With an ever suffocating stench of misery thickening around our nostrils, Thomas and I gasped for some much needed fresh air, courtesy of a trip to see our Barclays under-21 Premier league team.
We lost 1-0 to the Albion.
But don’t let that get you down. It was an enjoyable evening all round, with one or two highlights to report.
The low key affair featured lots of pressing, hassling and harrying via a 4-4-2 formation that the onlooking Dean Saunders is well used to.
Steve Weaver’s bald pate shimmered under the floodlights way more than anything in the gold and black during the first half, with percentage football the order of the day.
The back two of Tank and Ihiekwe looked solid, with the latter looking marginally more athletic and mobile.
Being starved of any pace for any game I’ve seen this season, my watching brief was to pick up on any player with a modicum of speed.
Right back Jordan Cranston appeared to have it when darting back to tackle Albion’s outstanding Kemar Roofe.
Jamie Reckord also looked spritely when moving in the opposite direction.
Liam McAlinden showed a nice turn of pace – and thought – while playing up front beyond Sam Winnall and wasn’t afraid to try a trick. Just a shame he was isolated with Winnall barely featuring.
The second half inevitably went Albion’s way, as they opened us up more and more, via a lively forward line who looked more nimble than ours.
Fittingly, Roofe then scored an absolute snorter to win the game late on, which we never really threatened to get back into thereafter.
For symbolic hope, Stephen Hunt (roughly 15 years too old to qualify for the team?!!) being replaced by Zeli Ismail was the highlight of the night.
One flogged, weary, one paced has-been making way for a spritely, inventive danger-man who immediately induced panic.
Forget the hype, reputation and idle headline in the News of the World all those years ago.
Judging by the naked eye alone, Ismail is more dexterous and deft than anything I’ve seen on the opposing side to Sako this season.
With the likes of Hunt, non-entity Forde and Pennant getting ahead of him at various points, I literally can’t fathom why he’s nowhere near the bench. He should be.
Unlike McAlinden, he has the physique to suggest he’d cope and moreover, he has the inclination to try something different. Bar Sako, when have we ever said that?
Our deadline day star signing Lee Evans wore the number eight shirt and looked comfortable if unspectacular, while Sam Winnall and Whittall looked largely anonymous.
I’d say Ihiekwe (along with Zeli) and Reckord would be plausible candidates for progression which, in the current economic climate, might be sooner than they think!