Well, it’s football but not as we know it! After a dominant but toothless display from Chelsea, Isaac Hayden scored an injury time winner to hand Bruce’s battlers an unlikely 3 points – sending us 7 points clear of the drop zone.
How on earth have we pulled that one off?!? Brilliant, brilliant defending, an inch-perfect cross from Allan Saint Maximin and a bit of luck. Get in!!!
After a horrendous festive period, which features bad results, poor performances and no end of injury issues, the last week has got us right back on track. A gutsy point at Wolves that stopped the rot, a convincing win against Rochdale and an unlikely win against a Chelsea side who’ll be sick to their collective stomach to have lost that game.
There was a buzz of excitement before the game at the return of Allan Saint Maximin to the line up, but to honest the first half wasn’t much to write home about at all.
As expected Chelsea had so much of the ball, we couldn’t string 3 passes together and of course we suffered an injury after just 15 minutes. Jetro Willems seemed to clash knees with Callum Hudson-Odoi in what was a fairly innocuous looking challenge but Willems reaction was one of a serious injury. He left the pitch on a stretcher, head in hands and at the time of writing this there is no further news as to how badly the Dutchman is hurt. Here’s hoping it isn’t too serious.
Chelsea’s dominance down their right hand side was a little surprising considering how exposed Emil Krafth was when Almiron tucked in from the right to try and influence the game from a more central position.
There were fleeting moments of promise from us. Joelinton crashed a header off the bar after a great ball in from Fernandez and, after some great footwork, Allan Saint Maximin hit a long range effort that was so wild it nearly cleared the stands. There was an onslaught from Chelsea at the end of the half but overall we defended manfully. Despite Dubravka having to make a couple of saves – including one good stop with his feet to deny Kante – it was 0-0 at the break without any real scares.
The second half was more of the same to be honest. Ciaran Clark made several excellent tackles, Lascelles and Fernandez were outstanding and the pretty awful Krafth was finally put out of his (and my) misery on 71 mins, with Hayden switching to RWB and Sean Longstaff coming on to try and give us a foothold in midfield.
As in the first half though – despite the excellence of our defence – and all the sweat and toil, our front three were largely anonymous. This was possible ASM’s quietest game to date in a black and white shirt, and while Joelinton won a few headers and battled away, he didn’t threaten. Then his chance came, but he skewed a volley horribly wide on 88 minutes after the Longstaff boys had started a nice move and ASM had brought down a nice ball from Almiron. After that it felt like we’d have to settle for a 0-0 at best – but you can never write these lads off!
Joelinton chased down a seemingly lost cause in the 94th minute to force a corner. Matt Ritchie’s first effort was very poor but the clearance fell to Allan Saint Maximin, who whipped an incredible ball back into the box, and Hayden pounced.
What a 3 points!
We move up to 29 points and 7 clear of the bottom three after a great day of results for Newcastle United.
Up next, an improving Everton at Goodison but, we don’t need to worry about them. Another decent result is a real possibility.