Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bent puts Boro to the sword

Curbishley’s tactical acumen has been called into question on more than one occasion this season, and although the first half today wasn’t much of a ‘come and get me’ plea to those watching at Soho Square, at least he made the changes at half time which turned a relative snorefest into another three points.

Late goals they may have been, but who cares about that? Darren Bent once again underlined just how much he is worth to us, and the abilities of the man were accentuated by the difference between his two finishes this afternoon. The first was a superb header where he showed great desire and hunger to beat Pogatetz to the ball, whilst the second was all about the timing of his run, arriving late in the box, and a simple finish when unmarked. Superb.

Honourable mentions also go to Myhre, who made a couple of excellent stops, and to Thomas, who once again showed why he has to be given a starting place when fully fit. I apologise to one and all if I am starting to sound like a broken record, but we just look a much more potent attacking threat when we have orthodox wingers in the side. Jerome has that ability to run with the ball, beat players, and draw free kicks in dangerous positions. We need to get both him and Rommedahl fit again.

Today’s win was important for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have now opened up a 6-point gap between ourselves and the bottom 6, whereas if we had lost this afternoon, Boro would have leapfrogged us and our position would seem far more precarious. Also, there is the psychological factor to consider ahead of the Cup game. It was nice to demoralise our opponents with such a late winner, and hopefully the fact that we did it will still be fresh in their minds when they come back to the Valley on the 23rd. Lastly, it keeps the run of home results intact, and that can only bode well for the confidence of a squad which has had more than a few knocks recently.

I’ve just been looking through our Valley form since Boxing Day, and the stats are shaping up quite nicely. We’re unbeaten, we’ve won 6 out of the 8 matches that we have played in SE7, and we have conceded only 3 goals in the process, two of which were in the FA Cup. The club have even taken to calling it ‘Fortress Valley’ again.

The facts and figures make great reading, and the players must know that although the performances they’ve turned in haven’t been brilliant, they have still been getting the results.
I can't remember which of the pundits claimed that picking up points without playing well is the hallmark of Champions, but whoever he was, we're proving him wrong!


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