“You’re just a shit DPD.”

With pre-season passing by without the chance for me to watch a game, the first opportunity I had to watch the new squad Glenn has put together was an August Bank Holiday trip to Yate. Last season, this fixture saw us unlucky to be on the end of a 2-1 defeat in a game we competed in for large spells.

The summer for me was an interesting one, lots of signings made early on, which gave some of the more optimistic element of our fan base reason to believe we were in for a positive season.However, for me, it has been the last few additions that have really given me cause for some optimism, with Ngalo, Olaf and Harry Lee in my opinion crucial additions if we are looking to really progress at this level. That said, the years of constant battles with relegation have made even that optimism hard to sustain, it has been the hope that’s killed me/us before, and it’s hard to fight it after this many years!

Our start to the season has been great, with Saturday’s win taking us to 12 points from 15, which is more than any Dorch fan could say we would have realistically expected from the first five games, and having a game that was only an hour away on the train on a Bank Holiday Mondaymeant that everything almost seemed too good to be true as I met up with my old man and travelled down to Yate.

Despite that hardened pessimism/realistic view (call it what you will) I have talked about from the years of underachievement, even I looked at this fixture and saw Yate’s less than impressive start to the season, and the fact they had been shedding goals every week, and thought we might be in with a good chance of picking up another 3 points.

Who is Dursley?

We arrived at Yate having previously stopped at some of those really well-known Gloucestershire villages including one which shared the name of our International Director, and headed to the Codrington Arms for some lunch and a few beers.

Even my Dad, who has seen us win even less than I have over the last 5 years, had some optimism for the game. Looking at Yate’s recent record whilst we had our lunch, we talked about realistic aims for the season, and as it has been said by others on here earlier in the season, a year where we look up the table without having to worry about looking down would make a nice change, but the current form makes it hard not to get too carried away.

After the local deer made an appearance next to the pub garden, we made the short walk down to the ground hoping to meet up with the General to get his views on what he had made so far of this season. That wasn’t to be as he messaged to say he was stuck on the M5 and would struggle to make the kick-off, who’d have thought the M5 would be a nightmare on a Bank Holiday Monday! Steve avoiding Shepton Mallet, presumably not wanting to encounter Micky Theo and John Fury having a bare knuckle on the cobbles.

Arriving at the ground and seeing the team lineup, it seemed as if we had rotated the lineup slightly; some were saying this was with the FA Cup in mind, others suggested maybe we just wanted to be more defensive/solid away from home, but either way it did look to be a less attacking side than maybe I had hoped to see given the home side’s recent defensive troubles.Maybe it’s just the sign of a management team who are well on top of things and are thinking about every game strategically, rather than us being in desperate need of that win at any cost every week as we have seen over the last few years.

Taking up a place with Kriss behind the goal, and knocking what was left of my pint over the floor trying to find some way of securing the much travelled flag to the railings, the game kicked off.

📸 Phil Standfield

We started fairly brightly, for me seeing the influence Jordan Ngalo had on the side given the excitement around his arrival was one thing I was looking forward to. Before there had really been much in the way of chances for either side, he was brought down looking to start a counter-attack, and that was the end of his afternoon.

In all honesty, the first half wasn’t the most exciting of affairs, with a lot of balls played in the middle of the park by both sides, but chances were limited. Our back three of Douglas, Buckley and Emmerson did however look strong, which was positive and a change from recent seasons. Perhaps the most exciting bit of action was a chap in a Royal Mail high-vis squaring up to ayoung Dorch fan behind the goal – not sure if he was a steward or meant to be leading the picket line but it led to chants of “You’re just a shit DPD”, and he ultimately chose not to deliver, returning to his post in the corner of the ground.

Nil-nil at HT and the loss of Shaq to an injury which he couldn’t recover from was a further blow;hopefully neither injury is too serious as both seem to have been vital parts of our early success this year.

The second half saw us attacking the end that sells cans out of a bucket, not sure why it is allowed at Yate but not at Dorch, but a £3 can of Tribute it was and a warm bottle of water for Steve.

The second half was for large parts similar to the first. We had possession in midfield and looked to push forward, but really struggled to break the Yate defensive line with our final ball. Chances in the main for us were limited to free kicks and corners, with the occasional half chance. Probably the best shout looked to be a penalty for handball, but the referee wasn’t having it. Olaf worked tirelessly upfront for the cause but for little reward in terms of openings in front of goal.

At the other end, we looked pretty solid, up until the last fifteen minutes, when as a side we started to look like we were more than happy with the draw and began absorbing more pressure. A 15 second spell where bodies were thrown in front of numerous shots left many wondering how Yate hadn’t managed to score, and an effort that thundered off the crossbar, back down and out from goal also had many of us on edge. A late reaction save from Harry Lee also prevented the home side from taking the 3 points.

🥜 Photo credit: Phil Standfield.

The tension got all too much for one young Dorch fan behind the goal, his afternoon taking a turn for the worse and seeing him bring back his morning’s beverage consumption for all of the healthy away crowd to see – I’m sure that was a long old journey back to Dorset for him buthe isn’t the first, and won’t be the last I’m sure.

On reflection, it shows how a few months can change expectations. In any other season this would have been seen as a vital point and would in all honesty no doubt have been a game we would have lost, but the recent result and form of both sides had led to an expectation we might come and get all 3. The reality is, if we can win the bulk of our home games and draw on the roadwe would be in a very good position come the end of the season, so it is a point gained. The two injuries would be a concern, and if anything our inability to cut Yate’s deep defence apart was a bit disappointing, but it wasn’t for the want of trying. Olaf didn’t stop working all game and the team do seem to work together and for each other.

Bodies on the line. 📸 Phil Standfield.

Attention turns to the FA Cup next week – a run in that would be nice this year, after all it’s been a while! Whilst it is always nice to have a run, I am sure the prize money would also help the club. 

It is not easy to try and make a 0-0 sound too interesting, but what I can say is it is clear to see that there is a different, much more positive atmosphere around this season, and that’s really good. Things do feel different to previous seasons, and no doubt there will be bumps along the road this year (like Truro) but the fact we have put that behind us, and also come from behind to win games is really encouraging. Despite the pressure on Saturday in the last 15 we didn’t fold, so hopefully the good form continues. UTM! DW.

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