Well that didn’t go as planned, did it?! Last night, having battled through the first half of complete Serbian domination; having taken the upper hand in the second; having whipped up a quality, intimidating, boisterous atmosphere, Steve Davis – arguably our best player in the past five years – misplaced a pass to the keeper and the rest, as they say is history.
So we now lie 5th in a group of six, though only 2 points behind the two teams in second – Serbia and Slovenia (with a game in hand on the latter). Our next two fixtures are both against Estonia, with the away match on Tuesday night in Tallinn. I’ve just finished packing my bag to head to Heathrow, will brush up, have lunch and hit the tube on my way to the first stop of Helsinki.
I’m now travelling without the burden of hope… we won’t be qualifying from this group now, regardless of what the mathematics say. We simply won’t gain 9 points from our last three games (and even that might not be enough!). In truth, I very much doubt we’ll claim six points against Estonia who seem to be the hot / cold team of the group with some stunning away victories in Serbia & Estonia whilst losing to the Faroes somehow?!
So a pleasant trip to the Baltics awaits without the burden of any expectation from Northern Ireland… that’s probably for the best!!