HAVING gone out of the FA Cup at Bury on Saturday, Tuesday night's victory over AFC Wimbledon provided a much-needed tonic for players and supporters alike.
What's more, I'll readily admit it came as an especially big relief to me because I really wasn't looking forward to spending another column reflecting on yet more misfortune and trying desperately to put a positive spin on things.
I mentioned last week how a scrappy goal might be all we need needed to get us up and running again but Jamie Cureton's 32nd minute opener was anything but. Rather, it came straight out of the top drawer – a fantastic ball from Alan Gow put Curo in the clear and he finished with aplomb to notch his 12th goal of the season. Not bad for an old man!
I didn't think Wimbledon caused us too many problems after that but, nevertheless, it was good to see John O'Flynn, who has worked tirelessly over the last few games, back on the scoresheet and to be able to see the final 20 minutes out in some comfort.
While the three points were paramount, keeping our first clean sheet since the beginning of September, when we beat Burton 3-0 at the Park, was an added bonus.
As you might imagine, it was disappointing to go out of the cup on Saturday, especially as it was I game I felt we didn't deserve to lose.
Admittedly, we weren't at our best in the first half when, once again, we conceded a goal from a set piece but I don't think anyone would deny we were much the better side after the interval and that if only we'd been a bit more clinical in front of goal would have earned at least a replay. All said and done, it wasn't a bad performance against a League One side who have shown a marked upturn in form since Kevin Blackwell took over as boss at the end of September, although it goes without saying we'd have liked our involvement in the competition to have lasted a little bit longer.
Let's hope when the names are drawn out of the hat next year we get someone – anyone – rather than Bury. Or if we do get drawn against the Quakers again that at least this time it's at home.
Having joined the club in the summer of 2011, I've only been involved in one of the three ties between the sides over the last five years but I can well imagine how tiresome it must be becoming for City supporters to face the same team, at the same ground, with the same result, year after year.
While I'm sure our supporters would have preferred to see us progress to the second round, I dare say an Exeter loanee scoring the winner for non-league Dorchester against Plymouth in the game televised live on Sunday afternoon will have provided some consolation.
It must have been a real thrill for Jake Gosling to get his first senior goal in such circumstances and you have to hope it will give him the confidence to go on and take his game to the next level.
As you might expect, Jake is continuing to train with us while he's on loan with the Magpies and, from what I've seen at the Cat & Fiddle, he is improving all the time and has every chance of making a career in the game.
Of course, it's little more than a month now before we take on Carl Fletcher's side at St James's Park and I'm already looking forward to my first Devon Derby. I've heard a lot about the three games in the 2010/11 season, before I arrived here, and I'm sure it's going to be quite an occasion – bring it on!
Delighted as we were to beat AFC Wimbledon, it's imperative we now get something from this weekend's home game against Fleetwood and continue to climb back up the table.
The Cod Army have been going well in their first season in the Football League and are currently in fourth place on 26 points. However, if we win on Saturday we'll have just one point fewer than them so there's plenty of incentive for us to do well. It's amazing quite how tight League Two is – if we had two more points we'd be in a play-off place but if we had two fewer we'd be in the bottom half of the table. What's more, Barnet's improvement since Edgar Davids came aboard means there's only four points between the bottom six teams and no room for any complacency.
I appreciate a second home game in the space of five days may put a strain on some people's finances but if you can get along to the Park then please do – as I've said many times before, your support is much appreciated and really can make all the difference!