What price for the Lucky General ?
It just doesn’t get better than a Euro night , under the lights , opposition freezing their brass monkeys off , getting bombarded ( theres no other word for it is there ? ) vocally by everyone and their uncle ( usually literally ) and to top it off it was a must win affair and all !
These special midweek nights bring new exotic names to our midden , players and clubs , with tactics we would not face otherwise and also offer a good gauge of where we as a club stand in footballs unofficial hierarchy .
And so it was that in the final group game Brendan lead his table topping leaders against the might of Red Bull’s financial advantage . We were not underdogs according to the cream cookies amazingly yet were always going to be up against it , but at home especially , we will have a spell of pressure at least . Usually we give it a right good go having won both our previous home ties in the group .
The usual caveats applied , do not lose a goal in the first 15 mins ,, start quick and fast to get the crowd awake early ,, attempt a few early chances before they get time to settle and the noise has them unnerved ,, etc etc
The line up seen only the one change from the weekend which was an obvious one with K.T. returning to his beloved left back slot .
The ref blows ,,, Boom ! What a night ! Infact what a last 10 minutes !
Despite being nowhere near our best we go through , unbelievable !
BUT what a price to pay !
Lustig injured early on allied with Ryan stretchered off in a leg brace literally puts us 2 first choice players down . Thats a big blow and will give those with ambitions on lifting the title hope , especially now they are all out of Europe and can focus solely on domestic affairs .
Then the keeper . He kept us in the game , and cost us the game !
Other notables ,,,,Ajer , who was called into action 21 minutes in , was guilty of a very slack back pass that almost cost a goal ,,, and also guilty of a how did he miss it over the bar howler !
Olivier scored , and missed a pen !
Tom played 90 minutes!
Scott returned to Captain us for 45 mins!
Both goals we gave up we embarrassing , the first childs play ffs , striker between the 2 central defenders , and that was his 3rd goal against us this group .
The second was another schoolboy error , and though Craig can be said to have kept us in the game , perhaps his position as first choice needs looked at . I did mention similar on Monday .
And just when you were sitting there thinking ah well we are out , and you did , the news filtered through of an equalizer that puts us through despite defeat !
Brendan says he delighted for the players and it was a tough group ,, very statesman like but I suspect inside he cant believe the footballing Gods have smiled on us in a big way .
He might also be thinking I will be getting that striker I want for sure now !
There will be a school of thought that we were just pure lucky , but ultimately it was the 9 points achieved outside of last nights game that did the damage , and Brendan and the players earned every inch of those points .
So yeah while we did get the roll of the dice , we had to be there to collect , and that took hardwork which they all can be proud of . From this point forward we have nothing to lose as we probably shouldnt be here anyway , might as well just enjoy it .
We have until the next round to try and find some form , possibly drop a few current first teamers , and possibly , nae probably , be integrating our new striker and hopefully defender also . Right back too Santa if youre real .
So the show rolls on , and February will see hearts palpitate again no doubt . Some big scary names rocking around the last 32 at a glance . Some I would fancy our chances against though. Remember that old saying about lucky generals . Would you write us off next round ? No chance ! Bring it on ! We live to fight another day !
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