When it comes to simple to make meals, Coleman’s tuna pasta bake is in the top tier of filling yet easy food for the Voss family. Be in when we were children at school, something to make myself after a days work, or reheated as the next days working dinner, it is a flexible dish that can satisfy in quick time. However I did not think that tuna pasta bake and a bit of a tiger baguette would be the highlight of my fucking Saturday. We’re three games into the new season and it’s not panic stations yet. But the fact that watching Dorch wasn’t as enjoyable as a sachet of sauce that is 26% tomato powder is a damning indictment of how the hours between 1500-1700 were on Saturday.
As with most days watching Dorch, it all started well enough. My early morning coach to Bristol from London cost me the princely sum of £3.90 with my McDonald’s breakfast actually costing more than my onward travel. Although travelling solo, I was to meet my long suffering sister, Amy, in Keynsham where she now lives. She had not seen a Dorch game since the infamous 2-2 on New Years Day when Steve Claridge made a meal of a well timed Jamie Brown challenge, but with one of her best friends husbands now playing for us in Sam Poole, she wanted to come and lend her support. She’ll never learn. There were issues with rail replacement buses as I tried to get to Keynsham, but after being picked up by Amy near to a church, where in hindsight I probably should have popped in and said a quick prayer for us, unbeknown to both of us, the highlight of the day would soon follow in the shape of the aforementioned tuna pasta bake and a cup of tea.
Supporting Dorch has not been easy for several years and despite there appearing to be promising signs off the pitch, the same problems persist on it. WSM at home first up was going to be a tough game and with a pretty much brand new side it was a difficult game to gauge. Our 1-3 defeat wasn’t the most inspiring but with Weston likely being one of the better sides in the league, it wasn’t going to be an accurate reflection on where we are as a side. Then we went to Christchurch in the FA Cup, where by all accounts we were a distant second best in all departments against a side two leagues below us. Nothing but credit goes to Ollie Cherrett’s side who were miles better on the night, but it showed all the frailties we have been far too familiar with over the past few seasons. Yate on Saturday gave us an ideal opportunity to get our season going, show that we have learned from these mistakes and that this season won’t be a re-run of the past few seasons of Southern League obscurity. And we fucked it up. Massively.
Yate’s ground is a nice little spot, its green surrounds reminding us of Abingdon or a pre-investment Eastleigh, but the most prophetic observation was Cam’s “definitely the type of ground we lose 4-0 at”. With the team news showing a few changes including a first start of the season for Tom Bath as well as other personnel tweaks, it seemed as though it would be wingbacks with two men up top, a departure from the previous games. As our fans rolled into the stadium and the team was announced, the one thing missing was actually our players, who appeared to have got stuck in traffic. We eventually arrived and our 30-40 fans wondered what was in store as we crept closer to kick off. Deadly, who was able to attend due to the coronavirus seeing his game on the line at Cheltenham cancelled, found out first hand that one of the things available were cold chips, but you could at least have jerk sauce or an assortment of salad from a bowl (both possibly non league firsts) with said food items. As we headed behind the goal we were attacking, we hoped that we might actually see some of the action this week, and for the first few minutes we did.
A couple of spells of possession with no end product were encouraging and there were signs of Oakley and Tiago moving past the halfway line. All well and good but the first sign of danger was soon to follow as a break down our left hand side was all too easy, the resultant shot that clipped the top of the crossbar should have provided us ample warning of what was to come. It did not. As Tom Blair conceded a free kick some distance out and quite centrally after 14 minutes, there appeared to be little danger. The floated delivery from ex-magpie Jordan Williams appeared harmless but was anything but as it nestled in the far corner without taking a touch and appearing to bounce twice before going in. It looking fucking dreadful from a distance and was the fourth goal from a set piece in three games. Tiago Sa wouldn’t last much longer than 20 minutes as a calf injury would see him withdrawn with Billy Lowes coming on to replace him, Harry Hodges moving from midfield to the left defensive position in the switch up.
This would make zero difference as Yate would find another opening down the left side in what be a recurring theme of the day, another ex-Magpie in Olly Mehew this time being the man allowed the freedom of the left side as his centre was converted by Sam Turl. It was all too easy and makes a total mockery of my observation from seven days ago that we looked alright in defence from open play. Our attacking threat was negligible at best, with over hit crosses or possession being lost in the opposition half being as close as we’d really come. One such over hit cross would see the Yate keeper quite clearly handle the ball outside his box on his right hand side, but with the ref unsighted and the lino on the wrong side, the keeper got away with it despite being stood on a stewards foot on the far side. Frustration started to show as players could be seen and heard arguing, and although the service to him was next to non-existent, Tom Bath’s movement was unfavourably compared to that of the statue of Edward Colston that was dragged down by chains and thrown into Bristol harbour in the BLM protests. There was time for an excellent piece of foreshadowing as Charlie Madden and Will Buse almost conspired to give away a third before halftime as their communication or indeed lack of almost allowed a Yate attacker to steal in for a third, but we made it to halftime at 2-0, and in truth it could and possibly should have been more.
It was a tough watch, one that was not lost on my sister as she proclaimed she’ll never complain about Pompey being shit again having watched that half of football. It was a strange atmosphere, one of more apathy than annoyance at the position we found ourselves in. We shouldn’t expect and certainly don’t just accept turning up and losing, but it’s almost as if we expect to lose as soon as we go behind. There was little optimism that we’d turn it around, and we were proved correct as the duo of Madden and Buse got themselves in a gurt big muddle three minutes after the restart. Neither goalkeeper or defender seemed to want to clear the danger, communication again seeming a real issue, and as the Yate attacker nipped in, took the ball and was barrelled into by Buse to concede a penalty, it really surprised no one. Penalty converted, 3-0 down, any hope of getting back into the game evaporated, and more sniping and shouting at each other including such lines as “you’re not good enough to be fucking around with it there, just get it in the box” from a bloke who did fuck all for nearly the whole game, and one of the senior players exclaiming “that’s why we fucking lose every week”. It was as tough a listen as it was a watch, and it of course got worse when it was made 4-0 by ex-Weymouth man Stuart Fleetwood, as he expertly swept the ball in following another good Yate move down our left hand side. We had been totally out-played again, individual errors compounding a dismal performance, Sam Bayston’s well taken injury time goal for us providing scant consolation. A 4-1 loss and frankly, it could have been worse but for some poor finishing spots of individual good defending.
It’s very difficult to pick any positives from that beyond the fact that the away kit is okay. Some players looked genuinely pissed off at defeat and were visibly annoyed at what was going on around them, others seemed less so. Tactically we’ve not looked that coherent in the first three games and there seems to be a real lack of urgency about our play at the moment. We are only three games into a new season, with a largely new squad in a league which has seen preparation altered by a pandemic and other teams withdrawals. But there are minimum standards that you’d expect to see which just aren’t being met. In one of the past blog about the 2002-03 league winning season, Matthew’s Holmes and Groves both spoke of how then manager Mark Morris could accept mistakes but would not stand for a lack of effort. Some players based of what we’ve seen in the first three games certainly seem to be playing within themselves to say the least. The individual errors and vulnerability at set pieces are a real worry. We’ve not looked comfortable since the first corner vs WSM to the last against Yate, something that won’t be lost on other teams, and of the three goals we’ve scored, two have come directly from individual runs by Tom Blair, with the third being an injury time consolation (albeit well taken) at 4-0 down. If we could stop the ball coming back every time we clear our lines, that would be a great help to our backline. Another blow was the removal of the ‘Kay Bath’ Twitter account, Tom Bath’s Mum’s Twitter musings were taken from us too soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if things were to change both in terms of the starting XI and possibly even tactical set up ahead of tonight’s game against a Wimborne side who have also lost their first two league games.
Trying to look for reasons to be positive is a bit of a chore at the moment as despite the fact we’re only three games in, they’ve been three stinkers. Is it panic stations yet? No, it’s far too early. After tonight‘s game there is a lengthy break for us until Saturday 10th of October vs Tivvy at home, how we fare tonight will be a big factor in how much if any changes are made in that game-less window. If nothing more, both Leigh Robinson’s wins as DTFC manager have come vs Wimborne, so here’s hoping that odd run continues and the Bootlegger clips can once again be used. Alehouse clogging commences in T minus four hours, I’m off for some tuna pasta bake to ensure the day has at least one highlight if nothing more. SV