We really underestimated our opponents and we were lucky to steal this win from Wolves. Tom Boyle scored an early penalty and that turned out to be the only goal scored in the game. I saw that we were struggling to maintain possession even early in the match so we played a lot more defensively than I had originally planned. As expected we gave up nearly 60% possession and a lot of shots on goal, but our defense stood tall and kept a clean sheet for a critical win.
Europa League qualification – 18
Avoid relegation – 9
After a tough road win in our last game, we came home to a soggy pitch and a scrappy Norwich team. Actually, these guys looked like they wanted to pick a fight with all the fouls they ended up committing over the course of the match. All total, Norwich was whistled for 17 fouls and 2 yellow cards as they looked to bully us off the pitch. This style of play was exactly what Norwich wanted and this game was deadlocked at zero for most of the match. We nearly gave away a penalty in the 70th minute but I suppose the refs threw us a bone after watching us getting manhandled all game. As we headed deep into injury time I was content to get out of the game with a draw and no injuries, but Stephen Ireland had other plans. Having come on 10 minutes prior, Ireland’s fresh legs let him beat a sluggish defender in the dying minutes. This is why we brought on a veteran like him – to calmly win a tight game that our young team might otherwise not win.
Europa League qualification – 13
Avoid relegation – 3
After exchanging some friendly barbs against the opposing coach, we took to the pitch for this rivalry game and the players made me proud. We only took 6 shots, but we put 2 on target and both of those were goals. On the flipside, we allowed 17 shots but only 4 on target and maintained a clean sheet! After a scoreless draw at halftime, Fran O’Connor stole the show. He slotted home a great through ball just before the hour mark for the opening goal, then bagged his brace late with a long range effort just before injury time.
This win guarantees that we will not be relegated this season, meaning we accomplished our biggest goal this year! Now the focus turns to holding onto 7th place and booking a ticket to the Europa League next year!
Europa League qualification – 8
Well, the streak had to end eventually. I didn’t even realize it, but we went on a nice little 4 game winning streak across all competitions just now! Arsenal woke us up from that dream with a 1-5 thumping. Once again, the top teams show their strength. Most times we can give up tons of possession and shot attempts and still steal a win. Top quality teams like Arsenal make you pay by converting those shots into goals scored. We’ll get one more shot against Arsenal in the FA Cup final and hopefully the result will be a little more respectable!
Europa League qualification – 3
With Everton facing relegation, they certainly came out inspired in this game. We got caught flat-footed to start the match and Phil Jagielka made us pay with a header less than 60 seconds into the match! Fran O’Connor restored order with a 20th minute strike and we went into halftime all even at 1. The second half was a snoozer, with Everton’s best offensive efforts not amounting to much and our counter attempts not amounting to much either. The game ended in a bore draw that sends Everton down to the Championship. Meanwhile, our quest to clinch a bid to the Europa League is on hold because Blackburn notched a win. With two games to go, we still need 3 points to guarantee a berth.
Europa League qualification – 3