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Your Report added at 16:47:36
Lining up with a striker and central midfielder on the wings backfired as we struggled to find any real rhythm going forward in the first half. I usually quite like Bru spraying the ball around but both him and Bishop were denied any space by a hardworking Barnsley team. When they did get the ball they had little movement or options around them. This could have been partly resolved by playing a 433 with that particular personnel or by introducing an important facet of the modern game: more adventurous ball playing full backs.

The struggling Bishop and Bru were sacrificed at half time for the new signings and we set up in what appeared to be a 433. McCarthy at least had the initiative to change things early and the clinical finishing of Ward separated the two teams. His goals inspired the crowd and his team mates. We stepped up a gear and started playing with confidence. With the safety net of Skuse behind them, the pace and adventure of Ward and the cultured left foot of Grant provided a platform for Murphy and Didz to play their natural games up front. Sears toiled but without reward and will hope to partner Murphy or Didz in a conventional front two at some point this season.

While Wards sensational hat trick and Grants promising debut should give us optimism for the season ahead it should not paper over the cracks. We were poor in the first half and lucky not to go in behind at the break. Bialkowskis outstanding save was just as important as some of Wards strikes. We conceded two very poor and avoidable goals. Webster will need an adjustment period after stepping up two divisions. Chambers was ok at rb but may struggle against better sides. Knudsen looked a little shakey defensively and was inconsistent going forward. Emmanuel and Kenlock should fancy their chances of usurping them this season.

Where do we go from here in terms of team selection and tactics? Surely the new signings have to start at Brentford. Bishop should be given another chance through the middle, flanked by the new boys with Skuse as insurance again. Sears may find himself as an impact sub as Murphy and Didz continue to improve their fitness and partnership.
Your Report added at 19:57:03
Going by Steve Evans' comments he must have left the ground after 15 minutes! I feared the worst when they scored so early. But aside from that energetic first quarter of an hour and some aesthetically pleasing passing moves, which came to nothing, I felt we dominated the game.

Carayol looked a real threat down their left against Chambers but we gradually snuffed out that threat and began to develop a rhythm of our own. Dougals and Skuse put in solid shifts (forgetting the formers mistake early on) and began to string a few passes together. However, the star man in the middle for me was Kevin Bru whose deft touch and eye for a pass gave us a real sense of purpose when we regained possession and find the front three.

The only player to upstage the Mauritian in my opinion was Fraser. The Scotsmans incredible pace and dribbling ability led to both goals and other opportunities which were squandered. Knudsen was always in support and the two formed a potent left wing axis.

Your Report added at 07:51:03
Hard fought game between two very well drilled and organised teams. In all honesty 0-0 would have been a fair score line as I felt that Russell's foul was the only reason Tom Ince went through on goal to score. But the fact the referee missed it does not surprise me one bit as he was conned by most of Derby's foul play and acting for the 90 minutes.

Our defence was excellent today and gave Derby very few opportunities. Sat in front of them Cole Skuse battled well and you would never have known he was playing with a broken nose. The problem was that their defence was just as solid in spite of the best efforts of Sears, who once again led by example running at defenders and looking for space.

Freddie was given some much needed help when Fraser made his much needed return. With Sears moving up front alongside Murphy, the super-charged Fraser was electric and gave the Derby defence another problem to deal with. But deal with him they did. The promising thing for me was that when both Fraser and Sears were on the pitch I can envisage over 90 minutes that they will prove too much for most teams in this league.

Having two players who are direct with pace and the ability to beat a man will open up spaces for the likes of Murphy and Pitman. Shackell and Keogh did a job on our strikers today and our centre backs will feel aggrieved not have a clean sheet also.

I cannot fault the effort of the team today and at times the tempo was great and equally matched by the crowd who played their part.

Your Report added at 16:26:57
Ps I thought that Skuse was excellent defensively again today
Your Report added at 16:09:42
A counter attacking performance from us where by MK Dons had the lions share of possession but failed to really create any chances until the 75th minute. There on in our defence and keeper stood firm, repelling wave after wave of attack in what can only be described as a siege on our goal.

Murphy and Sears both went through and were wrongly deemed off side. The same duo went through onside once again each and fluffed their lines. Murphy also had a great chance which he failed to convert.

We looked far stronger than them at the back and when we went forward always looked relatively threatening. BUT as has been the case so often during McCarthy's reign we have had a solid defence and a potent attack but lost the battle for middle earth against teams who retain the ball better than us in the engine room. Bear with me on the sandwich analogy but its akin to having the most expensive bread but then skimped on the filling in the middle.

To be fair McCarthy has worked wonders with such a small budget and I can see how Douglas and Skuse play their part in defending as a unit. But as so many have alluded to on this forum, just a bit more technical guile is required in that department to elevate us from top 6 challengers to a top 2 promotion winning outfit. The return to fitness of Fraser, Bishop and Bru will help this facet of our game I'm sure.
Your Report added at 09:46:45
We looked to be on our way to grinding out a 1-0 win until Berra made a very rare mistake. We looked so much better when MM switched to a 4-3-3 and introduced Bru. We pegged them back with Varney, Murphy and Sears occupying their back line and Bru pulling the strings in midfield. I should imagine we will keep it tight against Blackburn and retain a 4-4-2 but if we do need to score it's reassuring to know we have that option.

Dare I say it but maybe we would invite less pressure on our own back four by taking the game to the opposition with a 4-3-3. One problem may be that Varney is ineligible against his parent club and we are short on strikers.

Either way, great attendance and atmosphere yesterday! COYB's.
Your Report added at 08:36:00
Despite our fantastic home record I said to numerous people that I would have taken a point before the game so absolutely thrilled with all three. Bournemouth and Boro represent our biggest threats to promotion, both ahead of Derby in my opinion.

I watched Karanka's side comfortably beat the Rams last weekend and they looked very strong in every department. Leadbitter, Clayton, Adomah and Reach seemed to strike a perfect balance in midfield and always looked capable of creating something.

McCarthy initially lined up 4-4-2 with Parr and Tabb forming a left wing axis to nullify the threat of Adomah. The Ghanaian was virtually anonymous and our two banks of four in general demonstrated the work ethic and levels of organisation which epitomise McCarthy's reign. Boro were unable to find the space and time they most likely do against other opposition and their frustration culminated in some fairly dirty challenges.

For all our industry we also produced some quality with Tabb's bursting run down the left and centre, then his header leaving myself and I'm sure many others eating their words. I had written Tabb off in the summer and was critical after the Naaarich game. Long may his form continue as I understand he was also excellent against Bolton. Ditto Anderson and Bishop. The latter looks so natural on the ball, possibly more so than any other player in the squad, although Didz may question that.

Teams in this league will be dreading to coming to fortress Portman Road and will not relish us battling for a point or stealing a win at their own ground either.
Your Report added at 00:07:42
I thought that our back four were exceptional tonight, Parr and Mings added so much to our attack but didn't get caught out at the back. Berra and Chambers were really solid too. Bishop looked so natural and comfortable on the ball, always looking to receive it but Hyypia had clearly done and his homework as the young starlet was closely guarded, something a player of his ability was always going to have to learn to deal with eventually. I would echo those calling for Hyam to partner him in the engine room ahead of Skuse. Murphy's goal was exceptional and his partnership with a fully fit and rejeuvenated McGoldrick should yield 30+ goals between them.

I thought that Anderson and Tabb toiled well tonight, they protected the full backs and helped us look like a solid unit. My only wish looking to the future would be to see Williams come back on loan. He could play on the left cutting in and make us even more threatening going forward. For all Tabb's contribution I think we need more attack threat on the left flank to step up another level. That said, well done to Mings, his swashuckling runs were a real positive of tonights performance.
Grimsby Town v Forest Green Rovers Your Report added at 14:05:10
The first half wasn't exactly the best spectacle, with myself wondering what difference Wordworth's passing range would add to the occassion. A certain other outcast came to mind with Hunt and Anderson failing to really run at their full backs, with the exception of one Paul cross which Stephen should have converted.

When McCarthy brought on Nouble and SEB in the second half to play up front with Murphy then we looked a real threat. Williams had some good options with those 3 in front of him and behind him a solid foundation in Hyam, Skuse who guarded the again excellent back five (with Gerken, who had a good game).

Nouble wasn't quite as good as previous games but still far better than the player who started the season and got himself into two excellent positions, one of which he should have scored. SEB is a threat and needs a bit of luck to get off the mark. If we did reach the play offs and McGoldrick was fit, I could see McCarthy keeping Williams behind Murphy. Dids would excel in a similar role to Nouble's floating in from the flank and I'm sure he would converted the chances that fell to Frank.

I can see why McCarthy starts with Hunt and Anderson to keep it tight in the first half as they are highly industrious and make us very difficult to break down. As teams and especially defences tire the last thing they want to face is 3 strikers like Murph, SEB and Nouble who are physically imposing and possess some pace. As I said earlier if Dids is fit he will make us even more of a threat.
Harrogate Town v Morecambe Your Report added at 19:19:49
Most definitely a game of two halves! I couldn't believe it when we conceded early on again. We defended pretty well for the rest of the game though with Berra and Smith again excellent. They must be one of the best defensive combinations in the league.

In the second half we came to life with Williams getting on the ball more. Yet again though Anderson and Hunt lacked an end product out wide and at times there movement was very poor. We looked far more threatening when thy were replaced by Ebanks-Blake and Nouble, who formed a front 3 with Murphy and Williams in behind.

Nouble was unrecognisable compared to the player who began the season. His first touch was good, he shielded the ball well and ran at defenders, eventually producing the cross for Murpy's goal. These 3 looked a real threat and only an outstanding performance from Darlow prevented us from securing a 3rd straight win.

The two most frustrating facets of the game for me were the lack of movement and penetration out wide before SEB and Nouble came on. And the poor crossing and general use of the ball by Chambers. I hope Hewitt is continuing to make good progress at Gillingham as his footballing ability would add to our attacking threat.
Leyton Orient v Oldham Athletic Your Report added at 07:40:47
The atmosphere last night was excellent, at least it was in the north stand lower near section 6. The referee in contrast was terrible! I thought it would be us fouling Derby all evening to contain them but it was vice versa! Chris Martin should have been sent off and Williams was afforded little protection. Perhaps the Town fans sense of inustice helped fuel the atmosphere (alongisde reduced ticket prices: more of this please Mr Evans). 4 yellow cards does not accurately reflect the number of fouls Derby committed.

Smith and Berra again looked excellent at the back and provide a solid foundation for the rest of the team. There were times last night when we kept the ball really well. Jonny Williams must have an influence on this. Others see how he retains possession and try to replicate it. Hyam was much improved if not perfect in this department and Wordsworth used the ball wisely. I cannot find enough superlatives to describe Williams. Great first touch, confidence to beat a man and pick a through ball, pace, work rate and a goal to cap it all off!

Williams desire to the do the above is infectious, with Anderson and Hunt attempting to do something similar. Unfortunately, for all their endeavour they lack Jonny's quality and this is an area I feel we need to improve if we are to improve. Taylor for me should start every game cutting in from one of the flanks. Murphy would benefit from having two great options out wide when he's holding the ball up, not just the immense Williams behind him as teams will work us out and continually foul him like last night.
Bring on Forest!
Mansfield Town v Scunthorpe United Your Report added at 15:56:02
The defence was solid and restricted Birmingham to very few chances. Berra was the stand out performer and marshalled the back line admirably. The midfield 3 were workman like and I felt Green stood out more than Skuse and Tabb. When William's is fit his control, pace and forward thinking will really stand out in our engine room. I think he will help to make us a more entertaining side to watch.

The front 3 was possibly the most interesting facet of the game. Taylor's first touch was sublime and his burst of pace and willingness to go forward really threatened their backline. He has to start more regularly as he gives us an extra dimension. Murphy played the target man role to good effect and even Nouble had a decent game for once.
Portsmouth v Wycombe Wanderers Your Report added at 19:55:37
It was really encouraging to watch us control the game for long periods today, especially against a side who will probably be in the top 6 or even the top 2 come May. Hyam's work rate and clever use of the ball was extremely encouraging. Ditto Edwards who brought the ball forward on numerous occassions. Luongo didn't impose himself as much as he had done in previous games but still put in a very good shift.

Lee Martin worked tirelessly and was perhaps unlucky not to score. He was the exception in our creative department though I'm afraid. Nothing came off for JET and Carson did not impose himself enough until the end of the game. I felt that when Scotland came on his physical presence stopped us getting bullied as much, while Drury's passing was farm more direct and purposeful.

We were unlucky to concede as apart from theie headed goal Smith and Chambers did a job against Kazim-Richards and Gomes. We stopped Blackburn from getting on the ball by keeping it ourselves. However, we still need a tall powerful front man to give us an extra dimension. And while I'm sure JET will come good, I would like a very direct pacey winger in the Adam Hammill mould to add to our options.
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