This competition presents us with another possible passage into Europe. Although we are in the Worthington Cup Final, it is still important we progress in the FA Cup, this is the major knockout competition and it’s lovely to be involved in. We need to get back to winning ways tonight.
All you can ask for in the FA Cup is home draws and you take what you get if you come out of the hat with home advantage. We came through up at Coventry comfortably in the last round and to get a couple of home draws — against Bolton first with the winners facing Tranmere on their own patch — it looks good.
But we know that counts for nothing if we don’t do well tonight. We certainly don’t want a replay up at Bolton with the way our fixture list is shaping up at the moment, so we will aim to win the tie first time round this evening.
It’s important tonight that we look to perform the way we did against Chelsea. That was an exciting night for everyone and hopefully we can generate the same sort of atmosphere, both the players and the supporters, to get us into the next round.
Looking back on Wednesday’s defeat by Newcastle, we were really disappointed to lose after taking the lead and playing well enough in the first half to go in maybe two or three goals to the good at half-time. Newcastle didn’t get a kick in that first period but they changed their system slightly after the interval.
They went man for man all over the pitch and took a chance on getting back into the game. We did have our own chances to go 2-0 up early in the half and that would probably have killed the game.
But they got back into the contest through a free-kick which was headed in by the player I was supposed to be marking. I was still trying to get a message across to someone at the near-post when they took it, my man’s got round the back of me and headed it in. It looked very easy but it was poor marking on my behalf.
From then on, they got the impetus and scored again shortly after. They were on a roll and we struggled to contain them. It was a disappointed dressing room afterwards.
We’re playing a lot of high profile games at the moment, something which the club perhaps isn’t used to in recent years, and it can be difficult to consistently maintain a high level of performance in those games.
Obviously these are the type of matches the players want to be playing in and the supporters want to be watching, but it’s very difficult for a club to perform well in every big game when they come at you thick and fast. The more of them we feature in though, the better we will get. Success breeds success, as they say.
Consistency is the key word for us. We’ve hit some very high peaks at times this season but we need to reproduce that on a more regular basis if we are to push up the Premiership table.
But Wednesday was a strange game and it just goes to show that if a team changes their formation slightly, it can make such a difference to the end result of a match.
Some people might think that the Newcastle result might not be too bad in the long run because it will keep our feet on the ground after the Chelsea victory, but I don’t believe that. Winning is a habit and we need to get used to winning games regularly, scraping them 1-0 at times if we have to.
If you keep winning one, losing one and so on, you’ll find you might have a decent cup run but then get knocked out in the semi-finals and finish mid-table in the league. That’s not what this club is about anymore, we’re aiming much higher than that which is why we want to get back on the winning track tonight.
Enjoy the game
Tonight we’re back on the FA Cup trail and pleased to finally get this game on against Bolton. As I said before, we were very disappointed it was postponed on Saturday, we were all looking forward to playing.