The season seems to be having one of its periodic shakedowns. The bronco bucked for the first time in August. This is where at least half the league is condemned to a season of drudgery. The teams who have come down also tend to get slung out, shocked by the competitiveness of the league. By the time they recover – as with Luton this year – aspirations for the title have all but gone.
This second kick-out has put distance between us and Stevenage, and everyone else. Kettering, in particular, threatened to do some good stuff this season, but their implosion runs deeper than the departure of Mark Cooper.
Of course, we’ve benefited doubly from their woe – a potential threat is collapsing before our eyes and we get Francis Green into the bargain. I would like to say I feel for them; but I really truly don’t. It’s too easy to get caught up in the quaint oldey-worldy bullshit of the Conference – if you get too comfortable, it can easily make your stay permanent.
The BBC include, as one of the highlights of last night’s 1-0 win over Forest Green, Oxford launching the ball direct from the restart into the stands. Which sums up last night’s important, but tedious, win. It was all counter to Nick Harris’ commentary. He babbled on about ‘what a game we’re having here’ – which basically meant James Constable’s goal and the fact the floodlights failed for 30 seconds.
Can we shake off Stevenage? We can certainly beat them to the title, but I doubt we’re going to be comfortable long before April. They’ve all the attributes needed to win the Conference – in any other year; you’d have them down as favourites. But this is no ordinary season; nobody’s had to deal with The Machine before.