Often Partisan


My reflections from the FA Cup tie against Coventry City FC:

1) We do like to do things the hard way

I’m not sure if it’s our way of playing up to the new respect campaign, but I’m not a fan of us giving the opposition a two goal head start, and we seem to be doing it too often. Yes, we had two good chances prior to conceding the first – and Zigic probably should have scored his – but we’re too sloppy at the back time and time again. For me, Doyle was incredibly rusty to begin with and it cost us big time; Murphy probably should have done better with the header for the corner. I’m not proud of this, but it was so damn cold I’d decided when the second goal went in that if we conceded a third without responding I was going home.

2) Bentley is a class act

I said it after his debut game against the Villa, and I’ll say it again now; Bentley is a class above what we already had. I don’t think he’s quite as good as he thinks he is, but he has a good touch, is capable of playing on either side and well, he can strike a ball. I reckon he was fully thirty yards out when he struck the shot to make it 2-1, and Westwood didn’t get near it. If there is any way we can keep hold of him when his loan period expires, we have to explore it.

3) The enigma that is Jean Beausejour

On the messageboards post game, Beausejour got a bit of a slating. I admit, during the game I’d pegged him as the player most likely to be tactically subbed as I think he was frustrating; he’s not the pacy take-’em-on winger we’d hoped for certainly – or if he is, he’s not showing it. On the other hand, he didn’t stop running, he didn’t stop trying to win the ball and I guess sometimes you have to accept it won’t run for you – all we can expect from players is for them to try their best, and if he was having one of those days that’s exactly what he did.

4) The big man Zigic

Whilst not playing quite to the heights (no pun intended) of Wednesday night, I thought Ziggy again had a good game; and again showed that for a big man he’s got good feet. His persistence on the left hand touchline led to us scoring the equaliser, as he beat three men in one go before laying it off to Hleb. I’ve been saying that I think Zigic is going to be the kind of player who will run through brick walls for us if we keep him, and I saw more evidence of that yesterday. The ball broke from a corner to us, with our defenders downfield – Parnaby and Fahey were back from it, but the first man to make it back from our area to help defend was Zigic, who ran like giraffe galloping through the savannah to help his team out, leaving the slightly less mobile Martin Jiranek in his wake.

5) Are we now a cup team?

We’ve now played eight cup matches this season, with at least two more to come. We’ve got one day booked at Wembley, and we could be 180 minutes from doing it again. We’re not normally like this at all, but I think the cup suits us this season in that our never-say-die attitude and above all fitness is propelling us past clubs; another favourable draw and we could well make it a second day out in North London. It’s going to be a killer financially to try and afford it!

The crowd was disappointing, but it was always going to be after the Lord Mayor’s Parade, especially as the weather was straight out of Siberia. It does annoy me that there will be loads of people after a Wembley ticket insistent that they’re not big time Charlies; yes, you may have put the effort in before but the team needs you now – if you can make a few league games come on down to St Andrews and give the boys a shout. It’s been a whirlwind of a season at times, and it could be one of our best ever.

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