It's a forlorn hope that we might catch Burton-I know that. The desperate optimist in me refuses to accept it though, so I watched their match at Ebbsfleet last night with a far-fetched but encouraging theory in my heart.
I could see Ebbsfleet winning it; the conditions weren't great and Ebbsfleet have been picking up lately (if only we could have played them when we were scheduled to, and they were in freefall). My theory ran that once they'd lost that they then face the only side of the same calibre in the division: us. They haven't lost at home this season, so they're due a defeat, and they'd be coming off three games in a week. Once we'd beaten them, they'd be forced to confront the terrifying possibility of their own mortality. Their following two games are away from home and awkward, against a Woking side that showed their stubborn side at the Racecourse earlier this season, and Cambridge. One point out of twelve, tailspin, they'd be lucky to stay out of the bottom four!
Well, maybe that's a touch far-fetched, but it looked like the theory was panning out nicely after 63 minutes. With the snow coming down, Burton were 1-0 down and frankly not really at the races. And then the ref rescued them by calling the game off.
My initial reaction was to feel he'd got it badly wrong. Okay, the lines were getting covered in snow, but the actual playing conditions were okay: you couldn't play the beautiful game on it, admittedly, but the players weren't slipping around and certainly weren't in danger, and the ball wasn't stopping in the snow. So why not halt the game for five minutes, get people on the brush the lines, and start again in five minutes?
That seemed to be the opinion of a furious Ebbsfleet team and bench too, but once he'd calmed down Liam Daish seemed to offer a different opinion. Instead he appeared to imply the game could have carried on if his own team had been properly prepared. This fitted in with the referee's behaviour on halting the game; at first he appeared to merely be called a brief hiatus to clear the lines.
So were Ebbsfleet guilty of a slack approach, just as they were when our match was called off at such late notice last January? It's ironic if this time they suffered for it; I'm sure their form meant they were glad to get the game off when we were due in town (correction: when we were ALREADY in town!) but it didn't help my crazy little theory much, did it?