If there was anything that characterised our start to the season it was as nice as our football could be, we kept getting beaten up by the big boys. If there was anything that characterised our last week it was how suddenly we’d toughened up.
The defeat to Shrewsbury took us to just outside the relegation zone. Darryl Eales gallantly suggested that he looked at the points total rather than our position, but it was little comfort. What was more concerning was the general impotence of our display – in particular, our start – it was not just like we’d been found out, it was like we were resigned to taking a beating whenever we came up against a bit of muscle. Then, something changed and against Coventry we were out of the blocks like lightening.
I moved seats to sit with Brinyhoof so we were in line with the six yard box at the home end. We seemed to spend the whole of the first half watching Chris Maguire take corners. It was a surreal level of dominance; at one point I looked over at the scoreboard to see how long it was until half-time and saw that we’d only been playing 20 minutes, such was the dynamism of our display, we packed a game’s worth of attacking into a few minutes.
A Coventry newspaper described their display as one of the worst in their history; which brings the obvious question; were we good or were they bad? It made me think that the Gillingham game could be a bit of a let down. In the end it was a different kind of display, but no less pleasing.
The whole display was characterised by graft, punctuated by a moment of genuine class from Marvin Johnson. It’s interesting that Johnson and Hemmings seem to be slowly settling into their roles. Johnson is having a growing influence on our play while Hemmings is slowly finding his goal touch. The bloke behind me thinks Hemmings is ‘useless’ despite him now scoring more goals than Danny Hylton had this time last year. It’s easy to forget sometimes that these are young men coming into a new environment, possibly living in a new area; it’s going to take a while for them to settle and perform. This seems to be one of the things that Michael Appleton excels at; I cannot think of a player he’s signed in the last year or so who hasn’t eventually performed.
Surely then, with our erratic form, after two good displays a trip to league leaders Scunthorpe would see us finally blow it and return home with nothing. If nothing else, two such committed displays did seem to have taken their toll with Wes Thomas, Joe Skarz and Chey Dunkley all coming off with injuries in the previous two games.
Well, no; once again with this new found resilience we came away with a point and maybe deserved three. Seven points in seven days is impressive, but what is more important is the new found steel we seem to have acquired across the team.