Burton have also made a good start to the season and are neck and neck with us having won both of their league games. Since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took over last season they’ve really turned their fortunes round and we’ll do well if we can win tonight. I’m very pleased with our three wins out of three and the loan-signing of Nathan Broadhead has increased my confidence that we can overhaul Portsmouth, Wycombe and whoever to get an automatic promotion slot. All of our new boys have looked the business so far and there’s likely to be one or two more coming in too in addition to Alves. We’ve had to battle to maintain our lead in the last two matches and though I’m not his biggest fan, it’s good to have Bailey Wright on the bench to help shore us up in the later stages. We knew that Evans was prone to injury but apparently the reason for his substitution on Saturday wasn’t too serious so hopefully he’ll return this evening. I was thinking of going up for the match but I would’ve had to leave midway through the second-half to catch the last train home – it’s a long hike to the stadium from the station. I’d be pretty happy with a draw but I think we could just squeeze a win so my match prediction is another 2-1 to us.
I got the team-news around 7.00 and O’Nien was back in place of the absent Evans. Alves, Broadhead and Pritchard were all on the bench and I hoped to see a couple of them on in the later stages. I got the match online feeling quite optimistic. For the record only two of our side took the knee whereas all the Burton players did.
Our fans were making plenty of noise as the match started and the local fans in the row in front of commentators Barnes and Benno were also making themselves heard. Neil made a couple of great passes as we probed their defence and we won our first corner in the eighth minute but Flanagan headed over. Flanagan had spent three seasons at Burton and the woman in the row in front said, “Well, it is Flanagan.” I think he’s done well so far this season actually. In the twelfth minute we won another corner when McGeady suddenly burst through and instead of slotting it past Garratt in goal, he tried to dink it over him and he pushed it out. The corner came to nothing but we soon won another – that came to nothing too. Next thing Stewart had a good chance but he shot straight at Garraatt. We were well on top but we had to make it count. When Burton managed an attack, Stewart was showing that he was a good defender. Patrick had a good chance for them around the halfway mark and it went for a corner. Stewart headed it away but a shot came in and went just over the bar. Burton enjoyed a good couple of minutes but we battled back and won two more corners ourselves. SAFSEE gave up the ghost for a while and I had to rely on BBC Sport for snippets. Just after the half-hour Stewart set up Gooch and his shot was saved by Garratt. Cirkin picked up his first yellow card while in our colours for a foul eight minutes before the break. Stewart and Embleton both had decent attempts on goal but it remained goalless as half-time approached. Gooch made a bad finish to what had been a good build-up and after a minute of stoppage-time the half ended at 0-0. Portsmouth were winning while Wycombe were drawing.
Having failed to capitalise on the many chances we’d created I wondered if we’d see Broadhead coming on before long. We kicked off again attacking the goal behind which our fans were gathered. We won a corner straightaway and an O’Nien shot whistled just past the post. Both sides were going for it hell for leather and a Cirkin mistake set up a corner for Burton. Stewart blasted a chance wide and soon it sounded like he’d picked up a bit of an injury but he kept going. Wigan had gone ahead against Wycombe and that was good news. Winchester hadn’t had much of a mention but he produced a great shot that Garratt turned out for yet another corner. As we passed the hour-mark we were still doing most of the pressing but Burton were sounding threatening when they broke. They took the lead in the sixty-sixth minute when Smith hit a quality left-footed shot across Burge and into the net. We soon brought on Broadhead and Pritchard for Embleton and Cirkin. So we started to play with two up front and there was still plenty of time for us to grab a goal back. Mancienne had a good effort for them that went just wide and then Pritchard did the same at the other end. Garraatt saved well from O’Nien with about ten minutes to go but Smith then smashed a shot against our bar. Burton were defending well and we were finding it hard to pick out a man in their box but with six minutes to go we could still do it. A fine shot by Pritchard was clawed away by Garratt for a corner in the dying minutes and O’Nien then blasted an effort wide. There were four minutes of stoppage-time and despite Stewart getting the ball in the net in the final seconds, it was ruled out for offside and the game ended in a 0-1 defeat. LJ was yellow carded after the whistle went for remonstrating with the ref.
We didn’t play at all badly here but because of our failure to convert just one of our numerous chances we came away with nothing.