HAVING missed the decent draws away from home at Kidderminster and Hereford, it felt like an eternity since I had last seen us play at home to Guiseley on the first day of February. Sporting a dodgy ankle, my usual spot in the Tin Shed was sacrificed for a seat in the main stand.

While the view is excellent and very comfortable, it became noticeable very quickly that my usual three layers of clothing was not going to be substantial enough. For all the years of joking about how the sun never got inside the Arena rendering it positively arctic even during the warmer times of the season, the seated stand at Blackwell Meadows is clearly some sort of wind tunnel with a significant wind chill effect. Even for someone with inbuilt insulation like myself, I was nithered come full time.

Anyhow, I’ve just about thawed out now so on to the game. How did we not win? Brackley are a very good side. Across our four seasons in this division, Brackley are by some distance the most consistent and best side to have not been promoted.

While our record against them is not terrible, they have given us a footballing lesson on a couple of occasions and that is enough to make you wary of them. As it turned out, we didn’t need to be too wary. We were comfortably the better side and yet as has been the case numerous times this season, we were just not quite good enough at either end of the pitch.

Considering we have both the weakest attack and weakest defence in the top half of the table with a negative goal difference that we’ve never really been able to shake off even in peak form, our position in the table is excellent. Sadly, a lack of goals means we can’t kill games off and a porous defence means we’re likely to be punished for it.

Saturday’s game was almost the perfect analogy for our season: more than good enough to secure the win but not quite enough application at either end of the pitch. It’s frustrating because it really is fine margins. Someone sticking a foot in and dealing with the threat would have prevented a pretty toothless Brackley side from equalising.

While the two ends of the pitch have been a bit problematic for us, it was good to see us dominate the middle of the pitch. Throughout the season, the midfield has been by far our strongest element. Alun has had plenty of options in there but for me and my layperson point of view, the three who started on Saturday feel like our strongest combination. Joe Wheatley, Omar Holness and Will Hatfield seem to dovetail like no other combination. That’s not to be critical of anyone else who plays in the middle of the park, but the balance of those three just feels right. On Saturday, Hatfield wasn’t at his brilliant best but Holness and Wheatley were immense and they were able to help their pal out. Whether it is a late run in to the playoffs or development for next season, this trio are the foundation on which a really good side can be built.

I’ve said this before about upcoming games, but this is when our season is made or broken. During March, we have winnable home games and very tricky away games. How we deal with this month will dictate whether we go into April in the thick of it or watching on thinking about what might have been.

Whatever happens, we must remember what the objectives on this season were, most of which have already been achieved. This season has been a marked improvement on what we saw in the previous two and regardless of what happens between now and the end of April, we’re stronger for it.