The annual media blackout that surrounds the 4th qualifying round meant I didn’t catch much about the win at Merthyr. I listened to the build up on Radio Oxford, but that was largely it.
The texts being read out summarised that the team selection was rubbish and we were about to be tanked. The Smith-Out onslaught is in full effect.
Prior to the game, Smith reiterated the current problem we have with injuries. EXCUSES! Cried the Smith-Out brigade.
There is a fine line between an explanation and an excuse, but the injury issue is an unavoidable fact, we are short of players, especially strikers. An injury crisis is like climate change; an individual episode cannot itself explain a problem, but it may be the beginning of a concerning trend. We had a similar problem less than a year ago, so maybe there is something to be addressed.
In the short-term however, quietly, we have built a sequence of one defeat in seven. Its ugly and dogged, but it does look like a foundation is appearing. Come Christmas, returning players and the transfer window opening, we could be positioned for a good second half to the season. If the naysayers back off both Smith and the team there may be life in this season yet. I suspect, however, there is little chance of this happening.
Next up in the cup is Northwich Victoria at home. A good draw, and an opportunity to build momentum. Last year, we had Wycombe, which proved a nasty distraction, this year, however, a run in the cup may help lighten the mood.
Elsewhere, there’s an interesting parallel developing between us last season and Torquay this. They’ve had a storming start to the season, with fragilities (ours was not scoring, theirs is conceding). Now, they’ve been drawn against higher placed local rivals Yeovil. Like us last year, the next few weeks could have a significant impact on the rest of their season.