“Why has he got a condom on his head?”

Photo; Phil Standfield

Well, alright lads? Guten Tag! What a difference a week makes. After a disappointing loss to Swindon and a point having surrendered a 1-0 lead at Merthyr last Tuesday, the next two games against Kings Langley and Wimborne, both at home, were vital if we were to get points on the board and start to put some distance between us and the relegation places. Seven days on, six points have added, five unanswered goals, four hundred crowds at each game, three places climbed, two wins in a row, and a Gareth Stewart in goal (yes, I have referenced a near 13-year-old joke). Back-to-back wins for the first time in two years and back-to-back clean sheets for the first time since Chris Weale left, have left us in 16th place and eight points clear of the drop zone as we now can start glancing at the teams above us, and not those below.

Alright lads?

Having worked hard in our 2-0 win against Kings Langley on Saturday, making sure we carried on that form and ensuring it didn’t become another in series of false dawns over the past few seasons was vital. And, truth be told, the only minor complaint I can have about the comprehensive victory of Wimborne was that the winning margin was only three clear goals. We were that dominant. It has been long time since a Dorchester side has looked so completely in control and impressive at both ends of the pitch. Tougher tests will no doubt come, but you can only beat what is in front of you, and the manner of victory and way we played suggests we can give anyone in this league a game regardless of form or league position.

After TC boiled his eggs for the next days lunch, he picked me up in his work wagon, complete with crunchy nut cornflakes and a loaf of bread. We were both looking at the impending Wimborne fixture as one we should win, but were aware that this is Dorch and we’ve seen this all before. A cheeseburger and chips to fill a hole was consumed as we saw the teams with there being just the one change for us as Tom Soares returned to the starting XI as Charlie Madden, who had started but picked up a knock at the weekend, was named on the bench. The bench was as strong as it has been in a while with Madden, the returning Flavio Tavares, Sam Davidson, Christos Papakonstantinou and new signing Billy Steadman all being good options to bring on, and Steadman may be one of few Dorch players to have the holy grail of the ‘blue tick on Twitter. We at TSOF await such an honour…

Working mans luncheon.

There was a smattering of former DTFC representation in the Wimborne side as well as Dan Strugnell and Dan Cann were involved. Strugnell taking the captains armband, Cann on the bench. One thing that struck TC and I as we did some serious damage to our food, was how firstly; we looked like a team of grown men, and secondly; this was a side who actually works hard for 90 minutes and shows not only some togetherness, but a genuine will to win. These things may seem like a given in most sides, but given some of the performances we’ve watched and squads that have been assembled over recent, this comes as something of a pleasant surprise.

A very salty Bovril. Photo; David Ward.

With the teams out and us attacking the bypass end first half, we took up residence behind the goal. Given we stood behind the goal for Saturday’s victory, we didn’t want to upset the Footballing Gods™ and tempt fate by heading to the Bovril. We were soon joined by El Générale who had either come dressed wearing a hat that was suitable for one of the Seven Dwarfs, or possibly a woollen condom. Our superstition based vantage point turned out to be ideal as the early play was almost exclusively in the Wimborne half. A header back towards his own goal by a Wimborne defender had their goalkeeper, Ryan Hall, scrambling to avoid getting caught out, before Hall would produce an excellent block to deny Alfie Stanley after Sam Bayston’s through ball set him free.

Grumpy, Dopey, Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy and Sleepy all rolled into one.

Bayston would then have a shot cleared off the line before Hall’s fingertips would push a Tommy Toe Poke effort from the same man onto the post, Kieran Roberts just missing out in the scramble for the re-bound. We need to take one of these chances, we won’t keep creating these every five minutes, we said. Five minutes later and Bayston was once again denied by Hall, this time as the wide man broke clear on the left side. Dan Strugnell would come in for some stick from some behind the goal, but they seemed to be directing their ire at Wimborne’s number 18, who was in fact Billy Maybury. Strugnell wearing number 2 seemed to escape lightly by comparison. It wasn’t all one way traffic as Wimborne had a couple of shots, one wide and one palmed clear by Benfield, but normal service was resumed as Kieran Roberts first appeared to malfunction when presented with a chance as his limbs seemed to extend like a Swiss army knife, before Hall showed excellent reflexes to keep a close range Soares effort out, although the ball appeared to be going wide from our angle.

Some light reading in the programme, The Long Read with Matty Holmes will soon be online.

Despite the 0-0 score line, it has been a half of utter dominance as we’d picked up where we left off from Saturday, and there was further good news to come at halftime as TC confirmed the Bovril was back to its usual high standards. After Saturday’s Bovril being saltier than the fans on the actual Bovril terrace itself, this was a blessed relief. Our wander to the Tesco end left us surprised as to how many people were actually already there, and it was another decent crowd of 439 after Saturday’s gate of 446. Even Ash Jury was back for the first time in two years and he would have had the best sideburns in the ground had The Luth not come to the game after a hard day working the land. But the 400 plus gates are very encouraging signs given we’ve struggled to get people through the turnstiles in recent seasons, and performances like the one that followed in the second half will do no harm as we try to tempt back the detached fan.

Livin’ off the fat of the land.

The early goal we scored less than two minutes into the second half helped to settle any nerves, and was a product of some very good play and questionable defending. A delightful ball over the top from Big Thiago set Oakley free, and his cutback was calmy slotted in by the on rushing Tom Purrington. There was a slice of luck as one of the Wimborne defenders seemed to not bother cutting the cross out, but the goal was the least we deserved. Purrington was excellent again as he had been against Kings Langley, and gets my nod for man of the match. With two goals in his last three games, he’s started to add the goals his play has deserved, although some fans need to be more realistic with what he’s capable of. At one stage he picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, was being pursued by three defenders and had turn away from goal, one fan bellowed “FINISH IT TOM!” Not sure that was one he could really have done much more with, but high standards are being encouraged all the same.

Photo; Phil Standfield

One brings two is a frequently used cricketing cliché, and it was very true here as we doubled our lead after 55 minutes. A driving run in field from Oakley Hanger saw him find Tom Purrington who in turn laid the ball off to Alfie Stanley. Stanley’s return pass to Purrington was blocked but the ball rebounded to him and his ball though to Oakley was more successful, Oakley finishing his one on one chance like a man who finds himself in such positions on a far more regular basis. Seeing Oakley in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper was akin to finding a fish up a tree or a turtle on a fencepost, but he took his goal well and you could see by his celebration just how much he enjoyed it.

Photo; Phil Standfield

Hall in the Wimborne goal would soon continue his doomed one man resistance as he denied his former Pompey teammate Stanley a third goal. And, although we lost a little bit of rhythm when Tom Soares was taken off and Wimborne had a slightly more extended spell of fruitless possession, the returning Falvio and new signing Billy Steadman would see us re-assert our dominance and the third goal would come in the 93rd minute. Steadman’s excellent ball over the top saw Roberts motor away from the defence, and although his effort was blocked by that man Hall, Alfie Stanley was on hand to guide the ball into the unguarded net. 3-0 and if anything, that flattered Wimborne. Wimborne look like a side in real trouble, something not lost on us given how their official club feed referred to use as “relegation bound” after a 4-1 Senior Cup win for ourselves in a pore-pandemic world, and although we don’t hold grudges, we at TSOF do have long memories. Life comes at you fast…

This was as professional a performance as we’ve produced since Saturday. Victories like these last two games have been as rare as an AWH smile over the past few seasons and the improvement in these past few games has been notable. We will play better sides, starting with the visit to Met Police on Saturday, but playing like that we’ll give anyone in this league a game and pick up points in the process. As we left the ground to the aroma of KFC and the sad sight of footballs trapped behind fences around electrical equipment, the mood was positive with some of us planning route to Saturday’s game and the game that follows away at Truro. This is not something that seemed probable a few weeks ago as we were manageress and looking at a relegation battle, and I’ll be going on Saturday regardless of my night shifts on Friday and Saturday. What a life I lead… Off the pitch the club has also made giant strides as the chips, cheese and gravy made it to the pages of the ‘Footy Scran’ Twitter feed, even drawing a favourable comment from Deliveroo. Two wins and we’ve gone mainstream.

No sadder sight.

As we approach the halfway point of the season there is now a nice looking gap between us and the relegation places, a gap almost comparable to the one between the end of Glenn Howes three quarter lengths and his shoes. If we keep winning, he can wear them all season. Up the Magpies, here’s hoping for a smash and grab against the Met, or some such witticism, on Saturday. SV

“I’m at a stage in my life where I won’t settle for anything less than Yorkshire Gold.”

In the same way that you can wait for ages for a bus before two then turn up at the same time, having waited almost three years to see a Dorch win, I’ve now seen two inside the space of about a month. My immediate post night shift return from London to Dorchester was rewarded with another win, and if the 3-2 victory over Hartley Wintney was slightly fortunate, yesterday’s victory over Kings Langley was thoroughly deserved and gave new manager, Glenn Howes, victory in his first home game in charge. It was a pleasant change from home performances over recent years as nice football actually yielded chances and goals, as well as a welcome clean sheet that included both good defending and some luck to boot.

It was a good day for the club, with free entry being offered to serving and former forces personnel, and a very well-done remembrance service done prior to kick off as the club remembers those who died in past conflicts. There are many links with the club and the armed forces, and I’ll spend a couple of paragraphs telling a brief story of one of the club’s more notable names to have served in the armed forces and represented Dorchester in Tommy Rowe.

Tommy Rowe may not be a name familiar to all Dorch fans, but his life story is fascinating and one worth telling. Born in Poole in 1913, Tommy would play for his hometown club at the start of his career in 1933 before joining Portsmouth in the 1934. A central defender, Tommy would break into the first team properly in September of 1937 and would be a key component of the Pompey side who would win the FA Cup in 1939 with a crushing 4-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Wembley. However, the outbreak of the Second World War would see his top flight footballing career effectively ended, and he first volunteered to join the City of Portsmouth Police, before joining the RAF and training as a bomber pilot.

Dorchester Town FC, 1949/50. Front row left to right; Fred Ames, Andy Anderson, Tommy Rowe.

He flew a staggering 39 successful bombing missions over Germany when piloting Avro Lancaster’s and Halifax’s, as well as rising to the position of Squadron Leader and being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). On his 40th bombing mission Tommy’s aircraft was shot down over Germany and he would spend the last two years of the conflict as a Prisoner of War. When peace returned to Europe Rowe continued to serve with the RAF Volunteer Reserve, finally relinquishing his commission in August 1958. He moved to Ary and played for Ayr United and worked at Butlins in Prestwick, before meeting his soon to be wife and moving back to Dorchester, having been recruited by a Portsmouth Director who knew that Dorchester were looking for a player/manager. He started playing for Dorchester and working for Wrights and Sons – a local wholesale grocery business, and Tommy would be a vital part of the Magpies side who would gain promotion in 1949/50 before his playing days were ended by a serious head injury. He wasn’t finished yet though and he would once again return to the club to manage to side in ’53-54. Tommy would remain local and would live in his Manor Road home until his passing at the age on 92 in in May of 2006. A true hero who never looked upon himself that way at all, Tommy has a seat in the stand in his honour that his family have sponsored as part of the club’s Sponsor a Legend initiative. If ever a man deserved to be honoured at The Avenue, Tommy Rowe is surely one.

Back to the present and the omens for the day ahead were good as I meandered my way into town to meet a few of the regular faces for breakfast. I arrived just as Phil was finishing up his cup of tea, although curiously he has only ordered a pot of hot water and milk. Rather than shell out the £2.70 for a cup of tea, he preferred to bring his own Yorkshire Gold to the Vivo Lounge as he is now “at a stage in my life where I won’t settle for anything less than Yorkshire Gold.” He is man who knows what he likes and likes what he knows. He has even gone as far to tell some outlets that he is allergic to the fabric in some teabags when they are reluctant to provide just the milk and boiling water, and at this point you really have to admire than man’s commitment to a decent brew at a price that isn’t offensive. The taking of several more sachets of sugar than he needed seemed unnecessary, but he given he was in for a penny, he may as have gone in for a pound.

Of course it’s Yorkshire Gold.

JW would soon arrive and El Generale would join shortly after as conversation would become more football centric, as well as the welcome return of Phil and Steve arguing after one had totally missed the point the other was making. Expensive breakfasts polished off, all things DTFC would become the topic. We would identify a photo sent to me by David Ward as an early season 3-1 win over Banbury in August 2002 (goals from Andrews, Keeler and Shepherd, if you’re asking), work out when JW last saw a Dorch win (4-1 over Basingstoke in March of 2019) and discuss what we need to improve the current squad which amounted to a bit of leadership which we hope Glenn can provide, as well as a couple of improvements in key areas which was a conversation so long, I can’t be arsed to summarise. We were also informed that someone had heard from a reliable source that we have the “fourth biggest budget in the league”, a ‘fact’ so specific it can’t possibly be true given no one will know what other sides budgets are. But as we made our way towards the ground one thing was certain and that is that we were uncertain of how we’d get on.

August 24th, 2002. Photo: David Ward.

At the ground, the bar seemed busier than I remember it being on previous visits, and El Gen, JW and I were soon joined by Luke from The Board who once again looked like a man who had successfully navigated a morning at in the dock at the local magistrate court. A look at some old programmes and a natter about the fortunes of the club over the past few seasons left Luke asking the question; “Why are we winning so few games?” Simple, we’re losing too many, was my accurate if not very expansive reply. Berry, who at his time of years morphs into a half man and half puffer jacket hybrid, was able to provide the details of the teams and we showed only one change as Tom Soares dropped to the bench with Billy Lowes replacing him, with Callum Buckley taking on the captain’s armband for the day.

Photo: Phil Standfield.

We filtered out onto the terraces in time for The Last Post to be played by Steve Vaughan, before an impeccably observed minutes silence that for a pleasant changed, wasn’t followed by 90 minutes of silence. Breaking from recent tradition and taking up residence behind the goal we were attacking at the Tesco end, we started well with plenty of possession and a couple of early shots on goal. Tom Purrington and Sam Bayston both say efforts comfortably saved with Roberts and Stanley both shooting wide as we pressed early on, but we still had to be alert at the back at set pieces seemed to be the most likely way the visitors would trouble us. JW visited the toilets at the Tesco end and reported back on the club’s ingenious method of ensuring that there isn’t too much a of a smell; a ‘Little Trees’ air freshener pinned to the toilet cistern. That ought to get rid of the stench of 30 years’ worth of piss. In an attempt to avoid any quick throws, at least half a dozen clearances by the Kings Langley number five were deliberately blasted out of the ground in a manner that would have made Andy Harris proud as we pushed for the opening goal, and that goal would come on the 24-minute mark as Kieran Roberts turned into the Pro Evo 6 version of Adriano.

If you know, you know.

Roberts would not only win but then ran onto his own headed flick on, held off and turned two defenders before blasting a shot that Lango goalkeeper, Lee Axworthy, got a hand on but saw ricochet off his back and roll into the net. Was it an own goal? Technically it probably was, but good luck trying to take that one off Kieran, I think I’d be letting him keep that. A reasonable game of football was breaking out as Kings Langley almost equalised as we first allowed a corner to be taken as we momentarily switched off, Gerald Benfield’s foot keeping us ahead, but we came close to doubling our lead as a Tom Purrington volley flashed just over as we finished the half well.

That should sort it.

1-0 up at halftime and so far, so good was the unanimous verdict, and when asked if he’d seen any worse sides than Kings Langley at Dorch this season, Berry’s reply was “only us”. Encouraging. Heading behind the goal at the bypass end, we hoped that we’d be able to build on a good first half and the initial signs were good as Charlie Madden say a shot saved down low by Axworthy, and Kieran Roberts was denied by the same man as he broke free on our left. Alert defending kept our visitors from any real meaningful shot on goal, and the introduction of Tom Soares for Alfie Stanley saw us drop a little deeper than those of us behind the goal would have liked as we felt like we’d seen this blow up in our faces several times over the past few seasons. A further tactical switch came as an injured Madden was replaced by the returning Sam Davidson, and the switch to what appeared to be wing backs made us look far more comfortable.

Photo: Phil Standfield.

JW and I spoke of who would take a penalty if we got one given Stanley was now off the pitch as we queued for our food and Bovril respectively. We thought it would be Roberts but we were soon proved to be wrong. Tom Purrington’s burst into the box was clumsily stopped by a combination of two defenders, penalty given and Tom Soares calmly dispatched the spot kick, even seeming to engage in a staring contest with the keeper as Axworthy tried and failed to put him off. 2-0 and we behind the goal we felt worryingly confident that we’d be able to see the game out. We were given a rude jolt of reality as slight fumble from Benfield saw Sam Davidson make a heroic block to keep our lead two clear goals. But in truth, we could have had more with a Purrington effort easily saved, a 50-yard run by Roberts, made all the more impressive by the fact he seemed to be looking directly at the ground, almost saw him score a third, and a Billy Lowes shot was blocked with the keeper stranded. But a 2-0 win was the result and good value we were for it as well. It is rare over the past few seasons we have eased to a victory in such a manner, and Glenn Howes could hardly have asked for more on his first home game in charge. My only minor complaint would have to be that my Bovril was too salty. However, I’m reluctant to point the finger of blame at Glenn for that.

The sight of a once again busy bar post game was encouraging, as was the attendance of 446, which was comprised of almost exclusively home fans. I’m not sure what the take up on the free forces’ tickets were, but those that came will potentially be tempted to return following a win and will hopefully have popped a few quid behind the bar or into the food kiosk. With a home game coming up on Tuesday against Wimborne, there is a decent chance of another decent crowd and hopefully, another win. The post-match chatter was naturally quite positive and I was even able to snare a couple of bits of the KFC that was on offer for the players, Kieran Roberts was awarded a thoroughly deserved man of the match, him and Tom Purrington the stand outs for me. Also notable were Alan Luther was seen rocking a quite stunning set of mutton chops in combination with a flat cap that made him look like a cross between Fred Dibnah and Bob Flemming, and a hand carved piece of wood emblazoned with ‘Dorchester Town FC’ on that was found in the roof space of the old club shop was dated to the 1980/81 season when it was presented to then player/manager, Martin Chivers. How it ended up in the fucking loft with a raft of other pieces of club history is anybody’s guess. A rare successful day all round.

Last of the summer Carlsberg.

The win and the three points make the bottom of the table look a touch better as there is now a five-point gap between us and the drop zone. And with only three points separating positions 18th to 12th, we are more than capable of looking upwards than over our shoulders if we can continue to play like that. A win against a rock bottom Wimborne side on Tuesday would be more than handy as we look to put together back-to-back wins for the first time since late 2019. Look out for the Matty Holmes interview that we home to have in the programme for that game, the man himself may even be in the crowd. Roll on Tuesday, here’s hoping for a repeat performance, I’ll be there and may even take a page out of Phil’s book and bring my own Bovril granules and just order a cup of boiling water and a stirrer. SV

Tommy Rowe, 1913-2006.
Tommy Rowe, 1913-2006.

“A 90 minute drive down some shitty road, to watch us get beat by a team in the relegation zone and then a 90 minute drive back should provide plenty of scope for a blog, I think.”

Photo credit; Phil Standfield

Having used a rare free Saturday to travel to watch us lose to a team that hadn’t won in 11 games, for some bizarre reason I decided a midweek trip to Merthyr Tydfil seemed like a good idea. 

A 90 minute drive each way from the Midlands was probably favourable to the trip those who braved it from Dorchester on the coach had to endure but I still questioned my decision at regular intervals on the journey down. 

A town/ground I had never been to, and being completely honest, my sole gem of knowledge on the town existed of watching a Ralf Little documentary on Britain’s Toughest Pubs many years ago, but one that had strangely stuck in my memory maybe due to the Southern League link. 

Fancying a bit of company for the trip down, I asked my friend Sam if he fancied a random midweek away trip. Fresh from his gift of a signed Dorch shirt from our FA Cup game against Luton for being his best man in the summer, it felt only right to offer him the chance to join me this Southern League Premier South encounter. Having seen many Dorch games since his first, a 3-1 defeat to Forest Green midweek back in 2006, it took 10 years for him to see his first win away at Stratford on a midweek game in 2016, he is yet to see another win since, not sure he was the good luck omen we needed to see Glenn pick up his first victory since taking over. 

Tough place to go…

A quick stop at the services half way down saw us learn that the COVID-19 regulations are different in Wales, something that hadn’t even crossed our minds to think about, but saw the few people that worked in the services giving us a bit of a dirty look, before we carried on the remainder of the journey down to the game.

As we neared Merthyr, the weather took a turn for the worse, with the rain starting to come down, I saw messages from the WhatsApp group flying through on CarPlay so decided to take a listen. The team news filtered through,  with guesses to the formation and shape which were quickly followed by a long list of replies to “When do Merthyr get the first and winning goal then lads?”, so long I nearly missed the turn off the main road to the ground. 

After pulling into the ground car park, and realising that 90% of the spaces they had are reserved, I found a space in front of the turnstiles. The Steward quickly came over in true meme style “You can’t park there mate” followed by “there will be people queuing from the turnstiles”, not realising they were expecting a bumper crowd and the 10 metres or so gap I had left wasn’t enough, I replied “They all coming to see the Dorch?”, which after a few seconds was greeted with a much longer laugh than necessary, before he got me to move the car about 1m forward, which clearly solved the issue for the imminent arrival of the swathes of people coming for this huge non league encounter.

After going past a sign advising of “Choir Rehearsal in grandstand” I wasn’t sure if this was an attempt at some humour for the classics we were about to hear from the Merthyr youth, or if they genuinely were making a bit of money on the side by renting out the stand during games to a choir, we headed into the ground. 

With the rain coming down before kick off, we decided to take a place down the side under cover in-front of the much talked about food kiosk, of social media fame for its Chips and Curry Sauce in a bread roll, the queue stretching half way along the side of the ground before kick off. 

We started positively, playing nice football and with Roberts seeming more comfortable in his natural forward role, the lack of Flavio Tavares was the only downside, someone who had impressed me during the first half against Swindon on Saturday. 

Photo credit; Phil Standfield

Merthyr looked a young side, with Kerry Morgan, the one of the few familiar names in the squad. As we pushed forward early on, Merthyr’s defence appeared to part like the red sea, allowing/inviting our players to run and get shots away, however, in true Dorch fashion things just didn’t quite seem to fall our way with Purrington, Roberts and Stanley all seeing opportunities but without managing to find the net early on.

Whilst we looked comfortable on the ball across the pitch and dominated in possession Merthyr did look dangerous on the break with Curtis Hemmett-Hutson and Ian Taylor particularly looking threatening along with Frazer Thomas, however, it did feel as if, if anyone was likely to break the deadlock it would be us, as we imposed ourselves on their back line a lot better than on Saturday. 

Contrary to my pre conceived ideas of Merthyr from the tv programme twenty years ago that they were going to be a team of hard barstewards, it was surprising to see how easy some of their players went down, to coin a phrase used on the terraces in the Midlands that I have become accustomed to since my time in management started a few years ago, “He went down easier than a bird from [insert local estate/town of choice here]”. It became quite painful how often they went down, whilst the home crowd begged for cards at every opportunity.  

Whilst the half did endure some quiet periods, attention quickly turned to seeing how the queue for the food kiosk had progressed, with Luke, who according to an unnamed member of the travelling Dorch contingent, looked like he had just left court, providing regular updates including his disbelief that the queue didn’t seem to be shortening. That and talk of an infamous trip to Merthyr on the “Cardiff Weekender” which included a story about leeks and a “dry train” who knew they existed? 

With the scores level at half time, the inevitable did begin to cross our mind, was this going to be another game as predicted by the WhatsApp group, that saw us lose by a solitary goal, despite being more than in the game? 

The second half started brightly, and we went ahead, as Purrington saw his initial effort saved before firing the rebound home to the delight of the travelling fans behind the goal, along with a group of lads unknown to said travelling fans, who may of been there to support Dorch (are there really Dorch fans out there we don’t know?) or maybe they were just there to see Merthyr lose, who knows? 

Unfortunately, this goal whether a deliberate decision by the management, or by a change of plan by Merthyr, saw us camped in our half for the next twenty minutes. Despite regular checks of my watch time seemed to stand still as we withstood large amounts of possession from the home side.  

They hit the post from distance before chances were blocked by bodies flying across the box as we tried to keep the lead, however, the goal that felt like it was coming did eventually arrive, as Benfield made a great save before seconds later being beaten to a high ball by ex Hereford player Toby Raison. 

Merthyr then missed what will go down as one of the worst misses I have seen, and I’ve seen my fair share, as their player managed to put the ball over the bar from what looked like a metre away from an open goal, a big let off, but one that seemed to see us regain some of the control we had seen during earlier parts of the game. 

The introduction of Christos on the wing seemed to give us a bit of a spark that we had missed from Tavares not playing, and with minutes to go the ball fell to Purrington inside the box, although stretching for the ball, the keeper was committed and an empty goal was effectively left, but the ball agonisingly dropped wide of the post. “That was THE chance” quipped Sam, yeah thanks mate, just in case I needed it reinforcing we’d just missed an open goal to seal the 3 points. But it turns out, that wasn’t the only chance, as with virtually the final kick of the game Roberts was played through in behind the defence, as the home keeper narrowed the angle, his shot curled past him and just past the outside of the far post. 

Photo credit; Phil Standfield

Sat in the bar afterwards it was a fairly quiet affair, wondering what had just happened at the end of the game and how we hadn’t got over the line, but when things aren’t going your way, they just don’t seem to go in. It feels like we need a last minute winner to go in off someones knee to just give us that bit of luck to push on, but we’re also not helped by a very thin squad missing a couple of key players, hopefully Glenn is able to add a bit of depth to help us have options available in the coming weeks. 

Two games into our run of “winnable” games and with one point to show, it’s hard to know how to take it. A couple of wins at home from the next two games would give a return of 7 points and probably put us in a reasonable position to push forward, anything less and we would look at this game as two points lost given the chances we had.

Photo credit; Phil Standfield

It wouldn’t be a midweek away trip if the journey home wasn’t prolonged by some random roadworks, given the journey up was relatively smooth, we weren’t expecting the random road closure and decided to take the “for residents only” option, which saw us driving down some narrow lane, littered with potholes, and with traffic cones protecting the corner of every parked car we went past, not sure that’s really going to help if someone decides to rear end your car but who am I to judge?  

Eventually fifteen minutes later we managed to, more by luck than judgement, end up back on the main road to Monmouth and head back to the Midlands. Listening to Sam’s thoughts on the way home, he thinks we’re a much different side from that of recent years, and like many opposition fans this season said “you shouldn’t be down the bottom playing like that” but whilst also reiterating his long term view that “you’re the non league Villa” aligning us with his side who are currently enduring their own difficulties struggling to return to their heights in the 80s, not too dissimilar to us on reflection. Dorch game number 16 for him, with still only 1 win, maybe next time…. DW