I’m always more than a bit apprehensive prior to a European away fixture but, on this occasion, my anxiety on the drive down to Giurgiu was whether there’d be a game to see or not. My other anxiety centred around the driving of the taxi driver, who was enthusiastically taking advantage of the fact that speed radar cameras don’t work in the fog!
On arrival at the stadium (phew!) the fog,if anything,seemed worse, no doubt enhanced by the close proximity of the Danube. However, as kick off time approached, the mood amongst the large contingent of travelling fans became more optimistic and, to everybody’s relief, the game commenced.
It soon became clear that what was happening at the far end of the pitch from us was anything but clear. In fact, at half time we felt that the team must be playing well as we hadn’t been able to see a lot of the game! What we could see, though, was very encouraging. Our midfield seemed to be on top and Johansen’s shot was one of the few times when the ball was very visible as it hurtled into the net. The shape of the team looked good and the players showed good confidence on the ball.
This was the fifth consecutive European away game where we had taken the lead and, frustratingly, it’s the fifth consecutive away game where we lost that lead. The second goal that our play deserved just would not come through a combination of bad luck (Mulgrew’s shot) or bad finishing (Scepovic’s high and wide attempt early in the second half). There was lots about Secepovic’s performance that I liked. He held the ball up well and made some good lay offs and the fans showed their appreciation of this when he was substituted. However, we carried more of a threat when Griffiths came on.
As the game went on we became more nervy and the inevitable equaliser happened, just as qualification for the last 32 was looming closer. After that I thought that we looked to be the most likely team to score but, with the aid of a poor refereeing decision, a winner just wouldn’t come.
Whilst it was disappointing not to win, we have now drawn our last three European away games. In fact our away performances seem to be more assured than our home ones. Ronny’s record over the last 10 games of W8 D1 L1 seems to have won over many of us and it was good to hear his name frequently being chanted by the fans tonight.
So, it’s on to Salzburg at home now. That should be straightforward!!!
Pictures and Report by Howard Gilbert