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Monday, 22 April 2013

Playoff Hopes Hanging by a Thread

If anyone of 4 shots that hit the woodwork had been an inch or two in another direction the whole outlook of this piece would be different, for then we’d have fate on our side, and would only have to make sure we win and that would enough alone. Instead we now need to win AND for other teams to lose. This is now a tall ordeal with 2 games left.


That said it’s happened before. 2 games out when were promoted from league One we thought it an impossible task. Surely both Carlisle and Doncaster couldn’t slip up, but surely they did, and it allowed us for that most unlikely of promotions that sunny day 5 years ago.

It is by such margins that seasons are made or destroyed, that a shot bounces in; a keeper manages to keep the merest of finger tips to the ball. Both Reidy and Sharp crashed balls against the base of the right hand post of Luke Steele. Frustrating because on these occasions we had beaten a keeper playing well, but even then something denied us the glory of a win which would have changed every emotion.

And that’s the fine margin. We went home feeling deflated. Not angry like sometimes, not depressed, just deflated, like we all knew this was possible, but hoped it wouldn’t happen, but strangely acceptant when it did. For that reason I think the crowd never turned like it could. Yes it seemed to almost turn nasty, but sometimes we’d have heard boos, and yes there were a few, but mostly we knew the jig was up, that we should never even really have been in the mix for the playoffs and yes it’s all over (except most in the back on their heads say that in public, but in private retain a feeling of it’s still possible, but I can’t speak it aloud, or I’ll curse it)

Barnsley to be fair weren’t as bad as they were at Oakwell, which was pretty shocking, but they still barely offered anything. Every attack in the last 20 minutes I expected them to pox a winner somehow just to rub slat in wounds, but thankful the ignominy of losing to such poor opposition didn’t happen.

What scares me is the way our strikers have simply stopped working. No goals in earnest for a while. Now the middle can’t score either it’s all rather annoying. Guedioura had a few long rangers that were actually on target but they were relatively simple saves for the keeper. The close range headers from Lansbury, or Sharp were pretty much at him from point blank, but still needed to be saved. Yes they look good, but if your keeper concedes them it’s embarrassing.

If we miss the playoffs by 2 points, and that’s certainly possible, this will be chalked as a big miss. It really should have been a win. But to single out games as disappointments in that way is always a little foolhardy. You could say the same about other games. And what about those last gasp points we really never should have got in several games recently before the rot set in?

It just seems we peaked too early, but when we embarked on that run of wins it seriously didn’t seem like that was possible. That’s why I mention we shouldn’t even be there because the way the rest of the promotion chasing teams imploded at the same time was ridiculous. I do worry for the teams going up this year that they aren’t good enough. But consider the teams who came down. They haven’t exactly set this division alight, so how big is that gap? I’ve heard several national journalist say it’s a poor division because in the occasional game they’ve seen it’s been low standard, and I won’t lie it happens, but the same with the Premiership. Is Reading v Wigan any higher standard than Watford v Bolton? Probably not.

All in all yet again frustration reigns at the City Ground, and it looks like another year will pass where we don’t sit at footballs top table. It’s 14 years now since we were relegated. There’s a generation of our fans who have never seen us play top flight football. Never mind be competitive at that level. It’ll likely be at least 15 before they ever do.

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