Roper Reports will endeavour to make sense of the recent happenings at North End and offer general comment on the world of Football.
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Respect where it is due
Friday 27th March 2015
A girl at work said to me this week "Who do you play at the weekend?". "Fleetwood away" I said, and back came a very quizzical look from the lady in question – "Do Fleetwood have a football team" she said at which point I enhanced her limited football knowledge with a two minute potted history. Yes Fleetwood may well have been the end of the tram line not much more than ten years ago but 6 promotions since then see Graham Alexander's boys just four points from the play off slots in League One. Many will remember the game at Deepdale being a game of two halves with the Codfathers a deserved two goals up as we went into the break. Enter Kevin Davies and Chris Humphrey, add a little bit of spiced Garner and our blushes were saved via a fabulous hat trick from the club's Talisman. Nothing I have seen or read so far suggest that the game at Highbury will be anything but difficult and North End will need to be right on their game to collect the maximum points required to keep up the pressure on the teams at the top. One or two enforced changes may come into play with Wright and Robinson on international duty from the team that started at Barnsley last week. I have a feeling we may see one of both of them though make it back from their travels to take their place in the North End line up. Robinson would probably be the favourite to make a dash back from his England U20 duties. Clearly if both are available I would expect the manager to go with the same eleven but the whisper this week is that Chris Humphrey and Allan Little are vying for a spot in the side so it will be interesting come kick off time (2:15pm) just who the manager places his trust in. At the back perhaps Callum Woods will come in at right back and Tom Clarke move into the centre back slot.
Turning the clock back to last week and a very big turnout of almost 3,000 say North End take a point in a dogged game against form side Barnsley at Oakwell. On the pitch North End took the lead through Garner in the first half and looked good value for the lead at the break. After the interval, though, the home side came much more into it and the neutral would probably say that they earned their point via a header ten minutes from the end. On the terraces the volume was high with a super following giving the boys some fantastic support from beginning to end of the whole ninety minutes and taking the second highest following, on the day, in the whole of the football league. Credit, then, to those that made the journey to South Yorkshire but unfortunately only 1,300 ticket were made available for the soiree down to the coast on Sunday afternoon for a match which is being beamed to the nation via the Sky Sports platform. This is a real chance to show the rest of the division what we are about and with just nine games of the season to go I think this could well be one of the six wins that North End need to return us to the Championship after a four season sabbatical.