I got a bit pre-occupied with writing other stuff yesterday, but I was actually at the Eastleigh game and I did actually have some thoughts. If you want to read them please do, if not just scroll down to the bottom and vote for me in the Football Blogging Awards.
I thought we played really well against a resilient and organised Eastleigh team, and although a point was a good result I think the boys did enough to earn all three. I called Lee Beevers as man of the match to Rob whom I sat with, and I stand by that now. I thought Beevers was absolute class, he looks like the same player we poached from Boston a decade ago. His diagonal balls are dangerous and he has a real energy that a man of his age shouldn’t possess. The odd thing is that last year he didn’t have the same energy and one can only assume that the new fitness regimes the team are undergoing are paying dividends.
Bradley Wood stood out for me as well. I’ve maybe been guilty on this blog of having a little love-in with Brad, but his all action style will always win friends. Saturday typified what he is about, 87 minutes on the clock and he crunches into a 50/50 with one of their boys. The Eastleigh player is left in a heap on the floor but Brad is up and carrying the ball down the line with pace. With the same energy he showed in the first minute the ball comes across and he creates a chance that on another day could make it 1-0. 87 minutes, that’s the time players begin to tire a little but after so much football he looked as fresh as a daisy. In his pre match interview Michael Hortin asked him about his injury. ‘What injury?’ End of conversation. This guy could get hit by a bus and I think the bus would be a write off.
I thought Theo Robinson looked like he can really add something to the team as well although I suspect it will be in the short term and not the long term. We all know he shouldn’t really be in this league, and although there’s a concern as to why he is, there’s also clear indications of his superior quality. His touch was a little off at times and had he been more composed he could have given us a first half lead, but he was busy and livewire and clearly gave their defence another head ache in addition to the behemoth that is Matt Rhead.
Finally on the playing front I think Luke Waterfall and Sean Raggett are looking more solid by the day. Their menace up-front, Mandron is a real talent and mark my words, he will play league football very soon. However he looked subdued and shackled all afternoon by our ever-increasingly robust central defence. Once again I think fans know that it doesn’t matter how long Raggett’s contract is, the boy will play at a higher level, and the best we can hope for is six months to a year of good performances and a nice fat fee at the end of it. Anyone thinking otherwise is (I’m afraid to say) deluded.
The final thing I wanted to pick up on is how compact the league is this season. There’s talk of Forest Green running away with it, but if my spies are correct they may have a new manager search to conduct fairly soon. Mark Cooper would surely relish a move back up closer to home, and Grimsby Town are rumoured to be interested. I blogged about the Cowley brothers being linked with them and I refuse to comment anymore on that. However if something upsets the FGR stride then I’m convinced the title will still be up for grabs going into the final game or two of the season. Anyone can beat anyone and I think we look more likely to beat the Eastleigh, Tranmere and FGRs of this world than we do the Solihull Moors and Boreham Woods.
Tuesday isn’t going to be a pretty affair and I don’t think a 0-0 draw there will be half as entertaining as Saturday. I said four points from the two games but I felt we’d beat Eastleigh and then settle for a draw against an organised and efficient Boreham Wood. However we need to go and get a result against a team that won as recently as two weeks ago at Macclesfield, and it will be by no means easy. I think it will be the first test of what Elliott Whitehouse can add to the side, because we will definitely need more than knock down’s from Matt Rhead and diagonal balls into the box. To beat Boreham Wood we’re going to need that little bit of class and composure, and a little bit of guile through the middle.
I’ll tell you what though, drawing with Eastleigh might have been seen by some as a statement of our intent, but beating this Boreham Wood wide would send a real message out to the rest of the National League.