Saturday, 21 April 2012

Bask In The Pleasure

Ah, what to do? A match report and player ratings or just bask in the fun? Cook the fish or just settle for a splendid takeaway? Let’s try for a compromise. We are champions and nothing else matters. And as soon as the maths doesn’t matter, suddenly we’re back to being nine points clear at the top. Sheffield’s two halves can scrap it out for the second place and we don’t give a monkey’s. The planning for next season can begin – tomorrow.

Let’s get the game out of the way; it was a strange one for the neutral. Wagstaff started on the right rather than N’Guessan but otherwise there was no change. An iffy first 10 minutes or so saw a few indifferent Wycombe shots but nothing of real note. What became apparent was that if we played the game in their half we would score as their defence was indifferent, but that they had enough movement up front to cause problems. There wasn’t much in the game before we won a free kick within reasonable range, and Kermorgant simply curled it over the wall and into the bottom corner. Cue renewed celebrations. That should have been the launching pad for a comfortable win, but the chances that we went on to create went begging. Wright-Phillips was played in twice for a one-on-one with the keeper, with one saved and one hit wide, a lovely move ended with Pritchard bursting through only for their keeper to pull off a decent save, and an obvious penalty wasn’t given when Kermorgant was primed to score again.

As the break approached we should have been home free, but instead the game wasn’t buried and as Kermorgant was felled and went down with a head injury neither the ref nor Wycombe thought it necessary to put the ball into touch. Instead they played it in and equalised. That simply wasn’t in the script. Level at the break when a two-goal lead would have been a fair reflection. OK, we just have to keep our heads and do the same things again. Only one problem; their goal gave them encouragement and not just something to cling on to; it gave them the heart to go out and win the game. And for the first 20 minutes of the second half they nearly did.

Suddenly their forwards were finding space between our central defenders and Hamer was called into action to pull off at least two fine saves. But they didn’t make their superiority count when it mattered and having been under the cosh we went up the other end and scored again. Wagstaff had somehow contrived to turn a great position into an overhit cross/shot for a throw in but something of a repeat saw the ball drop in the box for Stephens to hit it home.

On the balance of play in the second half it was tough on Wycombe, but we had the lead again and that was all we needed. Haynes came on for Wright-Phillips and somehow managed to drift offside when in acres of space to collect a ball played in; he also had a one-on-one that their keeper saved well. But the fact is that having regained the lead we saw the game out. As was the case a week ago, then it was just a matter of waiting for confirmation of the important result elsewhere – and then celebrate.

There will be time enough for reflection on the season, and for thoughts about how we prepare for the next. For now, it’s just time to celebrate and enjoy the success. Last season’s DVD is finally out of its wrapper and I can’t wait for the next one. It won’t take me this long to watch it. And forget the fish and vegetables, there’s a takeaway with my name written large and loud on it.

No comments: