Chris discusses the draw with Gateshead
ONLY A POINT
Despite Gary Johnson rather curiously saying that it was a good point in the circumstances, only one point at Gateshead is nowhere near enough. This was another opportunity to claim three points, and not only that, but three points off another of the teams in the relegation zone with us. Whilst Gateshead have been steadily improving since Christmas, this was a game that we had to win. The Yellows were under the cosh for large parts of the game, and nobody can say that we deserved three points. That is nowhere near good enough. GJ suggested afterwards that a lot of the players involved have not been training regularly. That may well be true, but it also won’t be any consolation if we get relegated.
For several weeks, I was bemoaning in columns like this at my frustration at the lack of output from Kieron Evans. Clearly a young lad with talent, he had struggled to impact games and was offering very little in the final third. So it is only fair to recognise how he has improved in the last month. He has started to score goals, two in the National League and one in the FA Trophy, and this has coincided with him moving to the left side of midfield. He has been able to find himself in dangerous positions and has finished well. An outstanding lob at home to Wealdstone last weekend was followed by a clean strike from the edge of the box against the Heed. More of that will certainly be required.
The slightly odd thing about the last two weeks, is that we have started adding players to the squad. This was needed four or five weeks ago when the situation was nowhere near as perilous as it is now. This could be down to a number of things including budget and player availability. Kevin Dawson has been a solid addition in midfield, and Jack Stobbs was a lively presence on the wing at Gateshead also. With Lewis Collins now injured, Tom Lapslie now suspended but players such as Asa Hall and Dean Moxey returning, it appears that player availability will continue to be a revolving door for the remainder of the season. Anything happening to Aaron Jarvis remains the biggest concern.
One of the brighter lights in this pretty dark season has been the revitalisation of Mark Halstead. He has stood up to everything that has been thrown at him really well, and is a totally different player to the nervous wreck that he was last season. But Lady Luck wasn’t shining on him yesterday as he fell awkwardly just before half time but tried to carry on into the second half. But his mobility was clearly impaired as he dived to his left and the Gateshead opener fizzed past him. Who knows if an able bodied Mark would have been able to save it, but he had no chance as he was. Time will tell on the severity of the injury.
THE BATTLE GOES ON
Gary was pretty much the only person I heard with a positive tone on Saturday. The chances of us surviving receed still further with every winless match that goes by, and this is absolutely not the time of the season to go seven games without a win. But where the Gaffer is correct is that we have to keep going, and we have to keep believing, however hard that may appear right now. I think that these next three games are going to be the final battle. Any less that six (?) points from the next three games, will be game over. The home games are massive, starting with a meandering Dagenham at Plainmoor on Satuday. A daunting looking game at in form Boreham Wood follows, before the winner takes all battle at Glanford Park against Scunthorpe United. If we sit on 37 points after 40 matches, there may still be a chance. But that is a VERY big if at the moment.