Team: Cerny, Ramage, Hall, Leigertwood, Routledge, Connolly, Faurlin (Mahon), Simpson (Helguson), Ephraim, Borrowdale, Taarabt (Vine).
Subs Not Used: Heaton, Stewart, Buzsaky, Pellicori
A first league win of the season (home or away) and a welcome three points it was too. The R’s have a tendency to slip up against teams like this and, on what seemed like the shortest pitch I have ever seen, I feared the worst before kick-off.
We got off to a blistering start with Simpson bursting through a static defence just 30 seconds into the game. He was pulled down by the Irons keeper just outside the box as he looked to round him and get his debut off to a perfect start. Unfortunately the referee bottled making the right decision by only issuing a yellow card. I would like to say that he was influenced by a boisterous home support but, if it were not for the fact that I could actually see that there were home fans in the stadium, you would be forgiven for thinking it was only us R’s fans there ! Before kick-off, the announcer went on about the ‘twelfth man’ – I now understand that he must of meant the ref !
That disappointment didn’t hold us back and after 3 minutes, Routledge fed Taarabt who ghosted past a couple of defenders before flicking it around the keeper. We didn’t let up from there and Leigertwood had a good effort saved soon after. We were causing them problems, particularly with the pace of Simpson. With the right service he should score for fun in this division, WITH THE RIGHT SERVICE !
Just when you start thinking it will be a cricket score, we eased off and allowed them to start to get back into the game. Our defenders were being called into action although Cerny was rarely threatened. Connolly was an absolute rock despite a bad clash of heads (which saw the Scunthorpe player substituted and Matt had to go off twice for treatment as the wound split open after another header). The first half petered out and despite some late pressure, we had preserved our lead.
The second half began scrappy and Taarabt didn’t look the same player – very jaded. He was subbed before the hour mark for Vine. As pleased as I was at the time, unfortunately he turned in a horrific performance. He seemed sluggish, was knocked off the ball far too easily and missed our two best chances of the second half – one of which was with the goal gaping at his mercy from 6 yards after great hold-up work and lay-off from Helguson (he put it over the bar, I kid you not !)
I haven’t mentioned much of the midfield yet – there’s a good reason for that. Faurlin was never really a factor in the game and whilst our wingers had their moments (Ephraim gave it a good go), we just didn’t get a grip in the second half. That said, a cracking volley from Hall was unlucky not to go in and we should have had a penalty late on when Routledge was pulled down by their keeper. Routledge actually got booked for diving which was ridiculous as there was definite contact. This was surely a hangover from the week of the Eduardo debate.
All in all we deserved the win but a better team would have pressured us much more and made better use of the 5 minutes added time at the end of the second half !