The euphoria of the comeback on Saturday was dismissed by the combination of a well-organised Stevenage side and our own ineptitude.
10 minutes before half time I nipped out to use the facilities behind the Kenny End and saw four stewards trying to switch on the wall-mounted telly with a mop handle. It was like a scene out of Phoenix Nights, and only mirrored the comedy on the field.
The match itself was delayed until 8pm for some reason. A voice like Cherry Newbery’s (but not) came over the PA (which we could hear tonight, just about) and said it was due to crowd congestion. At Kenilworth Road? Was the St Evenage coach held up? They could bloody walk it.
The team itself was Tyler, Ed A-A in for Gnapka (curious move, bearing in mind on Saturday Claude only got subbed cos of the booking) Pilks and White – who had a poor game. The increasingly reliable Murray was at left back. In midfield Mick had to accommodate his mate Nico so the nearly settled combination of Jarvis and Hall was split up. Newton (my man of the match) started on the right and Jakey Howells was on the left. Craddock was up front with an out of position Asa Hall who got deeper and deeper as the game went on. Actually Hall added a personal highlight for me because as Tyler pumped the ball to him for the umpteenth time and he missed the header and their skipper the blond Roberts headed the ball away yet again, everyone ‘tutted’. And I have never heard a whole stand ‘tut’ all at once before and it was quite strange – it sounded like a very loud door latch clicking into place.
Of course Harford was completely and utterly out thought by Westley the Stevenage boss. The post match interview with Westley had me thinking, yep – this man knows something about setting up a team, thinking up some tactics and motivating his players to play them. In comparison Harford sounded like a child in a room full of adults. He trotted out the same old platitudes and excuses.
Harford just doesn’t have a clue.
The Hertfordshire team were unlucky not to get a penalty in the first half. Ed felled their striker as effectively as a builder taking a sledgehammer to a wall but the ref, who was poor all night waved play on. “Book ‘im then ref” I shouted, as usual.
Nicholls was way off the pace until he was substituted by the new lad Wright after about 80 mins. Why he even started the second half, only Mick Harford will know. He was running around like a child trying to get the ball off a group of adults in the back garden. Got himself booked when he was harried, and fouled by the opposing midfielder but instead of playing to the whistle he stopped his run and pushed the opponent in a petulant way. You’d think he’d learnt his lesson but he is just indulged by the management and the board like a spoilt brat.
My favourite random decision of the night was to bring Gnapka/Gnakpa on for a knackered Ed A-A after 65 mins. Aha – I hear you say – this is a sound decision a right back for a right back. But no – who would have guessed it? Adam Newton, who was our best player by far and was beginning to terrorise their left back and get crosses in, was moved to right back and Claude played right wing. Where did their goal come from? You’ve got it – down the left when Baird was not closed down by any of our defenders and slotted in a cracking drive. To be fair to the Frenchman he played well down the right but to no avail.
Pilkington went very close whilst it was still 0-0 with a side footed chance which he hit the post with, but, other than a few good crosses with no one on the end, and a couple of fluffed chances by the zero confidence Craddock, and a chance for Newton in the first half that was all we had and the closest we got.
Rio Charles came on right at the end but to no great effect. Hard to turn a season round single handedly if you are only given injury time to do it in.
Before the end of the game there were chants of ‘Harford out’ which was very sad. In the main stand I understand the fans were both chanting ‘Harford out’ and having a dig at 2020.
It is understandable though. Mick, an honourable and decent man shouldn’t be in the position of having to resign just because his bosses won’t sack him. It is getting embarrassing.
Fair play to Stevenage, they deserved their win, they out-thought and outplayed us.
Mick, the clock’s ticking – don’t become Luton’s Gordon Brown.
P13 Pos 8th? I daren’t look.
Tomorrow (or later on today as it is now past midnight) I will reveal a post-Wrexham revelation that is far more shocking than a few players having a laugh and a joke on the pitch. It is real – it came from a player himself and will make your jaw drop.
PS From a betting point of view the recent sports results have gone quite well. Obviously 3 defeats in 5 helps the coffers, as did England’s 6-1 drubbing by the Aussies in the cricket and their defeat tonight. Similarly Essex beating Derbyshire (or rather Derbyshire standing aside allowing Essex an easy run-chase to prevent Northants from getting promotion) netted me enough to recoup the losses from Wembley in April and the Ashes victory. So it’s not all bad and is the sugar to try to take the bad taste of defeat away.