Comfortable……in the end!
Monday 3rd November 2014
Just as we were approaching that time in a game where thoughts turn to the fact we might not actually win a match we have totally dominated, Alexis rose magnificently to head home and any nerves were calmed. Don’t get me wrong Burnley are bottom of the Premier League for a reason but how on earth we didn’t win by an absolute hatful is beyond me! Three-nil will do however, a comfortable scoreline that doesn’t tell the full story as to how late we took the lead but overall definitely doesn’t flatter us either.
Saturday was the first day of November. A Winter month in my book. Yet for much of the day, a t-shirt sufficed. Very pleasant, especially as it is highly likely to be the last time for a few months that we can enjoy such warmth at the football (although Galatasaray away must give us half a chance!). It was also to be a bit of a mad and entertaining day all round.
Beginning with a bit of a ‘head’, the kind a few after work Friday beers tends to give you, we left early to enjoy the wonderful lunchtime wares of a cracking traditional pub near to a sundrenched Covent Garden, a location that demonstrated the variety of travelling football fans you so often get in London on matchday. With us heading up to London N5 there were also Coventry fans on there way to Leyton Orient and Carlisle supporters travelling down to Pompey. Now there’s a long old journey! Its no wonder they were thirsty!
Suitably refreshed we continued the pre-match entertainment amongst the mass of red and white shirts near our home and it proved as hugely enjoyable as all 3 o’clock Saturday kick-offs tend to. A fine way to make the most of match day.
Like all of us, despite knowing full well no game is easy, I was extremely confident we would beat Hull at home the other week. Whatever analysis we make of that afternoon however, the records show we came away with just a point…..and an extremely late one at that. For that reason alone we knew even bottom of the table Burnley would be no ‘gimme’. Again however, we would be completely insane not to be confident.
Match of the Day doesn’t always give the best impression of an overall game I feel. If one team has 20 chances and the other has 2, they programme editors always tend to show those 2 it seems. Watching the Sunday morning repeat however, the fact that there was not 1 single piece of attacking action from our visitors is probably as good an example as any of our total dominance all afternoon. We don’t know for sure of course but I am convinced if we had scored early on it could have been a cricket score.
Our visitors defended admirably and the keeper had a fine afternoon too. Add that to the clear and blatant handball the officials missed mid way through the half and we really should have been out of sight by half time.
As frustrating as that always is it was crucial we not only continued to be patient and play our game, but learning from the Hull game we had to make sure we were totally switched on from minute one of the second half so as not to make it more hard for ourselves. This we did of course and with about half hour to go I really think we stepped up another gear and went for the jugular.
As is always the case, once we broke the deadlock the goals flowed and if it wasn’t for some incredible defending, goalkeeping and the woodwork it could have been 6 or 7 by the end. One particular save from Poldi’s volley was absolutely incredible and how the post didn’t snap in half from another typical effort is beyond me!
Three good points in the bag then and for us we headed down to Southampton to celebrate in the company of The Struts, a mighty fine band where entertainment is totally the order of the day. They delivered as always and completed a thoroughly jam packed and enjoyable day all round.
With 5 minutes to go out in Belgium our Champions League qualification hopes looked to be taking a bit of a turn for the worse. We all know what happened next with Gibbo’s fine volley and Poldi’s crazy jostle inducing winner and it means we go into the return fixture where if Galatasaray do not win in Dortmund, a victory could see us through with two games to spare. Although possible, these are no more than ‘ifs’ at the moment of course, our opponents on Tuesday night coming so close to beating us last time out being comfortably enough to make sure we go into the game knowing it won’t be easy. We need to ignore what is happening in Dortmund and concentrate on our own result above all else.
As always, make some noise folks.