Like I said last week, I’m being serious now and with transfer deadline day fast approaching, players needed to prove themselves as we’ve planned for some additions to come in the next few days. I promised there would be a few changes, we needed to find that right formula that would make this team tick and after deliberating, here’s what we went with.
Scott Carson keeps his place in goal, he didn’t do anything wrong in the game against Blackpool so he’ll be between the sticks again against Birmingham City. I’ve switched out Aaron Taylor-Sinclair for Andrew Taylor, he’s had his punishment so he deserves his second chance.
Midfield to stay as it is, they are easily the best three we have and it’s somewhere I’m looking to strengthen to add more depth and competition so they don’t get complacent and up top I’ve tried my final striker, Marc-Antoine Fortune, to try to solve that conundrum.
Just before the boys head out to kick off, I wanted to say a few words for them to remember before the game:
“You better go out there and give them a right good beating or some of you will be doing laps round this stadium until tomorrow evening.”
Yeah, hopefully that will kick-start something.
We start off like a house on fire, clearly my words helped a little, as the lads go hell for leather trying to find an early breakthrough. Birmingham can barely get out their half in the first 15 minutes when all of a sudden, a tug back on Fortune, penalty.
It’s Ben Watson to step up, a pretty assured penalty taker, this will get us off to another one of our great starts.
Oh that wasn’t a great penalty, a real ugly one and he rightfully looks almost as disgusted as me. Sucking it up, I try to motivate the boys back into gear, they don’t let up as they bombard the Blues until half-time.
We go in and I tell them: “We just need that one little breakthrough, no matter how it comes. We are smothering them like an over-protective mother, do not let up and you will get your reward.” I know, I’m not the best metaphor guy in the business.
Second half begins and we are right back at it again, they don’t have a moment’s rest until we break and McManaman is brought down, penalty. The first one was a stone-wall penalty, nailed on and even could have been a red card. This one? I’d love to see it again, it’s close but it’s in the box, it’s a little reckless but does he win the ball?
Shaun Maloney to take this one, nail this one in the bottom corner lad and lets see the goals fly in.
I’m on my knees, here. I cannot believe we’ve had two penalties in a game we’ve dominated and missed both of them. I react exactly as I did after the first miss, I can see the players aren’t quite buying it as much but they need to keep going, it will come.
The minutes pass by, great chances from Maloney and Taylor wasted, you just feel like today is another one of those days. A free-kick, about 35-yards out on the right-hand side of the pitch is going to be swung in, get everyone bar the goalkeeper in the box, we need a goal.
It’s sent into a dangerous area, the Brummie centre-back Grant Hall goes to block it, but diverts it into his own net.
I’m going nuts on the sidelines, we’ve scored! We kept going and we got there, the players look almost as delighted as me and I can just feel that we want to go and score more now, but there wasn’t much time left.
Sub Don Cowie drives down the wing in the final minutes, still pressing for that second goal, he beats everyone on his trip to the sideline and he pull back to Ben Watson.
That’s the game and the three points, finally this side clicked and while it took them a while to score in the game, I could tell we just needed one more piece. Elated afterwards, I allow them all to tip several buckets of ice in celebration whilst also noting no-one will be doing laps of the stadium ever again.
I get home after sharing a glass of wine with the Birmingham boss and I get a phone call from the chairman.
“Hi Dave, was great to get our first win today, how’s the fort?”
“Hello Nathan, delighted to get those first three points, on the players you wanted to bring in, I have some good news and I have some bad news.”