January was a mixture of the sublime, the utterly pathetic and the rather fortunate.
It all began with the F.A. Cup third round tie at home to Sheffield Wednesday. We played excellently, only to find ourselves 1-0 down. But an immediate response from the re-start sent us all into ecstasy. Johnson and Hyde combined to set up Peter Kennedy who sent a twenty yard shot past the despairing Pressman. Di Canio was marked out the game by Gibbs (who was BSaD's man of the match) and everyone put in a display to warrant a better result. But a draw it was and a trip to Hillsborough beckoned for the replay.
I didn't see the game at Burnley and, quite frankly, I'm glad I didn't. By all accounts we were crap and the only thing to come out of it to make us laugh was the fact that Chris Twaddle said something along the lines of "Well, we lost 1-0 to them at their place and we won 2-0 at home so we won 2-1 on aggregate". What a twat.
The replay in Sheffield was a great day out. It could have been so much better had we taken the opportunity given to us by the sending off of Di Canio. He shouted at a linesman after he had clearly given away a throw-in and was booked. He then complained to the ref, right in his face with arms flying all over the place and was promptly sent off. Kevin Keegan (twat Mk II) had the audacity to say that he should not have been sent off as he was Italian and that the ref should have taken this into account. Separated at birth, Kevin Keegan and Chris Twaddle.
Could we use this bit of good luck to out advantage? Well, not quite. The first ninety minutes was distinctly lacking in chances and the game only livened up in extra time. Lee hit the crossbar and Thomas had a shot just over from inside the box. But in the end it came down to penalties. We lost them of course; Micah Hyde missing the vital one. But we'd done ourselves proud and nearly produced a great upset.
Preston at home was a return to form in the league. Not only did we win but we played well too. Two goals from Kennedy and one from Hyde set up a 3-1 win and everyone was starting to forget that Rocket Ron was unlikely to be back until the end of the season.
Brentford away. Hmmm. If you are going to win promotion then these are the games that do it for you. We should have lost.... heavily. But somehow we didn't. We opened the scoring after seven minutes through Mooney. At the time we hadn't a clue who had scored. Then someone had the bright idea (I think it was Pete) of chanting "Hands up if you scored a goal". Super Tom duly obliged and there was a great big cheer and round of applause.
From then on we seemed to.... well... lose our way a little. Brentford were on top and it came as no surprise when they levelled after twenty-one minutes. But it didn't stop there. Brentford continued to apply the pressure well into the second half. It wasn't a question of if they were going to score another, more a question of when. But for some reason it didn't come and we snatched the most unlikely winner you could imagine.
Hyde made some progress towards the edge of the box and slipped the ball to Johnson. He hit a first time shot into the bottom corner and sent us all wild on the terraces. I think it was more disbelief than anything else.
In the end we held on quite well considering. The last twenty minutes didn't provide us with any moments of particular worry. But that was understandable. Brentford had given their all. Had deserved to be winning, but the goal just took the wind out of their proverbial sails and we'd engineered another improbably victory.
Chesterfield was one of those dream days. The WIFC team played Derby in the morning. They are a good side and I said before the game that a draw would be a good result. We won 8-1. The afternoon saw the Horns without any creative players. Slater, Kennedy, Bazeley and Rosenthal were all missing because of injury. A game that was strolling slowly to a 0-0 draw suddenly was woken up by a bit of magic from Gifton Noel-Williams, who had just come on as sub. A section from Ig's report of the game nicely sums it up:
"As he collected a pass with no support, there seemed to be nowhere for Gifton to go - yet suddenly he was side-stepping the goalkeeper's lunge like a matador, biding his time as defenders panicked and flicking the ball into an empty net with the outside of his boot. Wonderful, wonderful goal."
We'd done it again. For the second game in a row, we had got an unlikely victory. But luck runs out eventually....
Best moments: The Sheffield Wednesday cup tie (both games). Johno and Gifton's winners when it seemed so unlikely we could win either game.
Worst moments: Hyde missing that penalty. And Burnley away... if I had gone.
Funniest moment: "Hands up if you scored a goal". Di Canio.
Twats of the Month: Kevin Keegan and Chris Twaddle.... for those unforgettable comments.