Michel Kuipers. Thank you for bringing a stressful day to a successful conclusion. Peter Bellamy from CTFC.Net has offered to have your babies. If you’d like to take up that offer please let me know, I have his address! By the way Peter, if Michel wants you to have his babies, you won’t need to offer- it’ll just happen!
Alan Williams has stated that Steve Evans moved to Rotherham to be nearer his family. Fair enough. Steve Evans has said that it is because he wants to manage in the Championship. Not quite so straightforward given that he’s just joined a team far less likely to get promotion than the one he left. Well Steve, thanks for everything- and you have given us a lot to be grateful for. Though it must be said, your timing stinks. Still, looking at the decision in a positive light, the Steve Evans circus has regularly overshadowed the efforts and hard work of our team and club, and perhaps Rotherham have more room for that particular big top and the occasional clowning that goes on inside it?
Three CTSA coaches left the Broadfield at 1145 this morning full of slightly shell shocked supporters, and the conversation around the rain soaked M25 was, as you would expect, all about one topic. Would Paul Pendergast still be able to walk if we inserted that bell into a sensitive place? Oh, and, of course, why had Evans left? Lots of theories were put forward. Twitter was full of rumour and counter rumour. The truth- be it money, ambition or family circumstances- is likely to be far more boring than the stories it has so far generated. But we still had a football match to play, and eventually thoughts turned back to that.
I’m not going to pretend that today’s game was a classic. If I were a Barnet fan I would be scratching my head in disbelief and demanding that Michel was tested for performance enhancing substances. We started well. We were very good for about five minutes, and the 500 or so CTFC fans made a great noise. We were then fairly awful for the next 40. Michel made save after save, we defended in a shambolic fashion, Barnet scored and we huffed and puffed without ever threatening. Kuipers made the Barnet keeper work far more in the first half than the rest of our team. It seemed that the manager’s departure had left us all shell shocked.
Stand-in manager Craig Brewster made two changes for the second half. He got them both completely right. Simpson and Davies came on for James and Watt. The team immediately had more balance, more fluency. A header from John Dempster- who had a very good game, incidentally- flew into the corner of the net. Scott Davies hit a shot from around 25 yards that took a wicked deflection off a defender and flew past the keeper. We had a bit of luck. By goodness we deserved some! We were given little else by the officials. The linesman on our side seemed to have difficulty understanding the offside rule. The Ref turned a blind eye to pushes, shoves and other blatant fouls. Not that Barnet were a dirty team. They were a little one dimensional but they created chance after chance. I’m not sure why they are in such trouble at the bottom of the league if they can create so much. Perhaps every opposition goalkeeper turns into Superman?
The last twenty minutes were pure purgatory. Barnet poured forward, we defended in depth, and Kuipers made save after save after save. Then, with the fourth official (sponsored by “I can’t believe I’m not better” – or at least that’s what I think the pa announcer said) holding up a board adding five minutes to the match, Sergio jumped at the ball with two feet and saw red. He was distraught, we were panic stricken, and Barnet poured forward with renewed belief. Only God- and Michel- know how they didn’t equalise. But we held out. A massive away victory, three possibly priceless points, and a positive end to a stressful day.
As I write, we’re nearly home. Shell shocked perhaps, but generally contented. We’ve five games to go. 15 points to play for. It’s tight. We win our game in hand over Torquay, we go above them. We’ll probably have to play better than that to do it. But we’ve plenty to be positive about. We know we have a good team. We’ve got to play teams who are likely to have little to play for. It’s in our hands. We need to make sure we turn out in numbers home and away, get behind the team, and pray a little. Perhaps we need to find out who Michel prays to, and do the same!
See you on Saturday, for the visit of those fire safety conscious Wombles!