Our next match is at home against Swindon Town, who are 24th in the league. Despite them being bottom and away from home, we’re 13/8 underdogs. I make no changes and Swindon soon have a plan to stop Dacian Varga as Doherty fouls him in the 3rd minute, picking up a yellow card in the process. Whilst they can stop him in open play, they can’t do anything about him taking corners; an inswinging corner by him in the 7th minute finds its way to Michele Marconi, who fires home from 4 yards for his 14th goal of the season. A great start for the underdogs! The underdogs show their teeth again in the 10th minute as Marconi turns provider, playing in Michel who coolly slots past the keeper from 12 yards for his 4th goal of the season. The favourites come close to pulling a goal back in the 30th minute when Richie heads against the crossbar from 12 yards out. Three minutes later, it’s our turn to go close with a header; Marconi crosses from the right and Varga heads overs from 10 yards out. We continue to push and in the 39th minute, Varga crosses from the left and an unmarked Jonny Hayes at the far post scores his 10th goal of the season from 6 yards out. Magera joins Doherty in the book in the 42nd minute when he fouls Varga. Our fourth goal comes in stoppage time and is also from the left – Gennaro Riccardi crosses and Michel volleys from 6 yards out, getting his second of the game and his fifth of the season. 4-0 at half time and we’ve been in total control. The second half starts just as well when Michel takes an inswinging corner in the 48th minute; it pinballs around the area until Sean Morrison pokes his second goal of the season from 2 yards out. Swindon pull a goal back in the 60th minute when Humphrey crosses from the right and Massey scores from 10 yards. Is there a comeback? Three minutes later, we stop any thoughts of a comeback as Federico Cenci scores. But wait! The flag is up. It’s ruled out for offside, so it stays at 5-1. The third booking of the game comes in the 70th minute when Varga fouls Taundry. Two minutes later, an inswinging Michaud corner is headed in by Magera from 6 yards, making it 5-2. Surely we can’t let a 5 goal lead slip? Cenci goes close to getting our sixth in the 77th minute when his free kick is tipped wide. Our sixth goal does come in the 83rd minute when Varga lays the ball off to Marconi, who blasts his second goal of the game (and 15th of the season) in from 30 yards, an absolute screamer that gets the 8714 in attendance on their feet. It also sets a club record, with the previous best having been set by Kostadin Hazurov in 2012/13 when he scored 14 goals. Marconi is named Man of the Match with a rating of 9.4, 2 goals and an assist. Despite this, the media praise Michel’s recent performances post-match. We’re 5th in the league after our 6-2 victory.
Following such a big victory, I bring in a few triallists; Slovakian striker Matej Kulka, Salvadoran centre-back Allen Soriano, Guatemalan centre-back Marvin Cordon and Georgian left-midfielder Vako Kazaishvili, all for a week. Also following our large win, Sean Morrison, Dacian Varga, Michel, Jonny Hayes and Michele Marconi get named in Team of the Week. Will Keane decides to join Barnsley on loan, whilst David Goikoetxea announces he has no intention of joining Sestao on loan; as soon as he rejects them, Pena Sport and Huracan Valencia offer to loan him and I accept both offers. Queens Park Rangers offer £400,000 for Jan Pavlov, along with 25% of the profit of the next sale; the bid is rejected, which results in them upping the initial offer to £425,000 along with 25% of the profit of the next sale, which I also reject. Pavlov is not the only player of mine that is wanted and Southampton bid £625,000 and 25% of the profit for Daniel Berger, whilst Norwich offer £120,000 up front and £200,000 over 12 months, along with 10% of the profit of the next sale – both offers are rejected. Metodi Spasov again offers to terminate his contract for £55,000 and again I reject his offer.
It’s a trip up to Galpharm Stadium to take on Huddersfield Town. They’re 16th in the league and we’re 4/1 underdogs for the trip. I name an unchanged line-up again. Huddersfield go close to opening the scoring in the 9th minute when when McDermott hits the bar from 20 yards. In the 15th minute, the first booking of the game is given when Jonny Hayes is fouled by Holmvik, my former left-back. Michele Marconi has a chance to open the scoring in the 19th minute when Hayes plays him in, but the keeper is out quickly to narrow the angle and Marconi shoots wide from 12 yards. The same duo combine in the 34th minute, with Marconi shooting over from 18 yards. Marconi shoots wide in the 39th minute from 18 yards, with Michel the provider this time. It’s looking like one of those days for both us and Marconi where it’s just not going to go in. The 41st minute sees Johnson flick on an inswinging Michel corner and Vukovic’s header at the far post is tipped over for another corner. We come close to being punished in the 44th minute when Blackman is unmarked at the far post, but he can only head against the crossbar from 6 yards. Stoppage time sees the second booking of the game as Perone fouls Dacian Varga. We do get punished in the 50th minute when a Schwegler cross from the right finds Thomas unmarked at the far post and he is able to finish from 6 yards. Jay Spearing picks up a yellow card in the 65th minute and he soon puts that behind him, playing the ball back to Johnson three minutes later, but Johnson can only shoot over from 16 yards. Huddersfield come close to extending their lead in the when Frimpong plays in Dalle Valla, but he only finds the side netting from 25 yards out. It’s our turn to punish them for a wasted chance a minute later as Michel plays in Hayes, who shoots and hits the post; Varga picks up the rebound and rolls it into an empty net from 6 yards for his fourth goal of the season and the equaliser. We continue to press and Michel has a couple of shots, but his efforts from 18 and 30 yards are at the keeper, meaning we have to settle for a point despite all the pressure we’ve had. Dacian Varga is named Man of the Match with a rating of 7.7 and a goal. Although we only get a point, it’s enough to move us up to 4th in the table.