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The Pat Baldwin column: Newport point halted unhappy slide

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 22, 2014

The Pat Baldwin column

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A point away from home against a very strong, physical Newport County side, taking into account the situation we are in, was a good result last Sunday.

Saying the pitch was terrible is being very kind. I am sure the groundsmen there face an extremely difficult task in keeping it playable, considering rugby is played on it as well, but I do not think we have played on a worse pitch all season.

We could have brought a bucket and spade to build sandcastles in some areas and needed a pneumatic drill to break up others.

With the pitch being the state it was in, the game was never going to be pretty but I thought the lads coped extremely well, battled hard and at least tried to keep the ball down.

Conceding once again straight after we scored was very disappointing but as I mentioned, a point away from home, at a place like Newport, was a good result.

The support against Newport from our away fans, once again, was nothing short of superb and I cannot emphasise enough how important your loyal support is going to be from now through to May 3.

Our sole aim this week in training has been preparing for today’s game but it had not gone unnoticed in my house that we have a huge derby game on Tuesday against a Plymouth Argyle team who have completely turned their fortunes around this season.

It was only mentioned at home as my wife and I were talking about an assessment I had to do as part of my university course. I had to watch a game between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United.

The assignment was to write up a 300-word match report and file it to my tutor within five minutes of the game finishing. I respected Stuart James before I pathetically attempted it, now my respect for him goes through the roof. It was nerve-racking.

Wednesday versus Leeds is a huge Yorkshire derby and by telling my wife about my day at university, I thought of Tuesday’s game.

We then began to reminisce about all the derby games I had played in. Alex, being the ever supporting and sympathetic spouse that she is, proceeded to remind me, while laughing I might add, about the time I played against Southend for Colchester.

The game itself is certainly on par with the Exeter-Argyle fixture in terms of what it means to the fans, so it was a big occasion. It was a very tense and tight affair as you could imagine and if I remember rightly, Southend went a goal ahead in the first half.

We managed to pull a goal back midway through the second half and the game had the makings of an epic. The closing stages were frantic and open with both sides going close but it was not until about three minutes into added time that we scored the winner directly in front of our away support.

Football does not get better than moments like that and being stuck at the back for most parts of the game, I was determined to join the incredible celebrations. Rain had ferociously lashed down all game and the pitch was soaked all over, enabling most of my team-mates to slide on their knees in celebration to the fans.

As I was miles away from the action, it took me a while to run over to them. The moment was perfect, with everybody in a heap on top of the goal scorer it was definitely my time to shine. I thought it would be a great idea at the time to slide on my knees into the pile of celebrating players.

To add to the moment, I then thought it would be a good idea to start my slide about ten feet short. This slide was going to be legendary. The best anybody had ever seen.

Or so I imagined. With the ground being so soft from the rain, instead of me sliding along the wet turf, my knees created what can only be described as a crater. I ended up sinking one foot down.

To add insult to injury, as I had my arms outstretched like a gladiator after a kill, I ended up face first into the mud!

It eventually turned out that as a result of that stupid action, I fractured a bone in my knee. When asked by my manager, I had not the heart to tell him that I did it trying to slide on my knees celebrating a goal.

One thing is for certain, you will never, ever, see me slide on my knees attempting to celebrate a goal again!

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