IT looked like being a miserable week for our fans’ panel until the second-half turnaround at Ashton Gate, when Tom Ince came to the fore and a couple of Pool’s older stagers showed the younger upstarts how it’s done ...
What a week this has been. On Tuesday night, we capitulated against a West Ham team that seemed there for the taking following the keeper going off, but somehow we failed to test Henri Lansbury in goal for 40 minutes, despite him being a small midfielder.
Angela Lansbury could have dealt with what we offered.
Despite all that, as good a following as I’ve seen at Ashton Gate made the trip and backed the team fully for 90 minutes.
There was more than a hint of déjà vu after they took the lead despite us having more of the possession, but eventually we imposed ourselves on the game and came away convincing winners, with inspired substitutions playing a full part as we started to get at them, and cause panic in their defence.
In particular, Brett Ormerod rolled back the years in creating the decisive second goal for Thomas Ince.
I don’t think it’s coincidence we looked so much better on a decent pitch, able to play the passing football to rip City apart, unlike the bobbly home pitch that is doing us no favours.
Hopefully a decent spell of weather will improve it, as we have some massive home games coming up.
Tickets are now available for all the remaining home games, and I’d urge anyone who hasn’t been this season to get back down to Bloomfield Road and to boost the atmosphere.
Men of the match: Kevin Phillips (West Ham), Tom Ince (Bristol City)
I’m normally all for nostalgia and remembering the old days, but last Tuesday was an exception when Blackpool tried to take me back to the days of old when we were despairing in the murky quandaries of the Third Division.
What an awful display against the league leaders – you know you’re not having a good game when you concede a further two goals against a team with 10 men and no goalkeeper!
Thankfully, the players shook the disappointment and Holloway’s raging voice out of their ears and took all three points at the weekend – albeit with another late show.
And without Kevin Phillips’ 12 goals this season, which mostly seem to have come in the last 15 minutes, I dread to think what our league place would be.
While I wouldn’t bet against the ageing striker banging in goals for the next few years, we can’t ignore he’s 38 now.
So while his and Ollie’s convenient arrangement may be working wonders now, this is not a permanent solution.
It feels as though we’re as reliant on him as Arsenal are on Reliant Robin (see what I did there?) van Persie. Come the summer, we need to be delving into the market to see who else we can bring in.
But that’s in the summer; right now we need to work on raising our confidence levels again. Ollie is quite right in saying that our ‘swagger’ has gone, but a couple of good results should change that.
Man of the match: Kevin Phillips (Bristol City)
I think the less said about last Tuesday the better – an absolutely awful night at the office.
Nothing went well, barely any credit can be attributed to anybody and ultimately West Ham were deserving of their three points.
But, we had to move on quickly and put it behind us.
And we did that on Saturday. A bit of a lethargic start in the first half perhaps, but clearly whatever was said at half-time worked.
At least we know this season if we go behind, we don’t need to worry. For me, the double substitution that made the difference.
What we’ve missed with Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s injury is a player giving us work-rate, movement and intelligence going forward.
When Brett Ormerod came on we had that again, and it made a massive difference.
LuaLua too might be one of the most frustrating players around, but his unpredictability can make things happen.
Man of the match goes to Tom Ince, though. He’s looked a little off the boil in recent weeks – as can be expected with young players – but he was much closer to the player we know he can be.
He’s one of a group of players that have the potential to be the future of the club.
It’s good to have a midweek off this week. The rest will be much needed and we can look forward to Friday night.
We’re still in good form and we’re capable of beating a good Hull team – as long as we play like we did in the second half at Ashton Gate of course.
Men of the match: Barry Ferguson (West Ham), Tom Ince (Bristol City)
Until the 55th minute of Saturday’s match, it looked like it was going to be a week to forget.
Travelling to Ashton Gate hoping for an immediate response to our beating by West Ham, we struggled to break them down for the whole of the first half and went in behind to a soft goal – a centre-back at this level should not be allowing any striker to turn and shoot as easily as Stead did.
However, the opening part of the second half saw us come to life and after a neatly finished free-kick by Tom Ince we were by far the better team.
It was simply a case of hoping we could find a goal to take the points rather than worrying too much about what might come from Bristol City.
In the end, an excellent cameo from Brett Ormerod helped us to two further goals and three points, which few of us could foresee during the half-time break.
I have tried to erase last Tuesday from my mind, but unfortunately it really was a horror show.
It was a performance with no cohesion, some terrible defending, and one shot on target in the whole 35 minutes they spent with probably the smallest midfielder on their books in nets.
The only positive is that it was a wake-up call for everybody – there is still a long way to go before anything is settled, and we have lost just three league matches since October 29.
Now on Friday night, we have an chance to put the other challengers under pressure for the Saturday by beating Hull.
However, they did give us a very tough opening game in August.
Men of the match: Alex Baptiste (West Ham), Tom Ince (Bristol City)