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"It's A Cup Final!"

By: Richard Lord
Date: 06/05/2004

WHO'D have thought that Town's highest gate of the season would come when the club were 22nd in the league table with just two games to go? And now we look set to take our highest away following this season to Tranmere, with everything to play for.

Tranmere are one of the form sides of the division, and Town have been truly terrible away from home, so an away match at Tranmere sounds a good one to go to, don't you think?

Well, despite what has happened so far this season, it boils down to one match. Fair enough, we haven't won away from home since November and our defensive record has been abysmal during this terrible run, but this is a one-off match.

I'm really finding it hard to avoid that old cliché "It's a cup final" but to tell you the truth, it more or less is (except in a cup final, a defeat would normally be disastrous, but as we've all worked out this week, there is a scenario where we could lose and still stay up).

This game certainly is capturing the imagination of the Town. We're all going there in the hope of staying up. I've not once thought about how terrible it might be if we lose and one of Rushden or Chesterfield win.

I've got my ticket and I've got my place booked on a supporters' coach but I've suddenly remembered that I've not seen Town win away from home since beating Liverpool a few seasons back.

Until just the other week, a friend of mine at Northampton university hadn't seen Town win in any match for over two years, and it's not as if he didn't go to many games in that time - he just chose the wrong ones.

Ironically, until Town beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 at Blundell Park last month, the last victory he witnessed was that 6-2 win over Wimbledon.

But what has impressed me most is the fact that he has somehow managed to persuade the biggest Gillingham fan on this earth to go to Prenton Park on Saturday to watch the Mighty Mariners.

He also tempted him to go to the games at Rushden and Peterborough (FA Cup) earlier in the season, and Town lost both, so now is a good time to break that sequence.

But it doesn't matter if he's not seen us win yet; it doesn't matter that I've not seen us win away since October 2001; and it shouldn't matter that Town haven't won away from Blundell Park since their 3-1 success at Brentford.

It doesn't matter that the game is at Tranmere; it shouldn't matter to the players that it's an away game. The pitch is generally the same size as any other in this league, the pitch has two goals (one at either end, I hope) and if the players perform to the standard that they have been playing to, we give ourselves a great chance of escaping the drop.




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