comment_180507

So, how did we manage that escape? Here’s the analysis of where we bucked historical trends to secure our first division future (above the scum).

So, in our last six games, our results were expected to be:

  • Charlton: draw 1-1;
  • Walsall: most likely lose 3-1;
  • Oldham: also draw (0-0);
  • Wigan: lose 1-0 – the standard home win given as we have not played there before;
  • Doncaster: lose 1-0 (see above!);
  • Bury: win 2-1.

The Charlton game turned into a win: a great start boosting us two points up.

Then, the key game that I think turned our potential into actual survival, the dramatic win at Walsall – 3-2 in stoppage time, in front of all those volunteers on their day out. Pure bliss (Alexa? – Ed).

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comment_180213

So, since the last review at the beginning of November, is our ‘indicator’ – based on past history panning out – predicting our future survival in League 1? Another three months gone, 15 more games down, and it’s time we look at what occurred and what is in store at the ‘business end of the season’.

The loss against Northampton should really not have come as a surprise to anyone as, along with Oxford over the years, they have been one of our bogey teams. This was a banker home loss on the indicator as we have only had three decent results against them ever since we reformed – two draws and a win.

But looking back over the last three months, the surprises on the pitch have definitely correlated to be the surprises we find in the table of expected and actual results. Overall, we have performed pretty much as expected: over this period, we were expected to get 10 points – and that is exactly what we got.

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comment_180210

Strange how certain events in football can change a club’s course. Everything in the AFC Wimbledon garden seemed rosy up to that point Freddie Ladapo took a call from Chris Powell halfway through his medical at Kingsmeadow.

The way we handled that situation received widespread criticism and looking back, maybe the negative vibe created by publicly saying he’d legged it at the eleventh hour was the catalyst for our downturn in fortunes.

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comment_180203

Some games you know very early on you’re not getting anything and, five minutes in, Saturday felt like one of those days.

I travelled not expecting much and a chat in the pub with a Millers fan did nothing for my expectations. He described a well organised team that are working really hard for each other: not a team with any star players, but a hard-working group on a good run and full of confidence.

Neal’s pre-match comments suggested this was a good opportunity to find out how far we’ve come as a team and how we’d measure up against one of the better sides in the division.

And there’s no doubt we’ve made significant progress in recent weeks, but when pitted against a team challenging for promotion, we got a bit of a reality check.

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comment_180127

I’ve seen a few people pondering what’s behind our upturn in fortunes. It’s true Jimmy Abdou has had an influence; it’s true that our defence is one of the best in the league; and it’s equally true that the 3-5-2 formation suits us very well.

I don’t think it’s down to any one factor, but if I had to pinpoint something that’s made us click, I’d say it’s how settled the side is now – and credit should go to the management team, including Jason Moriarty and Stuart Douglas, for that.

Neal is making very few changes and when he does, he’s not sacrificing quality: the players who come in are as effective in their roles as those they replace, and that’s further testament to the squad he’s got and the attitude of the dressing room.

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