So on a crisp and sunny afternoon at the Park the sterling work of the both the groundstaff and an army of volunteers is rewarded in the best possible way as City romp to one of the best wins seen at the Park in many a year beating second placed Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 in front of an impressive 5524 supporters, including an almost heroic 800 plus from Sheffield who'd made the trip down despite the most abysmal weather. City lined up: Krysiak; Jones, Taylor, Duffy; Golbourne, Harley, Noble, Sercombe, Tully; Cureton, Logan.
Despite the covers being on for a number of days thus ensuring the pitch comfortably passed an inspection to determine its playability, the club had to put out a plea for help to get the surrounding area cleared of snow so that the game could go ahead without any safety issues for the spectators. As ever at this unique club of ours, many answered the call and made sure that we were one of only half a dozen or so games to go ahead in any division anywhere in the country. Indeed, as manager Tisdale said in his post match interview he's been asked many times why he's still here - well today's efforts, both on and off the pitch, he opined, were the reason why.
And it's not difficult to see why he'd hold such a view either, today was just one of those days when everyone pulls together to get the job done. A job which started, on the pitch, in the fifth minute when Logie's flick on from the edge of the box found strike partner Cureton who looked to blast across the keeper, however Cureton scuffed his shot somewhat giving the keeper an easy collect.
In the tenth minute Harley let fly with a speculative effort from distance that keeper got down very late to, to scramble round the post for a corner, then a couple of minutes later the lively Sercombe burst through into space before horribly screwing a shot wide from the edge of the box as defenders closed in. Five minutes after that Duffy played a delicious defence splitter for Cureton to chase, but he could only look on in disbelief as his low drilled ball across the goalmouth wasn't converted into an empty net at the far post as there wasn't a player within yards of his superb cross.
No matter, soon enough City's determined and measured play would surely bring its rewards, and just before the half hour it duly arrived in the shape of Cureton. Harley from the corner of the box drove to the byline where his drilled near post cross was hacked clear. But only as far as Duffy fifteen yards out who calmly squared to Cureton who slammed the ball home through a crowded penalty area into the bottom right corner to make it 1-0 to City.
But celebrations were short lived as literally within seconds Wednesday were level. Immediately from the restart they won a corner as a shot from distance was scrambled round the post, and from the corner Tommy Miller headed powerfully towards the centre of the net. Duffy was on hand to head clear, however the assistant referee on the far side signalled a goal deciding the ball was already over the line when Duffy cleared. Tellingly there were no protests from the City players and the goal stood, much to the delight of the hugely impressive away following behind Krysiak's goal.
City's response wasn't quite as quick, but nevertheless a little over a minute later Cureton had a superb chance to restore City's lead when Golbourne's whipped in cross from the left evaded his outstretched boot at the far post by inches. But Wednesday looked dangerous on the break, with Jemaine Johnson in particular looking very quick - well when he wasn't rolling round on the floor that is - and with five minutes of the half remaining looked to burst through on Krysiak's goal. However Duffy timed his challenge to absolute perfection sliding in to win the ball, get to his feet, turn and set Golbourne away all in one sublime movement leaving Johnson, predictably, rolling round on the floor.
Then in the final minute of a thoroughly absorbing half Harley shot an innocuous 25 yarder straight to the keeper who, with the low winter sun in his eyes, elected to slap the ball away rather than making what would appear to be a fairly routine catch as City exerted a bit of last minute pressure. Duffy then sent Sercombe scampering down the right where his cross was blocked before he hoisted the rebound onto the roof of the net. Then Logie collected a ball from the left and with defenders in close attendance flicked it across goal with the outside of his boot only to see a defender hoick it over the bar for a corner as Cureton looked to pounce. From that corner Taylor thumped a header goalwards that again the keeper slapped away, then that was that and it was time for a warming half time cuppa.
Prior to the second half getting underway Noble was withdrawn for the effervescent Dunne, then twelve minutes in Logie was replaced by O'Flynn. Two seconds later we were treated to one of the goals of the season, or maybe even decade, as a ball came in from the left to Sercombe lurking 25 yards out. In a single movement he collected the ball on his chest before smashing a glorious dipping volley past a stranded keeper and into the left hand corner of the net that couldn't have been any sweeter had it had icing on the top and a cherry and hundreds and thousands on top of that again.
Wednesday were clearly shocked by the sheer magnificence of the strike, and while they looked to gather themselves City struck again less than two minutes later. Harley played the ball in, Taylor nodded it down and while defenders got into a tangle looking to clear Golbourne nipped in to gleefully smash home his first goal for the club under the keeper and just inside the near post to make it 3-1 to City.
Wednesday were reeling, City were rocking and looked to capitalise as almost straight from the restart Harley drilled low through a crowded box that Duffy somehow scooped over from a couple of yards out. But as the half hour approached Duffy's next ball was a magnificent 40 yard cross field pass to Golbourne rampaging down the left where he played the ball of the game round the outside of the full back as Cureton nipped inside to collect. With a deft flick of the outside of the right boot, the keeper was left to marvel at the cheeky skill of the strike as Cureton's dink rolled into the far corner to make the score an unbelievable 4-1 to City.
But City weren't finished yet, and as Wednesday fans dejectedly began to leave the ground, Harley broke at pace through the middle. With Cureton for company on his right and O'Flynn on his left, he elected to play Cureton in on the edge of the box who crossed to O'Flynn on the opposite side. Controlling the ball effortlessly, O'Flynn lazily swung his right leg at the ball and watched with delight as the keeper could do little else but stand there and admire the quality of the strike as it curled into the far corner of the net to make the final score 5-1 to City.
All that was left was for Thomson to get a brief run out as Harley sat out the remaining couple of minutes and that was that, job well done, three points in the bag and Happy Christmas to City fans everywhere.
But what a performance though, and what a game. Make no mistake, Wednesday are a massive side - probably one of the biggest to play in League One - with a very impressive array of talent on the books, yet today they were simply torn apart by a hugely impressive City side who outplayed, outpassed, outtackled, outscored and out anything else you'd like to think ofed their more illustrious opponents.
At the back they looked solid, with Taylor imperious as ever and Duffy unfazed and full of confidence. On the flanks Tully and Golbourne were up and down like a fiddler's elbow, and hats off to Golbourne for his first ever City goal too. It's been a while coming, but it was fully deserved after a number of fine performances this season. Speaking of which, you'll have to go an awful long way to see a better goal than Sercombe's. It simply oozed class and had it been on Match of the Day tonight they'd have been eulogising over it for weeks to come.
The rest of the midfield oozed class too - Harley's effortless skill in finding time and space, Noble's vision, Dunne's boundless energy and enthusiasm along with Serc's tireless running and workrate make it surely one of the best to line up in City colours, and that must go for the front line too. With Logan and O'Flynn both enjoying rather prolific seasons it shows just how much firepower we have up front that both are eclipsed by the lively Cureton who bagged a classy brace today.
So lets hope we can carry this momentum and feelgood factor from today forward through this tortuously difficult Christmas period. We're back here on Boxing Day for the visit of Swindon before the long haul to Carlisle then Southampton a couple of days later for the first game of 2011. We finally return to the Park on the 3rd when we welcome league leaders Brighton, who will surely have raised an eyebrow at today's result. As will a lot of other clubs, however we shouldn't be surprised. Paul Tisdale has got some genuine quality in this squad and when it all clicks we're more than a match for anyone - just ask Sheffield Wednesday.
We hope they have a safe journey home though - it can't be any fun trying to negotiate our motorway network with this amount of snow and ice everywhere - and all that remains is to wish you all a very merry Christmas and to look forward to seeing you all back here on Boxing Day. Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks to everyone involved for making today such a great day.