A win. Let’s dwell on it for a moment…
It wasn’t a markedly different performance from the drawfests of the last 3 months. We still conceded the early initiative, we still lacked inventiveness, we still looked impotent up front. Our ability to defend set pieces was the difference. This solidity meant we weren’t chasing the game for once. The goal forced Gravesend to attack, allowing Yemi more freedom to play on the shoulder of a defensive line that had to hold a higher line. Yemi foraging, though rarely productive in terms of goals, at least relieves pressure. Our style, it seems, is not to win games as such, but to not lose them. It’s like a George Graham-era Arsenal; not pretty, but effective.
In many ways the formula follows the form of earlier in the season. Strong in defence and nick a goal. The principle difference now is that we don’t have the penalties to bolster a narrow lead. The decision to not award a penalty for the challenge on Yemi was ludicrous but not surprising. I suspect our quota was used up before Christmas. Once you’ve got a reputation for winning penalties, referees are more likely to arrive with preconceptions about divers which means even the most legitimate of penalty claims are likely to go unrewarded. In essence our inability to find a second goal is our frailty; but I suspect we’re going to have to live with it – it’s just not our way to score a bucket load of goals.
We constantly bemoan our inability to score goals – though, more precisely, our problem is getting goals from midfield – 43% of all goals have come from Duffy, this rises to 60% if you add Yemi’s seven. I’m afraid that’s us this season. If every game from now until the end of season ends in an edgy 1-0 win, and the ultimate objective is achieved it may be painful, but I for one will be happy.