Saturday, 15 October 2011

Had to Happen: But it was the Manner of defeat

We got out of jail from two very poor first halves at MKDONS and Sheffield United and were nearly found out at home against Tranmere. Added to that the Paint Trophy debacle against Brentford, and we are not exactly in a rich vein of form.

In view of that, I feared the worse for this banana skin of a game as per my last post, and though we lost to an unlucky deflected shot, the manner in which we played and surrendered the ball and the midfield was the worse thing about the defeat.
The signs have been there to see, the midfield misfiring with Stephens and Hollands not dominating as they had in earlier games, and the opposition sussing out our style of play and closing us down.
It’s all very well playing it on the ground, as many fans demand, but you have got to have players who can command the game doing that naturally; and can beat a man.
Once again, we had few examples of anyone (inc. down both flanks) taking the ball around a man. Passing persistently square and finishing off with a hopeful punt is predictable now to most opposing sides, who have clearly being doing their homework before the games.
Stevenage did not dominate as physically as I had anticipated, but they probably had the upper hand for most of the game other than the usual last 10-15 minutes pressure that kicks in regularly out of desperation when we have gone behind on occasions.
Stevenage scored a freakish deflected goal but on balance probably deserved it, though our ineptitude on the day made them look better than they are.
Added to our lack lustre performance was the eccentric selection at the back with Solly dropped, Cort in the middle and Morrison switching to right full back.
Hughes did a lot of timed running in the pre-game warm up. My nephew speculated that it may have been a fitness test and when he failed it they selected Morrison at full back. Not sure about that, but it 's one explanation. I had speculated that Cort was in to defend in the air against their big forwards, and Solly was out because of a poorish game in the last home match and because CP was concerned he would be up against some classy, or big, opposing player.
In the event, Stevenage did not seem to have much talent going down the left and Morrison was not tested that much. Most of their attacking flair came from a deep right sided midfielder. Probably just as well, as many would have been criticising Powell for playing a centre half at right back (as he did with Mambo when Francis went off at home). The fact that our right back options are Francis (currently out of favour) and Hughes (who does not give great confidence and had a poor last home game) puts onto doubt the strength of the squad ion key positions.
CP took too long to try and change things around in the second half, taking off Green (another poor game) and bringing on Wagstaffe very late in the second half.
Others criticised bringing on Evina late on, as he is considered to be a left full back.
I was more in sympathy, as he has speed and can beat a man, and could have been usefully deployed down the left flank instead of Stephens, largely anonymous, or even Jackson who was once again out of the game for too much of the time.
It’s easy to be critical of Yann Kermorgant and BWP. The former won many balls in the air again, but others do not seem to read that so they are largely wasted. BWP came close a couple of times near the end (but did not do a much else). However, the patchy midfield performance and Green’s duff game did not provide either of them with a decent ball at their feet for long periods.
This poor performance was against a side who won the Conference a few seasons back with virtually the same team fielded today, bar two useful additional signings the club has made. That kind of puts this lacklustre performance into context.
The other results today went broadly for us, and I guess a draw between the two Sheffields tomorrow would be just about right.
We need to sort out the defence and get some creative attacking imagination back into the side ASAP, in order to avoid a gradual decline, as has been commonplace in previous seasons after such a good start,
(This disappointing display was once again soured for many by the selfish standing of a small minority. One half of the stand was seated for most of the game and made a hell of a lot of noise. The small minority made others stand after they had spent their hard earnt cash on a seat that they wanted. Sorry, but there are many loyal fans who have no need to 'stand up if you love CAFC'. They have demonstrated that over good and bad seasons over many seasons.
There was no such problem at Sheffield United, from a crowd really up for it,  and without the need for a repetitive drum roll!). 

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