Friday, 24 February 2012

That winning feeling

It's a funny old game isn't it? Last weekend I went away and missed the action on Trentside. And we only went and won one!

A paranoid fan would think they won the Coventry game just to spite me. I am a paranoid fan.

I'm still to see us register a victory since November 19 and have only had Garath McCleary's goal to cheer (at a live game) since that date. I, like pretty much everyone else in the City Ground that day, was stunned into silence momentarily as the ball hit the net - 'so THIS is a goal?' I had genuinely forgotten how to celebrate. So heaven knows what a victory must have felt like for the crowd last week...

Mind you it was a pretty useful three points and brought me out in a temporary hysteria. We'd won, so cajoling people into joining me at Barnsley away in a couple of weeks seemed perfectly sensible. It probably won't feel so sensible when we're there, but you've got to live a little right? Even if that is at Oakwell.

For now, however, the attention is on our trip to St Andrews tomorrow - a game i'll be following in my usual state of panic while looking on Twitter, Final Score and online in a futile bid to find out every little scrap of information. I don't want to pay for Forest World and don't fancy my computer's chances keeping up with some dodgy foreign stream so getting increasingly angry at the painfully inept Garth Crooks and pressing refresh more times than is healthy await.

Tomorrow marks the all-important 'next game'. We'd been told for a while that if we could 'just get one goal' more would come and after that if we could 'just get one win' we might get on a roll. They're both naff cliches but there is something to be said for momentum in football and now really is the time to get some.

It sounded a pretty ugly game against a pretty ugly Coventry side last week, but style really isn't a consideration at this stage is it? Birmingham away is a tough ask but we are running out of time and nicking even a point against Chris Hughton's men would set up the chance to build a run with the aforementioned Barnsley away game and back-to-back home clashes against Doncaster and Millwall.

Since my last blog post a lot* has happened and much of it has left me more than a little unconvinced by the appointment of Steve Cotterill. There's a separate blog brewing on that shortly but, rightly or wrongly, it does seem that Frank Clark fancies him as the man to steer us to safety, so we're stuck with him.

One thing Cotterill must work out is the formula for away day success. Not just so I don't have a wasted trip to Barnsley (although I'm sure it's lovely there regardless right?) but also because nine of the remaining 15 games are on the road. We are going to have to win at least some of those to stand a chance of survival.

Having said that, we've won as many away games as home this season (4 wins in 14 away, 4 in 17 at home) and the in-form Garath McCleary should give us a useful counter attacking threat tomorrow. The mercurial McCleary coupled with the wily Andy Reid and impressive looking loanee Adlene Guedioura should give us the quality to unlock a defence. We just have to hope that the mis-firing strike force pack their shooting boots and take their chances. I'd still like to see the creative talents of Lewis McGugan and/or Radi Majewski put to good use but both seem almost irretrievably out of favour (and in Radi's case, injured).

Birmingham are pretty formidable at the moment and Chris Hughton has done a fantastically good job to regroup and revamp the relegated Blues into promotion contenders. Given the amount of games they've played you'd think they'd have to burn out eventually but they haven't shown much sign of that so far. It'd be clutching at a particularly short straw to hope their endeavours catch up with them tomorrow but, given the desperate nature of this season, I'm prepared to grasp at any small crumb of half comfort.

I last went to see the Tricky Trees at St Andrews in the ill-fated ITV Digital era. It was an early kick off on New Year's Day and fans helped clear the pitch of snow to get the game underway in front of the TV cameras. Only, according to something I read later, this was the first game to register 0 viewers because it attracted less than 1,000 people. The people who were shaking off their January 1 hangovers missed Stern John's last ever goal in the Garibaldi, I'm sure they're gutted. That game was 1-1 -  and I'd certainly take that tomorrow, wouldn't you? It would at least give me some false hope that going to Barnsley is the right thing to do.

Come on You Reds

*'a lot' is barely adequate to describe the huge shock of the loss of Nigel Doughty. That's another matter for another blog mind you - I've been very slack recently!