Tuesday 29 April 2014

Where Did It All Go Wrong

Football has been kicking me in the nuts for years but I can't remember anything more painful than the last few minutes on Saturday.

Now I'm just reaching the stage where I'm able to pick through the wreckage of the season to try to assess where it all went so horribly wrong. Maybe in time I'll even be able to watch my recording of the Salisbury match. Maybe not.

The bottom line is that we never quite had the quality to pull away from the bottom four - the final game was like watching the season in miniature. Failure to defend corners and an inability to hold on to a lead cost us our place in the Conference National.

Pulling on my Rafa Benitez hat, some things are indisputable. Fact: Not one player managed to reach double figures in the scoring chart. Fact: Away from home we won seven games but we dropped too many points at home. Fact: we conceded too often from corners. Fact: only once did we come from behind to win a game, at Hyde. Fact: All the other promoted teams stayed up and one, Halifax, are in the play-offs.

So, why did it all go so horribly wrong?

Right now there's not a lot of love flying around for the players but back in August most of us seemed happy enough with the squad assembled by Neil Young. Speaking to him at an Exiles function he was optimistic and even mentioned pushing for the top 6. Certainly it should have been a squad capable of consolidation.

My view is that the chief failing was up front. Gareth Seddon's a decent player who didn't let us down but he was hardly prolific at Halifax where he spent much of the time on the bench. For whatever reason Jamie Reed just didn't deliver the 15 goals we expected. When we finally stumbled across Matty Taylor and at last looked a threat Forest Green sabotaged us. It didn't look like there was much of a plan B when he was recalled.

Otherwise I really don't think we were too far away. It may not have be the most talented bunch of players but I don't buy into the argument that it was for lack of effort. We just needed someone to nick a goal here and there and we would have been comfortably mid-table, even with all those defensive howlers. Much has been made of how Halifax kept many of their squad from last season but it's pretty obvious that Neil Gregory made the difference to an otherwise pretty ordinary team.
My one consolation is that I have no doubt that we are capable of eventually becoming established in the Conference National. In the games I saw it wasn't a league bristling with quality. Now finding a forward for next season must be top priority.

Adrian Lee