COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Blues back on ?Strac? from a much improved performance than of late that had the faithful singing out that Moyes?s army were indeed on the way to Wem-ber-ley.
Fulham came with a team that had put 5 past Newcastle and in good form. Such is our striker problem that it was Denis who was given the start much to the surprise of many and there was much tutting and head shaking but as the night progressed Denis?s confidence grew and so did his fan club.
The opening exchanges saw the Blues start brightly with Neville getting a cruncher in on Riise but our final ball was always of the long variety which was not a real threat. The first joined up move came from Fulham who made progress when Murphy acted as quarterback for our watching American friends and fed the overlapping Riise superbly who cut it back and a shot came in that was blocked by Heitinga but the ball hit his hands. There seemed no intent but the Ref. was Mr Gerrard sorry that should read Webb who immediately pointed to the spot.
This was no great surprise as relations between Jonny and Howie are at rock bottom plus at the same time he represented the Ref?s union by copying the decision of Phil Dowd from the other night. Is the rule about deliberate hand ball for a pen still in the book or not? Maybe a little clarification needed to help players and clubs.
Murphy took the pen, Howard went one way the ball the other and before the 15min mark we were 1 down.
We responded with renewed vigour and no-one ran and harried more than ?El Traca? and his fan club started to build. Donovan was looking lively and showed he can take a mean corner kick which rubbed off on Gueye who swung over a beaut and Duffy, rising well, had a free header and seemed to get to much on it and the ball flashed wide. Still we attacked and from another corner Donovan hit it over and Duffy got a foot to this one but had it hacked away from the line.
We had 5 corners on the trot in this spell all dangerous but none counted. You could just sense a goal would come and just on the half hour Donovan raided again and delivered a great cross, A Blue shirt rose. The sweet connection could be heard, the net bulged before anyone moved and wheeling away was ?El Traca? with a celebration that put another few thousand into his fan club. His first goal for us, a corker and it was as if it was the cup-final winner.
We were on the up now and Fellaini who was having his best game for a while had a run into the box. At last someone bust a gut to get up with him, it was ?El Traca? and when Fellaini shot and missed horribly the Argentine gave him down the banks in mime. Just wait till his English is competent.
Before the half came to a close Donovan burst through and let fly with a shot that seemed to swerve late and the keeper did well to beat it away with his leg.
H/T and the chat was more positive today as it was generally agreed that we were more up for it and putting in a shift with the Heitinga Duffy partnership getting plaudits. Is it just me but these two seem to be the most cultured pairing we have had for some time. Hope it lasts.
Fulham came out of the traps quickly for the second period and our old boy AJ stretched us at times with strong channel runs and finding time to cut in and test Howard with a daisy cutter The game started to meander a bit and whilst we had Donovan looking bright down one flank Gueye down the other seemed well out of it. Some flashes of decent stuff but few and far between. Gibson was giving the ball away to easily and seemed to be having trouble with even a 10yd pass. It seems he will need time to settle so as the clock ticked the manager took action after the hour mark and replaced Gueye with Drenthe.
Donovan continued to be a danger and after one speedy run flashed a shot just wide. The 70min mark passed and some joined up stuff took place which resulted in Donovan being put in down the flank, he went past a man and delivered the most sublime back post cross that was met by the towering Fellaini who in text book fashion headed it back from whence it came and left defenders and keeper no more than statues as it duly found the net. Oh the celebrations, Fellaini?s mad dash to the dugout, the fans frenzy on seeing 2 goals at home in a game, Non league Tamworth was the last time but we didn?t care we were in front and the way Jonny and Shane were performing we were going to stay that way.
Soon after we almost made it safe when the much improved Cahill hit the bar with a header from a Neville cross.
With less than 10 to go the manager sent on Big Vic for ?El Traca? who received a tremendous reception, hell do we love a trier. One effect he must have had was to give a clue to Big Vic that we fans do like to see our players put in decent shifts because for ten mins or so he just didn?t stop chasing?keep it up Vic.
Four minutes of injury time were played out almost in their entirety near the corner flag at the junction of Bullens Rd and Gwladys St. Very professional. Final whistle and the faithful filed away in good spirits and smiles on faces.
M.O.tM: Heitinga ? just from Donovan and Fellaini.
Overall a good Friday night out. A win and in the next round of the cup. I wont get to carried away with it as cup tie?s are rarely any barometer of league form. It should serve to bolster confidence a little and perhaps bring a little more self belief back.
Tonight I was interested to watch the performance of Drenthe and to me for the time he was on the pitch he seemed less of a wild card and more of a responsible member of the team. I hope that continues as he certainly has something if only he can use it in the proper manner. We will see.
City on Tuesday and an away banker in many people's eyes but who knows ?El Traca? may well spook them at one end and Jonny and Shane thwart them at the other. I will be there to find out.
UP THE BLUES
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523 Posted 28/01/2012 at 16:13:17
Couldn't agree more on Heitinga and Duffy.
526 Posted 28/01/2012 at 16:15:51
531 Posted 28/01/2012 at 16:43:48
With regard to clarifying the handball rule: whilst idiots wittering on about ball-to-hand and hand-to-ball make it seem arcane, the rule itself is really, really simple. Basically if a player deliberately handles the ball, he?s committed an offence that?s punished by a direct free kick. If the offence happens to take place in the penalty area, the direct free kick is taken from the spot. If the contact between the hand and ball isn?t deliberate, it?s not a foul, wherever it occurs.
I?m guessing that Howard Webb thought that Heitinga handled deliberately in the sense that he believed Jonny had sufficient opportunity to move his hand out of the way of the ball, but chose not to do so.
533 Posted 28/01/2012 at 16:26:43
I've been critical of Donovan whenever things weren't going well for him. He didn't start that well last night either, but he never stopped looking for the ball or the opportunity to hurt them and eventually turned it around; for that he would get my MotM.
I hate when we over-hype youngsters and put undue pressure on them, but I'm made up with Duffy, he's been going about his business as if he's been around forever ? Mind you, at the rate Phil Neville gives the ball away, he's certainly getting his chance to show what he can do.
Made up for Stracq too.
544 Posted 28/01/2012 at 17:55:08
545 Posted 28/01/2012 at 17:32:12
I hope that Strac's performance will convince Moyes that he has to give up on Saha as a starter. And that Drenthe's display is a step towards him becoming a starter - a reliable team player who can also be a game changer. Gueye? Just think about how effective Baines is when he plays. It says it all for me
Fellaini has been criticised, but I think he's been asked to do too much. Gibson is taking a lot of weight off him now, so let's hope that the Big Fella gets more opportunities to do it for us more consistently.
I was despairing of seeing us do well in the forseeable future, but they came good on Friday against a very decent team. All is not lost.
557 Posted 28/01/2012 at 19:58:19
We were too one-dimensional down both flanks between the two full backs and the wingers. This was only because we had no-one like Ossie to go over and offer the inside pass (triangles). This option, in my opinion, is a massive plus for Donovan.
558 Posted 28/01/2012 at 20:10:49
573 Posted 28/01/2012 at 22:27:25
274 Posted 03/02/2012 at 22:28:17
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