|U's 2 Bury 0 - Noah's View|
Mon 19th Nov 2012 10:00 by Noah4x4
Rather than a report I propose to put a different perspective on the game by exploring anxieties and superstitions.
My vacation meant that I had missed witnessing the pain of three defeats and a draw. My residual upbeat legacy mood from Brisbane Road perhaps raised my awareness of the acute nervous anxiety prevalent in the South Stand. Bury were the form side coming into this fixture.
My regular match day colleagues had even changed their pre-match routine to negate what was increasingly looking like the November “Curse of the Manager of the Month”; but as it turned out, Friday’s F.L. announcement revealed that particular voodoo wasn’t ever influential (not even at Bramall Lane). So after one pint at the Victoria, we hence decided it wise to return to our Bricklayers Arms normality, only later returning to her Majesty’s excellent Beer Festival to celebrate when our superstitions proved unfounded. The U’s emerged as comfortable winners, with two finely crafted goals, and by 94 minutes the faithful were back in buoyant sound voice, albeit a little more muted than normal prior to these dying minutes when victory was assured.
The U’s dominated the first half, but simply couldn’t find the net. With merely three fouls, no bookings, and rarely a whistle for an offside, one wag commented “where was the ref?” Mr Martin had an easy ride prior to four o’clock and will never have a less troublesome 45 minutes. His hardest decision was in which hand to catch the coin. That all changed in session two, which opened after some brief universal applause with the chant of “there is only four of us singing”; as the rest of the faithful nibbled their pies, or most, their finger nails; such was the growing expectancy that Bury would sneak a goal against the run of play. Bury fans didn’t help the unusually subdued atmosphere, as during the entire game we heard merely one squeak of vocal emotion as they won a corner. The silent Shakers entourage clearly had growing confidence that the U’s would be certain of a good day even if a majority of our faithful did not.
But with Ibrehe showing magnificent control and ball retention, and the U’s performing far more confidently than the fans, and me having no memory of the early November anguish, I felt a bit more upbeat. We were rewarded on the hour mark as Woody leapt to bury a fine cross from Ibrehe into the Bury net. Soon after, a cleverly executed dummy by Ibrehe left Sears with still much to do, but Freddie delivered. The U’s were 2–0 up, and in my opinion looking in total control; but we have recently been there before and capitulated. When Morrison and Massey were looking to run down the clock, my colleagues around me were still screaming “go for a third to put the game safe beyond doubt”.
How different from the John Ward days where a single goal advantage would result in the closure of the shop prior to 60 minutes? However praise to Joe Dunne for some sensible substitutions. Yes, he withdrew; Ibrehe, Henderson and Eastmond, who were our best attacking players, but we do have to think of Coventry on Tuesday. Ibrehe, Henderson and Eastmond had run their socks off and must have been running on empty. Others deserved relief (including Magnus and Rose - Durham) had we more than three substitute options. No repetition of the bad memories of Brentford away. Rose did get caught out of position a few times, but his attacking flair was excellent, and he put in some cracking telling passes. Given a clean sheet, I forgive him.
The second goal shook both the Shakers and referee Mr Martin into life. Five bookings, as the tempo of the game suddenly lifted. To the surprise of many wearing blue and white, the now far more aggressive Bury were lucky to retain 11 men on the pitch. However, Joe Dunne may have a few things to say about the U’s soft bookings. Woody, yet again, got booked for “unsporting Behaviour”, whilst Gavin Massey came on, produces an immediate brilliant run and was unlucky with the shot, evidently demonstrating that he had something to prove (and he did). But then twenty seconds later, an offside, Massey flicks the ball back to a Bury defender, but just over his head (deliberate I think). Massey is booked for kicking the ball away and time wasting (“unsporting behaviour”). Both of these U’s bookings were petty and utterly inconsistent with the referee’s laid back approach to control in the first half.
In summary, I think the U’s were superb, and fully deserved the adulation and singing from the South Stand that eventually got going to fullest decibels as we neared the end. But as I had, surely the players detected the early anxiety of the fans, and today, perhaps needed just a bit more ‘ooompah’ before the second goal went in to aid their confidence. I suspect that on Tuesday, given today’s win, it will be back to normal in the South Stand, we having forgotten our last defeat. Then it will be hunky dory until M K Dons (possibly) bring us down to earth again after six points from nine. But I for one won’t be allowing any of my pre-match superstitions to degrade my enthusiasm and/or vocal contribution… fingers crossed.
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