran the show, dominated midfield, allowed everyone in scarlet to play to the best of their ability, did all the simple things very well and was the catalyst to a fine team performance.
Kingstonian on the other hand were a bunch of individuals, almost acting like strangers, an incoherent set of men in yellow shirts not taking responsibility for their actions, or in a few cases, inactions. There was discord on the field, players not running for each other, frequently having to try the impossible pass because that was the only pass available, other times trying the impossible pass because the simple one would have as much of a chance of missing the target as any other…
And, although I’m no expert at all on tactics, etc., but I will never understand putting one forward up front. Unless that one forward is the class of an Ibrahimovic who can change a game on an old sixpence, it’s never going to work. I’d be intrigued to see video of Staines Town last season, because I’d like to see how Elliott Buchanan was given the ball so that he could score all those goals – in two games he’s been feeding off scraps, and I’m not even sure he’s getting them. In my time at K’s, the best forward we had was undoubtedly Bobby Traynor, and Bobby at his very very best had a partner with him that complemented him perfectly, in this case Carl Wilson-Denis. My Liverpool supporting brain remembers most fondly the exploits of Ian Rush, such a fine player made even better by the presence of Kenny Dalglish (this is where I am contractually obligated to make one of my favourite points exclaiming that Ian Rush was actually one of the very best defenders that Liverpool ever had). More recently Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez nearly won the league for Liverpool, and this current Liverpool team (although I still don’t really know how good they are) has a pack of three at least complementing each other. One up front doesn’t work for me and I don’t enjoy watching it.
In one respect, it was a fairly terrifying game to watch – a set of expensively assembled players, with lots of good experience to boot, playing as if we’re already waiting for the season to end. For a club trying desperately to raise attendances now that we’re back in the Royal Borough, it’s like beating your already-wounded head against the wall. It may be overreaction after just two games, and there may be a little bit of justification as we have missed Shaun McAuley due to a broken nose, and also Leo Chambers and Manolis Gogonas because of their red cards at Thurrock last season. However, on paper you would have backed who was there to have picked up six points from two games without too much of a problem. Football isn’t played on paper and has a tendency to kiss backsides. And ours are red raw at the moment.
The reason for the photo and the title of the post? The Banana Splits song is the run-out song for Potters Bar Town, although with my cynical hat on, it could have been our run-out song (and could well be when we play Dorking Wanderers next Friday if my mood is bad enough). My short stay at Potters Bar Town last night told me that they’re a decent bunch of people, and they deserve all the good things they get at the moment. They even had a seat in the main stand that had leg room, I could want for not much more (apart from less goals from the home side and some goals for the away side…).
So, if this start has been hard for us, the next few games will see no let up – Carshalton Athletic away against a team full of speed, energy and running, then a League Cup game against Bracknell Town who are newly promoted back into the Isthmian League and won on opening day. Next Friday night sees one of the promotion favourites Dorking Wanderers visit King George’s Field, and last night they gave an early indication of their intentions with an impressive-looking result against Margate, and then finally Corinthian-Casuals at home on Bank Holiday Monday in a game where form (good or bad) goes straight out of the window. Only two games in, is Saturday a “must win”? It might well be – a lot of K’s supporters’ patience is, at best, wearing paper thin. And so is mine.