Sorry, I zoned out there for a minute. Surely we can’t maintain the pretence that these games mean anything? I understand why people expect a performance every week regardless of whether we’re playing the Cup Final or a meaningless chunter away against Altrincham but sports science is fairly complicit that this simply isn’t possible.
A professional road cyclist can expect to maintain top form for around three weeks. Athletes are sacrificing world titles in order to peak for London 2012 and the concept of resting footballers is an accepted practice despite it being against all league rules.
In a regular league programme, each game counts, but now the objective is very very clear. We’re not good enough to turn our form on and off; nobody in the Conference can do that. But we shouldn’t write off our chances based on a few meaningless misplaced passes versus Cambridge.
Luton will cartwheel into the play-offs with a bewildering sequence of results. But, like our unbeaten streak at the start of the season, as it goes on it gets closer to an coming to an end. When it does, gnawing doubt sets in, why isn’t it quite flowing like it did? How do we do it when it worked? When Luton come out and don’t score six, their resolve will be truly tested. That day will come, and it’s not too far away.
The key is to peak for the play-offs, not thrash Cambridge (as cold and bloody boring as that game was). Defensively, we’re looking sound. Adam Chapman is finally coming into some form and filling the gap left by Adam Murray. Up front, we need to firmly decide who partners Constable. My vote, like many, I think, is with Jack Midson with Deering, Potter and Green best coming off the bench.
Luton will go in favourites, but sustaining their form for another three weeks gets less likely as time goes on. Rushden and York… who knows? We have three more games to fine tune, which will allow us to enter the play-offs on an upward curve, I think there’s some evidence that we will.