T’WAS the match before Christmas as we wise men, and women, gathered in the Harvester for our doom-laden Doombar deliberations.

After last week’s disaster, we thought our chances of survival had gone for a Burton.

We’d no idea where our next goal, never mind our next point, was coming from.

Neil Warnock’s high-flying Bluebirds were in town and our hopes were not high unless the players felt as knocked down as we were and stood up again to be counted.

There seemed to be a lot of extra youngsters at the match as Aladdin goers made use of their two-for-one pantomime offer.

As expected Mark Little returned after injury with Phil Parkinson springing a surprise by opting for the experienced Andrew Taylor over Antonee Robinson.

We were up for the fight from the start in a bruising encounter, well refereed by Mr Jones.

For three quarters of the match, chances were at a premium and it was there for the taking for either side.

But up stepped goal machine, Gary Madine when we most needed him, to score the penalty and then put one on a plate for Josh Vela to belatedly open his account.

No doubts about the penalty as hands outstretched above your head counts as an unnatural position in my book.

Despite the referee adding more than six minutes, we easily held on and even welcomed a cameo appearance from Liam Feeney at the end.

So, we’ve reached the halfway point of the season with only 19 points from 23 matches.

It doesn’t matter how you analyse things, that is relegation form. We knew it was going to be tough this season but it has proved even tougher than we thought.

Things have to improve both on and off the pitch.

We’re not out of the woods financially as we seem to be robbing Peter to pay Paul and still having regular tussles with HMRC.

This doesn’t augur well with the January sales starting soon, putting the club under immense pressure to accept any half decent offer for any of our players.

Already the vultures are gathering to pick up bargains from the Macron.

Football is full of surprises and we needed this one.

We are going to need a lot more surprises if we are to survive this season.

Fingers crossed the next surprise is down by the Riverside.