As the leaden - yet inexplicably unflushable - legacy of 2022 fades into awkward memory, are we starting to... have fun again? Ben Stokes thinks so, after a scrappy and spirited away day DARN SARF
With all pubs in the vicinity of The Den being officially designated as Pwopa Nawty for away fans, it was off to London Bridge for the pre-match pint. Fortunately this area of the up-and-coming metropolis on the south-western outskirts of Norfolk does not disappoint with its choice of refreshment options. Thank you to the Capital Canaries for their expert local knowledge in this regard.
Once in the ground the away end were in good voice. The to and fro with the home fans never really took off and I blame Millwall for agreeing to host the Peaky Blinders Cosplay Expo on the same afternoon, what were they thinking?
I was surprised not to see Marquinhos start, but I guess a little more stoicism and solidity was the intention with the starting line-up – and the result proved it the right decision.
It feels a bit like we might now be seeing the beginning of the Pukki farewell tour, those 100 goals sadly not looking likely now.
It has to be the ultimately deciding goal from Gabby Sara (aha). I have to admit, I initially thought it was a loopy waft from the Brazilian but upon viewing the highlights on the train home I now realise it was a deft spin and beautifully delicate thwack into the top corner. Hopefully his form can see us into the play-offs and prove to be very well timed.
Ben Gibson’s two-footed lunge on Grant Hanley really should have resulted in a straight red and could have easily ruined the whole day.
Also boo to Greater Anglia for only putting on piddling three-coach trains between Cambridge and London, plus a final boo to myself for forgetting to pick up a disposable fork in M&S at Liverpool Street and having to eat chicken and bacon pasta with my front door keys.
It has to be Sara. His emergence as a midfield force feels so intrinsically linked with Wagner taking over and the subsequent upturn in results.
Shout outs also to Max, Onel and Kenny, who are further examples of players who have recaptured their best form since someone who knows how to coach professional football players was put in charge.
Playing the club’s best left-back in midfield seemed like a pixieish act of contrarianism from Wagner, but whoever pretends to coach set-pieces had the last laugh with the old hit it at 3mph from the edge of the box routine. The keeper could have thrown his cap on it, but they all count! Not exactly pandemonium in the away end, as nobody really knew what had happened.
Hugely encouraging to have won again from a goal behind, and to have beaten a team in good form. We got off to a dodgy start and things could easily have gotten on top of the players, but they withstood and dominated most of the second half.
The dopey concession from a corner late on made things a lot nervier that they needed to be and the nagging doubt is still there that we might fall short by an amount entirely attributable to former coaching staff’s inadequacies and them being allowed to hang around for too long, but things are certainly now heading in the right direction. Wherever the team ends up this season, I predict next season will be FUN.
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