This is a dangerous time of the year in Stanley's opinion, potentially a very dangerous time. The problem is it's all so easy to take your eye off the metaphorical ball and do a Titus Bramble.
Take old Stan for example. Tuesday night wasn't simply Southampton away, it was Stanley's Cricket Club's first indoor nets of the year and Stanley attended.
Now attending nets instead of spending too much money and too much time on the round trip to Southampton on a Tuesday night, no matter how much of a cricket-phobe you maybe, is perfectly understandable, wouldn't you say dear reader?
Plus Stanley has done his far share of mid-week trips to Southampton, Paul Cook's debut in 1989… Oh yes, remember it well… Dusty 'Jonah' Millar? Stan has 'earnt' time off for good behaviour.
But to become so engrossed in it to the point that only as you are padding up at 7.30 do you remember that there's City game your about to miss the start of on Radio Norfolk leaves Stanley shamefaced.
Now this Stanley is unashamedly a cricket nut, but to nearly forget that City are playing a game? Dear, oh dear. And that's why it's such a dangerous time of the year because old Stanley had found himself, unwittingly, in a state of mind thinking simply about next season. This one was over.
No cup run to worry about, not going up and not going down. Time to switch your attention elsewhere, whether that be cricket, marathons or when Oakham's Attilia will turn up again in the Trafford Arms… Whatever you do when not worrying about NCFC.
All safe in the knowledge that Glenn is carefully laying the foundations for 'Operation Promotion 2008/2009'. All well and good except that, as Stanley embarked on a mad bike ride home to catch the start the of the match, Stanley realised that he'd sleepwalked into a very dangerous state of mind.
We might have gone nine games unbeaten, but City are still only five points clear of relegation. The wrong run of results through February, unlucky there, switched off here, injuries over there, no signings under there and all of a sudden City are back in trouble.
Now Stanley just can't imagine that happening but then Stanley couldn't imagine us ever getting out of the bottom three before Glenn turned up in the uniform of the 7th Cavalry. Quite simply, there is still work to be done…
So you see a very dangerous time, hence Stan's bellyful of nerves when he exited the nets, at pace promising to pay next week, and Stan's sudden need to acquaint himself with the Sunday paper's sports section once again, to work out the worst case scenario if City were to be unlucky at St Mary's and were then to cop a Chris Brown 30-yard winner on Saturday.
As the first-half unfolded, with posts hit, great saves made by 'binner' Davis, Fozzy off injured, Preston leading against West Brom, Stanley had an uneasy feeling that this might turn into a 'bad night at the office' for City. Come 5 o'clock on Saturday and after Brown's 89th minute winner we'll be back in the bottom three… It was an absolute given.
And then up popped Ched, with a cracker, to put City in front! By 'evan the boy's a class act. As Stan had a quick half-time shower he began to think, you bottler Stanley, should have stayed for the rest of the night's nets safe in the knowledge that Glenn's City are very much on the up.
Needless to say the second-half didn't allow Stan the luxury of such relaxed ponderings. The double whammy at 9.15ish of Preston taking the lead, again, and Southampton getting a penalty felt like a pivotal moment. If Southampton score, then you'd fancy them to go on and win the game.
That would have meant that if PNE held on the gap between City and bottom three would be back to two points with PNE due on Saturday. So it's a big Stanley pat on the back for Stern John, well done lad, you'd get a game with Stanley's five-a-side team with that kind of Matt 'Drinkell' Worleyesque 'ballooning'.
So, yep, the gap's still five points, but City continue to move up the table, ten games unbeaten, and only nine points off the play offs with three months to go.
Now if we can cut the gap to six points by March 1st? Oh come on Stan make your mind, over or up?
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