Plenty to say about a needless exit from a competition in which we had the chance to make a serious attempt at winning a trophy. First, Mick Goulding, a regular supplier of astute analysis of SAFC matters at the Blackcats list, explains why he is so angry …
I’m still seething over this. We were the better team, had most of the game, even towards the end of normal time when Villa put us under pressure a bit we never looked in danger.
But we couldn’t score and it had 0-0 written all over it. Then we get a massive break.
Their defender puts his arms up and handles it on the corner of the 18 yard line and we get a penalty for nothing. It’s 84 mins and game over.
Richardson picks it up and looks like he’s taking it, then Jones comes over and looks like he’s asking to take it. He steps up and it’s saved (side-foot to keeper’s left).
Following what Bruce said about the last time, I can’t believe we didn’t have this sorted beforehand. As soon as I saw them discussing it, I knew we’d miss. You don’t mess about with penalties. You have a named taker (Bent not playing, it’s a cup-tie which will be decided on pens, so you have to plan) and the named taker gets the ball and focuses. Everybody else – keep out of it. Anyone coming up and discussing it should be told to —- off.
During extra-time we have a breakaway. Richardson picks it up on the halfway line with Malbranque alongside. No defenders in front of them and they take off up the field, running side-by-side with Richardson controlling the ball. It’s two-on-one with the keeper, who doesn’t come out of his box.
There are several options: take it right up to the keeper and slip it past him, dribble round him, take it right up to him then pass sideways to Malbranque for a tap-in. He takes the worst possible option and decides to shoot while still 6-8 yards from the keeper and hits it straight at him. That was another game-over moment and after this one we all know we’re going to lose on pens.
I can understand Bruce taking the positives from the game, because that’s his job. My job is to be angry and totally pissed off. I’d rather lose 3-0 than go out like this. We had nothing to fear from a team allegedly better than us and we had a quarter-final place booked. But the useless twats blew it when it counted.
But…on the positive side: this was a full-strength Villa team and we were better than them while we weren’t full strength. We defended magnificently. Turner was my MOM and won everything.
Noz had a couple of traditional Noz moments, but was steady overall. Da Silva was class and professional and never in danger (although playing 2 hours must have completely shagged him). Gordon had very little to do but made one great save blocking a one-on-one. Ferdinand replaced McCartney and did a better job than him. Cana was coolness personified and controlled midfield.
On the negative side: Campbell was on the wing and after a lively 10 mins did nowt. Jones was up front on his own and won nowt all night with Dunne and Collins eating him up without raising sweat. Murphy was on the wing and when he touched the ball on 20 mins I realised I’d forgotten he was there. Even by his own remarkable standards of transparency he was invisible. He set a new all-time low for non-participation. (Actually, this could be moved into the positive column, cos he might never play again.) Reid and Malbranque both came on and were rubbish.
On this showing, and with Bent back, we should blow West Ham out of the water, but it will be interesting to see how they react, and who turns up. Sorry for the length, but I’ve had a terrible night and had to get this off my chest.