We’ve seen some bad sides in the last four years; Chester’s wheezing death throes, Wrexham neutered by their recent history, Tamworth running around like five-year- olds chasing a tennis ball in the playground.
None were quite as awful and shambolic as Bristol Rovers were last night. At least the others had good reason to be bad. Rovers seemed comfortable on the ball, athletic and strong, but they fell apart every time they tried to produce something. Like they couldn’t get their legs to do what their brains were asking. A kind of football Alzheimer’s.
I became preoccupied with it; I even gave an involuntary groan when Green latched onto one of Heslop’s through-balls. My new compadres in the SSU must have thought I was a Bristolian. I guess I’m just programmed to be sensitive to failure.
It made the game curious to watch. Everything we did worked; we were rampant, it could genuinely have been 8 or 9. Can we really have been that good? Trips to the Kassam are all about bulging veins and chest beating, the enjoyment of watching Oxford has come from the release from the agony of the game as it has about the thrill of victory. We’re not used to enjoying an exhibition in passing moving and finishing.
Last time we scored six was against Eastbourne and that included two penalty saves from Billy Turley. Before that, against Halifax, in 2001, we still struggled despite them being bottom of the league destined for the Conference. It was only when they were reduced to nine men that we took over. Before that? 6-0 against Shrewsbury… and then every goal was a header. Scoring six isn’t exactly conventional, but with us it’s been more that 25 years since we had a six-goal haul that was just, um, normal.
The evening reminded me of watching the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park one cool August evening 8 years ago. A thoroughly enjoyable evening out in warm friendly surroundings, but I’m buggered if I could work out what was going on.