The Scenic Route to Wembley
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road to Wembley, it seems, is littered with potholes big enough to hide Tom Huddlestone’s lunchbox in. Another round and another case of being tethered to the docks rather than plain sailing in its bountiful, calm waters.
The good news, of course, is that we’re still in it. Rather less so is that Bolton are too and we’ve got another testing rendezvous to put in our diaries before we can even think about a quarter-final at The Cottage. Or further still.
A replay it is, then.
As will probably be the resounding sound-byte for the campaign, we could’ve done much better. A wobbly cack opening forty-five spent almost exclusively in our own half was followed, to some relief, by one injected with considerably more urgency. As a result, we were treated some sporadic bouts of eye-catching ‘pingy’ football and some decent chances to turn the game on its noggin. Thankfully at least, one was taken courtesy of Jermain Defoe’s rapacious instinct for a bit of space and the quickest route to net as he thumped home a timely equaliser. I don’t know what’s come over our resident goal-smith; years of work on the training ground, refining the art of eye-of-the-needle finishing, seem to have been usurped by means of putting a good old fashioned pair of laces through it. He can generate the power of the cosmos through that right-foot and I genuinely fear for anyone who’s daft enough to get in the way.
A foot like a traction engine.
Elsewhere, there were some familiar plots unfolding. Mainly in the confines of the eighteen-yard box. Just when Gareth Bale had shirked that unwanted jinxed simian off his back, the whole team appear to be under the grips of another. Penalties. England are better than us at penalties. Keane has rolled in a couple, albeit with the conviction of an ME sufferer, but in they’ve gone. A dreadful scuff from Thudd at the weekend- preceded by a run-up reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote scuttling on thin air over a canyon- one to be added to the ever growing list of twelve-yard fumbles we’ve notched up over the course of the season. The aforementioned Bob needed several attempts against Everton in the Carling Cup, Defoe went one better (or worse) against the Toffees and twanged his effort against Howard’s legs before repeating the trick against Leeds. And now Tommy, to the surprise of few, has done likewise.
The right honourable Kaybee dug up some interesting quotes on here earlier, straight from the lips of our fleet-footed Welshman via Global News:
““We don’t practise penalties really and it’s disappointing we missed one but things like that happen.
“Tom was down to take it before the game and he was unlucky. Will we practise them more now? You never know.””
What, not ever?
Seems a trifle odd.
The long and short of it, then, is that we’ve found another means of shooting ourselves in the foot, in the form of no-one in the team being confident taking penalties. While it hasn’t cost us in any kind of terminal sense, (every occasion we’ve missed we’ve drawn rather than lost) it is becoming quite a nuisance. When I hear the ref blow up for a spot-kick I want to feel excited by the prospect, not awash with a sense of deflation that we’d have a better chance scoring direct from a corner.
Still, Spurs are on their way to Wembley…
We’re just taking the scenic route.