Saturday, 17 November 2012

3 Well Earned Points May Herald a Change of Fortune

A good win in the bleak surroundings of Turf Moor may preface a  change of fortune.
I had my doubts when Jackson missed a penalty and we found ourselves playing 10 men, which can always backfire unexpectedly.However, the side stuck at it and were rewarded with what looks like a reasonable cushion emerging between us and the relegation zone and, amazingly, now within striking distance of the play-offs.
On the negative side, Stephens who has seen an upsurge in form is reportedly down with a sickness and Hollands, who I believe is still capable of doing a job for us, is off on loan with a permanent move a possibility.
However, we have drafted in a new experienced midfielder in Jonson; a young  player, Ashton, looking to build a career and there are rumours of a loan spell or more for Gunner Frimpong who could be quite a catch (subject to fitness). With Devite putting in some good performances and able to provide cover for midfield and the back four CP may soon have an embarrassment of choice.
Upfront, Hulse is proving a solid old fashioned target man who is prepared to graft and I am pleased to see that Haynes has been given the opportunity to shine. He has continued his impressive run. At last we have someone who can take on a defender and beat him and show a real turn of speed and even put it into the back of the net!
With Kermorant on the way back to fitness (and Wiggins too) then CP will have some interesting selection choices to make.
If we could manage 4 or 6 points from our next two home games then things could begin to get quite interesting. It would also make me feel less morose about the impending Dec 1st fixture away to local rivals Millwall. For those who go back as far as the bad old days of the Kent County Challenge Cup at the Old Den there is always a foreboding about this fixture. We rarely seemed to get much out of it though good old Kim Grant's winner some years ago broke the trend if I recall. To go into this fixture on a good run of results might just drain some of the confidence of the Lions/ spanners.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Welcome Win (and Relief for all)

Rampant depression set in early at the Valley when we gifted two early goals to Cardiff and played without any conviction for most of the first half.
Cardiff looked another very neat one-touch team like several others who have caused us grief at the Valley this season.
To combat the problematic left back position CP reverted to playing Morrison there (the first time since this failed at Stevenage last season). That enabled Solly to try his hand again at left back after Kerkar’s previous appearance there looked doomed to failure. Devite took over at centre back, though his first half performance in the air was unconvincing. The situation was crying out for Morrison to marshal the centre of defence.
But what a transformation we were to witness. Jackson took advantage of the keeper losing an aerial duel with Huilse (in my opinion there was nothing wrong with Hulse’s challenge: about time the 200% protection of keepers came to an end anyway). Jackson followed this up with a piercing header from close range that the Cardiff defence somehow let come through. Jackson had the cool head to score these goals but still did not do enough to merit his place in my book. Though the general feeling seems to be that Hollands lacks the required pace (perhaps influenced by his close season surgery) he would contribute more in overall terms to the side than Jackson right now.
Cardiff were stunned in the second half by the home side’s transformation, showing a willingness to chase everything (personified by Pritchard’s, Stevens and Hulse’s unselfish running and tackling). Devite’s performance in the second half improved as he seemed to win more and more in the air and with some strong tackling.
Stephen’s powerful free kick goal from 40 yards was a peach, it looked like a bit of a fluke, though he came near to scoring in a similar way in a previous home game. Huilse scored a great header from a great cross.
However, the goal for me was Haynes acrobatic leap after Pritchard had crossed after winning the ball from a seemingly hopeless position.
Haynes was my main proposed change in the side. I have always felt that he has the speed and ability to stamp his mark on the team. Unfortunately, he is also injury prone and I hope his departure was due to a painful knock rather than resulting in another injury enforced long period on the sidelines.
The hard earned lead was nearly thrown away at the and when our overall fragility was once again exposed.
I’m not sure whether we were just plan knackered or whether we had paid the penalty yet again of falling back and inviting the other side to go at us, on this occasion trying to hold on to a safe lead.
A point at Bristol would ease tings on all fronts a little.
Pity a fine result was marred by good results from Millwall and Palace.
(Postscript: though it was good to see a number of inexperienced youngsters on the bench, I couldn't quite see the logic of this with Cook presumably anticipating another opportunity to impress).