There’s no doubt about it – with eight games to go, we are officially at the Business End of the season. Savour those away days, soak up every last minute of action at The Pan, because before long your Saturdays are going to be filled with putting up shelves, trips to Ikea and working out how to get uranium out of the kids’ school uniform. (Editor’s note: bit dark that, Baz. Nobody needs reminding of Ikea.)
What do the Rooks need from their remaining eight games to give themselves a realistic chance of being in the play-offs? I’ve dusted down my A-Level statistics textbooks and put new batteries in the Casio to work it out. Here goes:
- The average points per game required to finish 5th for the past five completed seasons in the Isthmian Premier League is: 1.68
- The points per game for the side currently sitting 5th (Hornchurch) is: 1.87
- The Rooks’ current points per game is: 1.79
What does this tell us? We are in something of a freak season. Our current points per game would have put us comfortably in the play-off spots for any of the five previous completed seasons. But unless any of the current play-off contenders have a serious dip in form towards the end of the season, we’re going to need to improve on our current points per game.
The rotten news is none of the current play-off spot contenders (Folkestone, Bishop’s Stortford, Hornchurch or Enfield) are in terrible form:
Enfield look the most vulnerable out of the four, but even they seem to have recovered from their mini-collapse, winning two on the spin (including yesterday’s home win over Hornchurch).
In short, we can’t afford to be giving any points away, which makes yesterday’s draw at Haringey Borough even more galling…
The first half was largely frustrating. Neither side were creating much and those rare chances were met with sloppy finishing.
Joe Taylor had a one-on-one with the keeper that was comfortably saved, Deshane Dalling failed to get on the end of a brilliant Taylor ball across the box, while Dalling’s cross to Maloney on the six-yard line got trapped under Maloney’s feet.
It just wasn’t clicking until Ollie Tanner – coincidentally in sniffing distance of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – remembered he’s a bloody good player. Everyone was expecting Tanner to cross the ball when he found himself at a tight angle to the right of the goal. Instead he unleashed a Proper Thunderbastard™ into the roof of the net to give the Rooks the lead.
The start to the second half saw what was arguably the game’s turning point. Kicking with the wind, Maloney lofted a corner-kick to the far post and it dropped in the top corner, over the head of Haringey’s dinky goalkeeper, who was presumably only playing because he needed the Goalkeeping Badge on his scout’s uniform. Celebrations were cut short, however, when the referee decided to disallow the goal for no discernible reason.
It was another set-piece ten minutes later that handed Haringey a soft equaliser. The ball was lofted to the back post where three Haringey players were left unmarked to prod it home, centre-back Scott Mitchell eventually doing the honours.
To be fair to Mitchell, he tried valiantly to give us the three points back. Dalling fed a ball into Joe Taylor on the edge of the box, but Mitchell shouted ‘hold my pint’ as he strode forward and toe-poked the ball low past his own keeper for one of the smartest own-goal finishes you’ll ever see.
Still, we couldn’t hold on. As players tired, the paucity of options on our bench became all too apparent. Only three outfield players and a young goalkeeper left us threadbare. I hear efforts were made to find another player at the last minute, but why on Earth can’t we fill a bench? We’ve got one of the best under-18s sides in Sussex – Worthing beat us with two of our former youth players in their first XI last week. It’s infuriating that we’re not making better use of the kids that Dale Hurley and his coaches are bringing through.
And yet, and yet… despite have two right-backs on the pitch at the same time, we still managed to get done by an overlap down our right-hand side, leaving Owusu to prod home a Haringey equaliser six minutes from the end.
Two points squandered, then, and as the back-of-the-envelope calculations at the top of this report prove, they might be two points we couldn’t afford to throw away.
Lewes: Carey, Spencer, Salmon, Pettit, Carlse, Klass, Maloney, Pritchard, Tanner, Dalling, Taylor
Subs: Hall, Yao, Nelson, McLeod… erm…