Soft Sotherner is "THE MARRA AT THE MATCH"

17th August 1998 and our intrepid journalist makes his first ever visit to Kingston park to watch the Mighty Mags outplay Stockport .

Spot the differance, Bartinho or Soft Southerner. Are they indeed the same person?Thoroughly enjoyable evening, finished up 5-1 to us, though it should have been 6-0: Dalglish Jnr was adjudged offside by the Mackem officials whilst celebrating in the corner which was clearly not the case through my black and white tinted spectacles and we only conceded because Perez was fannying about trying to dribble in the six yard box.

Nobby was certainly eye-catching and wanted the ball all the time. He passes beautifully and protects the ball with ease. He's quick in the challenge (even picked up a caution for it which might be a worry) and seems pretty good in the air for a tiny bloke. His goal was great: he challenged for a ball on te edge of the centre circle and beat his marker to it when it came back down and left the guy standing as he hared off goal-wards, went round the centre-backs at speed and then measured a delicate chip past the keeper...cue standing ovation.

This was followed by a tremendous run from Dags Jnr onto a wonderfully weighted pass which he crashed into the net and celebrated with World-Cup aplomb before being informed he was offside...pah! Perez celebrated with his David James impression and was ironically clapped by Solano for his achievement. He was also given a rousing cheer every time he cleared his goal after that since it was eveident that even a safety shot can become hazardous with this guy. To give him his due he acknowledged this adjulation proving that he at least has a sense of humour even if common-sense was denied him. He also pulled off some good saves in the second half.

Paul Robinson netted two which owed a great deal to the interpassing between Nobby, Dags Jnr and himself and the continuous breaks down the line by Glass, Elliott and Brady who put in more, accurate crosses in the first 25 minutes than we saw all day on Saturday. Brady looks like the results of a cunning experiment to combine the strengths of Batty and Watson into one player; short, thick-set, tireless and may gather that I was impressed.

Julio Geordio started where he finished against Juve with ceaseless support-running and tackling back which got him a well-deserved goal in the end from chasing lost causes (bit like Clarkie). Des Hamilton capped the usual mixture of good-pass, crap-pass, good-tackle, what was THAT? with a Hamman-style 30 yard scorcher which was fabulous but still leaves him as Barton's successor.

The substitutions gave us a look at Arnison and co, but we seemed to be trying to close the game down by then and the main point of interest was finally laying eyes on Bjarni Gudjonsson......4feet tall and didn't get a touch, oh well.

Solano came off after half an hour which hopefully means he'll play on Saturday. Glass and Brady can take over from Pistone and Speed whenever they like and Dags Jnr HAS to get in ahead of Andersson, he's obviously hungry and right up for it.

p.s. No singing again, since the kiddies didn't seem to know the words and the amount of people wandering about buying pies and chips and leaving early is hardly likely to have set a good example to the youngsters......I hate to say it, but a mascot and cheerleaders would have done wonders for their education...I'm off to wash my mouth out, sorry.

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