Yes we did! A proper performance from our under-performing team meant we had a comfortable 3-1 win up north.
After watching them “play” against Crawley the previous week I actually doubted whether I wanted to go all that way, but as the week progressed the pull of the Shots took over and by Thursday the decision had made itself – of course I was going!
Leaving in plenty of time I found myself at the ground not long after midday! Luckily Bill and Brian were already there, so we settled into the posh bar among the Vics fans (who were wearing Chelsea and Liverpool shirts) to pass the time away. We did wonder where this bar was that sold beer at £1 a pint while the premiership game was being shown (as advertised on the Vics site), but we never found it. Inflation has obviously overtaken Mr Connet's pocket, because the price has gone up to £2 now.
On approaching the Victoria Stadium I have to say I was very impressed. Unlike Burton it had a good layout, and the facilities at the front looked very good. A bar with leather armchairs, one Italian themed restaurant and one Spanish, plus the bar for the oiks like us. I imagine the directors' and sponsors' lounges were very impressive but we didn't manage to infiltrate that far into the complex (well, most of us didn't).
Having sampled the bar we were directed to the away end where we found that the complex was, in every sense of the word, all front! They had obviously run out of tarmac before they finished the away fans car park, but the fact that I had arrived so early at least meant I didn't have to pay £2 for the privilege of parking in a puddle! Once the stewards had found a turnstile that was actually open we entered the ground – and what a disappointment. It consists of two structures – one an all seater stand behind the luxurious complex at the front, the other a terrace – albeit covered – for the hoi polloi. The sign pointing to the licensed bar was encouraging though – except that it was “outdoors”.
Before retiring top the bar we had to restrain Aldershot's oldest hooligan who decided on a one man pitch invasion. Alright, I know I encouraged him, but it wasn't long before a steward was despatched to sort out this troublesome away fan. Bill knew what he was doing because, having tested the pitch, forecast a 6-0 win for the Shots, and it was amazing how close he came to being right for the second time this season.
Having left Bill to the steward we made our way to the bar and met Wakefield for a pre-match drink and sampled the local burgers and mushy peas. Very nice too, as were all the staff “in” there. Altogether a very friendly bunch at the Victoria stadium – it's just a shame that they don't have many fans to experience it!
And so to the match, with Barney's first minute penalty being saved and the Shots squandering lots of opportunities to take an early lead we feared the worst. We are nothing if not predictable in that department! It was a relief when Willow bundled in the first. To be fair he deserved the header to go in, but he got the break when the goalkeeper's save rebounded into the net off his shin. We all felt much better and the Shots started to dominate even more, although we didn't manage to add to the lead before the break.
The second half followed much the same pattern for the first 25 minutes, and the Johnny Dixon goal was worth the trip on its own. Getting the ball wide on the right he took Ricky Newman's advice and took on three of their defenders before firing in round the diving keeper – pure class! Welcome back Johnny!
Although Northwich got back into the game towards the end the result was never in doubt after that and we had a hatful of chances on the break. Mark Pritchard came on and looked very lively and was unlucky that he was flagged offside after poking in a rebound from John Grant's umpteenth shot. Grant hit the bar and the post so it was obviously not his day! What crowned an unbelievable day was that Mark Moseley actually scored! He had been brilliant all game and would have got my man of the match vote had John Grant not been even better. He had burst through several times and been unable to finish – as usual – so it was very sweet when his low drive went in with a couple of minutes left.
Northwich got one back in the fifth minute of the four added minutes which slightly soured the day, but make no mistake this was a day when you got your faith back in the team. All round a good performance which got its just reward.
It was a happy – if very long – drive home!
By Ancient Shot.