Dughall McCormick has had to endure some disappointing away trips in his time. This was not one of them, in fact he seems to have actively enjoyed it. Madders not giving the travelling hoards a song is a poor show though. Tut tut James.
Biggest positive to take
8 in a row unbeaten. 8 in a row. Let that sink in. Especially all of you who, a month ago, were clamouring for the gaffer’s head on a plate. This has been a tidy little run and, unlike last Autumn’s similar unbeaten run there have been more victories and, consequently, we find ourselves occupying the lofty, elevated realms of the play-offs just 4 points from top. Let us just enjoy the moment. A season in the Championship has its fair share of highs and lows; when the highs are here, let’s bask.
Moment of the match
In the 83rd minute, Krul pulled off the save that I thought would have secured all 3 points and in my head I noted to myself ‘that’s the moment of the match right there’. Unfortunately we were to be denied all 3 points just 3 minutes later but nevertheless, it was a great save. I am yet to be fully convinced by Krul; he has, I think, steadied a wobbly personal ship somewhat and is showing greater confidence and presence in the box but I still worry. There were a couple of barely caught crosses and a nervy punch under pressure last night. Having said that, the save in the 83rd was a good moment.
Random star performer
A hard one to pick. I’m going to say Todd Cantwell who, for me, produced another impressive performance. There was an energy and confidence to his game that saw him bustling to regain possession when without the ball whilst showing some welcome flare going forward with lots of flicks and tricks. He and Stiepermann appear to have flourished in the vacuum created by the departure of Maddison and, to a lesser extent Wes.
Other contenders with good games would be Leitner, Stiepermann and Tettey. The latter with another bullish, confident performance with a couple of ‘SHOOT!!!’ moments. I reckon he’ll need to be rested on Saturday as 3 games in a week may be a bit much for those legs.
A failure to convert some extremely promising first half chances ultimately cost us the win. We could have been a couple up at half time had there been a little more composure and killer instinct. Cantwell’s limp effort when through on goal being perhaps the most frustrating example. It was a shame. He deserves a goal.
A fourth unchanged starting line-up in a row and a continued attempt to exploit a winning formula. Something has definitely clicked and Project Farke appears to be taking more robust shape. There was the same, patient, possession-based football that epitomises the Farke way. However, unlike so many frustrating outings of last season, there was a greater urgency, ambition and progressiveness last night. Passes were crisper, fewer went backwards and it really seems to be working. He also seems to have generated an impressive cohesion and loyalty that is evident in a bunch of players who work well together and clearly work hard for the manager.
Pretty good, stirring support from the travelling faithful. I have to say, I’m pretty anti-drum and so the relentless thumping from the home end did my head in. What was truly warming and wonderful was to sit a few seats away from some ex-players who came and watched the game amongst the away supporters. I think this says something important about our club and although Madders didn’t ‘Give us a song!’, to have him, Ruddy and Bennett among us was a treat.
I felt a genuine excitement in those first 30 minutes, thoughts like ‘Oh my god! We’re really good!” and “We are totally running the show! I’m loving this!” burst involuntarily from my mouth. Although not confined to the first 30, the performance was one characterised by a cohesion, intent, silkiness and teamwork that is all very encouraging. There is still a long way to go and there will be bumps in the road but the signs are promising and I’m allowing myself some cautious optimism about a season that looked very different just a few weeks ago.