Topic: Morecambe at home....
FT: 1-0 Att: 1218 (282 away)
She missed a cracker. Well, the first half anyway. Midweek games are a tricky one. The head says getting home at 10pm on a school night is too late. The heart says different. I'm fairly easy going about it all, but the decision had been taken that she'd miss tonight's cup replay. Sleep matters at that age I guess but it did feel odd sitting in M105 next to an empty 106.
Ten minutes into the first half and I was desperately wishing she was there.
This was the best football I've seen so far this year. Town were tight and composed at the back. Preston and Hanson were linking up brilliantly, Kosylo was his usual lively self and Sellars was superb. But the real standout was King. How he stayed on the bench for so long will be the abiding mystery of this season wherever and however it ends for Town. The passing and movement were great to watch. I could actually enjoy watching Town for once. It was all the more impressive given the amount of rain we'd had. And continued to have throughout the game.
The signs this could be Town's night were there from the first minute. Preston broke down the right and flashed a cross across the box. He was too quick for his teammates and it ended up going out for a throw but it was a taster of what was to come in the first 45 minutes.
It wasn't long until the pressure paid off. King scored the game's only goal after 12 minutes. Cutting in after a run on the right, he wrong-footed a defender and slotted it home. It was a class finish from a classy player.
Town kept the pressure on. And Kosylo put the ball in the net, only for it to be ruled offside. The fact the assistant who made the decision was a woman led to the inevitable comments from the terrace wags. Quite glad Hannah missed some of it to be honest. Shame as Rebecca Welch had refereed the win over Dover on Saturday and was very good by all accounts, letting the game flow but taking no nonsense when necessary. Going to take a while for some of the Town faithful to catch up with the rest of the world.
At halftime, feelings were mixed. Happy at the performance but, given Town's form this year, worried that a single goal wouldn't be enough.
And then Town reverted to type.
Maybe that's being a bit unfair, but so much of what has been frustrating about their play was back. Sitting ever deeper in defence, the midfield going missing, loose passes and poor first touches. As bad as they were at times in the first half, Morecambe are still a football league club. For now anyway. Town could play them again next year on this showing. They're 19th of 24 as things stand. Better finishers and finishing and the story could have been very different, but Town were still improved.
The perennial issue of subs and their timing raised its head again. Maher was knackered and looked to be carrying a knock. Kosylo was booked for a badly-timed challenge and from that point, understandably, seemed reluctant to commit to others. Southwell had run himself into the ground. Preston was the same. The calls from the stands for a change increased. And yet as the pressure mounted and chance after chance fell to Morecambe, the subs stayed wrapped up warm in the dugout. The first substitution didn't come until the 86th minute. Town won and, no doubt, Fullarton would say the result vindicated his tactics, but it could have been very, very different had the visitors had more bite up front. A shot just over the bar. Clarke charging down a shot with the keeper stranded and beaten. They came close. Very close.
Town held on. The final whistle brought joy. And some relief. Town are in the 2nd round proper for only the second time since 2008. It's not just a question of 'glory'. There's over £30k just for reaching that stage. And more for the live appearance on BT Sport progress has guaranteed. The fans have waited for this. And have had to watch a lot of poor football to get here. The playoffs are probably unrealistic this season. But a big day out or full-house at home aren't.
It's not easy being a 9-year old fan. Apparently she was still awake at full-time. Another reason I wished she'd been with me. The next round raises another quandary. The 12.30 kickoff will mean leaving youth theatre Christmas Show rehearsals early. Tough. I'm not watching that one without my partner in crime.....