Who Said It Would Be Easy?
It`s an amazing game, ain`t it?
On Monday, we are ecstatic as Blues trample the league leaders on their way to a comfortable victory, and then on Saturday, all the hopes and belief was extinguished after a disappointing draw against a team destined for League 1. Then, on Monday...well, to be honest, I`m not quite sure what happened on Monday.
Was it a good result? Was it a bad one? In ways it was both.
On the plus side, there are only 3 games left, and Blues are one step closer to the elite. The courage of the players was absolutely monumental. However, on the flip side, Wolves are as good as on their way to the Prem, and now it appears that there will be 3 other sides contesting Blues for the final automatic promotion place.
It started well, at one end of the pitch anyway. While attacking, Blues looked comfortable and assured, the defence looked shaky. After a couple of near misses, a long punt upfield resulted in a collision between Maik Taylor, Liam Ridgewell and Mackie, the Plymouth player. Taylor made contact with Mackie, bringing him down, on the edge of the area. Somehow, amazingly, the referee, a Mr Michael Oliver, sent Taylor off and gave a penalty.
Now let me be very clear, I understand that referees have a hard job, but let`s be reasonable. Taylor tackled the player outside the area, and he got the ball. However, the ref still gave a penalty. What the..?!
The ineffectual Keith Fahey was subbed off for Colin Doyle and despite all the encouragement from the Blues fans behind him; Doyle could do nothing to stop the penalty. 1-0 Plymouth.
News filtered through that Nottingham Forest, opponents of Sheffield United, were down to 10 men, just like Blues...great. Not only that, news also filtered through that Wolves and Reading were 1-0 up. Fan-bloody-tastic.
What happened next, is something that shocked and horrified the on looking crowd. I had a perfect view of the challenge and the fall which broke the leg of Liam Ridgewell, and it wasn`t nice watching. You knew that there was something wrong, but immediately he tried to jump up and get on with it, before realising that something very serious had happened, at which point he collapsed with his arm raised in the air. It was a horrific event but you have to applaud Ridge, who even made an effort to applaud the fans three times while he was on a stretcher, and by that time I am in no doubt that he would have known that he had broken his leg. He really is a class act.
In the second half, Blues looked a lot more dangerous as the crowd got firmly behind their team. A David Murphy free kick was headed in expertly by the man who replaced Liam Ridgewell, Franck Queudrue. Spookily, Queudrue had told Tom Ross (BRMB presenter) before the game that he would come off the bench to score, and so he wanted to do an interview with Tom after the game...I hope Franck picked a few lottery numbers as well!
James McFadden joined the party and Blues pushed and pushed but they just couldn`t get a breakthrough goal, but the news from elsewhere was constantly changing.
First, we heard that Derby had equalised against Wolves. Fantatsic! Then, we heard that Derby were ahead! Then, we got news that Blackpool had got a goal back against Reading, with the scoreline now being 1-2. Not bad.
Things didn`t stop there.
With 6 minutes being added on at the end of the game, Blues fans knew the other final scores before we reached our conclusion. Wolves won, 3-2. Reading drew, 2-2 (thank god for little DJ Campbell who scored the equaliser for Blackpool!) and Sheffield United were frustrated by Notts Forest, who managed to go away with a 0-0 draw.
Then, in the 5th minute of stoppage time, a ball into the box was met with a free header from Rahdi Jaidi...but the Tunisian could only put his header straight at the keeper, and the last chance went begging.
What strikes me, is how those at the FA came to such a decision that a 22 year old was ready to referee a game which was monumental in the future of our club. It is absolutely absurd. The kid was nowhere near ready and it was obvious. In the first 10 minutes, Jerome ran down the left, outmuscling the centre back to break into the area, and the ref gave a free kick against Jerome. Instantly, I turned to my mate and said, "This ref really doesn`t have a clue". I was right. DJ then went into a 50/50 challenge, getting nothing but the man, and the ref did nothing apart from awarding a free kick, and it was clearly a yellow card offence. Then...the penalty. I don`t know what to say really, it was just appalling. Maik Taylor got the ball, and if anyone should have been the recipient of a red card, in my view, it should have been Ridge who pushed Mackie on the edge of the area. But then, how in the heck did neither the referee nor the assistant referee realise that the offence happened OUTSIDE the area? Watching a replay, I could only laugh upon realisation that the referee was standing in the exact place where the offence happened, when he red carded Maik Taylor. Yep, he was standing one yard outside the area, but he still awarded a penalty. It`s a joke.
With Wolves as good as promoted, Blues remained in a sort of status-quo. Individually, nobody really shone, but as a unit, they were extraordinarily good. They chased every ball and they fed off the energy provided to them from the faithful. There really is a bond now between this team and the fans...finally. There is that bond that you always get between the Blues fans and the best Blues teams. It is one of those bonds which cannot be broken once formed, and it will do wonders for the team in the last few games. Everyone is pulling in the same direction, and the atmosphere was once again fantastic.
It`s going to be tense, it`s going to be nervy, it`s going to be one hell of an emotional rollercoaster...but come on Bluenoses, would we really want it any other way?
Keep right on, because, right now, our club needs us as much as we need our club.