Worthington Cup 2nd Round 1st Leg, 14/9/99
By Martin Blanc
Everyone knows Peter Kennedy only has a left leg. The other one's just for
show, he never actually uses it, but it's good to have around, you know?
Seems he just plain left it at home this evening. So he fell over a lot.
Peter's one-sidedness is not a secret. On the other hand, did we know
before tonight that Des Lyttle's limb of choice is...well, neither in fact.
Especially not for crosses. Okay, probably did. How about Nicky Wright?
Which one does he favour? Well, doesn't matter if you're from Wigan - slide
in and viciously take out both of them, why don't you. Steve Palmer? First
leg, slow. Second leg, be with you in a minute or two. Robbo? Missed
everyone's ankles no matter which he led with. Ngonge? He's got about
fifteen legs once he's built up steam, but none of them were contactable
this evening, not if you were the ball....
And so on. It was an awful night, let's get to the point. It was drizzling,
it was empty, it was ten pounds to get in. (And twenty to get out, we
reckoned at half time.) Could tell from the off no-one wanted to be out
there on the pitch, and that feeling spread to the stands within minutes.
So what if we hadn't scored since the Premiership title race was still in
the balance? We attempted passes of the sodden, slippery ball with the
aplomb of those old farts who kick it back to you in the park to look good
in front of their ladies and it winds up sliced into someone's picnic miles
from where you're standing. Except that there were Wigan players in the way
tonight, to make us look even stupider. Thank goodness they fell over
nearly as frequently as we did, but they had better ideas while they were
upright, which gave the lie to blaming it all on the rain. And they knew
that if you're splitting two legs over a week (ah, that's where the crappy
pun was going...) you have to make the away one count. So we gave them as
much help as we could, and for 45 minutes we were unspeakable. I don't
remember when we last booed the boys off the pitch at half-time. But for
future reference, it was tonight.
In the second half we discovered Clint Easton has a purpose after all. And
anything Clint can do, Micah can replicate. So that was nice. And we
rediscovered that GT can sometimes lift a whole empty stadium just by a
deft substitution - the first sign perhaps of tacitly admitting that
Lyttle's acquisition wasn't his shrewdest? Because Pagey was superb at
right-back, and Palmer seemed so much happier just plodding alongside Mark
Williams. Ah well, it was only a cup-tie; we'll be back at full
stretch...strength this weekend. Damn, you had to shake your head at chants
of "Bring on the Chelsea". Let's hope it doesn't rain then. Otherwise Clint
had better forego his manicure and shampoo and take his well-worn hairdryer
to the pitch itself. Because our ball control will be tested to the max, so
you have to wonder if Tommy Mooney's first day of rest mightn't be upon us.
I know - I'm a heretic. Burn me. But don't say you didn't secretly feel it
yourself. We'll have to be awake from the first whistle, and alert, and
creative, and fast.
Ah, speed. That's why we're all very excited by Wooter's arrival. Though
since GT's spent just under half what he said he was going to on a new
striker, perhaps he's only gone and got yet another one-legged player.
Those we do not need. Least of all this Saturday.