On St. George’s day, nobody wants to be the dragon. Everyone wants to be the one left standing, sword in hand, prodding the bloody corpse to make sure all life has gone. Sadly this year we celebrated Shakespeare’s birthday as the dragon, and we were coughing out smoke instead of breathing fire. Though we’d hoped for a different ending, we were finally put to the sword.
We can all point to games where we could have salvaged points – there have been many – but as Robbo succinctly said in his post-match interview, the table does not lie at the end of the season. We’re going down because we’re one of the worst teams in this division, and that’s been proved beyond any doubt.
This match was a pretty good analogy for our season. We started well, took an early lead, but very quickly found ourselves pegged back to level terms. Then our confidence went, the opposition were playing with a swagger that we couldn’t match, and we resorted to a hoofing the ball forward, vainly hoping for something to happen. Then we started making mistakes, and we fell further and further behind. Injuries led to unplanned substitutions, planned substitutions had a lot of people raising their eyebrows and an air of resignation fell across the stadium.
We huffed and puffed but as a team, we really didn’t look like we had any ideas how to get ourselves out of it. There were some poor performances individually, but some very strong ones too. On the poor side, Cody Cropper had a nightmare of a first half (though it was oddly entertaining to watch at times) and was substituted at half time, though it was reported that was due to an injury. Charlie Burns struggled as Cody’s replacement, and any lingering optimistic hopes we had were damned as the goals went in.
On the positive side, Josh Murphy had what I’d say was his best game in a Dons shirt, and will rightly be in demand come the end of the season.
The most positive thing about the day was the reception given to the players and manager at the final whistle. We’d just been relegated, but the fans, players – both loanees and contracted – and manager stood and applauded each other.
This season has been a painful one. We’ve worked so hard to reach the championship, and been found wanting at the first hurdle. The post-mortem has been going on for months already, and will surely continue for a while longer, but for now, we need to lick our wounds, support each other for the final two matches, and finish with a smile on our faces.
I’m gutted, but still proud of what we’ve done this season.