Obviously we were disappointed not to have played against Bolton, particularly with the confidence as it was in the camp. But the rain was torrential and left the referee no option but to postpone the match and now we will all be back here next Tuesday.
Going back to our performance against Chelsea in the Worthington Cup semi-final, we’ve had time to reflect on it now and it’s a very satisfying result to look back on.
I think that getting such a good result at Stamford Bridge in the first leg, in which Les’ goal gave us the belief we could win the tie overall, was crucial to Wednesday’s game.
The result of the first contest meant we had to go out here with an attacking mentality, whereas Chelsea were torn between sitting on a 0-0 or going out to finish the game off.
When you go into a match with that in the back of your minds, it’s difficult to really know what to do. So while we knew we couldn’t go gung-ho and let ourselves get caught out, we were able to approach the game in an attacking frame of mind, which is exactly what we did. And how!
We got at them from the first minute, put them under pressure straight away and made such a vital early breakthrough. In doing that, as well as playing some great football, we laid the foundation for our success.
The crowd were superb, they really kept us going at times, particularly in the 10-15 minutes or so after we scored the first goal, when Chelsea had probably their only spell of pressure on the night. But we defended well during that time and once we came through that, it was one-way traffic from then on.
Tim’s goal was wonderful. People know that Darren and I have used that short corner routine down the years to good effect, so I was able to pull defenders away from that area of the penalty box, allowing Tim to use the space. Although the ball came in slightly behind him, he hit it hard and high and it flew in. A great goal.
At 2-0 though, the game was still delicately poised and we knew we had to keep concentrating and working hard. That’s why our third goal was so important and I was delighted to get on the scoresheet.
I have to say though, Gus’ chest down to me was perfection itself, he knew where I was and just knocked Darren’s cross into my path, inviting me to hit it. I caught it well and it was great to see it go in.
Even at that stage, we didn’t want to give Chelsea a sniff of a comeback and our defensive trio of Anthony Gardner, Ledley King and Chris Perry were fantastic on the night. We’d had a meeting before the game and said that if we could keep Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen under wraps, we’d have a good chance and our defence did that brilliantly. Not many teams have done that recently.
It was good to see Simon Davies score once again, he’s playing some excellent football, and Sergei deserves a mention too. It must be tough for him at the moment, making brief appearances here and there as he has been doing, but every time he comes on he seems to score and that is a testimony to his character.
Steffen Iversen was another who did well, we needed a big performance from him and we certainly got it, his early goal was just the start we wanted.
It’s difficult to praise people individually in what was a superb team performance, but every player played their part on the night and all deserve credit.
Tonight though we turn our attentions back to the Premiership and what will be a difficult game against Newcastle United. They are enjoying a good season but we showed great character and attitude to win at St. James’ Park earlier in the campaign and must ensure we display the same credentials this evening if we are to emerge with the victory.
Enjoy the game.
After such an excellent night against Chelsea last week, we were all looking forward to Saturday’s game until the weather intervened.