Two excellent goals without having the possession, against a tier 1 football club, and 20 minutes to hold out. But it couldn’t be done as Salop couldn’t stop Wolves crossing from the right wing and there were too many to not make mistakes against.
The second Salop goal came after the manager sent the corner taker a note. The resultant cross led to a stooped power header in the six yard box converted in a style akin to Manchester City in January 1979. Slightly bizarre to see the glory of it all diminished by protests of the ref awarding 6 minutes added time; but the ref had been wise to extended time wasting by Salop, especially our goalkeeper who otherwise had an excellent game. Indeed, they kinda all did – the FA Cup and the motivation of playing tier 1 players bringing out something special. Just kinda want it in the league.
A powered placed shot to the far corner of the goal; a run at the full-back leading to a penalty and a nutmeg pass on the other wing that led to a forward able to score from 6 yards. Three magical moments leading to 3 goals and the best comeback I have witnessed away from home by Salop since Huddersfield 1984. Stoke were still 2-0 up as the final quarter started, and whilst they hadn’t been brilliant – winning a competition to kick the ball straight out the most often in the first half – Salop had contrived to make soft mistakes at the back – conceding 3 goals, save for the own-goal when Stoke were ruled offside. A switch from 4 at the back and a diamond in midfield apparently explains why Salop did better in the second half; that and a dressing room instruction to rob the ball off Stoke players more. Had we won the play-off at Wembley, we could have been in the same tier as Stoke and I was envious of their forthcoming fixtures, with so many Midlands clubs being in the second tier this season. But otherwise I thought I’d wasted my evening until that powered placed shot. Instead one of the best away trips ever. Wolverhampton – we’re coming for you.
FA Cup 3rd Round and third tier Salop did OK against second tier Stoke City in the first half having most of the pressure, and playing the ball around their penalty area; but Stoke had the best chances and Salop needed a penalty to take the lead. Second half was the reverse – Stoke with the pressure and Salop with the best efforts. Too much in the end and Stoke got a deserved equalise. Problem was for my first trip to the safe standing barriers that the play was at the other end for most of the game. It’s a shame that safe standing isn’t yet allowed to release the seats.
Salop coulda won. Ditto Walsall.
But it’s usually a tricky adventure for us, so pleased with the draw and the entertainment. Pleased to have gone at all, cos the last 2 years, the fixture clashed with the community events at Notts County F.C.
A couple of points on the kits.
Why couldn’t we wear our blue & amber colours? Instead, ours was dark grey with a primrose high diagonal. Which despite my photo, made it difficult to pick out the Salop players against the background of the crowd at a range of 130 yards. No history, no relevance and poor practicability.
Meanwhile, Walsall are sponsored by HomeServe, who I’ve just remembered have a call centre in Nottingham, which I opened. No, no-one else remembered that either.
Now 35, Pennant, man of the match in a European Cup Final and twice close to major silverware, has published an autobiography which starts with some challenging memories of The Meadows.
No gratitude to the community in the first extract; instead, football was his only way out; dramatic stories – of a father who was a dealer; a mother who moved away; gangs in The Meadows, lined up against gangs from St.Ann’s; a set-to at a fried chicken restaurant in town, which led to a lad from St.Ann’s being kicked to death; a grand-auto style car chase.
I didn’t recall it being as bad as that, then. Later, I do know a teenage lad was shot and killed in The Meadows; and a teenage girl was shot and killed in St.Ann’s by an indiscriminate shot aimed into a group of girls fired from a moving car from The Meadows.
But we’d made progress from then. The council employed neighbourhood wardens. There was a major drive on gun crime. We were tough on the causes of crime. More jobs. Children’s centres. Higher attainment at schools. We had made significant progress.
Some of the progress has been lost. Now, we’ve had a period of knifings between dealers. Tackled, but the underlying causes – lack of proper jobs, insufficient earnings – not so visible, but witnessed by our schools – are ongoing and getting worse.
I was struck by an assertion by Pennant that he would still be at risk if he came back to The Meadows. Jermaine Jenas survived a visit to The Meadows with a TV camera crew, about a year ago, but the risk factor seemed talked up given community activists who live on the featured Holgate Road have not reported any problems.
As for football, following goals put in at The Green, we are planning to improve the MUGA equipment at Queens Walk Rec., and possibly find some kit to install on Arkwright Walk. And we want to support local clubs more. But the finance is a challenge. Not saying either Jermaine should be obliged to help, but it would be nice. Not so much to help kids find a way out; just for the enjoyment of the game.
Everyone seems to know the score
They’ve seen it all before
They just know
They’re so sure
That England’s gonna throw it away
Gonna blow it away
England’s going home …
As the media celebrate heroes, the ultimate irony is we’ve just experienced another episode which the song “Football’s coming home” so bewails.
Yep, we were singing how we always end up doing something rubbish at tournaments, and again we’ve thrown it away. Well, an appearance in the final anyway.
And we’re back to what we’re used to.
Missing in front of goal and giving up on the importance of possession.
And the analysis remains woeful. As extra time began, it was about heart and belief.
Having been the better side in the first half, and having missed all those chances, we should have seen that Croatia would change, and we needed to change too, in a way that gave our players the opportunity to close down. Instead, we kept pumping long balls way to long runs and we kept giving the ball away.