Balague: United win derby in game of two halves

Guillem Balague.
Guillem Balague.

The phrase ‘a game of two halves’ is probably the oldest football cliché in the world - but it’s probably the best way of describing our hard fought victory against Stofold on Tuesday.

What looked like a stroll in the park when we cruised into a 3-0 lead after half an hour in a match where we could at that point have been leading by five, somehow became a second half backs to the wall battle to hang on to the three points.

It’s moments - episodes - like these that define not just where you belong in a footballing sense, but tell you who you are, what you are made of. How you react to both success and adversity, or in the words of Kipling how you “meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same” that says everything about you, both as a team and an individual.

It also tells us that we still have a way to go and need to realise that no matter what the scoreline is, absolutely nothing should be taken for granted.

It’s probably more to do with belief and confidence than about complacency and it was as much when, as it was why, we conceded that gave everyone the collywobbles. In the resultant panic, our second half performance was totally unrecognisable from our showing for most of the opening period.

Thankfully a fourth goal in the 86th minute calmed the jitters although we all know that we were very fortunate that Stotfold had squandered a chance to level just two minutes earlier.

In truth the only time this season we have played a consistently excellent whole 90 minutes this season was against Barton Rovers, but at least we have the consolation of knowing that on this occasion it did not cost us any points and we can learn from the experience and build on it.

Thankfully what we are enjoying is stability in the starting line up with a regular strength in depth to come from the sidelines when called upon to do so. The plus side is that such continuity creates great understanding between all members of the team while the downside, of course, is that with so many games to play and fewer players being rotated, the risk of tiredness is always a factor.

Next up we visit Colney Heath. Hopefully we can extend our winning run which has seen us take maximum points from our last four games. We then face a tricky away trip to Harpenden Town on Tuesday.