A change of luck at St Mary's

PUBLISHED: 14:41 02 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:23 10 September 2010

Tim Allman, Capital Canaries

We have not had much luck at St Mary's in the last few years. Malky getting sent off in the cup match, Greeno saving his one and only penalty for Norwich, only for the ref to call a mulligan and give them a second go at it, and then there was that 4-3 game towards the end of our season in the premiership.

We have not had much luck at St Mary's in the last few years. Malky getting sent off in the cup match, Greeno saving his one and only penalty for Norwich, only for the ref to call a mulligan and give them a second go at it, and then there was that 4-3 game towards the end of our season in the premiership.

I still have dreams about that goalmouth scramble in our penalty area, the ball being passed to the left, City breaking up the pitch, and Leon McKenzie hitting a sweet left foot shot across Antii Niemi into the bottom right hand corner. “Gooooaaaal !!”, I scream as we win by the odd strike in seven to preserve our Premiership status.

Suddenly there's a voice in my ear. “Tim… Tim you ok?” as I am found slumped, tired and emotional in the corner of a pub in Havant, having been persuaded, much against my better judgement to disembark for a few post-match liveners on the way back from that fateful game. Although we lost Leon's shot has still gone in many more times than Niemi has ever saved it.

So it was back again to Southampton for our annual loss to the Saints. Based on the Busman's Holiday school of away pub selection we arrived at “The Square” which was part of the Squares chain of pubs. It is just like the one on Riverside but much bigger, holding up to eleven hundred drinkers. We arrived to see hundreds of empty seats, and twenty or so in the pub. Just like St Mary's then where only eighteen thousand turned bothered to turn up.

Looking back at the game, we didn't deserve to win on Tuesday, but then Leicester didn't deserve anything two weeks ago when they defended with their lives to grab a point. Football is not a fair game. No points are ever won for style, except in the media, otherwise those teams that pass it around for fun would always be top of the league. It is getting it in the net that counts, and stopping it going in other end comes a close second.

My reflections on the match were that most of the team had a decent game. Russell was outstanding. Dion was his usual majestic self, Crofty continues to improve with every game, and unless there's any outstanding contribution from anyone else in the next few months I expect these three to be fighting it out for the player of the season vote.

Worryingly we seemed to lose shape and impetus when Fotheringham went off and it was alarming to see Southampton pass the ball through and round our midfield with ease. Although Russell was everywhere with a another herculean effort, making interceptions, chasing the ball down and getting crucial tackles in, one player can't do it all by himself. Let's hope the skipper is back on Saturday.

And although we were under pressure for a good percentage of the second half, it was refreshing to see a positive substitution by Glenn Roeder. Previous City managers may have taken Lee Croft or one of the strikers off and replaced him with a more defensively minded player. Instead we saw the welcome return of Darren Huckerby who contributed to the cause by giving the Southampton defence more to think about and making their right hand side play nearer their goal than ours. Well done Glenn.

And a word of sympathy for the unfortunate Southampton supporter sitting behind the goal in Row Z who must have though that his team were waging some sort of personal vendetta against him. Of their twenty-six shots only four were on target. So that's twenty-two attempts at hitting him including a missed penalty. They should have let him keep the match ball.

So finally a win at St Mary's and a lively journey back to the Capital with my fellow travellers buoyed by three more points and being that bit nearer mid-table safety. The great escape that looked so unlikely in November is now well on course.

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