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Just give us a kiss to celebrate here today

Wow. The Atheticos were right. David Unsworth IS a football genius.

It turns out my pessimism last week about us ending Chesterfield’s winless run was unfounded. After several games when we’ve not got going until the second half, we took an early lead last Saturday. Did Nuttall ‘not quite get’ on the end of Chapman’s cross, or did he expertly con the defender and deliberately leave it for Green to put away? Given the stick Nuttall’s got recently, I’m going to say it was a brilliant dummy.

Having got an early goal, our defensive Rhinoball tactics were actually justified against a strong attacking Chesterfield team. They had plenty of good chances, and while I’d rather Norman hadn’t been quite so busy, he was superb again. Ollie Banks, bless ‘im, was clearly desperate to score against us, and was unlucky with a curling shot in the second half that nearly went in the top corner. As Unsworth said after the game, though, they could have played for four hours and not got past Norman.

I hope Ollie Banks is OK by the way. A Chesterfield fan tweeted a video of him arguing with their fans after the game, then deleted it; Ollie responded to the tweet saying "No crisis", then deleted his account. Poor Ollie. I hope he had a nice Sunday chilling. Maybe having a few cans on a train with his dad.

A hard-fought win was ground out, and the best supporters in the country and the best football club owner in the country paid tribute to each other at full time. Lovely stuff.

(Did everyone see Frank’s visit to the Tommyfield market on Monday on Twitter by the way? You don’t get that from Ryan Reynolds, do you?)

Unsworth was keen to praise the travelling support after the match – “before I say anything can I just say thank you to all those fans”. He was visibly relieved, and spoke about how pleased he was with the defensive disciplined performance. He rightly singled out Norman, saying that he’s the best keeper in the league – “I didn’t tell him that before he signed his new contract!” Devarn Green talked about how they went into the game with no fear, and they didn’t want to sit back too much. Exactly what we wanted to hear after the Gateshead game, and exactly the right response, something which Norman acknowledged – “we needed a response at half time on Tuesday”. Well, quite.

I’ll be honest, I’d have happily taken a draw at Barnet. After the debacle at Gateshead, four points from two tough away trips against promotion-chasing teams would have been perfectly adequate, even good, work. But the team that turned up at Barnet were not settling for adequate or good. We came out flying, attacking from the kick off, and took an even earlier lead with Kitching putting away Chapman’s corner – although our media team thought the corner went straight in, to Kitching’s justified annoyance. It was a really good open game, with both teams having chances. Conceding just before half-time is always a sickener, and while Kanu shouldn’t have had the space he had in the box, it was a good finish. Experience suggested that might have been a devastating blow, but thankfully, better was to come in the second half.

Unsworth once again tweaked it at half-time, and brought on Fondop and Reid and switched to two up front, much to everyone’s delight. It proved to be a masterstroke, and we retook the lead an hour into the game after Reid bravely took out the Barnet keeper with his face, setting up Fondop for a great finish. The Barnet commentators hilariously thought we should have been punished for our player being down with a head injury, which only made it sweeter. Fondop looked like he’d got a second with a great header, but it was given offside.

The crucial turning point in the game came when Barnet were awarded a penalty for handball. It would have been gutting if they’d equalised again, and it would have been asking a lot for the players to try a push for a winner having lost the lead twice. But we all knew that wasn’t to happen, because we’ve got the best keeper in the league. We all knew that he was going to pull off a great save. And he did. Again.


(Seriously. Darren. Norman as Gandalf on a t-shirt. It’s a licence to print money, mate.)

The icing on the cake was Clarke being brought on to strengthen the defence and switch to 5 at the back, only for him to score in injury time. Or did he? His shot was definitely on target, but would the keeper have saved it if it hadn’t taken a deflection off Reid’s arse? If Reid wants to fight him to claim the goal, he’s welcome to, but I wouldn’t recommend it, son. 6 points on the road in 4 days, and the players and coaches were all quite rightly ecstatic.

Unsworth once again paid tribute to Norman, once again claimed that winning by 5 goals wouldn’t have flattered us, and once again thanked the fans – “eventually, thankfully, we’re giving them something to shout about”. It’s so much nicer after a game when we all like each other, isn’t it?

Can we make it three in a row today? It'd be lovely if we did. It won't be a disaster if we don't. Imagine the atmosphere if we do, though. We might start looking at the top half of the table for the first time in about 15 years. KTMFF.

Written by Arlene Finnigan. Photos © Eddie Garvey.



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