IN a change to our normal pre-match routine, we headed for The Grill at the Whites hotel to celebrate my friend and fellow supporter’s 80th birthday.

The food was excellent as we held our Staropramen scrum to debate the week’s news and our chances.

Last week’s drubbing at Wolves was dispatched to the dustbin where it belongs, and hopes were high that we would bounce back and that Barnsley would get the chop.

It’s usually a close encounter of the feisty kind when we play our Yorkshire rivals and we looked forward to the first match of our Advent calendar to see what treats it would bring us.

Phil Parkinson made a couple of changes with Reece Burke significantly lowering the average age of the team as a replacement for the suspended David Wheater, while Will Buckley earned a start ahead of Adam Armstrong.

Ben Alnwick retained his place after his uncharacteristic nightmare at Molineux.

The match was typically hard-fought and scrappy, but we won it in the end thanks to Mark Little’s best performance to date in a Wanderers shirt.

He gets better every week as he laid the first one on a plate for the goal machine Gary Madine and then scored a superb individual goal for our third.

Relationships between the two teams deteriorated as the referee started handing out Christmas cards early.

Alnwick fully redeemed himself with several great saves and we survived a couple of almighty scrambles to come away with three valuable points.

The victory took us off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone, reaching the lofty heights of 21st – our minimum target for the season.

The bottom half of the Championship is going to be a league of its own and we need to get results against these teams in that section while anything we pick up from the top half teams will be a bonus.

We need to re-establish Fortress Macron.

Away matches are going to be tough as we have several of the top teams coming up soon.

But individuals in the team are improving and it is to be hoped the good loan players who have impressed can be retained for the second half of the season.