Looking after parents during Covid, only 3000 miles a year in the car, kids sleeping in the back, Alton, Farnborough, dad has a steam train. 12 carriage trains into Waterloo, early shifts, no one in the office. 5 a side legend, 6 a side, 8 a side on a 6 a side pitch, over zealous social football games with post game stats. Don’t rate Areola. Choose life.
Far from being the opening the 3 minutes of a middle class version of Trainspotting, this is what happens when people attend football and don’t watch the game and just want to natter nonsense all the way through the game, whilst sitting behind me, for the second European home game in a row. As we did a deal to sell seats in a set for all 3 Europa League home games, I assume I have another round of this against Zagreb. What is the point in travelling, I assume about 80 miles for a round trip, to support your team, and then not do it.
Luckily the game made up for it and we now sit 6 points clear at the top of our group, currently laughing all the way to the knockouts.
Dave put out a decent team again with Rice and Soucek in the middle, but swapped around the back a bit , with Areola coming in, and Dawson and Diop filling the centre back positions. Ben Johnson started again, which is a vote of confidence for him with Fredericks on the bench. Antonio wasn’t even in the squad, so Bowen started up top.
Genk had a game plan, which involved playing behind the ball, and hitting long balls to
Lebron James Onuacho or cross field long balls to Ito, to use his pace against Cresswell. The latter seemed to be the better option, as Ito was lively all night long, and Cresswell nearly got caught once or twice. Onuacho however, was terrible. I’m sure he’s a threat from corners, but general skill seemed to be lacking. The plan was also a shame as when they had the ball they seemed quite comfortable with it, and their passing was tidy. I suppose as we pose more of threat these days we will have to get used to teams shutting up shop. Areola had one piece of work to do, when one long ball got though the back line and he had to be quick off his line to snuff it out. Would Fab have been that quick off the line ….. ?
We huffed and puffed our way through the first half. Vlasic was trying way too hard, and it showed. Missed passes, running into corners and general poor play as a product of trying to do everything at 100 miles an hour. We had several chances but once again a centre back came to the rescue in the shape of Dawson bundling one in just before half time (as predicted by Aussie, whose company was great as usual) .
The second half was one way traffic, and the Dawson’s younger partner at the back, Mr Diop, headed a great goal from a Cresswell free kick, to put us 2 up. By this time I was of the opinion that maybe the Bowen experiment wasn’t working, mainly due to us not taking opportunities down the middle and choosing to go wide most of the time (Vlasic). I would have popped on Benrahma for Bowen, and pushed Yarma up top. Bowen responded to this slander by weaving through their defence and popping in one to go 3 up. Rice departs for Noble, Cresswell for Fredericks, and it’s game over, with the exception of young Daniel Chesters getting a very late run out for his debut.
In reflection, Soucek was quiet, but with respect, the opposition wasn’t at his level, so maybe tidy is a more apt description. Rice was again fantastic. Yarma again in Europe showed his quality. MOTM for me, was Bowen, for not giving up against some big lads at the back and proving me wrong.
After the shambles against Vienna, shout out the Genk fans, saw a few outside who seemed to be enjoying the hospitality, and inside they made some noise without launching shit everywhere. Although their area did look like they had been packed in by an over zealous Amazon parcel packer.
So, the Totts on Sunday. Should be fun