The ACN Match Carabao Revao – Bournemouth (h)

24/08/22

More lineup confusion and last-minute disappointment than an easyJet check-in desk (and crushing penalties, come to think of it). Thank Todd it’s over, says Maddie Mackenzie

The atmosphere

Oh, the temptation to launch into a ‘kids these days’ rant after having had Diet Coke poured over my rucksack by a group of lads who spent the entire 90 minutes discussing the cock sizes of our players. I won’t – not least because I’m only 22 – because no one wants to hear that, and we all had our first game without our parents once.

Overall it was very different to the Birmingham cup game which I wasn’t expecting. A lot busier in the Barclay but with far lower noise levels. There were a few minutes near the start where the E Block attempted to engage the away following (such as it was) to no avail, and they promptly gave up. Cup games really are a mixed bag: great for kids who don’t get to go normally, but give me a league game any day.

The lineup

Due to a strange experiment with the lineup graphic, no one really had a clue what formation we were faced with, or indeed who was playing where. Things became no clearer when the club’s diagrammed version of the lineup didn’t actually translate to the pitch. It transpired that poor Tony Springett got the left back short straw, and he was to be protected by a combination of Gabriel Sara and Aaron Ramsey.

It didn’t work.

I’m not entirely sure why we didn’t stick with Kenny at left back rather than chucking a 19-year-old attacker in there, but I’ve never really had a brain for tactics. Springett looked worried from the first minute, which wasn’t exactly surprising thanks to the unfortunate combination of playing in an unfamiliar position and having absolutely no protection in front of him. I really like Springett, but tonight wasn’t his night; nor was it the night of Jon Tomkinson.

Partnering the ever-so-slightly rusty Gibson in the centre of defence, he produced a few errors that required the rescue of his goalkeeper. While not solely at fault for the second goal he must shoulder some of the responsibility, although at times he looked more comfortable than his centre-back partner. That all being said, I think both players were let down by the system, and Springett in particular showed significant fight despite the circumstances.

The hurrah moment

Idah’s back and (hopefully) he’s here to stay.

Adam Idah is a strange case. So often it looks as if he’s finally about to make the breakthrough he’s been threatening for three years, then injury/Pukki/tactics get in the way and it’s back to square one. He had genuinely awful luck last season, suffering an injury he’s still feeling the after effects of just as his season was taking flight. His linkup with Pukki is nice – they play off each other well either in a two-striker system or one sitting slightly deeper, and Pukki provided the assist for Idah’s goal. 

I’d love it if this was the year Idah came good. It’s strange to have competition in the striker role but it’s an oddity I’m relishing, as it will be interesting to see who stakes a claim for the role of solo striker in the coming weeks, should Smith persist with his use of a solitary target man.

The boooo moment

Did you know the stewards hate cup games? They do. It’s impossible to overstate how much they hate them. They seem to take the existence of home cup ties as a personal slight, preferring a highly charged derby (or even a visit from Millwall) to a midweek night under the floodlights in the cup. 

This is more of a boo moment for them than for me, as I love watching them traipse miserably up and down the steps, directing the same group of people to their seats for the fifth time, or breaking up ‘this is MY seat, I don’t CARE if your ticket says it’s yours’ fights. 

The number of stewards celebrating our failure in the shootout far outweighed the number of travelling Bournemouth fans.

Hero of the match

10 months ago it was announced that Dan Barden had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had recently completed his first senior season with Norwich having proven himself a very effective deputy in the absence of Tim Krul and Michael McGovern, and was on loan with Livingston.

What terrifying news for anyone to receive. To be 20 years old, away from home and your family, fearing for your health and your career – there are no words.

Yet here he is. He returned to international duty in June and returned to the Norwich bench tonight. Dan Barden, you absolute legend.

Our post-match takeaway

There are technicalities to be dealt with. We presented a much changed, fairly youthful side, consisting of players out of position/having recently returned from injury. Bournemouth are a Premier League team, and we are not. We just beat Millwall.

It was still a pretty rubbish game.

There wasn’t much to speak of going forward – we had 8 shots to Bournemouth’s 16. They also presented a much changed, youthful team – more youthful than ours, oddly. There’s not really much to say other than it felt like very little happened.

Cup games are an oddity. Can we draw conclusions from them? Maybe some tentative ones about individual players. Will they affect our league form? Probably not, depending on the lineup for the next game.

All there is to say is that, regardless of how irritating some of us may find them, cup games are useful opportunities for squad rotation and for fringe players to stake their claim on a starting place (see Danel Sinani). It’s a shame for those players that their chance may not come again until the FA Cup.

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