This week was a bit different because we had a mid-week game. We started off the week by training on Sunday, a day earlier than usual because normally we have a game on a Saturday and have Sunday off, but because we had a game on the Friday it meant we had Saturday off and then training on Sunday – hopefully you got that!
We had to report to training at nine for a half past start which wasn’t all that bad because it wasn’t too early. It was a cold Sunday morning and normally I never surface until midday! To be fair I think everyone was still asleep because the standard of our training was shocking – I think pretty much everyone in the team ‘has one’ at some point during the session!
We did a passing drill in a square first and I think we lost quite a few more balls than usual due to stray passes. Then we did possession which was even worse! I had a go at someone for passing a short pass astray when they could have easily passed it to me… then next thing I’ve got the ball and passed one astray myself!
I think it was Sean who I had a go at in the first place and then we both looked at each other and laughed when I made my mistake. It just wasn’t happening and everyone was shocking for some reason. We then did finishing which fortunately was a bit better so in a way we redeemed the session a little bit.
On the Monday we had a double day’s training which was very light and just preparation for Tuesday’s game. In the morning we did our usual throw-catch game which is just like non contact rugby and the first team to three tries wins, for the fifth week in a row my team won! It’s getting too easy for our team now but I’ve probably just jinxed us for next weeks throw-catch tie.
After that we did a passing drill for ten minutes or so just to work our touches and technique, and then we did our defensive set pieces, just to get us in to the right positions so that it’ll be alright on the night and we’re well organised.
We then had lunch and in the afternoon practised our offensive set pieces and we all also got to practice taking penalties in case that happens on Tuesday night. I took my penalty and missed, it was a shocking penalty so fortunately I got another chance to practice and put it in the opposite corner and scored.
As long as it goes in the net in a match is the most important part, you could miss a hundred penalties in training – it’s the match that counts. After training I went home and rested up in bed for most of the evening watching DVD’s – got my romantic comedies off the shelf!
On Tuesday it was match day, in the morning we went for a walk down the River Trent just to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. We trained a double day yesterday so there was no need to train in the morning because everything had been covered the day before. After that we came back and had lunch which was at about 12 o’clock.
Once we’d had lunch most lads went back to the digs to rest and I went back as well to watch a film to kill time off. We watched a film called Superbad which had all of us lads in the living room in stitches, every time we watch it, it gets funnier. I then went home and got around an hour’s worth of kip which refreshed me. I then had some beans on toast like usual around two and a half hours before the game to let it digest and then went to report at the ground for 5.45.
Match: Nottingham Forest v West Ham United
The atmosphere in the changing room was quite relaxed, compared to last years dressing room which was pretty tense and quiet. We got ready for the game and prepared like usual getting kit on and what not with the music on – some absolute disgraceful choices by the DJ who’s name remains anonymous!
We went out and warmed up doing our dynamics and keep-ball session etc… We came back in and then our coach gave us a few words on tactics and encouragement and we went out to the tunnel ready for the game. In the tunnel the atmosphere was buzzing, the sort of tunnel you want to be in, both teams shouting on their team trying to out do each other.
For the first ten minutes of the game West Ham played the ball very quickly and were really well organised. They passed the ball well putting us on the backfoot and at this point I was thinking that this could be a long night. We then got what we needed which was a goal. We had a corner and one of their players headed it out, only for Kezza to hit an absolute worldy from about 30 yards on the half-volley which he couldn’t have hit sweeter and it went under the keeper.
That goal just gave so much more confidence to our play we were running at them and really attacking them without fear. We kept winning corners and making chances whilst defending really hard as a team when they attacked us. We went in at half time 1 – 0 up in what was a fairly even game, our coach told us that basically the game was in our hands and with 45 minutes left it was down to us to see it out and maybe get another goal as well.
My calf felt surprisingly tight as we walked out to the game, I was thinking surely I can’t be cramping up after only 45 minutes? In the second half it was still pretty even, we attacked them then they attacked us. We defended incredibly well as a unit and that resulted in them shooting from distance most of the time. After around an hour we got another break through when Nialle got to the by-line and crossed in towards the front post, I managed to check back behind my defender and head the ball past the keeper at his near post.
I ran off to celebrate with the team and at this point really thought that it was going to be our night with a two goal lead. That wasn’t the case…. with about quarter of an hour to go they got a flick on and their striker lobbed our keeper. I was thinking oh no… here we go again this will be a tense end to the game.
However, another twist in the game happened literally a minute or two later, a long ball forward went to their defender and Rodders pressured him which resulted in him miss placing a pass that I latched on to. I then took a big touch past the defender so if he tried to tackle me he’d of fouled me and got sent off because he was off balance, the keeper then came out and I slotted it under him. I was so relieved that we’d got another, I didn’t want the game to go to extra time because my legs were in bits, cramp in just about every muscle.
We held out to win 3 – 1 and progress through to the next round which was such a great feeling. I felt in a way that in beating West Ham this year kind of made up for losing to Walsall last year because that defeat last year has never left me, the disappointment I felt that day was horrible and it must be what the West Ham lads were feeling now.
On Wednesday most lads were stiff as anything and we were all talking about the game on Tuesday, we had education during the morning doing some First Aid work with a man who had come in to teach us. That was for three hours straight and it was a struggle to stay awake, not because it was boring, but because we were all shattered.
Some lads did their coaching that afternoon and I went to watch for a bit, but I didn’t feel too good and went home. All that night I was up feeling rough as anything – heavy chest, blocked nose, stomach ache, head ache… all symptoms of man flu! I was up from 4 in the morning on Thursday and knew straight away I wasn’t going to be able to train because even if I did I would have been awful and made myself even more ill.
I went in at 8 o’clock and explained to the physio’s what was up and they sent me home and said they’d contact me with arrangements to see the doc. I went home and still couldn’t sleep, then got a phone call to see the doctor. The doc told me to have a few days off to recover because if I tried to carry on I would only make myself worse. I was told to report in on the Monday if I was fit enough. I had to get used to watching Jeremy Kyle and day time TV again for the next few days!