The ACN Match Review – Birmingham (a)


If there was one sensible way to watch this match, it was from the pub. Our correspondent Ben Stokes is now “comfortably numb” for playoffs.

The line-up

Lungi into midfield for that little pre-game pointer towards our ambition levels for the afternoon. Sydney got more than 45 seconds on the pitch for his big farewell, which was nice. At least you can say nobody put themsleves in any danger of injury with the resulting effort.

The atmosphere

I wasn’t at the game today, Neil. I decided on watching at the pub where I’ve only seen us win twice in about a decade, and this establishment’s hex didn’t disappoint! I had a feeling that with our draw = enough/defeat = probably still okay scenario, we could be the ideal opponents for Birmingham, and thus it was proved in terms of the 90 minutes.

I was surprised by the lack of intensity from the home players and crowd in the first half when escape was still possible. But in return we didn’t capitalise, offered absolutely nothing to worry them with and after the break fully settled into our role as obliging patsies.

Hurrah moment

We couldn’t even enjoy some 2002 schadenfreude and claim to have relegated Birmingham as we played a merely theoretical part in this game. Oh Alex Pritchard, it could have been you (about to lose in the play-offs)

Hurrah at least for one game this season that looked end-of-season, with the sun out and long shadows.

Boooo moment

Hoofing an overhit ball down the wing to nobody for about the sixth time early in the second half.

A big booooo for our effort and non-existent interest in making anything happen.

Oh and a preemptive boo for Dirty Leeds, boooooooooooo!

Hero of the Match

Nothing heroic came close to happening here today. But it has been a heroic run of form to go from end of days v Blackburn in November to a play-off spot in May. None of us saw that coming and it’s a remarkable achievement, even if it hasn’t quite captured the imagination… yet.

Our post-match takeaway

And so, we flop into the play-offs like a corpse dropped from a helicopter. I haven’t detected much play-off fever from the Canary faithful and I think it’s because there’s no real expectation that we can get past either Leeds or Southampton over two legs.

As a team who have yo-yoed around, play-off football still feels like a bit of a novelty, however there isn’t the unexpected excitement of 2002 or the confidence in the manager and team we had in 2015.

For what it’s worth, I think Leeds are slightly favourable opponents as our games with them this season were reasonably close despite ultimately being beaten in both. We didn’t lose to Southampton, yet gave up about 11 billion shots on target over two games.

If we could make it to the final I’d actually become more optimistic as there’s always the chance Wagner’s weirdness can work in a one-off game. In 2017, his Huddersfield team made it through three play-off games without any of their players scoring from open play and I can’t help but imagine this is his tried-and-tested plan. If we go up, Wagner probably should be given a crack at it, given he just about kept a team in the Premier League once. But failing that, I hope we can properly launch Ben Knapper’s tenure with someone new in charge of the team next season.

Until then, thank you David for this most chaotic of seasons.


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