Sunday, 20 November 2011

Rolling along

Another Saturday, another win... almost becoming boring now then isn't it?
No, of course not.
It's good to see the positive vibes around the place, and that was best summed up at Thursday night's Fans' Forum, where those in attendance were almost struggling for questions as, let's face it, there isn't really anything to moan about.
Alan Bennett came up with the quote of the night when he said he felt the club were 'shackled by the memory of previous regimes' when he arrived - spot on Benno!
But more wins like this one against Vale will keep up the attempts to consign those times to the history books once and for all... this was as convincing a home win as we have had all season.
We controlled the first half with the bedrock of the midfield trio once again winning the battle in the middle third of the field, and the centre backs having the best of it in our own penalty area.
The only thing missing was that elusive final ball but it felt like only a matter of time before we got it right and came away with the points.
That is the sea change this season - previous seasons have seen us held at 0-0 at the break, then fans and players get jittery, the away side builds up confidence, nick a goal, shut up shop, game over.
Yes Vale had a few players out, and I had people saying to me it would have been different had Marc Richards or Gary Roberts been out there.
They weren't, so that's an irrelevant argument and I think we would have won the game whatever side we were up against, so let's just enjoy another win.
The first half was short of goalmouth incident, as, while we had more territory and possession, we didn't make Stuart Tomlinson work hard enough.
At the other end though, Jack Butland also had a quiet half, with Steve Elliott's tackle on Shaun Rigg as he shaped to shoot stopping Vale's only threat on our goal.
After the break, I thought we had started a bit slowly but after we got the penalty, there was only one winner.
Russ Penn won a penalty like that against Macclesfield earlier in the season cutting in from the edge of the box and Darryl Duffy made no mistake.
That's nine goals in 11 starts for Duffy now - an excellent return, even though four are penalties, and I am not sure yet whether we are allowed to count penalties again, after Justin Richards wasn't allowed to by some idiot fans when he was here.
The second goal was a good move and Luke Garbutt's cross was fired in by Luke Summerfield for his third goal of the season, that was just about that.
Vale never threatened to get back in the game, Kaid Mohamed fired a shot wide and Jimmy Spencer had a shout for another penalty.
Much has been made of our displays on the road, but we are now 6-1-2 in home games and 5-1-3 away in the league - so maybe we have done our home record a bit of a disservice.
This game also showed that we can make the system we have used away work for us on our home patch, a feature of this win being how effectively we got Garbutt and Sido Jombati coming forward, borne out by the second goal.
So we stay in third (yes, Football League Show, that's stay in third not move into third) and it was nice to see us get a little bit of focus from Manish and Steve Claridge - as he said, they seem to be talking about us every week now.
It all sets up what is going to be a very big three weeks coming up, with a game down the road at Oxford as we go for seven in a row away from home against a side well beaten at Crawley and seemingly going through a little dip in form.
We should take a decent following down the A40 and the Kassam is always a difficult place to go, but surely now we are at the stage where we don't worry about who we play, and go into the game confident - but not complacent.
That's followed by the FA Cup game at Luton, where getting in the hat for round three is all that matters, and then the next home game is leaders Southend on December 10, and what a game that is shaping up to be.
Exciting times - long may it continue.

Player by player
Jack Butland - Little to do. One slight alarm but we'll let him off.
Sido Jombati - New contract in his pocket and another top notch performance as he galloped up and down his wing all afternoon.
Luke Garbutt - Set up second goal with a great cross and like Sido got forward well and did defensive duties superbly.
Alan Bennett - Usual commanding display. Tom Pope was a an awkward customer but Benno handled him well.
Steve Elliott - Pick of the back four. Just oozing confidence with Bennett alongside him.
Russ Penn - Terrier like display, winning tackles all over the pitch.
Luke Summerfield - Another good display, capped with a goal. Becoming a vital member of the side now.
Marlon Pack - Ran the game from the start. Loves that role as the deeper of the trio where he can find space and pick his passes.
Kaid Mohamed - Fairly quiet and only had a couple of runs - one of which he nearly ended in spectacular fashion.
Jimmy Spencer - Worked hard as usual running the channel and trying to support Darryl as much as possible.
Darryl Duffy - Like Jimmy, work rate superb and deadly from the spot but found it tough against Vale's uncompromising centre backs.
Subsitutes
Josh Low (for Duffy 83) - Barely touched the ball after coming on.
Junior Smikle (for Mohamed 88) - Was a bit worried Junior wasn't going to make his customary appearance, but he did, so all is well with the world.
Jeff Goulding (for Spencer 90) - Got his win bonus.