by Dr John Dee on 06/10/08 at 2:48 pm
No, but I could hear his bloody whistle, as usual. More of that later though. It was the first cold Saturday of the season, and not really a good day to head off to the Essex flatlands.
They’ve got a new out-of-town stadium, with plenty of parking, and after I had parked somewhere easy and convenient at 3.03pm, I walked up to the ground and could hear the fans singing. It put a spring in my step, especially after I realised that, as usual, it was the Gasheads away contingent. They are a boisterous lot. If I were a schoolteacher, they would be the class that I would look to avoid. Noisy black arabs.
£22 poorer, I went into their spanking new ground, took my seat, and saw us put a couple of neat passes together before a decent shot on target. The bloke next to me said it was our first though, and we had been under the cosh for all of the first 10 minutes.
It was an interesting game, with both sides trying to string together some good passing football and succeeding and failing in equal measure. Their big centre forward, the one who was once meant to be coming to us (Platt?) had a header cleared off the line, but we had some good efforts too and Goal Machine Hinton had an excellent and powerful header from a corner stopped by an equally excellent reflex save by the amusingly named Gerken.
Ronnie Lescott put together a silky move down the left, and was shaping for a shot on the edge of the box before he remembered he is a defender and then managed to confuse himself into mucking it up. He had us going for a couple of seconds though, and the blokes behind me were shouting ‘shoot!’ every time he got the ball after that.
As the half went on we seemed to me to get more and more into the game, but it was honours even at half-time, and that seemed about right to me. The half was probably notable for old chicken legs’ whistle, which blew a lot and rarely in our direction. Nothing new there then.
Their new 'community' stadium, the one that they haven’t won at yet, had a good shop with proper beer and a decent range at your usual new stadium inflated prices. No matter, I thought, this is a really nice ground, with 4 good stands without the corners filled in (except for a big screen), and I was trying to work out why I like it more than most of the modern plastic places. I still don’t know why though. They've got a reasonable team, and a great ground, its a good job we brought some fans to help them complete the experience, I thought. There really weren't many of them.
Second half we started as we had finished the first, winning a few corners along the way. We weren’t excellent, we did our usual thing of defending very deep and looking to play good passing football, but we did have a bit of an edge about us at the front.
Eventually, Lambo got a free header from one of our corners and buried it in their onion bag. Good football and a good goal. Huzzah!
We were still jubilant when their manager Symons brought on ex-82 Gillespie, which gave us a handy outlet for all our excitement.
Although they came back at us and passed it around quite nicely, like us all last season they lacked guile or punch at the front. It got a bit fractious for a while, with Lambo and Disley both getting pointlessly booked, but towards the end Rovers got the upper hand again and we held out reasonably comfortably.
There were a couple of moments of excitement – one when the lino carefully held the corner flag so that the Col U guy could take his corner easily (surely that can’t be allowed?), and another when Flapper and one of our centre backs had a bit of a ‘gentlemen’s excuse me’,letting each other deal with a ball that we heading slowly goalward, but overall we weren’t too bad at all.
Apart from one great cross in the first half and two defensive headers in the second, Hughes played like a celebrity player who was only on the pitch for charity – running when it suited him and adopting whatever position he was in the mood for. Why Trolls didn’t bring on JJ, who played 80 minutes in the week, I don’t know – but then he rarely makes changes so I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.
Duffy ran about a lot and worked hard, but his achievement was modest. Hunt came on for the last 10, but didn’t do a lot better. Lambo is still the one through whom all good things flow, though Campbell also had a good game both going backwards and forwards. Their manager said on the radio that they had prepared for our set pieces as it is one of our strengths, which surprised me but it was definitely true today.
My MOM was Danny Coles, who won every header at the back and stuck his foot in a few times when it was crucial. Their number 11 was good (Yeates), though the apparently albino Perkins covered an awful lot of ground and seemed to be the engine of the team before he went off.
Ronnie had a good game too, as did Chris Lines, so overall there was nothing much to complain about. We weren’t great, but we were a little bit better than them and we got the rub of the green which gave us 3 points.
At the final whistle Campbell celebrated like it was a cup final. It was clear how much he cared, and this just might be the win that gives us the confidence that will bring it all together again.
And City lost 3-0, so it all brightened up what could have been a very dull day in Essex.