Tuesday 16th March 2010
There is something very special about a late, late winner, even more so when every point is absolutely crucial. Saturday's very much fell into that category....and didn't we enjoy it!
About half way into our journey north it seemed destined to be a good day. The usual banter that accompanies the trip was already in full swing and as a result I missed the turning I meant to take off the M25 and was forced to take an alternative, if only slightly longer route.
As we settled down to the usual away day journey tucker on the outskirts of Retford reports were coming through that there were serious delays on what would have been our normal route. Total luck and as mentioned above our first indication that things could just be OK.
Parked up on dare I say a warm and pleasant spring day, we enjoyed some further pre-match fare before taking our place in one of my favourite of all the 'new' stadia in this country.
The drier recent weather conditions meant although the surface wasn't the greatest it also could have been much much worse and the way we started the game gave us all immense hope that we would go home with the full haul of three precious points.
The Meerkat squeezed past two defenders before smacking the ball home just to emphasize that feeling and we got that all important early goal.
The game contained a few moments for discussion, each and every one happening well before our late winner.
The ball that led to Hull's pen saw their striker in an offside position, TV has confirmed that. For me however, as frustrating as it is, you win some lose some in that situation and have benefitted similarly in the past.
The striker then used his experience to bounce into Sol and win his team a penalty that I believe every referee would have awarded. By taking his eye off the ball however, leaving it behind him in fact, he also made it obvious that he had no control whatsoever and consequently was not in a clear goalscoring situation.
I would be wrong if I said I didn't fear the worst at the time but fortunately the referee made the correct decision and Sol remained on the pitch.
The goal itself however, was difficult enough to take as our hosts had not threatened in any way up to that stage. It proved, similarly to the likes of Stoke and Burnley this season, we really had a battle on our hands.
Arguably Hull going down to ten men didn't help our game. With 11 on the pitch they believed they could win and this stretched the game at times leaving the kind of spaces we love to exploit. Once down to ten it was very much backs to the wall and a sea of golden shirts to try and break down.
The sending off couldn't really be any more clear cut. You simply cannot poke someone in the eye and take someone out across the knees! Both in fact, could have warranted a straight red.....in my opinion of course!
Hull's players worked their socks off and put their bodies well and truly on the line and for that reason alone it looked like despite all our chances it wasn't to be.
Once again however, as we poured forward deep into stoppage time, our constant pressure and pure belief saw Nicky slam home the winner after the keeper parried Deni's long shot.
Total pandemonium ensued in the away end!!
The kind of reaction that only a late winner can create, it was absolute and total carnage! An absolutely massive goal in our season, yet again it keeps us well in the hunt.
West Ham come to North London next for what is always a big derby fixture. Our trip to Upton Park earlier in the season saw us take a point from a game we travelled home from feeling like we had been beaten.
Call it complacency, a lack of concentration, bad luck or whatever you like, on Saturday we need to avoid all negatives to keep our title challenge on track.
And as always, that includes us.
FrankCopyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 16 Mar 2010