Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hail the hitman

Doncaster Rovers 0 - 1 Newcastle Utd

Well, well, well. I never had Bigger Lad down as a closet thesp, but our errant leading man seems to have found time in his busy schedule of (allegedly) battering all and sundry to read and memorise the script, and then pop up right on cue.

Already up on an assault charge and now potentially in hot water for a tete-a-tete with teammate and fellow Geordie Steven Taylor which left the latter nursing a broken jaw, Bigger Lad appears to have interpreted his job title of "striker" rather too literally. But at least he remains mindful of his on-pitch responsibilities, tonight's winner against Doncaster his tenth goal in eleven games and his fifth in successive away games. C'mon Andy, make up your mind - do you want to derail our season, or don't you?

Bigger Lad was an important presence throughout a game which saw Chris Hughton make three changes from the side that salvaged a point in swashbuckling style at Bristol City on Saturday. One Size was ruled out through injury, while Jose Enrique dropped to the bench (Hughton presumably cautious to ease our one natural first-team left-back back into action). Tamas Kadar and Ryan Taylor came in and Danny Simpson switched flanks. There was a change in formation too as Hughton, wary of Donny's quality on the ball, plumped for an additional defensive midfielder in the form of Nicky Butt ahead of Leon Best.

We began reasonably well but as the half progressed Sean O'Driscoll's play-off chasing side started to get into their stride. Old boy James Coppinger may have been nowhere to be seen, thankfully, but ex-Mackem Martin Woods was causing us problems, no doubt keen to make amends for the missed penalty on Tyneside that cost his team at least a share of the spoils.

Having benefited from a weekend off due to the terms of his loan deal preventing him from facing parent club Sheffield Utd, the hosts' Billy Sharp lived up to his name, forcing Steve Harper into a smart save - and then didn't, fluffing an easier opportunity from closer in.

Sharp and Bigger Lad have a few things in common - being their respective clubs' top scorers, misusing their fists - and the latter seemed to draw inspiration from his opposite number, testing the reflexes of pensionable 'keeper Neil Sullivan in the Doncaster goal.

The all-important breakthrough came just before the hour mark. Wayne Routledge darted down the right wing (Spidermag having reverted to the left following Saturday's full-back-torturing masterclass) and fed Bigger Lad, who fended off a challenge and finished well.

Donny could have been level almost immediately but, when Sharp followed up a rebound, an offside flag came to our rescue. That scare aside, we were relatively comfortable for the rest of the game and indeed could have extended our lead through Bigger Lad and Kevin Nolan.

Fittingly, given the unsavoury backdrop to the match and his previous form away to Doncaster, ASBO seized the opportunity to make his long-awaited/long-dreaded return to first-team action as a replacement for Danny Guthrie. He's just made his latest penitent profession of wanting to be "a good man" and to repay the fans, but presumably he's disappointed in Bigger Lad for breaking his fist rather than choosing to maim Taylor with a big fat lit Cuban, and will therefore be intensifying his behind-the-scenes coaching.

As the Viva Rovers match preview - which was good enough to recommend this 'ere site - pointed out, the biggest threat to our bid for automatic promotion now is ourselves. Self-implosion, abject failure, public humiliation - all are never too far away. But tonight's three points - which took us five clear of the Baggies and maintained the ten-point advantage over Forest - do at least mean that we're guaranteed a play-off position at worst, and at the start of the season that would have been perceived as success.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:14 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hilarious! I'm tempted to go light a big fat Cuban but they're not available in the U.S. Howay the lads!

2:20 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

10 goals in 11 games, I'll gladly lend my jaw to the cause if he'll keep up the pace ;-)

We just need to keep our eyes on the prize. As I'm figuring, we're 12pts (Newcastle winning them or Forrest loosing them) from a guaranteed promotion and 20pts from winning the Championship.

5:19 pm  
Blogger Michael R said...

Call me a pessimist but I thought the latest Bigger Lad exploit would be our undoing but I look to be wrong.

If we keep this form up it will be a welcome season of success after many years of, well, non-success.

Maybe dropping into the championship was a good thing after all?

5:59 pm  

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