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Analysis: AFC Telford United finally show some signs of life at the bottom

Relief was the overriding emotion for AFC Telford United as they got their first win since the opening day of the season.

AFC Telford United players celebrating  George Burroughs (30) (AFC Telford United Defender on loan from Coventry City) goal.
AFC Telford United players celebrating George Burroughs (30) (AFC Telford United Defender on loan from Coventry City) goal.

Four months is too long a time to wait for a victory, especially when your season only lasts for nine months, something manager Kevin Wilkin acknowledged afterwards.

The Bucks did win at Kings Langley in the FA Trophy two weeks ago but a win in front of their home faithful, in the league, their core business, felt potentially more significant.

This result had been edging closer and closer. The Bucks have generally been more competitive, but have seen mistakes punished ruthlessly, each one a harsh demonstration of how competitive a division they are in, and how far short of the standard they have been.

Slowly but surely that is changing even if it was a surprise that the victory came in this fixture against seventh-placed Banbury.

The Bucks, dealing with injury and suspension issues and had to field a very young back four, with Jamie Allen, a flair player, filling in at right-back.

But it was the new signing that gave Bucks the all-important win.

Montel Gibson, who had returned only returned to the New Bucks Head on a season-long loan earlier this week after changes to his work, smashed home to give them their first win in the National League North since the opening day against Chorley.

It was his goal, 18 minutes from time, that gave the Bucks the advantage for the second time after he latched on to a mistake in the Banbury defence and buried from 12 yards out.

The forward displayed the type of clinical finishing that every team, let alone one in relegation trouble, desires and something Telford have been crying out for.

His effort beat the keeper low to his right.

The Bucks managed to see off any chance of a late comeback, something they had not managed to do against Kidderminster Harriers just a few weeks before – to get a vital three points.

Telford had taken the lead initially when George Burroughs, who had only returned to the starting XI in the absence of any senior defenders who were missing through injury or suspension, scored his first goal for the club.

A corner was delivered by Brad Bood and, as the Puritans’ defence failed to clear, Burroughs pivoted to put the loose ball past Harding from close range.

Kevin Wilkin had warned beforehand that Andy Whing’s side liked to pass the ball and would enjoy the New Bucks Head surface – and they did.

They went close to finding an equaliser on a couple of occasions, but the Bucks were stubborn in defence putting their bodies on the line for the team.

But when they did eventually break through, Telford fans would have thought ‘here we go again’.

It came from an expertly-taken free-kick.

The Puritans’ captain Giorgio Rasulo flighted a lovely effort over the defensive wall, beating Luke Pilling as he dived to his right and finding the bottom corner.

But the hosts, who have been improving week after week, responded immediately – regaining the lead and hanging on.

Robbie Evans set the tone all afternoon long with a display of high energy and unwavering commitment, and the rest of the team followed suit.

An additional five minutes were added on, and when the whistle came, it brought scenes of jubilation and relief.

Although it may take longer to emerge, it may also have restored some belief that the Bucks are, if not alive and kicking, then at least showing some vital signs that they can indeed compete.

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