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96/97 review:
The return of the good ol' 4-4-2 formation was greeted with a 2-0 win over Walsall to progress into the next round of the Coca-Cola Cup. Despite Tommy Mooney missing an early penalty, we kept our heads and Gary Porter's superb overhead kick won the game in the second half.

Mooney was on spot-kick duty again against Stockport, netting the only goal of a fairly unconvincing victory - a somewhat comical penalty decision preventing us from recording our first draw of the season. If Stockport was tedious, Notts County made up for it (well, it would've if I'd gone) with a goal bonanza - the Horns storming into a two goal lead, contriving to throw it all away in the last ten minutes, then re-claiming the points thanks to a late Wayne Andrews goal. It was a rare taste of genuine excitement, untypical of the season. Back to business as usual with a single goal win at Bristol Rovers' "Stadium Of The Future" (TM), a result that seemed to indicate that we were getting the hang of rolling our sleeves up and grinding out results in difficult away games.

The visit of Premiership Sunderland provided the classic contrast in quality. The Mackems sat deep, invited us to come at them and destroyed us on the break. We had all the possession, they scored twice and hit the woodwork twice. Still, the evening gave us the return of Tony Coton and a chance to lose without really caring very much, something of a rehearsal for the Auto Windscreen Shield.

Peterborough was a bit of a disaster, even by our standards. The fact that we played out the game with ten men due to injuries (Wayne Andrews was kicked out of the game, Craig Ramage hurt himself diving, Gary Porter broke his leg) says it all, really. There were chances - a penalty claim that even Barry Fry admitted should've been given - but our lack of potency up front was beginning to tell. Oh, and Kenny Jackett made the fatal mistake of commenting about our lack of draws in the programme...

The handful of nutters who made the trip to Sunderland for a tie we were less than likely to win were rewarded by the debut of Gifton Noel-Williams, a sixteen year-old youth trainee. The folks who went to Shrewsbury were rewarded with absolutely bugger all, save revolting toilets, salad with the burgers and a late home winner to blow our excellent away record.