When I mentioned earlier that the players were happy with the second goal on Saturday I really meant it. I haven’t seen a goal celebrated so happily for ages. Then they forgot to defend…
“Six points might look like a lot but if we win and Birmingham lose, it goes down to just three points,” he said. “We need belief and confidence. We need to win on Saturday, and then we can look at Birmingham’s result.
“When our games are over I’m always looking for the other results; Birmingham, Wigan or Bolton. We need to get three points behind Birmingham. Their next game against Wigan won’t be easy and then they have Everton so we need to believe in ourselves.”
I get all that, but for whatever reason I’m not as down on Pride Park as I am about the other stadia of its ilk. Dunno. My girlfriend went to uni in Derby in the 90s so we actually went to a few of the first games there. It felt quite exciting at the time, and they had a half-decent team. I remember Igor Stimac really looking the business at the back, Paulo Wanchope was about as fun a player as you could find, and they had bit part players like Dean Sturridge and Deon Burton who could be pretty handy on their day. So perhaps that’s why I quite like the place.
The city itself is interesting too. We used to hang around the city centre a fair bit. Pubs, more studenty ones perhaps, but still, there was always stuff to do. This time Hade suggested a few of her old haunts and it was quite odd. Both of the first two pubs we went to had “Pub business for rent” signs on their front walls. These pubs had been thriving ten years ago, served cracking food at tiny prices. Now? Only crisps available, no people in there, really bad tasting Guinness, and toilets… well, they’d clearly given up on dealing with those. Which is fine, you don’t go to pubs to go to toilets (well sometimes…), but it did feel sort of indicative.
As you walk around Derby you see the same sort of thing. A lot of the old shops are out, boarded up, whatever. But there’s also a load of new things there too. Some fairly nice looking new build residential buildings dotted around the place, and a number of roads looking like business is booming. The retail park where Pride Park stands never used to have much in it; now it’s full up. So it’s hard to know if Derby’s a town on the up, or one that’s feeling the economy’s pinch. Both I guess.
Not that any of this matters, and it’s only my half-baked impressions on one day up there after 10 years away, but it was quite a strange feeling. We both left feeling that perhaps Derby isn’t what it was, but then nothing is ever as good as it was, is it? Particularly as we were younger then…
Anyway, idiots and weather aside, it was a pretty good day.
Can’t start a fire, can’t start a fire without a spark…
We blew it. Derby have been awful all season and we couldn’t beat them. Our best players were Simon Davies, scampering around effectively on the right, Kasey Keller, who made some fine saves and did all he could to keep us in it, and that’s probably about it. Nobody else showed anything to suggest that they deserved to stay in the top division. On this of all days, they couldn’t rise above the conditions, the pitiful opponents. Heartbreaking stuff for those of us in the stands. Hodgson removed Bullard with ten minutes left, a move that brought boos from the crowd and visibly staggered the midfielder. Danny Murphy came on and did well, so perhaps it was the right thing to do, but it took balls and won’t help his standing in the eyes of many fans, for whom Bullard can do no wrong.
Derby scored first by accident. The ball ponged around following a Robbie Savage volley that went upwards rather than forwards. Andreasen and two Derby players converged, the ball came back our way, a shot, off a Derby player’s backside, and in.
Summed up our season.
We fought back. Davies drilled a cross into the heart of the Derby defence and Diomansy Kamara rose unchallenged to head home. 1-1. From there the teams mixed possession and gave their all, but there was little to choose between them and this is perhaps all we need to know. The 4-4-2 meant that the midfield never imposed itself with any consistency. There were flashes of excellence, particularly long passes from Bullard and Davies that cut open the Derby defence, but these were rare and Derby will feel that they earned their point.
It could have been worse. In the second half Savage was given the freedom of the penalty area, but could only shoot straight at Keller. It was a huge letoff. Bullard hit the bar with a free-kick, but Derby hit the bar too, and also narrowly missed when Robert Earnshaw shot wide of an empty net, albeit from a tricky angle. We didn’t particularly look like scoring, but with 12 minutes to go Kamara broke clear and smashed a left footed shot at Roy Carroll. The ‘keeper’s parry bounced to Hameur Bouazza, whose controlled half-volley flicked off Dean Leacock and dribbled into the net. Pandemonium in the stands, relief all over the players’ faces. Oh how they celebrated.
The crowd started up it’s “we’re winning away” chant.
“We’re winning away. We’re winning awaaay, how shit must..” Then it stopped.
Derby had scored straight away. A simple cross, a simple header. The end.
For the second time this year we draw against Derby County, the worst team in the league. Really, is it any surprise we’re in second to last place then, just a position above Derby? Perhaps we hold ourselves in higher esteem that we should. But no matter, for whatever reason, we just seem unable to make it happen.
I was not able to catch the game and stayed free of news until just now. I DVR’d the game and just finished watching it. I’m sort of speechless really. I think I feel more resigned than disappointed.
Roy says there’s still a chance, but he says that every game and were narrowing our odds every game as well.
We did score two goals today. The first time in almost two months. Unlikely characters too, in Kamara and Bouazza. That’s something. I’m not sure what, but it’s something.
Bolton get beat in a 3 goal comeback by Arsenal, that’s something. Wigan get beat, that too is something. But Birmingham beat Man City, even a man down. What the ???? And Sunderland and Reading seem to be on a mini-run.
Oh well, as I said, I’m feeling resigned today and sort of at peace about the whole thing. All is well in Brian’s world no matter the result.
Time for bed. We’re up early tomorrow morning, driving up to Derby, and seeing what happens.
Some time ago we tried to set the tone for games with a bit of YouTubery. Perhaps this is required again.
So…. Iron Maiden, The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg. This needs to be louder than YouTube can go, but hey, what you gonna do? It gets particularly exciting after about five and a half minutes…
He he. Anyway, I’ll be back on Sunday. In the meantime, COYW, etc, etc. It’s going to be a mother of a game. I’m scared shitless. Here’s hoping good things happen tomorrow, eh?
What can I say at this point? Something with bananas is the best I could do.
What is it about the players in ‘premium’ numbers?
Our 1 to 11:
Keller – Volz – Bocanegra – Konchesky – Christanval – Stefanovic – Seol – Smertin – Healy – Litmanen – Kamara
Not great is it? I’m a purist and want the best players in the best numbers. Our numbers are all messed up.
Fulham Football Club can confirm that Nathan Ashton has joined Crystal Palace on loan until May 5th.
Reserve Team striker Ismael Ehui has moved to Carshalton on loan until April 27th.
We have, of course, won every game Nathan Ashton has played for us. He had a nervy but effective debut in the 3-1 home win over Reading. And that was that. He looked awfully small but seemed to have some potential. At this point a loan to a Championship side is probably quite sensible.
Ehui to Carshalton? Ouch. Carshalton are second from bottom in the Ryman League Premier Division. That’s a drop of, I think, five divisions. He looked a tidy player when I saw him. Oh well.