Beware false promise, we’ve been here before. But it’s a New Year, and the year of the ox so let’s indulge ourselves. Two consecutive comfortable wins, nine points off the play-offs with plenty of games to play. Chris Wilder may be playing down our play-off chances – and rightly so – but a late drive can’t be dismissed in this league. Not least because, as a business, we could do with the added revenues of league football in 2009 rather than 2010. Failure to make the play-offs would hardly mark a disaster for Wilder, but why wait until next year?
It’s easy to be impressed with new signings. Between the crowd and the player there’s a mutual feeling of wanting to impress. So the first game is usually a love-fest. We’re impressed they’re prepared to put some effort in, they’re happy to lap up the applause and put the graft in. It’s not until you get to the comfortable patch of the relationship that you really start to understand the relationship. We shouldn’t read too much into a players’ debut performance.
That said, I was impressed by Ricky Sappleton, great touch for the first goal, great finish, laid Haldane’s open goal to him on a plate, had another shot parried and dominated in the air. He’s just the big lug we need, and it was noticeable how much more effective Constable became when he didn’t have to do all the donkey-work.
So all is happy in the church of the Ox although you might not believe it from the crowd yesterday. I don’t buy a programme anymore, but presumably they list all the things we need to boo because it is difficult to keep up – Lewis Haldane, their keeper, Ruddick, the referee, the list is almost endless. What’s more, we’re terrible winners – yesterday at the final whistle their keeper turned to the Oxford Mail stand and applauded the fans. It was a competitive game, we won fair and square, he’d enjoyed a bit of banter, time to go home… what do we do? Boo him. Idiots.