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Shot by both sides

Is a draw away at Aldershot a good result? Is it a criminal lack of ambition to be happy with a point away from home when we’re 20th in the National League? When we’re the mighty Oldham Athletic and we had good attacking options on the bench that we didn’t use? As Mrs Merton used to say, let’s have a heated debate!

Their goal didn’t make for happy viewing. Jordan Clarke was at fault for giving the ball away in the middle of the pitch, but the blame can’t all be put on him when Effiong, who was always going to be their main threat and sounded like he was giving us a torrid afternoon, was in acres of space. It was a good finish, to be fair, but he shouldn’t have had the time or space that he did.

It wasn’t the best finish of the game though. The 25-yard thunder bastard from God’s Number 9 takes that accolade. Big Mike hit it absolutely beautifully on the half-volley from outside the D to equalise. From those who were at the game, it sounds like he didn’t have a great game overall – Gary Skinner’s comment in the Oldham Times that “Apart from whacking in a worldie, Fondop had the touch of an elephant (or Sean McCarthy)” did make me giggle. Having a player who ‘doesn’t do anything, except score’ isn’t the worst thing though. I appreciate it may be more of a problem if/when the worldies dry up. And Sean McCarthy was fucking good.

Aldershot had the chance to retake the lead when they were awarded a penalty, which the Latics Player commentary team agreed was soft, to the surprise of no-one. Happily, Effiong took what Roy Butterworth described as “the worst penalty I’ve seen in my life” (an incredibly bold claim), hitting it weakly down the middle at Norman. Gandalf still deserves credit for the save, mind – as Hogan pointed out in his post-match interview, it takes bravery to stand up and not dive when you’re facing a penalty, if the penalty taker puts the ball in either corner you look really daft. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pull my usual trick to encourage us to get a winner, as I was on an overcrowded Northern Rail train and going for a slash was NOT an option. I think that only works at Boundary Park anyway.

Having sat out a loss and then a win, Unsworth really needed to put in an appearance after a draw in the post-match presser, and he did. He said more than once that “we could have scored 5” and having not been at the game I can only take his word for it, but that seems slightly at odds with what people were saying on social media. Then again, the Aldershot keeper got man of the match, so maybe Unsworth was right. He praised ‘Shelton and Shez’ for looking solid in midfield – I can’t be the only one who isn’t comfortable with him calling Sheron that. While he apparently felt we could have won the game 5-1, he was happy with the point – “if you can’t win, you don’t lose”.

Should he be happy with the point? Should we have gone for it in the final stage of the game? Why didn’t he bring on Abraham as an attacking impact sub? I certainly wouldn’t be happy if we were drawing 1-1 at home today and he didn’t bring Timmy on, but I can understand him being more cautious away. If he’d brought Abraham on and they’d hit us on the break and won the game, he’d be getting far more stick than he got for playing safe. He said in the post-match interview that our home games are an opportunity, and I hope that’s how he approaches them.

Transfer deadline day is a bit of an irrelevance here on Planet Vanarama, but we did see a fairly big bit of business done with Harry Vaughan moving to Hull, reportedly for a 6-figure sum. Maybe it’s a shame we didn’t see more of him in the first team, but Unsworth isn’t the only manager who hasn’t fancied playing him for whatever reason. If we’re not going to play him and someone’s offering us money for him, surely it’s a no-brainer to let him go? Good luck to the wee man.

The best news of the week came on Thursday, when it was announced that we’ve signed Yarney until the end of the 2023-24 season. Based on the few games we’ve seen him play so far, this is brilliant news. He’s looked very impressive at both centre-half and right-back, and it’s starting to look like we won’t be trying to build a squad from nothing in the summer. That’ll make a nice change, won’t it?

I’ll happily settle for us getting draws away IF we’re getting results at home. Today is the first of 4 home games in a fortnight, 2 of them against teams currently in the relegation zone, and it would be very nice if we could hit a run of form that pulls us away from trouble. Having witnessed the abject performance away at Halifax, it would be lovely if we could make up for that today, especially as they’re only 4 points ahead of us. Come on lads, let’s turn this pile of shite season around. KTMFF.



Written by Arlene Finnigan. Photo © Eddie Garvey.

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Good old Arlene, allowing us to think what we like, no shouting. Always enjoy your blogs, thank you 😊

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