Jimmy Sirrel, upon Notts County winning 1-0 at Aston Villa on the opening day of 1981-82, said to start the season, you want your first goal, your first point and your first win. He perhaps should have added your first clean sheet. Whatever, I’ve repeated the homily many times, and always think of him on the opening day. – which is too early (which I also always repeat). Salop’s 1-0 win against promotion-fancied Portsmouth – who’d bought 2 of our players – is a great result. But welcome to the word “streaky” a la football. Our on-loan-for-a-season full-back had never hit one like that before; all the match stats were against Salop (except the red card; and a last kick of the game that seemed a certain equaliser hit a crouching Portsmouth player and ballooned away. The full-back actually said how their determination had been to defend. My hunch – another season of struggle and of 54 points is the target – but hey, nice kit.
A disappointing game, with few clear cut opportunities created. Kinda mixed feelings about Walsall going down, cos that’s another Midlands fixture gone. Meanwhile, my sister was acknowledged for her interest in the club in the programme.
Pleased to see Salop have avoided relegation from League 1 with a point at Coventry. Last season, we could have won promotion at Wembley against Rotherham – who got relegated back down again yesterday. Meanwhile our manager left with 2 of our best players to Ipswich; he lasted a few months, but they have been relegated. Meanwhile, we took the Macclesfield manager, who seemed to buy wisely, but failed to win matches, critiquing his own team selection every time. Decent guy, but he was replaced by the Wrexham manager, whose selection decisions could also be questioned, but some further smart signings and we had some amazing away games – wonderful memories of Stoke and Wolves. But some hopelessly poor motivated home setbacks such as Oxford last week. But we’ve survived, and we’ve had a season of some glory and some memories. And when you’re 3rd tier – perhaps that’s what it’s about.
Salop went 2-1 up, the first cos Wolves didn’t attack a cross, the second cos their goalie mis-read a shot (I thought there was a deflection but perhaps not). Salop couldn’t hold out, but the second Wolves goal should have been ruled as a foul. Salop never got to grips with Wolves’ right winger. Still the boisterous Wolves fans were reduced to a tepid “C’mon Wanderers”. I think they reduced the price of the tickets; whatever, the ground was nearly full. Tied in with a pleasant visit to “Made in Thai” – a good night out.
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.