Things are looking and feeling a lot brighter these days and I think my mood should be even brighter by 5.00 today. Not so long ago I would’ve expected us to struggle against one of the sides in the relegation zone as we seemed to do better playing the stronger teams. Not now though and with goals coming not only from Wyke but from several other players I think we’ll get a few more this afternoon. Rochdale are on a very bad run with only one win in their last fifteen and have conceded almost two goals a game so far. No doubt it’ll be a case of breaking down a resolute defence but with players like McGeady, Maguire, Jones and Diamond I think we should be able to crack them, hopefully early on. I was pleased to hear that Kimpioka is well on the road to recovery and I’m looking forward to seeing him on the pitch tormenting the opposition before too long. I’ve enjoyed the speculation about us getting Defoe but fear the wages would be a problem. I’d love to see him back for one last season. I’ll be with my bubble for the match today and my prediction is a 3-0 win.
When I got to the bubble house and saw the team-news, the most interesting change was that Younger was starting while Gooch was nowhere and Scowen was on the bench along with Hawkes, which was a new name to me. Ipswich were getting beat 3-1 in the early match and that did my mood no harm at all.
Younger touched the ball twice in the opening minute, both times to good effect. We took the lead in the seventh minute when a McGeady free-kick just in from the left corner-flag was headed home at the far post by Sanderson. The perspective can be deceptive on the screen and two minutes later I thought it was 2-0 but Jones’ close range blast had been deflected away. Clearly Rochdale weren’t going to sit on 0-1 so in the bubble we fancied 4-0 or 5-0. Rochdale started to come forward more and we needed a second quickly but McFadzean was the first to go in the book on the quarter hour as he conceded a free-kick in a dangerous spot for us. We won a similar free-kick ourselves not long afterwards but I think we got ourselves confused as everyone stood still before McGeady eventually lobbed it well wide of the right post. Next thing at the other end O’Nien made a crucial block with his chest to deny them a goal. We were definitely giving them too much slack and LJ wasn’t looking too chuffed on the touchline but elsewhere Portsmouth were losing 2-0 which soothed the anxiety a bit. It was right back, though, when Keohane somehow blasted over our bar from a yard out. Everything was wonderful ten minutes before the break when on returning from the fridge with a few cans for the bubblers and myself I caught Wykie heading home what turned out to have been a great cross from the right by Jones. In recent years we’ve rarely seemed to have won any heading duels let alone nutted them into the net as we’ve done so frequently of late. Jones was booked in stoppage-time for a daft bit of afters and then Rochdale won their first corner. Anyway, it remained 2-0 at the break but we’d made hard work of it. Portsmouth were getting tonked 4-0.
I was expecting to see some early changes given the two crucial games coming up and the fact that we had two players on yellow cards. Scowen and Maguire replaced Winchester and Younger six minutes in and Power moved into the back line. Younger had put in a solid performance. Burge was called upon to make a very good save as he palmed a shot from Humphreys round the post. Sanderson really looks solid for us and in the bubble we compared him to the great efforts of Johnny Evans in the 2006 -2007 promotion year and hoped we could keep him for another season on loan. Elsewhere Peterborough had thoughtfully gone 2-0 down to Burton – thanks, lads. Back in our game it had all gone a bit flat really and there was an unusual development when one of the assistant-referees went down injured, maybe with cramp, and off he went down the tunnel still clutching his flag. Referee Ross Joyce had a bit of a chortle before the 4th Official took over, Diamond came on for Jones with around twelve minutes on the clock but there was bound to be a good whack of stoppage-time. Rochdale won three corners on the trot without really threatening at all and then we won two ourselves to no avail. Anyway, the victory looked secure barring acts of lunacy. Eight minutes of stoppage-time were announced and I was pleased as I thought we could still get another goal. Neil substituted McGeady and we kept possession well till the whistle went.
Another three points, another clean sheet and we’re up to fourth spot. Not a great performance but we did what we had to do. Bring on Portsmouth.