Sunday, 24 February 2008

Match 16 - Bristol City

The worst possible situation for me this week. Work prevented me from getting to the match and I was away at Milton Keynes. Bad luck or bad organisation? Fortunately my son did get there, and kept me up to date with major events by text. The first thing worth reporting was the half-time score of 0-0, followed by the sad news that the ‘Over the Wall’ board fell over while (bored?) waiting for a lengthy penalty competition to complete. In the end it seems the Wall wasn’t needed since there’s only so much time available between the halves for such riveting entertainment. That’s down to bad organisation again.

In the second half I was in my car and heading back home and the news on Radio 5 Live was that the U’s had taken the lead. This was followed within about 20 seconds by a ‘bleep!’ on my mobile to tell me a text message had arrived. I couldn’t stop to read it at this moment, but a minute later … ‘bleep!’… another text had arrived.

It didn’t need a brain surgeon to realise that probably meant there had been another goal, but who had scored it? I have to confess to a bit of pessimism here and it’s been true of the U’s this season that we are extremely vulnerable immediately after we have scored a goal. Today was no different and the BBC soon confirmed the fact that the scores were level. I got stuck in traffic for a few moments at this stage and managed to retrieve the two text messages from my son to further confirm the position. The first described in detail what had happened, while the second just said ‘1-1’.

I guess the scores were equal now between the BBC and my son in their efforts to get the news of Layer Road goals to me first. For the next five minutes I was anticipating a further update at any moment and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a bleep! or the BBC that took the honours.

I didn’t have to wait long before the radio commentary reported, “… and now back to Simon Mann at Layer Road …” ‘bleep!’ “… and Bristol City have taken the lead.” The text message was as short as the previous one – ‘1-2’ and that’s the last I heard from my son.

The BBC did return to Layer Road a few times and raised my hopes of a redemption but there were no accompanying ‘bleeps’ from the mobile to lift my hopes. As I neared the Essex border I was able to get BBC Essex on my car radio and listen to the post-match-analysis and interviews. I think Neil Kelly was more disappointed than one of the players he interviewed, and that was also reflected in the response of the manager who confessed to being ‘annoyed’ at the way the players froze after taking the lead.

We can blame it on injuries, we can give credit to Bristol City for their hard work, we can look for any number of excuses, but in the end it probably comes down a simple case of bad organisation in defence.

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