‘That’s the best game I’ve seen in a year.’
That was the assessment of my yacht sailing friend (he calls that ‘work’) who took in last night’s 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers alongside me.
It was also the basis of a text message sent to a mutual friend who had endured Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate with Cardiff and decided he’d rather spend the money on a more sure-fire return of pleasure - a meal out.
I’m sure he wasn’t the only one who stayed away, but if you did, you joined him in missing out.
It wasn’t a perfect display by any means, we had to grow in confidence from Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ opener, and I still think we looked vulnerable at the back, leaving far too much space to get at us in the first half, in particular.
But it was definitely a return to the Town I had remained confident were still hiding within their shells.
Of course, one swallow doesn’t make a summer and there will be bigger fish to fry than Neil Lennon’s strugglers. But it was a massive step forward after several back.
Luke Chambers, Brett Pitman and Christophe Berra all stood out for me, but it was Freddie Sears who I felt who was the difference.
Mick McCarthy has been criticised for playing him wide, but when he has pace to burn and good vision, why not get him coming from deep? See last night’s second goal for how effective that can be.
After Saturday’s final whistle another guy next to me, this time at Bury Town, had defiantly declared: ‘that was must-win, that’s the play-offs over’.
I said then I couldn’t have disagreed more.
We’re four points off the top six after last night, ahead of trip to bottom-of-the-table Rotherham on Saturday (3pm) — who have just one win from their seven home games, with four defeats at The New York Stadium. I wonder what Martin thinks now?