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|Mansfield Town v Cheltenham Town Your Report added at 22:47:49|
Live in Huddersfield so a "home" game for me. Pretty much the complete away performance from Town. Dominated the first half, great goal from Anderson, well taken strike from Murph and countless other chances to boot. $-0 would not of flattered Town at the interval. God football, possession retained, threats from the flanks and solid, effective defending whilst keeping our shape.
Not quite as dominant in the second period but defensively solid. Huddersfield's first strike on goal in 80th minute forced Gerken into a stop with his feet. Saw out the game very comfortably.
Gerken - virtually untroubled
Chambers - outstanding. Faultless defensively and an attacking threat throughout as well
Cresswell - looked class. Taken off on the hour, hopefuly as a precaution
Berra & Smith - dominant. Looking a good pair
Anderson - great goal, much more positive and a good shift
Hyam - terrier-like against the Terrriers. Doing the dirty work all the time
Skuse - controlled the midfield all game
Hunt - best I've seen him play. Warmly applauded when substituted
Murphy - another goal and solid performance.
Williams - gives the class we have missed. JInks, bobs and weaves. Crucially, he rarely loses possession. A season long loan - I'd love it. More chants of "sign him up" and "Jonathan Williams" to the tune of Karma Chameleon from the fans
Mings - looked solid. One for the future for sure
Wordsworth - retained possession when needed
Richardson - did the job he was asked to do
Starting to think we might just sneak in there.
|Crawley Town v Cheltenham Town Your Report added at 20:50:13|
"We knew they liked to pump it long". These were the words of Boro striker Danny Graham after his two goals had sent Town home with the "nowt" that this performance merited. His words were, unfortunately, spot on the money. Town's only tactic today was to lump it in the general direction of the strikers as the hard working Boro front players never allowed the Town backline to settle. The pumped balls were, as a result, even more hopeful than usual and often failed to find a Town shirt. Time and again, Town players gave the ball away cheaply. This was the worst performance I have witnessed all season.
The Riverside holds just short of 35,000. Today, south of 14,000 witnessed the game. Without the drummer and the 1000 or so Boro fans singing in the stand where Town fans have been for the last few seasons, this really would have been "football in a library".
Mick's 433 looked attacking on paper but in reality, the midfield was outfought and outplayed simply couldn't hang on to the ball. Green doesn't have the engine for that formation as he afforded Chambers no protection at all. Time and again the skipper was left alone to be confronted by a rampaging Carayol and Friend with Green 10-15 yards behind the play. So much was this the case that Nouble found himself on several occasions tracking back in the right back position to help his captain out. Credit to Frank but let's be honest, he was playing up front and should not really be required to this kind of work on a frequent basis.
Boro started on the front foot but it was Taylor who created the first bit of excitement, wriggling free and firing in a low cross which perhaps should have been turned goalwards that came to nought. Boro pressed and most of their best work came down the left from the aforementioned Carayol and Friend. They used the width of the pitch well but did not make the most of the openings that this brought them. Efforts off target and a great saving tackle from Berra saw the game remain goalless. Gerken did well to push a further effort around the post. For Town, Murphy appeared to make no contact with a headed opportunity but it was Taylor who really ought to have opened the scoring midway through the half. Murphy's scuffed shot ricocheted kindly into Taylor's path. Clean in on goal, he elected to shoot first time with the outside of his right foot from 16 yards. The ball flew over the bar. He really should have hit the target and scored and he knew it too.
Shortly after, Carayol again cut inside Chambers and fired a shot from 25 yards at the Town goal. Gerken spilled the shot straight out, Graham pounced from 5 yards and Boro had ended their seven game goalless streak. Gerken has his defenders and detractors on here but for me, this was an error. A top keeper would have held it or at worst parried it to the angle and away from goal. To push it straight out is an error in my book.
Thereafter, Boro were better. Most of their play coming down the left saw a succession of corner as the game entered first half stoppage time. Ah, the irony of it all - a Leadbitter corner saw Graham get between Green and Berra and glance his second of the game into the Town goal for a 2-0 scoreline.
To Mick's credit, he recognised that 433 wasn't working and moved to 442 after the break. He has rightly pointed out that it could have been any of the front three but it was Nouble who was sacrificed. Green was pushed to right midfield but he is a square peg in a round hole in that position for me. Tabb move wide left and Hyam with Skuse in the middle. Nothing changed. Without being especially threatening, the home side were better. Town's first strike on goal came from Murphy on 66 minutes. It drew ironic cheers from the Town fans. It was so weak, my old man could have bent down and picked it up. Worryingly, Berra went down after a heavy challenge with Friend. After hobbling for a while, he seemed OK. Taylor was replaced by Ebanks-Blake for the final 20. He had worked hard and showed flashes but never really got free. He is not suited to high ball pumped in his direction after all! My guess is it will be back to the bench for him on Tuesday although I would like to see him given a run of four or five starts - that would be a fair crack of the whip for me. Creswell dragged a long range free kick wide, Green spooned a effort similarly off target and Williams came on for the ineffective Tabb. In the last five minutes, Town seemed to try to up the tempo. Cries from the travelling faithful of "Shoot, shoot" showed our desperation but saw several players fail to take responsibility and oblige when the opportunity seemed to be there. Smith headed awkwardly wide from a corner and just before the whistle, Berra force a sort of save with a header, clattering into the stanchion behind the goal as a consequence.
As I said earlier, this was a s bad as I have seen us this season. Mick's honesty in that we were "second best and deserved 'nowt" will be of scant consolation to the 500 or so Town fans who made the trip. Three points at Yeovil are now essential.
Comments on the players:
Gerken - there will be those who don't agree but that was a poor error. Neither he nor Loach are good enough if we are to be genuine challengers.
Chambers - exposed over and over. Eventually booked. I love Chambo but this was poor as I have seen him. His distribution was simply terrible.
Smith - Distinctly average today. Never comfortable and never allowed to settle
Berra - He was OK but I think he let Graham get infront of him for the second
Creswell - not on the top of his game. OK defensively but it's not happened going forward since Tunners left.
Green - either play him in the centre in a 442 or just don't bother - he doesn't have the engine for 433.
Skuse - pretty anonymous to be honest
Tabb - no denying the industry but to what end?
Taylor - flashes of skill and working the space for himself but then failed to capitalise. Really should of scored.
Murphy - oh dear Daryl. Nothing worked for him. He was dominated aerially, gave the ball away countless times and looked very lumbering and lethargic
Nouble - not great but he worked hard, especially trying to help Chambo out. One such occasion was classic Frank. Worked his nuts off, tracked back, won the ball, moved clear with a lovely little shimmy and then looked for a pass to a teammate. He put the ball straight into touch whilst under no pressure.
Hyam - booked six minutes after coming on. Tightened things up but that's all.
Ebanks-Blake - never had a sniff of goal. Tried to link up play but the gap between the front line and the midfield makes this a thankless task. At 2-0 down at half time, Mick should have brought him on earlier.
Williams - energy but in this game he had little chance of impact
Truly terrible today - let's hope a kick up the backside brings three points on Tuesday!
Thanks for reading.
|Crawley Town v Forest Green Rovers Your Report added at 21:02:46|
Mick has rightly said that we were beaten by a better team and the league does not lie - they are streets ahead of us (and almost everybody else too!) What's of more interest though is why this is the case. Movement and forward intent from their midfield and pace in several positions to boot. We are a decent side but those two ingredients are what we are missing most and it will be Mick's job to try to rectify these deficiencies in time for next season.
As expected, Nouble started up top alongside Murphy. Tabb in the middle with Skuse and Green and Hunt occupying the wide midfield berths, the ususal back line and Gerken returning in goal. A healthy away following contributing to a 28K crowd spurred on by the beat of drummer to our left.
The Foxes started quickly and throughout the first half the front two of Vardy and our nemesis Nugent worked incredibly hard, chasing down every ball with real intent and not giving the Town back line any time whatsoever. Town were troubled by the sun and on countless occasions this lead to defenders allowing the ball to bounce and find themselves pressurised by the aforementioned Foxes' strikers, ably assisted by Dyer and Knockaert down the flanks. The wind also seemed to be affecting Town and Gerken's poor handling and suspect kicking gave the table toppers every encouragement to chase every long ball in. Runners from midfield were hard to track but we seemed to have weathered the opening storm. Gerken deserves credit for a good save from Morgan's header. Skuse should have done much better when the ball fell icely to him on the edge of the box but he scuffed the chance well wide. He should be disappointed not to have hit the target. Town had a couple of free kicks which came to nought but on 20 we were the architects of our own downfall. Tabb sought to play the ball back to Gerken but he did not see Vardy. The Fox entered the box, intercepted Tabb's pass and slotted home past a stranded Gerken. I might be being harsh but I was left with the feeling Gerken was a little indecisive but that might be me being unfair to be honest. Home pressure continued with width, pace, movement and confidence all very evident. Surprisingly, however, Gerken had little to actually do. Town forays were sporadic, Murphy and Nouble struggling to make an impact and we simply do not have the forward thinking midfield players to offer them that extra support. to really make an impact against this kind of quality.
Another ball over the top saw Vardy reach the ball before Berra. The young Fox managed to get in a cross which Chambers ably blocked but the ball fortuitously returned straight to Vardy who crossed pinball style straight to the waiting Nugent who simply cushioned the ball in for his customary goal against Town and 2-0. The home side had a free kick go narrowly wide and continued to press before the ref blew for half-time. Some re-grouping was needed and for the first time since our last visit to The King Power stadium, I genuinely feared another cricket score might be in the offing.
Thankfully, Town were a little better after the break although the Foxes went very close in the opening exchanges to extending their lead. Again, the pace of Dyer had us all at sea. Alongside a better performance from Town, Leicester seemed to take their foot off the gas and gradually we came more into the game. On the hour, Tabb was replaced by Anderson, Green moving to his more natural position in the centre. Murphy and Nouble both failed to make decent contact with the same half chance and Nouble almost charged down one back pass to Scmeichel before exiting for Ebanks-Blank. Town put some crosses into the box, Smith unable to get onto the end of Berra's flick. Murphy had an attempt from the edge of the area blocked but the home side still looked threatening and far more composed in possession. For the final 15 Taylor replaced Hunt and had an effort go a yard or so wide as the forgotten man cut in from the right. Cresswell dragged a free kick tamely well wide as the game petered out. Smith's New Zealand colleague Chris Wood replaced Nugent and with a couple of minutes to go brushed aside Town defenders and slotted past the advancing Gerken to put the result beyond doubt (though frankly it had been for the last 20 minutes to be honest). Taylor put a Town free kick into the side netting but Town were still distinctly second best. Some banter between the younger singing Town fans and the home crowd served as a little light relief before the final whistle. We were outplayed and to return to my original theme, put to the sword by pace and movement. They are the best side in the league and maybe we can learn one or two lessons from the style of play that has got them there.
Some player comments:
Gerken - some good stops but he looks shaky when the ball goes back to him an Leicester seemed to sense it.
Chambers - not his best performance but not the worst. Exposed a few times and like all the back four, rushed into hoofing it by the energetic Foxes over and over again
Berra - not his usual composed self. Like Smith, allowed the ball to bounce too much with the sun in his eyes and was a bit exposed by the ball over the top and the pace of Vardy.
Smith - very similar to Berra. Never allowed to settle.
Cresswell - one lovely nutmeg in the first half and a couple of decent crosses. Average at best
Green - not a right sided midfielder and I saw him a couple of times in the first half not doing enough to get back as the Foxes broke with pace. Better in the centre.
Skuse - neat, tidy and probably our best midfielder today. Should have hit the target. Needs someone alongside him somewhere in the midfield to compliment his game and not replicate it.
Tabb - at fault for the first for sure. Not imposing himself in the centre of the park. Mick says "Tabby's great" but still took him off after 60 minutes. Actions speak louder than words Mick.
Hunt - busy and perhaps our most creative outlet at times. Hasn't yet formed a proper working partnership with Cresswell down the left side. They don't seem to be on the same wavelength at the moment in terms or overlapping one another.
Nouble - lots of work from Frank. Won more high balls than I have ever seen him. Had one chance to show his pace and power in the first half but it petered out and he was brushed aside.
Murphy - an enigma for me. Murph seems to have everything needed for a Championship number 9 and he might well argue that the service just isn't good enough at times. He'd be right but I can't get past the fact that far too many times (especially against the better teams) Murph just doesn't present enough of a physical threat. I've said it before, against players like Morgan, Daryl declines to challenge -a token jump is what you get. Morgan will have removed him from his pocket at the final whistle today.
Anderson - had one or two chances to go at his man but elected to turn back inside and go backwards or sidewards. Compare this to Dyer and Knockaert today and their forward drive.
Ebanks-Blake - give him a run and we'll see. I thought he did OK today although I was unimpressed that he went straight down the tunnel on the final whistle without acknowledging the away support
Taylor - in the short time he was on, one nice crossfield ball to Anderson, two strikes at goal and some forward drive. Did lose the ball a couple of times as well.
I know these are very long reports and I apologise if they are too much to get through!
|Tranmere Rovers v Colchester United Your Report added at 19:40:58|
Leaving the pitch at the final whistle, Big Mick puffed out his cheeks as the fans saluted him with another rendition of "Super Mick". Did he think it was a point gained or two lost. Under the circumstances - two down with ten to go - you might think it's a point gained. Looking at the game as a whole, it's more likely to feel like two dropped.
I like Oakwell as a ground but today it was increasingly cold and the swirling wind had a real impact on the game. Town started sluggishly with a number of long balls being misjudged by Chambers and Berra in particular in the wind. After a lucky escape for Town when Hunt miscontrolled on the edge of his own area, the home side struck the opening goal on about 12 minutes, O'Grady allowed to turn too easily when moving away from goal as his shot beat a flat footed Gerken at his far post. Barnsley had some threatening moments, Gerken punching one dangerous cross away but Town went closest to a goal when Cresswell's excellent free kick struck the post midway through the half. A number of corners and half chances for Town resulted in nothing as several players, including McGoldrick, snatched at shots and Smith headed one great chance wide just before half time. Barnsley had been the better side despite the fact that Gerken hadn't really had that much to do. Quite simply, we hadn't made Steele in the Barnsley goal do enough either.
Town came out with more fire in their bellies in the second half and the misjudgements of the Town players in the first half now seemed to plague the home players making the impact of the wind more obvious. Five minutes in, Nouble was withdrawn and replaced by Anderson. To be frank, Nouble had been very poor, his control just not good enough, his touch clumsy and his contribution negligible. Hunt came more into the game and Town started to dominate. Hunt drove at the Barnsley area from the half way line, running out of steam at the final moment and Tabb was unable to hit the target from 18 yards as Town turned the screw. Anderson fired wide from six yards after a terrific move in which Town passed the ball as well as I have seen them this season. Skuse fired wide from the edge of the area and really should have opened his Town account as he blazed over from 10 yards shortly after. Other chances fell to Murphy and Anderson but two good saves from Murphy denied Town a deserved equaliser. More scuffed attempts from Town and several corners saw Town increasingly frustrated as Hunt pulled the strings impressively and McGoldrick continued to look impressive with his hold up and link play. Anderson had made a positive impact on the game but all seemed lost when a rare foray from the Tykes resulted in deflected free kick from the right side of the box finding its way past Gerken and into the Town net just seconds after Green had come on to replace Tabb on with 15 to go. Cruel on town who really should have been ahead but credit to the team, they did not give up. After a couple of corners, Smith nodded Anderson's looping ball goalward, O'Brien blocked and Berra pounced to volley home from five yards with just nine minutes left on the clock. A minute later, Hunt missed a golden chance to draw Town level as he met a cross from the left about six yards out but somehow managed to put the ball agonisingly wide. A minute or so later, with Town piling forward, McGoldrick was fouled about 22 yards out on the right side of the box. Cresswell tapped the ball to his right and McGoldrick's well struck flew into the Barnsley goal via a wicked deflection for 2-2. Fully deserved but Town went hunting for the winner. Hunt, the star man for me, pulled a cross back and debutant Green really should have scored from 10 yards but his shot was a little scuffed and blocked. One decent effort from Barnsley was saved by Gerken and in the final two minute of the five added on, Town looked as though they had settled for the draw. Mick has always maintained a point away from home is a good point. Maybe today, he might feel it should have been three.
Gerken - no real chance with with either goal although he looked flat footed for the first
Chambers - an average performance by the skipper
Cresswell - good today. Defensively solid, and pushing forward and combining with Hunt in particular
Smith - very solid. Probably should have hit the target in first half with headed chance
Berra - also solid and another goal! That's three so far.
Tabb - industrious and a reasonable performance
Skuse - should have scored but he is integral to the team
Hunt - second half he ran the game. Should have scored and also lucky not to have been boked in the first half
Nouble - poor game for Frank and Mick knows it, taking him off after 50 minutes
McGoldrick - he is a good player, great touch, great feet and we need to extend his contract soon!
Murphy - solid work fro Daryl and he made an effective contribution in the second half
Anderson - much better from Ando. He looked a threat and a vast improvement on Big Frank
Green - could have a been a dream debut but he looked comfortable
A long read I know but maybe you got something out of it.
|Walsall v Cambridge United Your Report added at 19:02:01|
A beautiful day in bright sunshine greeted us at the Keepmoat Stadium. The sun was right in the eyes of the Town fans for all of the warm up and from my vantage point continued to be a hindrance until 15 minutes into the game. Luckily enough, the first 15 were scrappy - the only real chance falling to Murphy after a couple of minutes but his goal-bound shot was blocked.
Nouble looked lively down the right for Town as both sides wrestled for control of the midfield. 24 minutes in, Murphy did well to win a corner down the Town left. From Cresswell's delivery, McGoldrick rose highest to thump home a header for the opening goal and from then on town took control. Neat interchanges in and around the Donny box forced another corner, this time from the right and Chambers thumped home a second headed goal, this time from a delivery from the increasingly impressive Tunnicliffe from the right.
In full control by now, Town were looking quite impressive. However, 2-0 is still vulnerable and after Skuse committed a foul some 27 yards out, Duffy brought an excellent save from Gerken as the Town stopper tipped his goal-bound free-kick onto the woodwork to maintain the two-goal advantage going into the break.
With the sun now well and truly gone, most Town fans sought a little warmth on the concourse. Nice touch from Donny to have a "Welcome Ipswich Fans" poster in the toilets with images from the 2000 play-off final too.
Town continued to dominate in the opening minutes of the second period and a third goal was not long in coming. McGoldrick expertly finishing a swifter counter attack involving Tunnicliffe and Murphy down the left. Full credit to Murphy for an excellent pull back to McGoldrick who delivered the killer blow to the home side hopes.
Further chances went begging and Nouble prodded home what looked like the fourth only to be flagged offside after Turnbull had parried Murphy's effort after more good work from McGoldrick in the box. Town's leading scorer went in search of his hat-trick but was unable to force the home keeper into anything other than routine stops despite a number of efforts. Graham replaced the hard-working Nouble with 18 minutes to go - the youngster failing to touch the ball for at least the next seven minutes as Town clearly took their foot off the gas. A demoralised Donny created a few half chances as one of their fans took it upon himself to drop kick the ball back onto the pitch, much to the amusement of the Town faithful who sang an ironic "Sign him up." With 8 minutes to go, McGoldrick departed to a standing ovation as he was replaced by Taylor.
Chambers almost added a magnificent fourth shortly before the end after exchanging passes with Tunnicliffe but his volleyed effort went narrowly wide of Turnbull's left post. Three solid points against a very poor if somewhat understrength Doncaster Rovers - still nothing to be sniffed at!
Gerken - great save from the free kick and a seemed a bit more willing to claim crosses and come off his line. One silly (if successful) moment in the first half when instead of clearing his lines, he elected to dummy the onrushing attacker and come back inside onto his right foot. Looked good but not advisable!
Chambers - great goal, solid defending and could have scored a real belter near the end. Town fans waited in anticipation of the obligatory fist pump at the end. Chambo duly obliged.
Cresswell - run of the mill 7/10 from Cressy. Surprisingly good in the air!
Smith - solid and generally untroubled
Berra - likewise
Tunnicliffe - best I've seen him play for Town. Showed some skill, forward drive and desire. My MoM (most will go for McGoldrick I guess)
Skuse - keeps Town ticking over with good, if unspectacular ball retention
Hyam - If only the average fan would appreciate that all teams need someone to do what Luke does they might realise what a valuable asset the boy is.
Nouble - getting better and more of threat. Unpredictable but Frank is showing signs he could be a half decent player after all.
Murphy - great work to win the corner for the first and a superb pull back for the third. Decent display from Daryl.
McGoldrick - thumping header for first and super finish for the third. Good hold up play, dropping deep at times. A few sloppy passes aside, you can't fail to be impressed
Graham - took an eternity to get his first touch. Looks balanced but had one or two opportunities to cross but took a little too long
Taylor - would like to see him get more game time. Some niggly fouls from him in the short time he was on the pitch.
Well done to the 900 or so Town fans for making the long journey. Not that far for me. 4 points from the next two games and I will start to believe myself!
|Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday Your Report added at 20:21:31|
A hard fought point which shows just how far Town have come from the "soft underbelly" and "milkiness" that Mick inherited just over 12 months ago. Town under previous regimes would have crumbled, especially during a spell from 10 - 20 minutes in the first half when Forest's quick passing down the Town right saw Chambers exposed on a number of occasions.
Murphy could have done better with an early headed chance and Nouble did really well with a run from the half way line and a rasping 25 yard effort which swerved in the air forcing the Forest keeper to parry before Forest took control. Town fans were infuriated with a clear dive from Cox as he raced into the area to be met by Gerken. Mick says he thought it looked like a pen and kudos to the ref for getting the decision right but he should have taken action against Cox (who had already been booked) and I feel he bottled it somewhat. Had he been deceived by the dive, Gerken would almost certainly have seen red.
Forest were getting most joy down the Town right. The narrow 433 leaving Chambers all too often 1 on 1 and sometimes 2 on 1. Slight tactical adjustments, withdrawing Murphy a little to the left allowed Tunnicliffe to offer Chambo more support but this was not before Cox had thudded a header against the Town crossbar. Not sure if Gerken got a touch. If he did, it was a great save.
For Town, McGoldrick had a couple of efforts from range that really did not trouble the Forest keeper with much more than routine saves. Town worked hard and by half-time, they had stemmed the tide and the game was more even.
The first period of the second half saw Forest on the front foot. Lots of crosses, a succession of corners and long throws from Halford in particular required solid defending from Town and a couple of decent chances went begging for the home side. Gerken produced a point-blank stop from Cox and the Town defence stood firm. As the minutes ticked by, the home fans became increasingly frustrated as Town came more into the game. Berra, breaking forward with a give and go, went close to breaking the deadlock. Cresswell was then booked for an altercation after being quite cynically fouled by Lansbury. From my vantage point, the Town full back may count himself a little lucky as he certainly moved his head in the direction of the former Canary. Town got an undeserved corner which bought howls of derision from the home crowd and much dispute from Andy Reid. It almost proved to be the pivotal moment of the game as Berra headed Cresswell's fine delivery goal ward, forcing a point blank stop from Darlow in the Forest goal. Town fans sensed their opportunity as the home crowd became increasingly tense. Thereafter, both sides pressed for a winner without creating too much that could be called clear-cut. Mick sent on Mings for McG (his only change of the day) as Town saw out the game for a well-earned point.
Gerken - some fine stops which ultimately earned us a point. Despite this, he can seem rooted to his line at times when he should be dominating the 6 yard box
Chambers - a few sliced clearances and took some abuse from his former fans. Generally solid, one great cross first half. Whole-hearted pro.
Cresswell - getting better and better both defensively and going forward. Great news about the contract. Hope this means we keep him not just beyond January but next season too.
Smith - Solid performance from one of Town's best players since Mick came.
Berra - Like Smith, Berra is solid and an excellent acquisition by Mick
Tunnicliffe - nothing spectacular but worked hard throughout
Hyam - ran his socks off, harried, won the ball and did all the hard work asked off him. Every team needs a player to do the dirty stuff.
Skuse - decent enough, some good block tackles and fairly clam if uninspiring in possession.
Murphy - nobody should criticise Murph for his workrate but ultimately I find him frustrating as he does not consistently make the most of his obvious aerial ability
Nouble - one flash of brilliance from Frank in first half and better hold up play and control from him than I have seen in the past. He is far from the finished article though
McGoldrick - Coming from deeper today and comfortable in possession. Shots from range didn't really trouble the keeper too much and overall it was one of his quieter performances
Mings - did what was asked of him in the few minutes he was on
Hope you get something from this if you weren't there today. We are certainly making progress and the future looks promising. Remember where we were 14 months ago!
|Cardiff City v Bristol City Your Report added at 19:12:21|
Back from the game and whilst overall a draw was probably fair, Bolton were there for the taking and we just don't seem to have that killer instinct in away games. So far this season I have been to Birmingham, Wigan, Derby, Sheff Weds and Bolton. We have four points from those performances and we could conceivably have won each one of them. As it is, this inability to take all three, whilst frustrating, is being based on solid foundations.
An unchanged line-up from McCarthy and whilst we were treated to a song from the Fijian Rugby squad before the game, our own singers made their feelings towards the Irish FA clear with a hands off message to the men from the Emerald Isle.
The game was slow to get going and whilst both sides had openings, a lobbed effort onto the roof of the Town goal was about as close as the Trotters would come and some neat play down the right put Anderson in but he struck straight at Lonegran before Tunnicliffe missed a glorious opportunity to open his Town account, hit the keeper from a few yards out after good work from Murphy to flash the ball across the goal. The on-loan youngster really should have scored and the travelling faithful could barely believe he hadn't. The Trotters, despite some impressive names both on the pitch and on the bench, were disjointed and Town played the better football but rarely threatened to make the breakthrough. A few crosses from the home team caused some Town nerves but the half time highlights consisted of little more than half chances.
Bolton were a little brighter at the start of the second period and a spell of corners saw Mills head powerfully over. Gerken was forced to tip over a 20 yard effort for a corner before Murphy bundled his way into the area whilst showing good strength but his effort was deflected narrowly wide. From the corner, Smith headed downwards and goalwards but it was easily cleared. McGoldrick dragged a shot wide and another Murphy effort lobbed onto the roof of the net. Poor tippy-tappy passing on the half way line by Town saw possession needlessly given away and with Smith and Cresswell out of position, Berra took one for the team, fouling on the edge of the box with the home striker about to shoot. From the free-kick, the Trotters would take the lead on 65 minutes as the ball curled over the wall and into the goal via a quite firm but unsuccessful touch by Gerken. Mick seemed poised to make substitutions a few minutes later with both Nouble and Tabb stripped for action for several minutes. On 73, McGlodrick struck a shot goalward but the was blocked and looped back to him on the edge of the area. Quickly adjusting his feet, the former Forest man volleyed left footed beyond the diving Lonegran for the equaliser. McGlodrick, racing towards the Town fans, looked ecstatic to have broken his away duck and the game was there for the taking. Mick made the substitutions straight after the goal, Nouble replacing Murphy and Tabb coming on for Hyam. Tunnicliffe moved into the centre and Tabb went wide left. Nouble showed pace and strength down the right to put in a great cross but no-one could get on the end of it. McGoldrick had an opportunity from another cross but he was unable to adjust himself quick enough and the ball bounced off him into the keeper's grasp. I felt we had the upper hand but the home side were still in the game as it entered the final few minutes. Edwards replaced Anderson and it become obvious that Mick had settled for another away point and was not going to risk defeat in search of all three.
Not a great game but the foundations of a decent team are there. Some genuine width and a bit of creativity with a more consistent foil for David McGoldrick is all that is lacking.
Some comments on the players:
Gerken -a few decent stops and an adequate performance
Chambers - whole hearted. Not at his best at right back and sometimes exposed by Anderson
Cresswell - played as poorly as I have seen for some time. His distribution was lacking at times
Smith - solid. Both he and Berra seemed to struggle at times judging high balls in the wind but Tommy did his job
Berra - like him the more I see him
Anderson - yet to see what this guy really offers. Width? - not really. Pace? - nope. Effort? - yes. A decent corner? - sometimes. Not enough for me though.
Skuse -he is good quality at this level. One long range effort over the keeper in the first half. Strong in the tackle and a neat, short range passer
Hyam - like Skuse but not quite as good. For the first 20, the game passed him by a bit,
Tunnicliffe - not at his best today. How he missed - god knows!
Murphy - one of Murphs better games. Lots of high ball won. He was decent today
McGoldrick - great strike and some neat touches. The goal aside, I might have taken him off five minutes earlier!!!
Tabb - gave a little extra energy to the cause
Nouble - usually very critical of Frank but he did fine today - getting in a few decent ball and laying it off a couple of time quite effectively
Edwards - nothing much to report - only touched the ball three or four times.
Hope those of you who couldn't go get something from this long post
|Queens Park Rangers v Watford Your Report added at 19:36:56|
After being at Derby in midweek and witnessing the Jekyll & Hyde performance in the proverbial game of two halves, it was hard to know what to expect from Town today.
McCarthy elected to go with the same eleven and Town opened on the front foot but were unable to make anything from the half chances the opening minutes served up. Similarly, the hosts had some openings but the game took a while to get going. Anderson's goal owed much to the quality of McGoldrick. Whilst the Championships' Player of the Month initially failed to control a high ball which would have set him off on a breakaway for himself, the silky frontman had the presence of mind to lift his head and see Anderson in space bearing down on the 18yard box. McGoldrick slipped the ball into his path and the former Forest man slotted under the advancing Kirkland for the opening goal. Celebrations from the sizeable travelling contingent were, however, rudely cut short when barley 90 seconds later parity was restored. A deep cross from the left went beyond Cresswell and was headed back across goal by a giant Wednesday frontman onto the head of Antonio who nodded home past a helpless Gerken from six yards.
Town responded positively and still looked the better side. Murphy almost profited from a neat McGoldrick throughball and I felt he backed out of the challenge a little as Kirkland came out of his area to clear the danger. From a Cresswell throw, Skuse moved infield and struck a rasping shot against the post with Kirkland well beaten as the ball moved considerably in the air. The host will consider themselves very unlucky not to have gone in at half time 2-1 up when Fryatt latched on to a Berra backheader but the on-loan Leicester frontman hit the shot straight at Gerken who somehow managed to push the ball over for a corner. It was a fine stop but he probably knew very little about it to be fair!
In the second period, Wednesday became increasingly reliant on long balls and the game suffered from periods of poor quality from both sides. McGoldrick blazed a shot high and Murphy hit one effort on the turn that went out for a thrown in. The big Irishman, fresh off a headed double on Tuesday , had another opportunity from an excellent Cresswell corner but headed weekly wide of the far post. Murph went closer with a left footed drive that forced Kirkland to push the ball around the post whilst Anderson did likewise from the right side of the penalty area as Town pushed for a winner. The Owls best opportunity came from a spectacular long range effort from substitute Jermaine Johnson but with Gerken beaten, the ball cannoned back of the crossbar and was cleared to safety. In the latter stages, Anderson was replaced by Tabb with Tunnicliffe moving to the right. This was later followed by the departure of Murphy for Nouble and in stoppage time, Mings came on for McGoldrick as McCarthy clearly settled for the point.
Overall, as they say, an away point is always a good point but on the back of the failure to secure all three midweek, it is hard not to feel we have not made the most of our opportunities in these last two games.
Some player comments:
Gerken - a couple of good stops today, one good punch in the second half too.
Chambers - looked a bit uneasy on the ball at times today and gave possession away once or twice
Smith - good performance against a very tall Wednesday striker
Berra - looking to be an excellent signing and a leader on the pitch
Cresswell - not his best game today but competent. Delivery from corners was good but wasted a couple of free kick deliveries too.
Anderson - took his goal superbly and seems to put in a good shift. Can leave Chambo a bit exposed at times and real wing play and trickery is not yet evident.
Skuse - keeps the midfield ticking over. Good tackler and really unlucky not to open his Town account when striking the post
Hyam - sections of the crowd are itching to get Luke out of the team. He is a worker and is trying to get forward. he needs to move the ball quicker sometimes and avoid needless fouls which give the apposition the chance to put dangerous set pieces into the Town box. Stick with the boy. He is working his nuts off.
Tunnicliffe - got some forward drive and physical presence. Would be nice to secure him for the season
Murphy - his best performance that I have see for a while. Won los of headers and was a good link man too. Perhaps could have done better, especially with a headed chance from a corner in the second half
McGoldrick - you must appreciate what he brings to the team. Hold up play, link play, a threat from outside the box and good movement. Having said that, he was not at his most effective today.
Tabb - did what was needed in the time he was on
Nouble & Mings - nothing to report really
Hoe you got a fell for proceedings despite the long report.
|Sheffield Wednesday v Reading Your Report added at 22:38:31|
Cheap as chips to get in - £30 for my boy, my old am and myself can't be bad can it! Modern and concrete it maybe but a great view and what looked like a great playing surface for a decent price.
The expected Town 11 started on the front foot and had Wigan on the rack during the opening exchanges. When Chambers headed an early Anderson set piece onto the bar we were certainly in control. The home side gradually got a foothold and long, cross field balls towards McClean and the scampering feet of Mcmanaman threatened our back line on the break.
12 minutes in and a corner to the back post saw Shotton lose Chambers and head goalwards from five yards. Gerken made a hash of it, misjudged the bounce and the ball snook past him on the near post. Poor goalkeeping for me. Town responded and several chances went begging. Anderson looked better and there were lots of crosses going into the Wigan box. Anderson, Berra and McGoldrick had chances, Skuse forced a fine save from Carson, Tunnicliffe had a decent opportunity and Murphy spurned the best chance to draw the boys level as we had control of the game for the most part. The former Premier League outfit still looked dangerous on the break and one or two set piece deliveries threatened a second home goal. At the interval we did not deserve to be behind but football is quite a simple game - it's all about putting the ball into the net and we hadn't done it.
The second period was much of the same. Whilst Wigan had opportunities from crosses and quick breaks, Town had most of the ball but lacked the killer instinct. Tunnicliffe looked strong and full of running and at no point did Wigan look a superior outfit to Town. On the hour, Anderson was replaced by Taylor. An intriguing move by McCarthy and the diminutive Scouser brought an added verve to the Town right flank, attacking at pace with trickery and a willingness to take a shot at goal. Corner after corner, cross after cross went into the Wigan box but we just didn't seem to be able to apply the killer touch. The home side maintained a solid back line, Carson making some fine stops (notably from a strike from Berra) and the ever present threat of a sucker punch second for Wigan made for decent entertainment. Nouble and Wordsworth replaced Murphy and Hyam as we pressed for the goal we deserved. Maybe the writing was on the wall when Gerken had made a meal of a through-ball earlier in the half, eventually falling onto it rather clumsily on the edge of his area but the newly crowned number one decided to have another go as the game entered stoppage time. A hopeful long ball was there for him to head clear all day. he didn't, electing instead to try and shield it into his area. He made a mess, Powell bundled past him and calmly slotted past Chambers on the line - 2-0 - goodnight Vienna. Cruel for we had played well. Mick must be getting tired of saying the same thing. Performance good, result not. With a genuine goal threat alongside McGoldrick we would be a useful team. Maybe, just maybe, Taylor showed Mick he is ready for some more game time. He does offer more threat!
Gerken - at fault for both goals. Better than Loach - it's close!
Chambers - one error, lost Shotton for the goal. Otherwise solid
Creswell - reasonable but not his best game
Smith - decent perfrormance. Want to see more from Tommy from corners.
Berra - looking like a great signing
Anderson - better today. Offering an outlet and starting to deliver
Hyam - all work from Luke. Never going to grab the headlines but does the simple, dirty work
Skuse - better on the ball than Luke but similarly never going to set the world alight.
Tunnicliffe - growing in stature. Significant that he moved into the centre when Hyam came off?
Murphy - frustrates the hell out of me. Why does he not challenge for the ball every single time. He can be a real threat, a physical handful but all too often he chooses not to be. Does Daryl have the heart to put his body on the line?
McGoldrick - oozes quality. Crying out for a real partner who poses a genuine goal threat with him
Taylor - showed enough today for me to be given consideration for a possible start very soon
Nouble - can't fault Frank for effort.
Wordsworth - one half chance header late on
Should have had three points, would have taken one, ended up with none. Frustrating!
|Watford v Brentford Your Report added at 20:59:31|
It's been pretty rare in recent years to leave an away ground disappointed with a draw but today we really should have taken all three points. After dominating the game and looking in complete control, another deflected goal conceded and several good chances squandered and some fine saves from their keeper, a point seems like meagre reward for a solid team performance. Even the £5 admission for my boy has lost the shine it had for the first 3/4's of the afternoon!
Five changes in all from MM was probably more than expected. I still think both Loach, Tabb and Hewitt can count themselves a little unlucky but I was happy to see Edwards and Murphy relegated to the bench. Breaking up the Smith / Chambers partnership was risky and I was a little concerned that both Berra and Smith are distinctly left-sided central defenders whilst Chambers would not offer much attacking threat from the right back berth.
The opening 15 minutes was rather uneventful with neither side creating much worth a mention. Thereafter, Town started to gain the upper hand in terms of possession and goal threat. McGoldrick looked lively and had a few opportunities and Creswell looked threatening with several quality deliveries from the left. It was from a Cressy cross that Berra managed to head Town into the lead on the half hour and in the next fifteen minutes, the boys had the opportunites to put the game to bed. An excellent attempt from the impressive McGoldrick thundered against the post and shortly before the break the same player had another goalbound effort blocked by the inspired Randolph in the home goal. Other headed chances went begging for Town. Brum, on the other hand, offered little and it was only in the last five minutes of the half that Gerken's goal was threatened at all.
Town started the second period a little sleepily but still had the better of the play and the chances too. McGoldrick had an early effort saved before Gerken was forced to claw away a goalbound effort from the home side from under his crossbar. Efforts from Hyam and Tunnicliffe were well saved by Randolph. Only the lively Burke on the right looked any threat to Town's dominance. The hardworking but ineffectual Nouble was replaced by Murphy and Edwards came on to take over from the more effective Anderson. However, dominance, more possession, corners and shots had only produced a one goal lead and Town were punished for their profligacy. A deep cross from the right eventually found Burke. Jinking this way and that, the former Cardiff man created himself a little space and his shot took a deflection off a Town defender, looping rather gently over the helpless Gerken and it was game on. For five minutes or so, the boys rocked and were forced to repel a more threatening home side. After the initial flurry and impetus that the home goal had give the hosts, Town again looked more threatening. Murphy delayed when he really should have shot, Creswell forced Randolph into another full length save and McGoldrick was felled on the edge of the box with Town players insisting the infringement was inside but to no avail. McGoldrick thundered the free kick into the wall, Cressy floated the rebound to an unmarked Smith who completely failed to make proper contact with his header when he really ought to have done much better. As McCarthy has said after the game, this really feels like a defeat. One point is scant reward for the quality of that performance.
Some comments on the players:
Gerken - very little to do really. No chance with a deflection. One good save in the second half.
Chambers - played well despite right back not being his natural position
Creswell - quality deliveries all game. Unlucky not to score. Improving defensively. A really impressive game today
Smith - competent and rarely troubled all game
Berra - attacks the ball from set pieces as with his goal. Dominant in the air. A good debut
Anderson - had a reasonable game and did his job. I would like to see a little more willingness to get into more dangerous positions wide and attack full backs. Got in the box several times looking to get on the end of things
Skuse - efficient, combative and unhurried
Hyam - unlucky with one effort form the edge of the box. High work rate as you would expect
Tunnicliffe - has good presence, one good strike on goal. Looks more suited to a central role rather than out wide.
McGoldrick - quality is clear. lovely feet, good hold up play and gets shots away on goal. Deserved to score today. The only reason he is not a Premier League player is that he doesn't have enough pace. If he did, he would not be at Town!
Nouble - no denying that Frank is a willing runner but right now I don't really see much else. For his size, he is not especially strong in the air and seems to all too often be knocked off the ball. His touch and positional sense, including his ability to make the right runs, are very questionable. Raw talent is really an understatement at the moment.
Murphy - not the solution but better than Nouble
Edwards - did nothing wrong when he came on but we all know that his days as a first team starter are probably numbered
Tabb - did what Tabb does. Buzzed around, got a few decent crosses in and almost got on the end of a ball into the box late on
We may be down in the bottom few but there is much to be positive about from today. Plenty of attacking intent and chances created. Just need that bit of luck to get the ball rolling and we will see more points accumulated and a move up the table. Three deflected goals in five games have cost us severely so far.
|Forest Green Rovers v Mansfield Town Your Report added at 20:28:55|
A fine spring day, a great view at a reasonable price for myself and the boy and a point that pretty much means we should live to fight again in the slog that is the Championship. This was not a classic by any means but it was a game that encapsulated pretty much how Mick and TC have changed our fortunes. It was a display full of fight, big on effort and organisation and on the local Radio Sheffield "Praise or Grumble" phone-in we were even described by contributors as a big, physical side who at times had "bullied" Wednesday! Long gone would seem to be the "soft-centre" oft lamented by both Keane and Jewell - good riddance too!
Tabb for JET was the only change and I must say, I really liked the all-white away strip sported by the boys today - classic looking! On a firm and bouncy pitch, there was little pasing football in the opening exchanges. Town forced a few corners and Smith had a header cleared off the line from one of them. Shortly after the ten minute mark, Edwards launched a long throw into the box and the ball appeared to go in off Tabb's knee for the opening goal. Cue chants of "We are staying up!" and "You're sh*t and you're going down!" from the travelling faithful as Town took greater control. Hyam brought a fine save from Kirkland with a half volley from 20 yards 10 minutes later as Nouble in particular chased every ball down. The goal saw the re-emergence of a Town tactic that I (and I only attend about 15 away games each season) don't remember seeing since the Roy Keane era - the long throw (Edwards and Wickham if I remember rightly). Not only from Edwards but also from Cressy! Time and again they were both able to launch effective long throws into the front post. Whilst it should never be our only tactic, it is an interesting weapon that I did not realise we (still) had. The home side made two substitutions mid-way throught the first half and whilst I was pleased to see the speedy Jermaine Johnson exit with a hamstring pull, I was less content with the arrival of the battering ram that is the ageing Steve Howard. As the half progressed, we were relatively comfortable but the Owls will think Howard should have done better with a header and Loach pulled off a good close range stop with Town defenders eventually scrambling the ball clear as half time approached. A miscued clearance by Kirkland then fell to Murphy 30 yards out. With Kirkland way outside the line of the goal I think he had the chance to steer the ball goalwards first time. He elected to control it but his touch was poor and the opporunity was gone.
We started the second period the brighter. Edwards was getting some joy down the Town right and from one cross Nouble glanced a header across the goal. He should, in my opinion, have done better. Firm contact would have produced a goal. N'Daw volleyed well wide from the edge of the box and Murphy drilled a low effort just wide whilst the Owls began to resort to lumping it up to the elbows, knees and head of the aforementioned Howard. We seemed fairly comfortable with Chambers, Smith and Stearman coping well with the bombardment. Just before the hour mark though, the atmosphere changed. Edwards had been drawn out to the left and allowed the Wednesday player too much time and space, almost inviting the cross which went beyond the Town back line to Lita who drilled home the equaliser. We went quiet, Hillsborough erupted and for the next ten minutes you could see just what a jumping place this ground would be if the Owls had a decent side. The aerial assault was upped again and you could sense the nervousness of the travelling fans as a few crosses found Wednesday heads but not the Town net. It was not all one way traffic though. Edwards and Hyam both had chances to burst into the Owls' area but their chances were snuffed out and resulted in wasted corners for Town. Chambers put in a great block to prevent the home side from taking the lead and Mick was forced into a change as Stearman limped off. This caused a defensive re-shuffle as Mick elected not to replace the excellent loanee with ready made right back rooke Hewitt. He instead moved Chambers to right back and put another loanee, Kisnorbo, into the heart of the battle at centre half alongside Smith. There was relief all-round when the off-side flag chalked off a Lita header on 78 minutes. Mick made two further substitutions. Wordsworth replaced the industrious goalscorer Tabb and JET came on for the clearly tired Murphy. From another Cressy long throw that created havoc, Nouble narrowly failed to score, Pugh scrambling the ball off the line (I'm pretty sure it wasn't over the line). There were a couple more half chances for both sides but as the game entered 3 minutes of stoppage time, both sides seemed content with a point. "Super Mick" was given a rendition on the final whistle and the growing connection between the players and the travelling fans becomes more evident with every game I attend. As we listened to the full-time scores over the tannoy, the Wolves, Posh and Barnsley scores brought further "We are staying up!" chants even though it's not mathematically in the bag just yet.
Some comments on the players:
Loach - gaining in confidence with each game
Stearman - solid defender. I hope we can sign him
Smith - now the player we expected him to be when Jim first threw him into the team years ago
Chambers - warrior like for me. Proven to be a good signing - Jewell did some things right!
Creswell - another Jewell signing. Playing really well. Where did those long throws come from?
Tabb - works really hard and is surprisingly effective in the air, challenging for every ball - take note Chops! You have to be in the right place to score but it hit him more than anything I think!
Hyam - battle, tackle, block, head. All effort from Luke. Could have had a goal but for a fine save from Kirkland and burst into the box once or twice too.
N'Daw - he has his limitations (distribution) but he is also somethng of a collosus in the middle of midfield that the opposition have to get past.
Edwards - today saw the return of his long throw and he created quite a bit down the right hand flank with some pace and trickery too. I think he should have closed the ball down quicker and prevented the cross for the Owls goal though.
Murphy - won his share in the air and Murph works hard. Gave the ball away once or twice when he ought to have brought Town attackers into the game in dangerous positions.
Nouble - can't fault the big man for his effort. Chases every ball and makes defenders aware of his presence. He needs, however, to work on his first touch at times.
Kisnorbo - up for the battle that Howard gave him
Wordsworth - did OK for the time he was on
JET - did a job even if he didn't make the most of a couple of opportunities he had to run at a stretched Wednesday backline late on
Will be there for the finale at Turf Moor. Should be a good day out!
Well done to those of you who got to the end! Hope my ramblings bring something to those of you who didn't get there today. COYB
|Oldham Athletic v Northampton Town Your Report added at 21:43:34|
The fifth time that I have been to Pride Park and it's four wins and a draw for Town! Whilst not a great game by any means, this was a victory to savour. Nothing is certain in the Championship but most will be confident that we should now be able to accumulate 4 or so more points from the remaining games to ensure safety. Smash and grab (or "burgled" as MM has said) it most certainly was!
Throughout the first 45, the home side pressed and at times the Town goal led the proverbial charmed life. Sammon was proving a handful with his physical and direct running style and when he broke midway through the first half and found himself one-on-one with Loach he looked certain to score. To our delight, he neatly slid the ball past Loach and onto the post and a bullet was dodged. The Town midfield battled and toiled and our best opportunity came shortly after the Sammon miss when Edwards rolled back the years, showed a turn of pace to beat his man wide and crossed low across the Rams' six yard box with Murphy narrowly failing to make the necessary contact to finish. The home side continued to dominate with lots of possession and several corners but the Blues' backline held firm as home chances were repelled. A minute before the break, another corner for the home side found Keogh diving in on the back post with Smith in close attention. As the Rams' skipper went to ground, the ref pointed to the spot. It looked harsh but there did not seem an awful lot of protest. Loach made himself big, bouncing on his line. Ward elected to go straight down the middle and Loach saved with his legs before gathering the ball to avert the chance of a rebound. Ward gave the post a good boot in frustration and we had dodged another bullet. In all honesty, had we been 2-0 down, we could have had no complaints. We had ridden our luck!
As the second half began, the game moved into the same pattern but I felt we looked solid and a little more of a threat. An hour in and Mick made two substitutions. Murphy, who had worked hard and made his contribution, was replaced by Nouble whilst Drury, who had been a little anonymous to be honest, exited in favour of N'Daw. Whilst the tide did not decisively change, N'Daw added more bite to the Town midfield and somewhat surprisingly, a little more forward momentum too. Mid-way through the half Town suddenly seemed to press higher up the pitch. The fans like to see this but it almost cost us dear and as Derby broke, the ball went wide and the Budgie Martin slid home. Again to our delight, the flag was raised and the clean sheet was still intact. A mazey run from the half way line by McGoldrick raised hope but his shot ws blocked and he was then penalised for a foul as he went for the rebound.
Sammon claimed a penalty but was waved way and a few other chances and one further penalty appeal were thwarted by a resolute Town backline. With five minutes remaining, McGoldrick was replaced by Chopra, the striker receiving very warm applause on his final appearance for the Blues this season. The gentleman behind me spoke with his lady companion as N'Daw gave away a free kick for handball about 20 yards out. I overheard him say that the Rams had missed a pen, hit the post and they will not score from the set piece. He added, we will get the winnner on 93 minutes. Turning round, I told him I would kiss him if we did (much to the amusement of the lady - the man looked worried though!) The game entered stoppage time and I reckon we were all more than satisfied with a point. 3 minutes in, Edwards broke from the half-way line and ran directly at the Rams' defence before striking from 20 yards past the desperate lunge of Fielding. Ecstasy amongst the Town fans and I turned to the gentleman behind. We celebrated like men but thankfully no snog! The boys saw out the final seconds and then came to the raucous Town support to share the elation. The now customary Chambers fist pump was joined by Smith and Edwards was held aloft by the unsued JET. MM will surely have heard the "Super Mick" chants and the job he and TC have done so far deserves great credit. Not a great perfromance but a truly momentous result. The atmosphere at the end was as good as I can remember in years. The togetherness of the fans and the players was something to savour.
A few comments on the players if you care to read on:
Loach: great penalty save and a couple of other decent saves too. A solid performance if a little shaky on the kicking at times.
Stearman: I want him to sign - not much more to say than that
Smith - imperious defensively throughout.
Chambers - almost faultless apart from once in the first half when he was too easily turned by Sammon. His partnership with Tommy is the bedrock of our improvement.
Cresswell - defensively sound. One great strike at goal late on. Inconsistent set piece delivery.
Edwards - doing the job Mick is asking of him and a great strike for the winner. Don't think he wil be first choice next year.
Drury - not short of effort but minimal impact today. He was the obvious candidate to be taken off.
Hyam - plenty of effort, tackling and challenges. Must work on his distribution. One chance to shoot in first half was miserably screwed wide.
Tabb - industrious throughout. One great run in second half got us a corner. Would be a useful addition next year.
McGoldrick - works hard, neat, tidy and will bring us some much needed class next year. Quite skilful but certainly not pacy. Needs the right partner and service to thrive.
Murphy - can't doubt the yardage Murph puts in and when he jumps, he can win the high balls. For me though, the operative word is "when". More physicality from Murphy is needed in my opinion
N'Daw - although at times he can give the ball away with sloppy distribution, he is a ball winner who can impose himself in the middle of the park as he did today after coming on.
Nouble - full of running and effort which was what was needed from him today
Chopra - not much to say for Chops. He did what he could i the ten minutes he was on the pitch.
Great result and well done if you have got this far through to the end of the report!
|Oldham Athletic v Salford City Your Report added at 19:04:10|
This is a local game for me as I live in Huddersfield. Free tickets, albeit in the home end, were, however, the only saving grace. This was the worst 90 minutes football I have ever witnessed. Town, whilst defending resolutely, looked like a pub team and were devoid of any attacking threat whatsoever. The Terriers grafted hard, had a few chances but were also seriously lacking in terms of playing fluid football.
The first period was dull. Hoofball from both sides and when Novak screwed wide after about 30 minutes for the home side and Hyam had a shot blocked from 18 yards, that was the end of the excitement for the first 45.
The second period was little better. Henderson produced a fine double save from Novak then Danns and the home side had countless corners but they failed to make the most of them. Town never really threatened and McGoldrick was replaced by Murphy. The Irishman offered a little more up top but we remained pretty toothless. The Terriers looked the more likely to take the points, the returning Robinson spurned a golden chance to take all three. Town's best moments came late on, Nouble just failing to put the finishing touch to an Edwards cross. As I said, an appalling game made tolerable by the free tickets!
Some comments on our players:
Henderson- a few ropey punches but a fine double save and one of our better performers
Stearman - solid for the most part. Nothing going forward
Creswell - Just as Stearman. Wasted a corner in first half, you guessed it- failed to beat the first man!
Smith - apart from giving away one needless corner in the second half, Tommy was solid.
Chambers - battled hard and performed with some credit
Edwards - brings us nothing at the moment. Gave it away countless times. Poor crossing, won't take a man on - pointless for me.
Hyam - lots of tackles, aerial challenges and effort. Nothing creative and nothing going forward though
N'Daw - rubbish in the first half. Won nothing, gave it away cheaply. Second half was better. Won his share and put himself about.
Martin - run, chase, run, chase, get ball but threaten nothing and deliver less. Two corners - one failed to beat the first man, the other a hopeful floater which Smithies claimed easily. What do we practice from set pieces?
Chopra - this board likes to moan about Chopra and he has (many) faults. Unfortunately, balls lumped up to him whilst facing 6 feet plus central defenders offer him little chance. He thrives on balls into the channels, good service from the flanks and balls into his feet. He gets precisely none of this!!
McGoldrick - without good service, he will look like Chops. Got to feel for him because he can play
Murphy - looked more of a threat than the others at least
Nouble - only had ten minutes. Pity he didn't get on the end of the late cross but it would have been robbery!
On the local radio, Terriers fans acknowledged their own side were poor but the rightly pointed out that our "style" of football put us as the "worst side they have seen" at the Galpharm this season. They were probably right! A point might be vital but this was one to forget.
|Salford City v Leeds United Your Report added at 19:31:29|
My first visit to Ewood Park and instantly forgettable. My reports are normally long-winded affairs but during the first 45 minutes nothing happened. Two dull, unispiring sides cancelling each other out and almost no goal action at all. Dull, dull, dull. I can't recall either goalkeeper making anything resembling a save.
The second period started pretty much in the same vein. Chances were negligible and once we got the ball forward, we did not carry enough threat. Shortly after the debut of our top scorer for our opponents, some pinball in the Town area following a corner resulted in Blackburn scoring. The goal was credited to" the one that got away" and Rhodes celebrated although I have no idea how the ball ended up in our goal! We livened up a bit, and an excellent Murphy cross just evaded the onrushing McGoldrick as we finally threatened the home goal in earnest. Mick took too long to bring his substitutes on, eventually replacing McClean and McGoldrick with Chopra and Wordsworth. Nothing really changed. The home side had more of the game and the former Town Academy product Rhodes forced Henderson into an excellent save after a sublime pass by Campbell. Still little genuine threat from Town and it looked like Rovers were more likely to add to their lead. Approaching 90 minutes, N'Daw volleyed agonisingly wide before Stearman headed wide a golden opportunity to draw level after excellent work by Murphy who delivered the ball expertly to the back post. Stearman knew he should have scored. As they say, it was almost harder to miss than score!
A very poor game I'm afraid and time to battle it out again. I'm not usually one to be critical of referees but today was one of the poorest performances I have ever seen from an official. His decision making genuinely had me considering the word "biased" at times - he was dreadful and gave us nothing whilst Rovers seemed to get almost every decision. Both Rhodes and former loanee Orr acknowleged the Town fans as they left the pitch. No consolation but a nice touch.
Some comments on the players:
Henderson - not much to do really. Can't comment on the goal but it seems it hit him and went in. A good save from Rhodes late on.
Stearman - a decent performance. Wanted to get forward. Great chance to score but fluffed it!
Creswell. Had a decent game all round for me.
Smith - won most of his aerial challenges and again a decent defensive effort
Chambers - solid for the most part.
Edwards - just don't know what Carlos brings to the team anymore. Cuts inside too much and delivers almost nothing going forward. Good servant but Mick was right to bring him off.
Hyam - all over the pitch and put himself about. Never really able to get his foot on the ball though
N'Daw - fine volleyed effort and plenty of tackles won. Distribution not great and caught in possession dwelling on the ball. Sometimes he just needs to move it quicker.
Murphy - ineffective as a left sided midfielder. Better when moved up top. Having said that, did his best work putting in three good crosses when running the channels after going up front
McClean - you can't fault his work ethic but his contribution was neglible today
McGoldrick - Ran the channels well, sought to hold it up but rarely threatened the Rovers box. I see what he could bring but it didn't quite come off today
Chopra - ran around but little impression for his efforts
Wordsworth - won a few headed balls but little else worth telling you
Nouble - One forceful run which was stopped by an obvious foul (that the crap ref never saw) but little else to report.
We need to collect 4 points from the next two home games otherwise we will find ourselves back in the drop zone.
|Sheffield Wednesday v Stoke City Your Report added at 21:48:40|
Nearly 30 years since I last visited Molineux as a trialist with ambitions of the big time. At least this time I was to leave happy and not as disappointed as I was at 16 years old.
The ground has changed considerably in three decades and the only thing to let the experience down for me today is that there were no tickets available for the top tier where almost all of the travelling faithful were accomodated and we were condemned to the rather excellent view but far reduced atmosphere of the sparsely populated lower tier.
No changes from Mick's Boxing Day winning formula was no real surprise and both MM and TC were warmly applauded by the home fans which was nice to see. A few minutes in and I felt we dodged a bullet when Chambers seemed to get the wrong side of Doyle who went to ground inside the box. To my relief, the ref waved away penalty appeals but it looked a decent shout for me. Martin, busy as ever, spurned an opportunity for Town in a fairly even opening period. The home side's passing was clumsy and gradually our midfield started to wrestle control. Home attempts did not really threaten Henderson's goal and the game seemed there for the taking. Shortly after the 30 minute mark, the impressive N'Daw pushed a probing ball into DJ's feet inside the box. The loan man, back to goal, controlled it and laid it back into the path of Cresswell. One touch and the improving full-back placed wth his right boot neatly beyond Ikeme - 1-0 Town. We continued to be on top for the rest of the half without any real clear-cut chances though. The home fans were clearly frustrated and I felt a second would see them turn on their own side.
N'Daw drew a flying save from Ikeme within minutes of the re-start with a long range effort destined for the top corner. From the resultant corner, Chambers blasted over. Town were once more in control with the defence looking commanding, the midfield industrious and unrushed, and Murphy and Campbell working effectively up top. The home side, on the other hand, were increasingly lack-lustre with their passing very poor at times. They posed little genuine threat at all. Just after the hour mark, Campbell latched on to a headed clearance from Chambers. Taking the ball neatly on his thigh into his stride and beyond the Wolves defence he dispatched the ball under the onrushing Ikeme for 2-0. Straight away the Wolves boss elected for a triple susbstitution including the withdrawl of Doyle. His decision was met with chants of "you don't know what you're doing!". Town fans seemed happy to join in! A few further opportunites came and went, Reo-Coker replaced Drury and Chopra came on for DJ and Town remained in complete control. Chopra hit one shot ridiculously wide before spurning an even better opportunity when a breaking Reo-Coker put the Town number 10 clean in on goal. Instead of shooting first time, he elected to cut inside but placed his effort wide of Ikeme's goal. It was the last real event before the ref blew after 4 minutes of added-on time. Home boos were loud but Town's celebrations were not. The players made their way over, Edwards doing some kind of jig and Chambers giving his now customary rabble-rousing winning celebration. Around the centre circle, Mick Mcarthy acknowledged the fans and I bet inwardly he was loving the "Super, super Mick" chants of his new believers more than ever before.
Some comments on the players:
Henderson - not much to do but he did it all well.
Orr - solid, competent and professional.
Chambers - getting better. Good defending, won his share in the air.
Smith - forming a nicecentral defensive partnership with Chambers. Attacking the ball and covering his fellow defenders well.
Cresswell - great goal, winning headers too! Better defensively than earlier in the season.
Edwards - calm and industrious and worth his place. I still question his delivery from wide at times though.
Drury - Although I am not really a fan, Andy played well today and deserved the applause he got when he was substituted.
N'Daw - He was dominant. Tackles, and headers were won and he just refuses to panic when in a tight situation. He holds the ball and brings others into play. Would have been goal of the season had Ikeme not produced a great save from his 25yard effort after half-time.
Martin - I have criticised Martin for lack of end product but no-one should have a go at Lee for his 100% effort and contribution to the cause. He deserves a goal or two for his endeavour alone. Hope he signs a new contract but probably won't get the same cash he gets now so it's not that likely I guess.
Campbell - well, he scores when he wants doesn't he? Well taken goal & instrumental in the first. Will he sign for us? That's what the fans want with chants of "sign him up."
Murphy - I have regularly lambasted Murph for his powder puff efforts when up against rough and tumble defending but he is changing my opinion. MM has clearly asked for a more physical side from Daryl and he is getting it. Winning his share of aerial battles, holding the ball up and working his nuts off along the line, Murph looks like a genuine centre forward. A strong contender for MoM today for me.
Reo-Coker - the right sub at the right time to kill the game. Did fine in his 20 minutes.
Chopra - Only on for 15 minutes and held it up well, ran into the channels but spurned a really good opportunity to make it 3-0 late on.
Things really looking up for us. Hope my ramblings give some of you a bit extra if you didn't make it to Molineux today.
|Birmingham City v Millwall Your Report added at 23:09:12|
It was pretty damn cold at the Reebok today and when the Trotters took an early lead with a sweet Davies strike from distance (that we failed to close down), I must confess I wondered what I had let the boy and myself in for (not another Foxe-like mauling was definitely on my mind). The boys started slowly and the home side threatened to really take advantage of our fragility but credit where it's due, there was no capitulation and after 20 minutes the game was generally pretty even (but dull) to be honest. Before the opening goal, Campbell appeared to spurn a shooting chance when he elected to pass to Martin but to be fair, we did not create too much in the first 45. Martin brought a decent save from Bogdan with a well worked free kick routine, Orr blazing the rebound over. Barnett won more than his share of headers and looks like he brings something we have been lacking. The Wanderers TV on the concourse at half-time said 61% possession for Town but all things considered, The Trotters were defintely good value for their one goal lead.
The second period seemed set to replicate the opening minutes of the game. Kevin Davies looked certian to put the home side two up on 50 minutes but Henderson made a fine save to keep the score at 1-0. A few minutes later, MM made some fairly bold changes. Murphy and JET replaced Drury and Barnett. I was glad to see Drury depart as he was not giving the team anything. Barnett, on the other hand, had put in a decent shift. The new gaffer has been lauded by many for his "round pegs in round holes" philosophy so it was surprising to see Carlos revert to right-back and Orr take up a central midfield role alongside N'Daw (with JET wide right). However, to be fair the tactical switched actually saw the boys improve. Orr was an improvement on Drury in the middle of the park, adding bite and an unexpected forward drive that had hitherto been lacking. Without really creating chances, the tide started to turn a little. I have been very critical of Murphy in the past but today his contribution was really positive. He put himself about a bit more, ran with the ball with genuine purpose and actually jumped for some 50/50 headed balls. It was the big Irishman who won the penalty on 70 minutes that brought us level when he was clearly upended by Mears after a through ball by Orr. Campbell dispatched the spot kick low to Bogdan's right and we celebrated wildly. Five minutes later, DJ departed to an ovation and Chops was given the final 15 to make an impact. Within three, he had entered the referee's book but he had a more signficant contribution still to come. JET showed some more physicality on occasion but he also reminded us of his lovely skills, beating three so beautifully that we were all baying for him to shoot from distance. He did but it was woefully high, wide and not very hansome. Martin had an excellent chance as the game entered the final few minutes but Bogdan saved the home side with his legs. Whilst not exactly one-way traffic, Town were certainly the more likely to win the game and Murphy went close and was only denied by the long legs of Knight who deflected a goalbound effort wide as the game move into the 90th minute. The resultant corner was headed clear, fell to Orr 20 yards out who struck it powerfully on the volley goalward. Bogdan spilled, Chopra pounced - 2-1 Town. More ecstatic scenes amongst the travelling faithful and still time for Chops to fashion but ulitmately spurn a further great chance before the points were ours.
The players came over to the fans, celebrated and were roundly applauded. None more than Luke Chambers who was seriously pleased to say the least. The boy and I left with the fans singing loudly, "There's only one Luke Chambers!"
Some thoughts on the players:
Henderson - no chance with goal, impressive otherwise
Orr - shaky opening 15 but after that he was solid. Nothing short of inspirational when moved into midfield!
Cresswell - competent performance
Smith - challenged, battled and didn't allow Kevin Davies to dominate. Well done Tommy!
Chambers - much more competitive in the air than I have seen, passionate, committed and you have to love that celebration at the end!
Edwards - not at his best but OK. His delivery wasn't great
N'Daw - although he is not quick, his ability to glide past opponents at times creates himself space. Solid and can (not always) pass the ball really nicely too.
Drury - rightly substituted. A squad player for me.Hyam was genuinely missed in the first 55 minutes
Martin - tireless workrate and that counts for a great deal for me. Still doesn't deliver the end product often enough though
Barnett - Willing runner, won plenty of high balls. More to come from Tyrone I expect.
Campbell - puts in a shift and great to see him step up even after the missed spot kick on Tuesday
Murphy - see above. Murph made a real difference today.
JET - showed MM what he can bring but we all know that consistency needs to be found both in terms of effort and impact
Chopra - poacher's goal will do him no harm at all. Should have had a second too!
13 points from 7 games is an exact symmetry (in reverse) with the 7 points from 13 games achieved under the previous regime (I know PJ was sacked after 12). I know which one I prefer!
Thanks for reading. Hope it gives you something if you couldn't make it up t'north.
|Birmingham City v Queens Park Rangers Your Report added at 20:46:28|
A 210 mile round trip for me and this defeat ranks up there with the dismal performance I witnessed at Turf Moor Burnely this time last year. It was an abject, spineless and gutless capitulation once the first goal went in. Orr was ripped to shreds by Dyer on his debut and Henderson must take a hard look at his performance between the sticks for the first two goals.
Optimism was apparent amongst the 1000 or so away fans before the kick-off as MM made the expected changes - Orr for Smith (Chambers moving from right back into the middle) and Lee Martin replacing the departed Wellens (who failed to make the final 18 for the Foxes!) The opening exchanges were fairly even, neither side looking especially threatening. However, Orr had the chance to clear a ball down the right of the Town box but elected to let the ball run through to Henderson. Unfortunately, Henderson was not on the same wavelength and was slow to react, apparently pulling down the advancing Leicester player for a spot-kick on 9 minutes. Hate-figure Nugent dispatched with applomb and thereafter we folded with alarming ease. Before long, the Foxes took complete control and Nugent was gifted his second. Henderson palmed a long range shot from the left of the Town area straight into Nugent - the ball hitting him and rolling into the goal. Basic error for me. Keepers should push the ball out to the angles, not straight out! Heads went down and Orr was getting done time and again as the Foxes midfield played neat, fast triangles around a static Blues midfield finding runners applenty down the Town right. Edwards gave the debutant absolutely no protection and before the half was over it was 4-0 as the Foxes ran riot (thankfull, by this time Nugent had been withdrawn!) Their total domination included one decent save from Henderson down low to his left. His kicking was shaky too! So called leaders on the pitch, Higginbotham, Edwards and especially Reo-Coker were anonymous and when the ball did go forward, it just didn't stick. Edwards worked some space down the right on a couple of occasions but nobody got on the end of his deliveries. Murphy won little with his inept challenges and total lack of physical presence. Big Wes Morgan and Zak Whitbread simply dominated the big but powder-puff Irishman. Campbell ran around but got nothing and Martin just didn't get into the game at all. Having said that, he did have one effort blocked and another go narrowly wide during the first 45. Whilst not exactly emerging with credit, N'Daw did look like the only "player" we really had on the pitch. I have never witnessed a more dispiriting 45 minutes as a Town fan for quite some time.
Mick chose to send out the same eleven for the second period, all of the substitutes having spent the entire half time break out on the pitch. Mind you, I don't blame them, would you have wanted to be in the Town dressing room? The game was well and truly over and I would have brought Murphy off there and then and replaced him with Moshni - at least he feels he has something to prove and might have give the Foxes back line a bit more of a physical challenge. Those Town fans hoping for a bit more effort and pride after a half-time rollicking were quickly let down. The home team continued to tear the Blues right side to pieces and soon struck the post. They continued to dominate and MM replaced N'Daw with Hyam and Murphy with JET around the hour mark. Town had a bit of the game with JET striking the wall and a couple of promising positions came to nothing. The home side had taken their foot momentarily off the gas but two more goals came all too easily and in truth it probably could have been even more. Chops replaced Campbell with ten to go and managed to get the ball into the home goal but he was (correctly) adjudged to have been offside. JET volleyed a decent chance into the ground that Chopra was only able to deflect over late on. Thankfully, six was all that the home side could manage and trust me, we were very fortunate to get away without even greater humiliation. At the final whistle, most Town players lamely applauded the remaining fans from the relatively comfortable distance of the centre circle. Some respect must go to Edwards who came to the edge of the area but fans reacted much more positively to Luke Chambers who came right over to us, stayed and applauded in a genuine (still embarrased)manner.
There is absoutely nothing positive to take from today. Not one single thing I'm afraid. Read on if you want my views on each of the players but I guess many of you will rightly not wish to go any further!
Henderson - I'm not partiularly a fan of Loach (injured today I know) but this guy really is no better than OUR OWN keeper.
Orr - totally and utterly exposed. The Foxes played around him and Edwards just left him exposed over and over as nobody tracked the runners when Orr went tight on his man.
Creswell - probably one of our better performers but everything is relative. Like Edwards with Orr, Martin did nothing to help protect Cressy today
Higginbotham - exposed for pace and not dominant in the air. Today showed why he is not getting in the Stoke squad anymore.
Chambers - great to see his heart and respect at the end but just not good enough in any department of his game today.
Edwards - some promising positions that came to nothing. See above for his lack of assistance for poor Bradley Orr
N'Daw - quite surprised he went off as he was probably our best performer during the first half
Reo-Coker - did nothing at all. Saw him jogging on many occasions and once it went 3-0 he was going through the motions. I know he can play but there was no bite at all from him
Martin - nothing at all really. Two strikes on goal but not even the usual 100% effort from Lee that we have come to expect.
Murphy - If he is the best we have then that says it all. Within five minutes Daryl decides if the opposing centre back has got him in the air. If he has, then Murph is as good as useless with high balls. A token jump is all you get. A big man up front is supposed to be able to hold the ball up (he doesn't) or flick it on for the runners (he doesn't and from midfield there aren't any runners anyway!)
Campbell - plenty of running but not a sniff of anything today
JET - comparatively, looked more threatening than Murphy
Hyam - he is OURS and gives 100%. At one point, Luke was chasing (probably quite stupidly and aimlessly to be honest) balls going across the Foxes back four and back to thier keeper. At least this showed effort!
Chopra - many think he has been a massive let down (and to an extent he has). However, Chops needs a proper partner up front if he is to thrive. Until we have a player that compliments him up top, he will remain a disappointment.
Well done if you have finished. I really do fear for us big time with a performance like this. It was truly awful. Devoid of passion or pride. I don't advocate fouls but I don't recall even one really firm, crunching tackle from a Town player for the entire game. We seemed to just want to shadow-box rather than land a good punch! Mick has a bigger job on his hands than I think even he anticipated. Good luck, the future of our club may be at stake!
|Derby County v Charlton Athletic Your Report added at 22:29:39|
Surprisingly, this was my first trip to St.Andrews and like at Hull a few weeks ago, the prices were good - £38 in total for me, the boy and his grandad. Makes you want to bring them again! McCarthy's first team sheet saw the return from the wilderness of N'Daw and a change of deployment for Murphy who moved from wide left to his preferred central striking role. At last some support for DJ Campbell up front (Chopra must surely be looking on with some envy - he too would perform much better with some striking support - ditto Scotland). Four players, remained tracksuited and did not warm up - Carson, Ellington, Lawrence and, the most clearly disappointed of all, Luke Hyam.
A very healthy and distinctly more vocal away support sought to lift the gloom and the boys in white (always liked a white/ black away strip myself) made a reasonable start. N'Daw, NRC and Wellens looked in control whilst Martin chased and harried down the right. It was a ball (maybe a shot) from Martin which found its way to Campbell in the area after 8 minutes and the on-loan striker slammed the ball past Butland in the home goal. Cue ecstatic scenes in the away end as we celebrated vociferously the beginning of a new era. Nevertheless, we all know not to get carried away and the party atmosphere remained tempered in the knowledge that we can throw leads away with alarming ease and frequency.
Brum were really not looking that threatening. N'Daw broke up the play, has a nice first touch and generally looked to do the simple things well. Higginbotham and Chambers were having the better of King and Lita whilst Cresswell was carrying out his dfensive duties with much competency than of late and still finding the chance to attack down the left. Henderson made a couple of decent stops in the Town goal whilst at the other end Higgy had an effort blocked and Martin brought a fine save from Butland with a left footed drive from distance. Murphy seemed to get clear in the Brum box just before the interval but it looked to me that he delayed too long before going to ground under heavy pressure. At half-time, we were decent value for the lead.
For the opening ten minutes of the second period, the home side increased the tempo but the boys matched this, not allowing home defenders or midfielders any time to settle on the ball. Town forced a few corners and from an Edwards cross, Higginbotham powered a header goalwards. Butland saved and the ball was forced out for another corner. We looked fairly comfortable until mid-way through the half, the giant Zigic replaced Lita up front and the home side resorted more to the long ball, mainly targetting Edwards as the looked to exploit the massive strikers' aerial prowess. Not long after, the first clear opportunity fell to the Serbian Crouch-a-like's head. Unlike last year, this time he failed to hit the target - he should have scored. A few minutes later, Zigic let us off the hook again as he hit Henderson's legs when one-on-one - he should have scored again!
The fans were nervous and perhaps Mick McCarthy was too. Moshni stripped off to come on, got his instructions but Mick changed his mind and delayed the change. The home side pressed and a couple of scares came and went before MM took the plunge, replacing the impressive but tiring Wellens with the rawness and willingness of Moshni. Murphy move wide left and the Frenchman looked to support a tired looking Campbell up front. It almost paid off. After picking up a yellow for an arm infringement, Moshni almost got on the end of a Murphy cross from the left, just failing to get enough of his head on the ball to direct it goalward. N'Daw went down with cramp a couple of minutes later and was replaced by Drury. JET also came on for DJ Campbell and was able to show one or two nice touches with the game still on a knife edge. We found ourselves, understandably getting deeper but for once we held out for a precious three points. Party time for the fans and MM waved his troops towards the travelling faithful. Higginbotham and Campbell seemed really pleased whilst Chambers could not hide his joy - good man!
Some comments on the players:
Henderson - decent stops, some good catches and punches. Competent performance
Edwards - decent effort. Not sure MM will play him at right back with his tendency to drift inside at times
Cresswell - much, much better all-round display
Chambers - best performance I have seen him give in a Town shirt
Higginbotham - didn't see him put a foot wrong today
N'Daw - aside from one shot that went for a throw-in, he was good today. Hope he is fit for Tuesday. I like what he brings - breaking up the play, protecting the back four and not panicking on the ball.
Reo-Coker - class will out. Good today and is clearly getting some sort of fitness level
Wellens - shame Palace will probably be his last game for us unless his loan is extended. Doubt this will happen as Leicester have got what they wanted - a fitter player!
Martin - more good work rate from Lee. Will be interesting to see how the contract stuff goes for Lee under McCarthy.
Murphy - not my ideal centre forward as despite his size, Murph just doesn't use his physicality enough for me. Having said that, this is his best position and he is currently our best option in a 4-4-2 formation. He was decent enough today
Campbell - busy, intelligent and 3 goals in five games is not too shabby in a struggling side is it?
Moshni - you have to love his all action style and he can clearly play a bit. Will watch how his situation develops with interest over the next couple of months. He could be good for Town
JET - how Mick McCarthy uses him is a big question for me. If JET responds to the challenge it could be the making of the boy. Mick surely won't tolerate him drifting in and out of games, looking disinterested. Time for JET to roll his sleeves up and make the most of his considerable talents.
Drury - not much to report. A squad player at best for me
Great to see more than 1000 Town fans in god spirits leaving a ground - it's been a long-time coming
Thanks for reading!
|Peterborough United v Lincoln City Your Report added at 19:49:47|
My fifth trip the KC stadium and still only one draw to show for my journeys. Nevertheless, pleasantly surprised by the prices - £20 for me, a tenner for the old man and just one pound for the boy! After this though, it was all too often hard to watch.
Somehow we found ourselves one up at the interval but how I do not know. For long spells in the first period we were simply outclassed. Time and again down both flanks Hull played neat triangles and lovely balls inside the full back creating havoc. They contrived to miss a hatful of decent opportunities and we could easily have been 3 down in the first 25 minutes. However, a little bit of JET twinkle-toes down the left and a low drive into the far corner and miraculously we were leading. Chants of "We're winning away, we're winning away - how **** must you be? We're winning away" seemed to forget that this is the third away game in a row that we have led at the interval in succession. We all know thought that hanging on is (one of) our many problems.
After the goal we were a little better. Instead of giving the ball away all too easily, we started to keep possession a bit more. Nevertheless, the Tigers were still the better side and continued with their profilgacy infront of goal. On the plus side, Henderson looked more than competent.
Cheap entry meant I bought the old man and the boy a half time drink for once and the second half saw a little upturn from the lads. To Jewell's credit, he seemed to haved changed things a bit. Wellens and Reo-Coker imposed themselves more, Martin worked on the right and JET took a more advanced role. For 20 minutes we were certainly the equals of the home side if not slightly the dominant team. Martin forced Amos into a fine save, Chambers had a header blocked and Campbell missed the target when in on goal - he should have done better and perhaps knocked the stuffing out of the Tigers. He didn't.
The home side had plenty of chances of their own. Henderson made some fine stops, got away with a spill and other efforts flashed wide or were blocked by Blues defenders. The last twenty, however, is where I fell Jewell cost us the game. Wellens and (even more so) Reo-Coker were running out of juice and the Tigers wrestled back control of the middle of the park. With Campbell tiring too, it was time for the manager to do his work via substitutions. Enter inept decision making. Off goes Lee Martin - a 90 minute runner with energy to burn! His replacement is Moshni. Now I wanted to see the volatile Frenchman but with the central pair flagging, Martin was not the man to go. Admittedly, Moshni nearly scored with a spectacular long range effort but by now it was almost all one way traffic. Campbell was rightly replaced by Chopra but poor Chops never got a sniff and was chasing shadows on his own as JET drifted out of the game even more. Jewell then brought on the ponderous Drury (not the legs of Hyam!) for the inffective Murphy as the central combination of Reo-Coker and Wellens tired even more.
In the meantime, Hull had brought on the strike pair of McLean and Proschwitz, the latter marking his arrival with a goal within three minutes. Blues fans probably knew what was coming. We gave the ball away time and time again, surrendering posession and getting deeper and deeper. The busy Ouinn (always liked him myself) struck the post as the Tigers pressure built and further chances went begging. As 4 minutes of stoppage time began, could we hold out? No! Proschwitz guiding a header past debutant Henderson who was left sitting next to the post as Town moved to the centre for the restart - beaten at the death - again.
It doesn't look good and I see that Jewell is set to "consider his position" over the weekend. The fat lady would seem to be clearing her throat one way or another!
Some comments on the players:
Henderson - looked decent. Some good stops and confident punches. No chance with either goal.
Edwards - exposed mainly due to JET being poor, Carlos is, however, at least 100% every game
Creswell - going forward, well not much. Defensively, well good, bad and ugly. Exposed time and again (not helped that much by Murphy to be honest) but also he never gives up and this is to his credit.
Chambers - the goals went in at the other end so I will have to see them on TV to see if he was at fault at all. For the most part though, Chambo did well and was one of our better, wholehearted players.
Higginbotham - other than one wild slash which he ackowledged in the first half, the Stoke man was competent. Like Chambers, need to see the goals properly first to see his part in them
JET - lovely goal, nice pass for Campbell chance but really nothing else. He lacks aggression, jumps like a big girl (somebody said Wenger first saw him as a central defender - he has no guts!). A luxury who would probably be great in a team doing well. In a struggling side he is a liability I'm afraid.
Wellens - off the pace until we scored - then a good 40 minutes when we saw what he was about. Never stopped trying but his legs had gone in the last 15 minutes
Reo-Coker - I know he is a very good player. He started to show this a bit during the first twenty of the second half but without the fitness he was out of it for the last 20. Jewell should have seen this and acted. He didn't.
Murphy - Jewell must see something I don't. OK - he wins a few flick- ons and can, once in a while, deliver a cross but this does not warrant a permanent place in the side. One-paced, doesn't use his physique where it matters and does not give Creswell enough support
Martin - you can't doubt Lee's effort and energy. The game passed him by in the early period but he buzzed around and got more into it. Moved wide in the second half and continued to work his nuts off. Hauled off by our manager when still full of running.
Campbell - tried throughout. Not the ideal lone striker but increasingly able to hold the ball up and bring others into it. Should have scored with an excellent chance and he will know it too! Still not ready for the 90 minutes.
Moshni - won his share in the air, got in some challenges, looked composed (sometimes) and one really spectacular effort. Something to look more at - maybe - but in what position?
Chopra - poor Chops. By the time he came on our best spell was over and it was all one way traffic. Didn't have a sniff of anything
Drury - well it should have been Hyam and I can't get past that I'm afraid
Thanks for reading and I hope that it provides those of you who couldn't get there another view even though I'm long-winded and it's a pretty depressing picture!
|Bolton Wanderers v Fleetwood Town Your Report added at 19:05:29|
Oakwell is one of my closest trips so back already. No repeat of the thriller of last December and probably, in terms of the second half performance, no real reprieve for Jewell or confidence building for the players.
A rather confusing midfield line-up from PJ with central players Hyam and Drury occupying the "wide" midfield berths and N'Daw and Martin the central roles in a reprise of last year's early season diamond formation. As a consequence, we were narrow but generally effective in nullifying Barnsley's attacking play in the first 45 with the hosts limited to some hopeful crosses and long range efforts on the whole. Apart from Loach being bundled into the goal, the Tykes were not especially threatening. Town played the better football and led from the sixth minute when a training ground move involving Martin, Drury and Creswell saw the latter's freekick squirm under Alnwick's body and into the goal. Murphy's well struck shot on the turn went straight to the keeper and other than than that, Town's hard work never really created too much that could be described as clear cut. All too often, the play would break down. Indeed, on two ocassions we had the ball on the edge of Barnsley's box and without losing possession, the ball eventually ended up at Loach's feet only to be aimlessly launched forward! On the balance of play, perhaps we deserved our half-time lead......just.
Hyam was replaced by Luongo at the interval (presumably an injury) and the formation stayed the same. Tactically, Barnsley changed their approach. They moved the ball much quicker in the second 45, continually spreading the play from side to side. Town's midfield worked hard to contain without really putting in anything that amounted to a serious looking tackle. The referee was prone to giving free-kicks for very little throughout and as the home side pressed, we picked up several bookings for inoccuous looking challenges.
Even though we were generally under pressure, the boys still had several opportunities in the second period. Chambers forced a decent save from a corner and most obviously Ellington, on for Scotland, headed over when he seemed destined to open his Town account. Martin also miscued a further effort wide.
However, as the second half progressed and with Ainsley on for N'Daw (had to be an injury?), the boys got deeper and deeper. The home side struck the inside of the post, had numerous sttempts blocked, forced Loach into two fine saves and generally we rode our luck to say the least. The Tykes finally breached our defence with 15 minutes to go with a really well taken volley that Loach could only palm into the goal. Thereafter, we simply could not retain possession and when we did get the ball, there was no outlet and the ball simply kept coming back time after time. I think every Town fan just wanted the final whistle to go and get out with a point. In summary, OK first half, outplayed second half. Off to the league leaders for the Blues midweek - a point would be a good outcome on this showing.
Loach - some good saves and a decent showing. Not really commanding though
Edwards - usual effort from Carlos. Exposed by the narrowness of the midfield far too often in the second period
Creswell - joint top scorer!!!!!! Not reaching last year's standards but reasonable today
Chambers - solid, brave and won his share
Higginbottom - Won lots of aerial ball, good positional sense. Improved the back line
Hyam - worked, chased and harried. Out of position though but missed in second half
Drury - see Hyam. Looked really tired by the end
N'Daw - did Ok first half. Moves the ball well. If PJ took him off for tactical reasons then this was a error. We surrendered the midfield thereafter.
Martin - run, run, work, pressure. Can't ask for more from Lee except for a bit more end product infront of goal
Murphy - when he jumps he is effective and can be quite a threat. Is he brave enough to put himself in where it really hurts in the six yard box? - I don't see it myself
Scotland - good effort and hold up play although he can hang on to it a little too long. Had a couple of sights of goal but didn't pull the trigger quick enough. Went off too early for me.
Luongo - neat, tidy but the diamond doesn't suit him.
Ainsley - chasing shadows in midfield. It's not his position and it showed
Ellington - probably should have scored but his general play didn't impress neither
Thanks for reading
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