ANOTHER home game, another swing and a miss. I suspect I’m not the only fan who’d have expected us to have secured our first home win by now but for some reason things just aren’t clicking at Blackwell Meadows.

Like the Blyth game last month, we had plenty of the ball but unlike that game chances weren’t as free-flowing. Some fans have questioned the tactics, some have highlighted the spate of injuries to affect our leanly resourced squad but for me it felt like we never really caused Alfreton as many problems as we could have.

Saturday’s game was an interesting one for me. I’m normally stood in the Tin Shed but due to being a bit lame with a dodgy foot, I opted to pay the £2 upgrade to go sit in the main stand. It’s the first time I’ve been in there for a competitive Darlo game and I enjoyed it. It’s comfortable, the view is surprisingly good and what impressed me the most was the number of families with young children using the extended sections. Whilst I may not necessarily agree with the FA ground regulations that effectively forced us to increase the seating capacity, it appears the new seats have opened up the games to those who might not want to stand around the perimeter fencing for whatever reason.

Another benefit to being sat was being able to see the game from a different angle from normal. I got a good view of the woeful defending that afforded Alfreton their early winner. I also got to see how deep Alfreton’s defensive line dropped almost immediately after the goal. The visitors seemed pretty happy to allow us all the possession we wanted, throwing down the gauntlet to see what we could do. Sadly, initially, it wasn’t much. From my vantage point in the first half, you could see Alfreton were a big side defensively but didn’t seem too keen on being dragged around out of position. Sadly, our attacking movement in the first half didn’t pose many challenges.

The second half saw chances created and a couple of really good ones squandered but at no point did I feel particularly confident of us turning the game around. So deep was the visitors’ defence and midfield, they made little effort to get anyone near to their beanpole striker Tom Denton. At times, he was 30 or 40 yards from a teammate and yet that made little difference. We kept getting the ball back and ended up doing little constructively with it. So deep was their defence, when they had one of their centre halves sent off, it seemed to have little impact on the game.

After a month of the season, it’s hard not to be a bit disappointed about the start we’ve made. Especially when we have seen how well we can play against the likes of Brackley and Blyth. Circumstances are clearly having an effect. Before a ball was kicked, our squad looked compact but reasonably capable of dealing with absences. However, injuries and suspensions have taken their toll. Defensively, there’s a lot of work still to be done. We’ve learnt in the last two seasons that you can’t get away with poor defending in this league and that’s being reinforced. We’re crying out to find a settled back four. Meanwhile, I really believe that Joe Wheatley and Tom Elliott will be one of the best midfield duos in this league but so dynamic are both players it is nigh on impossible to replicate what they bring to the team if one or both are not able to play in the middle of the park.

Now is certainly not the time to start panicking. When players are fit and not suspended, I fancy our first choice starting XI will be strong enough to kick-start our season. But we do need to learn from what has gone on during August against some of the best sides in the league. Defensively, marking and concentration needs to be a lot better. If we can stop or even just limit the number of silly goals being conceded, things will look better sooner rather than later.