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Friday, October 10, 2008

A 'Last Minute' Weekender!

As much as possible I try to write my thoughts in the period between games but on occasion the general things in life get in the way! The internationals giving us yet another early season fortnight's break however, mean I have more time available to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard!)

The Porto game was just what we all needed after the frustration of the weekend's result but despite the 4-0 scoreline, in the early stages it could have been different. I am not saying we deserved to be behind but our visitors at least matched the couple of chances on offer, a situation that on another night could have seen us go behind.

Once RVP slotted home our opener after great work from Ade however, the remainder of the evening was one of total domination.

With some great football on show, the extent of our victory by no means flattered us, in fact if we were to be ultra critical or even a little greedy, the only disappointment was the scoreline really should have been almost double figures.

All teams that reach the group stages of the Champions League get there on merit. Porto are a club who have dominated Portuguese football for a number of years and have won Europe's premier competition in recent times. Taking this all into consideration we really should be very happy with the drubbing we gave them.

In conclusion and in the more important broader scheme of things it also leaves us in a strong position in our group. A warm and sunny (hopefully!) Turkish capital hosts the next chapter.

Although I like to think there is some method in the madness of my social life, now and again there is nothing better than doing something totally on the spur of the moment.

Late on Friday afternoon a relatively low key weekend was ahead, apart from of course the long day trip that is an away game at Sunderland on the Saturday, but the remainder had been kind of set aside to do things around the house, as boring as they might seem!

A text from Sussex Gooner Ben telling me he was in Newcastle 'on the sauce' changed things completely. Re-arranging my fellow Sunderland away day travellers' lifts, a quick shower and a hastily packed bag and come 6pm I was on the motorway north east bound!

Admittedly, the thought of kipping on a hotel room floor for the weekend wasn't totally appealing but a kind offer nonetheless and surely by the time I needed some sleep, where I actually achieved it wouldn't be that important anyway!

There was the other aspect of Friday night traffic of course but despite the authorities in charge of this country's roadworks still thinking reducing the A1 down to one lane on at least three occasions is a sensible idea, just before 11pm I parked up in the Newcastle suburb of Jesmond ready to take in the night's offerings. Beats house stuff anyday!

Having met up with Ben and Martin, a couple of bars kept us amused to the early hours of the morning, especially if you are keen on ladies of the larger variety! It did make sure however, we awoke with a degree of matchday nausea. Taking in the hotel's full English brekkie without them actually knowing I wasn't a resident probably took the micky a little bit but the hangover needed easing and and hunger needed overcoming and when that is the situation little gets in the way!

The Great North Run was also happening at the weekend and seeing the junior and disabled athletes gathering on the Quayside for their races didn't altogether make me feel any healthier or fitter but we had another marathon to continue so it was onto the metro, destination Sunderland.

Pre-match refreshment soon has us back in fine fettle before we headed into the Stadium of Light for our latest Premier League encounter.

Every season there are tight, even dour matches, especially in the long league campaign. Certainly we lacked a little sharpness but in games like this, especially when you are away from home and your opponents put 10 behind the ball, sometimes you need a little bit of luck to go your way.

There were few chances throughout despite us totally dominating possession but in the second half we could and probably should have taken the three points. RVP had a great chance after an excellent ball from Nicky Bendtner but for me the 'goal' that wasn't is where we would all hope luck was on our side. TV replays have proved Theo kept the ball in and his cut back was buried by RVP. One-nil and I feel it is fair to say highly likely a match-winning incident.

For our hosts to score an absolute cracker with their only shot of the half was gutwrenching to say the least and laced with a huge amount of deja-vu.

You can react in one of two ways to that kind of situation and I think as fans we couldn't have felt much lower. For the players to pick themselves up and grab something from the game however, is probably the one big plus we can take from the day, Cesc's thumping header grabbing us a point that only time will tell how important it might be.

There wasn't an air of elation in the away end, maybe a little relief but our expectations are very high these days and it still felt like two points dropped rather than one gained when the final whistle blew a few seconds later.

The metro journey back to Newcastle gave us plenty of time to reflect however, before taking in our second night with the Geordies. Once again a number of bars played host (and some dodgy late night food if I remember rightly!) before hitting the sack (or the floor) to sleep off the excesses before the long drive south on Sunday afternoon.

Overall a thoroughly entertaining weekend, thanks again to Ben and Martin for use of their 'facilities', it's 'house'stuff' all the way now before Everton come to town!

Frank (Gunner Blogger)

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