I think the chance to go second in the Premiership prior to the Charlton match excited us all but as it turned out, we didn’t earn the right to play in that fixture.
We’ve been having some good results before last Saturday and the team was full of confidence going into the game at The Valley. We all felt that going second would have been a fair reward at this stage of the season.
But that’s what happens when you get near the top of the table — teams suddenly want to beat you that little bit more. We didn’t play as well as we have been doing against Charlton, while they started extremely well and it came as something of a shock to find ourselves 2-0 down so early in the game. As I said though, we didn’t earn the right to play whereas perhaps Charlton did.
For the later part of the first half and much of the second, we did play some good football and probably had enough chances to get something out of the game, even at 3-0 down. We showed good character to keep plugging away and deserved that goal at the end.
But it was a lesson to us all that we need to approach every game in the right way. We must start every game with a clean slate and pick up our performance from the beginning, rather than trying to carry on from where we left off in the previous game.
Going into Tuesday’s game against Bolton, there were two factors which were uppermost in our thoughts. The first was to wipe away the memories of the Charlton defeat and secondly, the chance to progress in a competition which could open up the door to Europe.
Bolton took a different view to this, but we can only beat the team in front of us on any given day. We got into our stride right from the start and put them under constant pressure. Although it was 4-0 at half-time it could have been eight.
We have to give full credit to Les, he’s been outstanding since the start of the season and really deserved his goals. It’s important that our strikers are scoring goals and hopefully that will give Les a real boost. We are creating plenty of chances and I’m sure there’s more to come from him.
Unfortunately, he took another knock on his ankle and said he would rather come off at half-time and get it looked at rather than stay on and look for more glory. That just shows how important we all feel towards the team and not our own individual performances.
Today’s clash against Fulham is another important game for us. People have looked at our run of matches up to Christmas and into the New Year and would probably have expected us to take maximum points from most of them.
But football doesn’t work like that and we expect Fulham to be a very tough game. I’ve admired them from afar this season and they play some very neat football. We will have to be on top of our game otherwise we could come unstuck.
It all comes back to earning the right to play and that’s what we’ll be looking to do from the start today.
Enjoy the game.
Once again we’ve had mixed fortunes since my last column, what with losing at Charlton and then bouncing back to defeat Bolton here in the Worthington Cup on Tuesday night.