Billy The Hero
Billy Jones scored twice more to secure a massive win against Hereford this afternoon. Massive.
Amid sensationalised rumours that Gudjon Thordarson was on the verge of quitting due to disagreements with Sir Dario, the Alex players prepared for the biggest game of our season. The day didn't start great in any way, Marlon Broomes being recalled by Blackpool really put a dampener on things.
In Gudjon we trust though, despite Steve Holland's biggest joke (Baudet/O'Donnell/McCready) taking centre stage in defence. Up front was the return of Calvin Zola from whatever his latest injury was this time (strained toe?) whilst Sigurdsson replaced Schumacher in midfield.
The game started slowly for us but from about 10 minutes in onwards the result should never really have been in doubt. As seems to be the trend under Gudjon we took time to come into the game but Donaldson crashing a shot onto the crossbar (maybe via the keeper's hands) seemed to wake us up.
It wasn't completely a one-sided affair, though you could feel we had more of a control on the game than them despite a decent share of possession in the first half.
It was a matter of peppering the Hereford goal and on another day we surely wouldn't have been going into half time with a comfortable lead but woodwork and a cracking goalkeeper were really making it difficult.
Half time was always going to come too soon without a goal but thankfully Gudjon's men came out just as determined in the second half, Danny Woodards hitting a 30 yard shot off the inside of the post.
With pressure mounting on Hereford the goal soon came, 10 minutes into the second half. A helping hand from Hereford, literally, got us a penalty. A handball by Hereford's Hewson was the clearest you'll see all season, and with it denying us a goal on the line it was a clear red too.
So with Billy Jones converting the penalty and Hereford down to ten men, it'd be a stroll in the park?
Not quite. For some reason we, apparently under no instruction from Gudjon, decided to sit back. At one point the defence exchanged a series of completely pointless passes that did nothing but heap the pressure on us. When Brighton went a man down last week we took the bull by the horns and scored three more vital goals - no such action this week.
When we did have a change to double our lead Calvin Zola somehow blazed over from 8 yards out. One of those easier to score situations. Not that it should mar Zola's performance, he was immense and proved his worth once again - yet you still hear people wanting him out of the club.
With 10 minutes to go we were punished for our lack of interest and our worst nightmare was realised - Hereford equalised. A scrappy goal from a corner left Hereford fans going crazy whilst the police ignored a potential mugging out on the pitch.
With luck three minutes is all it took for the players arses to get back into gear. This season's boo boy coming up trumps again; Billy Jones's fourth goal in three games, a rocket from 30 yards out and a superb match winning goal.
After that it was easy, the team learning their lesson and not sitting back again. In fact with a bit of luck Sigurdsson could have made it three before the final whistle.
Performance wise it was as dominant as I've seen us in a very long time. Hereford were never going to be a major force but let's not get ahead of ourselves, they've been above us much of the season - this is a good win.
Some players deserve extra mentions. Danny Woodards for me was man of the match, dominated the midfield today - maybe learning a lesson from Tuesday. He was everywhere and winning everything. And Clayton Donaldson up front gave so much and had Hereford back peddling the moment he got the ball.
The whole team were impressive, just a shame we couldn't finish it off with a better scoreline!
So, the win created a seven point gap between us (now in 19th) and Hereford (23rd). It is now so tightly packed down there that any three of eight sides could yet be dragged down, especially if Hereford and Brighton win their game(s) in hand over various teams. I expect a few of those teams to get out of it in the next couple of weeks which is why every game is so vital from now on. Remaining unbeaten in the next couple of weeks could really see us out in relative safety.
John Ruddy - Steady as you can get from a keeper but was rarely called into action. 5/10.
John Brayford - Bombs forward like the best wingers in the division, defends like the best defenders in the division. Typical day for Brayford. 7/10
Danny O'Donnell - Steady but rarely troubled. Him, Baudet and Macca all in the same boat and whilst I can't fault them I can't remember any outstanding moments from them either. 6/10
Julien Baudet - Steady but rarely troubled. 6/10
Chris McCready - Steady but rarely troubled. 6/10
Billy Jones - Another two goals, another brilliant performance. No trouble defensively and was always up for the attacks. Some brilliant set pieces too. Won sponsors MOTM too. 8/10
Danny Woodards - My man of the match. A true midfield performance from him today; was over powered on Tuesday but made up for it this afternoon. He's not even a 'natural' midfielder. Class player - sign a new contract Danny! 9/10
Gyfil Sigurdsson - An ok game from the young Icelander. Showed glimpses of what he's capable of and certainly has an eye for goal, but is he effectively Iceland's answer to Kenny Lunt? 7/10
Byron Moore - A good game from Byron, really put the work in and troubled Hereford all day. One of his better games this season, that's for sure. 8/10
Clayton Donaldson - How he lasts the games with the amount of effort he puts in is unknown, but he is one of the bigger plus points from this season. Hereford couldn't handle him and his runs down the wing left Hereford defenders behind; if only he could add a few more goals to his game. 8.5/10
Calvin Zola - When he plays he has a massive impact on games. He gets the ball to stick up front and works it. One criticism early season from some fans was his poor work rate, well that was proven wrong today. One of my favourite players, not ashamed to admit it, and glad he's proving his doubters wrong. 8.5/10