Friday, December 14
Being old enough to remember defeats to the likes of Walsall, Millwall and Wrexham as reigning league champions, I am familiar with being on the wrong end of a cup shock. That doesn't change the feeling of total and utter disappointment we all experienced on Tuesday night.
Even ignoring the fact we had every right to be confident of a semi-final place back when the draw was made, I was really looking forward to the trip. In addition to it being the perfect example of an English cup tie I am partial to the odd curry and two of the best I have ever consumed were back when our hosts were in the top flight.
An extremely cheap hotel booked and a table in a recommended restaurant reserved for mid afternoon, the long journey north was filled with nothing less than great anticipation.
Pre-match fare was extremely enjoyable as a result of our well thought out plans and we headed to a stadium that looks down ominously from high above the city in fine spirits, despite the sub-zero temperatures that accompanied our visit.
Once again the travelling Gooners were quite awesome in their numbers, well over four thousand on a cold December night in Yorkshire.
If we had gone ahead in the game I believe we would have gone on to win comfortably, the spaces created by our hosts needing to force an equaliser highly likely to have been exploited. By going a goal behind however, we had to trust our ability to open up a determined and packed defence.
To only do that once in over 120 minutes is worrying and disappointing, seeing us pay the ultimate price of being knocked out of the competition.
Don't get me wrong, we created comfortably enough good situations to have scored the goals needed to progress, a number of our players being guilty of squandering decent opportunites. Weighing everything up however, we simply did not put in a good enough performance on the night and Bradford deserved to go through.
As Gooners, we cannot be anything but downbeat at the moment, but we must remember we are all in the same boat. All we want is to see good football, ambition and success. All of us. From those behind the scenes at the club, to the coaching staff, to the players and to most important of all, us the supporters.
What did we talk about on the long journey home? Reading away on Monday of course. Why? Because as fans, that is what we do. We move on and think about the next game hoping it will be the start of a successful run.
See you in Berkshire.
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