Remember remember the 5th of November
November would be rather light in schedule, as the international break meant only 4 games would be played;
Nottingham Forest (home)
Burnley (home- League Cup Quarter Final)
The match at Burton would take place on bonfire night, in what I had identified as a must win match. Burton were in the bottom 3, and I was desperate to do more damage, and push us further away from that dreaded relegation zone. Our strongest line up was sent out with the expectation of getting a result, and it delivered. Winnall on the 2nd minute, a header off the cross bar and in after a Hammill cross.
Mega! A great start, which would only get better 8 minutes later, when a corner routine fell to Scowen on the edge of the box, his resulting shot unable to be stopped by the Burton keeper.
Burton would push us in the second half, grabbing a consolation to shorten our lead, but our 6th win of the season was not to be denied, with our 2-1 win putting us up to 14th.
Bloody Wigan Athletic. As a Stoke supporter, I hated playing Wigan. They seemed to always do us over, and I remember a few years back being 2-0 up, only for Wigan to come back and draw the game at the Britannia. Bloody annoying. It’s with no surprise then that Football Manager Wigan would treat me with the same level of contempt.
Maybe it’s complacency, but 20th placed Wigan against 14th placed Barnsley seemed to be a result I was confident in. We were at home, and Wigan had been bloody awful. But, the gods of football weren’t happy with me, and decided to strike…hard.
4 injuries in 1 day to be precise…
Scowen, the Burton MOTM, back up Kpekawa, Dabo and Janko, all out. Great news.
But, Jay Spearing and Marcus Maddison would be back on the latter on the bench, and Spearing in the team, replacing a suspended Sam Morsy (too many yellows). We could beat Wigan…right?
WRONG. 2-0 on the night, an abysmal display if ever I saw one. Wigan totalled 2 shots on target, both in our net. Adam Le Fondre ruining everything. A plummet to 17th place in the table annoyed me greatly, and I was beginning to worry about our strikers. Sam Winnall is a great player for our level, but often he, and Tom Bradshaw would miss easy chances, the latter especially blighted by injuries had had an awful time of it. I needed them to step up.
Cometh the hour…
What better way to shut up my worrying, than to score a hat trick? But,…not against Forest surely? YES, against Forest. Winnall was on fire, and Forest were terrified as the former Scunthorpe man tore the Nottingham side to shreds at Oakwell. A firm team talk told the players I expect better, and they deliver. A rousing 3-1 on the night, Forest at second best to a rousing Barnsley performance, moving us back to 14th place. We’ve had some good results this season, but Leeds United and this…well that’ll take some beating.
Our final match of the month saw us meet Premier League side Burnley in the Quarter Finals of the League Cup. Our cup run had been magnificent, and we had already dispatched great opposition in Derby and West Brom. A victory to set up a place in the semi finals would surely be too much to ask?
Unfortunately, yes. Despite the better chances, it would be Burnley running out 2-1 winners on the night. We’d had a good run, but a decisive penalty in the 86th minute would be the deciding factor. It was sad to go out, but I was still proud in how far we’d got.
We’d tackled a difficult month, and suffered some harsh injuries. Scowen and Janko were a miss, but with December approaching, and winter coming, they were set to return as the fixtures increased yet again, I felt the team could improve in the festive period, and really solidify a position safely away from the relegation dog fight.
Not to mention another South Yorkshire derby in the form of an away trip to Hillsborough…