West Leigh Park, Havant
If nothing else, one thing we’ve learnt thus far this season is that Manny Williams does not deal in sh*t goals. Not for him the claim of a soft shin deflection, no getting a drab miscued daisy-flattener through the hapless legs of a nervous youth-team keeper drafted in through an injury crisis. Offer him a two-yarder off his arse and he would look at you askance and with not a little contempt.
So, needless to say we’ve been wowed. Manny has been playing with such regal élan, you half expect him to jog out wearing robes and a crown.
Another thing we know is that if you need a trigonometric problem solved, Manny is your man to help, as his awareness of angles during this game was both bang on and BANG! IN!
First, in the seventh minute, he picked his spot perfectly, with only really one to choose from, to fire through Will Puddy’s flailing legs. A finish of pure class, perhaps not as good as Saturday’s effort, but not much will be. The bar has been pushed up virtually out of reach.
Well, almost, as the sheer fearlessness and impudence of his 90th minute equaliser will also live long in the memory. Put through one-on-one with Puddy racing out to him, and a defender chasing him down, he waited til virtually the last moment then curved the ball softly so it hung in the air like a new moon, seemingly for hours. Hearts thumped, pulses made like Usain Bolt, bottoms clenched like Venus fly-traps, and eventually the ball pinged off the post and in.
It was a ‘cometh-the-hour…’ moment, met with scenes of bouncy delirium on the West Leigh Park terraces the like of which we’ve not really seen since we hosted Swansea City, aided and abetted by a pretty astonishing midweek crowd of 1100 plus. Actually we’d be pretty delighted with that on Saturday, let alone a Monday night.
However, the fact that we needed that equaliser and the fact that we should have buried them during our long periods of domination in the first half mean that there are still things to be worked on, even though the team spirit, the performance of some of the younger players and some incredible saves from our new keeper Aaron Howe have been very encouraging.
Yet, after nine undefeated days of the season, with two wins and two draws, this second one of which felt like a win, there is much to fuel our grins.
Onwards now then to an away game at Braintree where, omens be damned, we never win. However, confidence should be rippling through the squad like a stormy tide, and this Saturday might be the time to obliterate that stat. I’ll be crossing my fingers in hope, I’m not so confident yet that I believe anything is a definite.
This posting also appears on ' Bin Man 87', one of the many blogs on the Conference South Guide site.