Rovers knocked out of FA Cup
On Wednesday 8th February we played Middlesbrough in the FA Cup 4th Round Replay. Steele was back from his suspension and he played as well as ever, but Wisdom and Henley are still injured so we were still forced to use our makeshift defence. And to make matter worse, Flanagan is having a mysterious dip in form. The end-result was that we let Middlesbrough escape in dramatic fashion - again! And this time, for good..
While our defence seems rather shaky without Wisdom and Henley, the rest of the team have more or less been making up for it these last few matches. And this time it seemed to be no different. We took the lead when Grimes passed the ball to Eliott Bennett in the area and Bennett lost his man, struck the ball with fury and found the back of the net!!
We had the opportunity to double the score but when we failed to do so, Chapman scored the equaliser at what was the worst possible moment for us, just before half-time.
The second half was almost a mirror-image copy of the first half. We were the attacking team and we created chances and it was Lens who eventually scored his tenth goal in 29 appearances from a free-kick from some 20 yards out! So with ten minutes remaining you might say that we had them by the throat, just like we had the first time!
But once more we let them escape! And once more it was De Roon who scored the late equaliser.
So the game went to extra time and reluctantly we brought on Mulgrew and Williams for Flanagan and Aké but it was all to no avail and the match went to penalties.
The rest is history. Lens took the first penalty and Guzan made the save; and Grimes put the ball over the bar while none of the Middlesbrough players failed from the spot.
A frustrating day! Once more our normally so solid defence looked shaky without Klavan and Henley.
Meanwhile, Cani did indeed sign a contract with West Brom. Because he is on loan until the end of the season he will stay with the club until May, of course.
Now both Flanagan and Aké have been banned for one English match after collecting five yellow cards each. Wisdom might be back from his injury just in time for the home match against Newcastle, though.
Tough one to take when you had them beaten in both games. Suspensions and injuries starting to take their toll, so maybe exiting the cup might help players recover.
I don't think Arse-end will be a huge loss. He is a bit-part player and atleast you have him until the end of the season.
The artist formally known as The Eejit
Ah, bad luck I'll take Premiership survival over an FA Cup run for this season though
Superb Rovers defeat Mighty Magpies again!
On Saturday 11th February we played Newcastle United with their remarkable squad in front of a faithful crowd of 32,800 and for the second time this season we played above our collective ability and defeated the Mighty Magpies!
Wisdom is finally back from his injury, but Flanagan and Aké are now both banned and Henley is still injured, so Mulgrew started out as left defender and Wisdom as right defender while Nyambe replaced Aké as central defender, alongside Klavan.
And we had a horrible start when Ameobi struck the ball with fury and Steele got behind the shot but could not keep hold of the wet ball so that Ness was left with a simple finish: 0-1 after less than two minutes!
After that quick opening goal Newcastle dropped the pace a little. And they paid the price for it. Lens was denied a great goal by Sels who saved well and held the ball. Sels also got his fingertips to the ball when Lowe smashed it in a couple of minutes later. There were two shots on goal by Mitrovic as well, but Steele showed safe hands and frankly, we had the best scoring opportunities and we finally did find the net when NYambe sent the ball into the area for Akpan; David Luiz made a good sliding challenge on Akpan but Grimes picked up on the loose ball, struck it with fury and scored!!
With the enthusiastic support of the home crowd we remained in control of the match in the second half and it was Akpan this time who skipped by the challenge of Jenkinson and blasted the ball towards the top corner and into the back of the net!! Newcastle were on the ropes and ready for the slaughter now and seven minutes later Bennett scored our third goal with the assist coming from Jeremain Lens!
Unfortunately Marshall had to go off injured after picking up a knock, but we have a long break after this match and nobody in the crowd worried about an injury to-day. Cani replaced Marshall but he was invisible. However, the three points were in the bag!
With our midfield - and especially Matt Grimes - playing above their level, we humiliated Newcastle who have invested 33.5M in new players after their promotion last year, not forgetting their five Bosman signings! In comparison, we spent only 9.25M after our promotion to the Premier League.
There's a very long international break now and so we won't have any fixtures until 1st March!
At least those two-and-a-half weeks mean that most players should be fit when we finally get to play Stoke City at the Brittania Stadium. And that is good, because in a way this will be yet another six-pointer for us!
Excellent win, that's a healthy 10 point gap from relegation now
Nyambe - Not too convinced he's cut out for this level at the minute.
Not sure if you can make top 10 (8 points from Leicester) but there has to be a chance to get above Newcastle and be the best promotted team. I think you can certainly start planning your squad for next year .... full physio and coach reports on the entire squad to see if there are any weak links.
The artist formally known as The Eejit
Lots of chances created in last 2 games.
Bah about Cup loss but a fine win in league
3 winnable game next up I would say against bottom half teams
Some slump from The Toon.
They were top 7 all season, now they are only three points ahead of you.