Marcus Braddock looks back at Sunday's Emirates FA Cup game
After last night I'm still a little stunned, putting it all into words seems a bit daunting. It was a night of high and conflicting emotions, changing by the second. I felt hope, excitement, anxiety, disappointment, more hope, more disappointment, empathy, hope again, surprise, hope, disbelief, hope, joy, vindication, satisfaction, excitement and contentment rolled in when the car heater kicked in. At the end of it all, I stood with a chap I sit close to and surveyed the surrounding scene. Once we'd expressed our disbelief in a number of ways, we shook our heads disbelievingly and went our separate ways. My jaw ached from the amount of smiling I was getting through, every face I saw was a smiling one as I chatted to people I've never met as if we were old friends.
We'd all been through something unbelievable together under the floodlights, en masse we all realized that our team wasn't going to let this happen and we responded. The first goal was a touch of class from a rising star but it was a punch to the gut, just as we looked to be getting a handle on things. Undaunted we pressed on and arguably had the better chances through the rest of the half.
I'd only just sat back down and we were two down, I'm not going to heap any more on to the poor lad, these things happen. What I had to respect was the way he dealt with it, almost every time I see an own goal, the scorer hides their face, he didn't, faced it head-on and got on with his game.
There were man of the match possibilities throughout the team with Max O'Leary and Josh Lauren impressing in particular. But it was another game that saw the final piece of the jigsaw arrive from the bench. Dave Edwards had already been drafted in when Ollie Norburn took a knock but it was Jason Cummings who seized the moment and sent us all into raptures of euphoria.
The fans coming on the pitch afterwards gave it that proper, old school F.A. Cup feel and the silliness over by the Match of the Day studio was good fun to watch at the time and then a couple of times later. Jason Cummings on Match of the Day was the icing on the cake, he's not even fully fit and he's grabbed the headlines with a swagger and a quick wit! I only hope it can act as a catalyst for the rest of the season and a respectable finish in the top ten or even higher.
The replay doesn't look like it's going to be nearly as much fun as it could have been with Mr Klopp withdrawing his millionaires for a holiday. To be fair, it was a pre-arranged break and I'm broadly supportive of a break of some sort. But just like VAR, it seems to have been put in to place with no real planning for the implications lower down the leagues or in the cup competitions. Lower league clubs are generally the poorest in the competition and yet it seems to be our teams that suffer when the wealthier teams decide to change something. We worked hard for that replay and now it feels like we're getting a little short-changed with the Liverpool manager not even planning to turn up.
However, maybe it gives us a chance of progressing although it will be interesting to see Mr Klopp's reaction to whoever we get in the draw. I thought he'd been pretty complimentary about us throughout the pre and post-match but like most managers, he was more interested in the failings of his own team. I suppose he could have put out a stronger team last night and maybe they would have won but I guess he under estimated us.
The coming week sees us away from home on Wednesday and Saturday, with twin the delights of Gillingham and Rochdale in that order. The Gills are a couple of positions ahead of us in Skybet League One but we do have a couple of games in hand, so a positive result would be very handy right about now. They're on a run of nine unbeaten games in the league (6 draws, 3 wins) but haven't won since December 29th when they beat Saturday's opponents Rochdale 1-0. Dale drew 2-2 at Gillingham on Saturday afternoon, their only draw in their last 10 league games. They've also recorded six defeats and three wins in their last ten games.
Before all of that though, we're in the draw for the cup tonight, yes we have Liverpool to beat but I believe we can do that.