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Between the pain and the pleasure, amongst the sharks and the treasure

The football gods gave, and the football gods hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. (I believe he’s covering our game for TNT Sports today. If you’re there, make sure you let him know that Oldham still loves him more than he will know.)

There needed to be a colossal improvement last Saturday against Aldershot, and there was. Playing an actual right back at right back and an actual winger on the right wing worked wonders. All 5 goals were glorious in their own way. I will never get bored of watching Nuttall (who had a great game and set up at least three of the goals) flatten their defender before crossing in the ball for Norwood to get what will be the first goal of many.

I could only laugh when I heard the roar for the second goal while queuing at the Rocky bar, and people came in from the stand saying “that was the goal of the season!”. You’re all welcome. Dickenson’s signing was somewhat overshadowed given that it was announced on the same day that we unveiled Norwood, but it turns out he can’t half bang them in as well.

Andy messaged me saying “You didn’t miss much”, then messaged again 6 minutes later saying “That was also shit” after Tollitt put us 3-0 up before HT. It was, naturally, anything but. So, I missed two cracking goals, and they had no wine, no vodka, no gin, and I nabbed the last rum and coke. Sort it out, Darren.

The own goal was just horrible bad luck and was soon forgotten. Norwood’s 2nd goal (and our 4th) was a proper striker’s goal. When Nuttall laid the ball on for him, I felt the same as I did when Alessia Russo was through on goal v Colombia earlier in the afternoon: there is absolutely no possible outcome here other than the ball ending up in the back of the net. Norwood rounded off a brilliant afternoon a couple of minutes later when he threaded the ball through for Dickenson to chip the keeper, something that takes the kind of confidence we’ve not seen much of for quite some time.

Saints winning the first Women’s Challenge Cup final to be held at Wembley, England in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup, and Latics on fire. What a fucking brilliant afternoon.

Unsworth was full of praise for the players after the game (although you had to listen to the podcast to hear him call Kitching and Dickenson’s play “sexy”). Norwood will “get better, because he’ll get fitter”, Shelton and Sheron (credit where it’s due after I slated them last week, they were both superb) “covered every blade of grass”, Dickenson “has got a hammer of a left foot”, and Tollitt? “He’s a cracking lad, if he came home with your daughter you’d be delighted.” Good to know.

All in all, exactly the response that was needed after the Southend game. The season starts now!

Image by @andyhusky

And obviously then we lost to Halifax yet a-fucking-gain and that was that bubble burst.

It wasn’t that bad a performance. Not really. But if we could have got any result, even a late equaliser, it would have kept a bit of momentum up. Instead, it feels like one step forward, two steps back. Obviously there clearly should have been a red card and a penalty for the assault on Fondop at the end, but was it really the referee who ‘cost us the game’? Did we really create enough chances to win the game? I’m really not sure that we did. Is Unsworth learning and is he the man to take us forward? Again, I really don’t know.

Football, like fate, is a fickle mistress. On Sunday, we might be 9 points behind Chesterfield after 4 games and calling for Unsworth’s head. Or we might be hailing Unsworth a football genius and celebrating England winning the World Cup.

It’s fine if you’re not interested in the Women’s World Cup, by the way. Personally, I think you’re missing out if you’re not, but you do you. Telling me that “No body cares” when trawling through my tweets is not a good use of your time, especially if you’ve spent all week obsessively tweeting a female boxer like a creepy little weirdo. Shutting the fuck up is free.

Safe journey if you’re off to Chesterfield today, or indeed if you’re off to the pub to watch it on TV and start drinking before midday. I’ve got family stuff on and won’t be following it at all, which might not be the worst thing. I will be out and about on Sunday (if I haven’t caught COVID off Matt) watching the final. I’ll be wearing my Prescot Cables shirt, in honour of Prescot legend Sylvia Gore, who scored the first goal for an officially recognised England women’s team in their 3-2 win over Scotland in 1972. Here’s to HMS Piss The League righting her course and football coming home. KTMFFYFP.

Written by Arlene Finnigan. Photos by Phill Smith.


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