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Ipswich Town v Oxford United Your Report added at 21:50:59
A better performance than Tuesday, but it's a low bar. Talk of players not being match fit, appreciate that but our attitude to cup comps, player rotation and our awful injury record doesn't help at all. How can players get match fit if being swapped constantly? Better at CB today, Wilson just ahead of Nsiala in my ratings. But, without Edwards - albeit unfit and not in form anyway - our creativity is lacking. Bennetts was skilling himself at times, clumsy and too many step-overs, he didn't really creative anything, certainly not enough. Parrott - too many errors. Norwood, not 100% fit but our best option. People knock his finishing, as a lower league striker he'll need more chances, that we don't create, but his running, movement and physicality make him perfect for League 1. He gets in better positions than any of our other strikers. Dozzell and Bishop.... they did okay, they are okay. That is all. Mick Mills liked what he saw, so what do I know. But add Downes and even Skuse and McGavin and we seem to have more defensive midfielders than most clubs. Judge was okay I guess, but most were. Kenlock getting better to be fair, Chambers not as awful as normal. Holy made a good save, his distribution better than usual. Sears, Harrop (who made an important block) and Drinan.... 5 subs means that the line up can be freshened up, but it's always 75 mins when Lambert makes a change, and I don't know about anyone else, not inspiring. Getting a draw at home against Oxford and being happy... I'm struggling with this new reality. And I'll take a draw against Hull right now.
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Ipswich Town v Oxford United Your Report added at 23:08:40
This game was awful, bar the last five minutes when we took the initiative, far, far too late in the game. Lordy, we have some very ordinary players. A draw away at Bolton really isn't good enough. Far too many errors and silly fouls. Lump it forward to the big man Garner... Perhaps if we had a big man up top, maybe that lad at Barnsley, what's his name..... Moore, that's it. Waghorn almost won it with a moment of quality. Would have been a tad unfair on Bolton. My word, Iorfa was dreadful, Knudsen brainless, a poor decision maker, clueless in forward positions. We haven't a clue on throw ins, no movements, no ideas, we simply throw it and hope, once plan A - Skuse running towards the thrower to knock it back - has been sussed out by the opposition. The new boys had their introductions. Cameron was ordinary, Gleeson no better and no worse than what we have, albeit we at least have more bodies.

I really don't know where we go from here, so near but so far. I still feel that a decent signing is required, one where we actually pay a fee. Yes, we have been unlucky with injuries, of that there is no doubt, but a key signing at this stage may give us that extra push we need to reach the top six.

Positives: crikey, tough one. Bart made an excellent save from a free kick and the goal was the best move of the game, showing we can actually do it.
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Walsall v Cambridge United Your Report added at 14:12:08
There are already some very good reports on here, so I won't go into too much detail as most things have already been said.

What I would say is that this was a very enjoyable day out, assisted - very much so - by not only the weather but also the way the stewards and the staff in general at DRFC treated the supporters. Having experienced some dreadful stewarding this season (Blackpool being the very worst) it was refreshing be treated like a human being / customer (dare I say it) rather than like scum. Very well done to Donny in that respect. Wigan was pretty good too in fact. For those that haven't been to the Keepmoat, the stadium is very much fit for purpose and although an out of the box / idendikit type stadium, it was a very tidy ground and the pitch looked in very decent nick.

However, the game itself - I feel we took our foot off the gas slightly in the second half, albeit that we were three up, and should really have scored two or three more. Harsh on Donny, whose supporters looked as weary as their players and manager during what was for them a tough game and a pretty much nailed on defeat. They were second best throughout, despite a decent performance by former loanee and now Donny skipper Richie Wellens and their man-of-the-match, the number 7 Duffy, whose excellent freekick was superbly saved by Gerken. They are struggling, have injury worries and clearly lack cohesion and confidence. When the Man Utd loanee Macheda was subbed, I think we only realised at that point that he was actually playing, so poor had he been. Our support were in good spirits and fine voice throughout and the atmosphere was matched by the result.

Two very good deliveries and headers from corners put us two up and it was very frustrating at the end of the first 45 minutes that a late third corner was taken short instead of being whipped into the mixer. Nobody could understand it.

The third goal was a great move and a well struck, first time cross from Murphy straight to McGoldrick was well controlled, he beat a man and finished superbly past 'keeper Turnbull. A lovely goal. After that, the scoreline should have been increased although we showed more desire to extend our lead later in the game when the subs were on, wanting to impress. Perhaps earlier substitutions might have been both prudent and beneficial? Chances fell to McGoldrick, sensing a hat-trick and one golden oportunity fell to Nouble - actually, it was presented on a silver platter - but he failed to knock it in, not sure how. He did find the net but was judged off side, something that I'd like to see again because I don't think he was to be honest. One fine piece of play saw Chambers strike powerfully but not hitting the target - a real howitzer of a shot.

The young lad Jordan was clearly very keen to make his mark and displayed some fancy-dan stepovers and - likewise - Taylor was equally as keen, but gave away silly fouls in an attempt to get into the game and impress. Solid performances by the back four, although Cresswell's distribution wasn't geat again, despite hitting a decent corner for the first goal. Gerken is becoming more assured, although I'd like to see more dominance and him taking more control of his area - too quiet for me. Great save from the freekick and he is improving. Tunners did okay and Nouble tried hard, but lacked some finesse. Hyam is clearly still learning, but Skuse - for this supporter at least - was my man of the match. He made tackles, he broke up play, he seems to possess the best (and maybe only!) movement / options on throw-ins and puts his body on the line. He had a good day. McGoldrick had a good game as did Murphy, and playing this formation, with three strikers on the field, shows an attacking intent. This is good - scoring goals and defending well / keeping a clean sheet. It's a simple game! Very impressed when McGoldrick plays deeper actually, almost Rooney-esque...

The only snag on the day was when we got back to where we had parked up, the gates to the place were locked and we had to wait for the key holder to pitch up and release our vehicles... Still, don't mind such delays after a very convincing win and a very decent performance. Be interesting to see if Mick does any business in January as we seem to be performing consistently well (most players anyway!) certainly as a team and we defended well I thought, albeit against not the strongest attack in the Championship. If Hunt is fit soon and with Ebanks-Blake waiting in the wings, dare I mention the play-offs at this stage? Things are very promising.

All the best for the New Year.

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Cardiff City v Bristol City Your Report added at 20:34:45
As always, a comprehensive and fair reflection of the match from cbower.

This wasn't a great game. They both looked like ordinary sides today, passes went astray, movement was poor, chances were few and far between, there were silly freekicks and Ipswich too often passed in little triangles without really getting anywhere.

Bolton looked a poor side, lacking in confidence and took the lead via a well hit freekick on the edge of the box. We gave away the ball after some more tippy-tappy, narrow play and lost possession due to an error. They broke, foul on the edge of the box. Frustrating.

The equaliser came after a second bite of the cherry for McGoldrick.

Tunnicliffe's chance aside, we didn't create too much and I don't think I'm being too informative if I say we do not score enough goals. Again, boot down to Murphy, or later in the game Frank, seemed to be plan A.

I've seen Mick's comments and it's disappointing to be honest. A point away against a poor Bolton side, there for the taking, isn't good enough for me. These are games we need to win. We had a throw with maybe a minute of the additional time to go - everyone was urging Smith & Berra, or even Chambers (who got plenty of stick from the Bolton fans in the first half) to go up, big throw into the mixer... but no; we lost the ball they broke, so we were again on the back foot - far too defensive at that stage. I really think we need to go forward and try and win games almost as a form of defence. Without wins away from home we will not, and won't deserve, to get into the play-offs.

Players... Gerken made one very decent save and his kicking was good. I'd like to see him make earlier decisions, there were times when he should have been quicker and come for the ball, but chose to stay... Berra played well, Smith was okay. Cresswell had a bit of a shocker today, Chambers was alright. Tunnicliffe didn't have a great game, with Skuse once again better than Hyam - no change there. Anderson needed to do more and I think Wordsworth must consider himself unlucky to be not getting a sniff. Murphy got his head to plenty and needed to show more conviction with the one or two chances he had. McGoldrick scored and was okay. Tabb I thought showed a lot when he came on and did well (is it me, or does he run just like Mick Mills?). Big Frank - who doesn't get much of a chance, 10 mins here, 5 mins there, did well when he came on. The introduction of Edwards perhaps should have come earlier.

An away point may seem okay, but - once again - I don't think it is. We need to remain solid, albeit we had our moments at the back today, but we need to show desire to win games and need to score more goals.

Hope this adds some further understanding of what happened, or maybe what didn't happen today.
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Sheffield Wednesday v Reading Your Report added at 20:04:25
Although, whereas I agree with Mullet, the surroundings were a tad industrial and modern, I feel that Wigan have got many things right. They had an away fans bar as part of the ground, which was being promoted by a friendly member of staff. Sharpy's Fish 'n' Chippy was superbly located, and very keenly priced, literally outside of our turnstiles. We parked right outside of the ground for £5 and at £15 for me and a £5 for the boy, it was all very refreshing and possibly unexpected from a team that has spent a few years in the Prem and who will, I suspect, suffer low crowds.

We probably share too the opinion that we simply need to score more goals and finish some of these chances we create. Scott Carson did make some very good saves in both halves and a combination of blocks, the bar and some poor, off target shooting - or an almost reluctance to shoot on occasions - meant we ended the game goalless Had we been four up at half time, that would have been a better reflection of the chances we should have taken.

Their first goal was soft for me. Why we - or other teams - do not have a man defending on the back post these days is beyond me. If we had, that goal wouldn't have been. If it is good enough for junior football... And at a time when we were pressing for a deserved equaliser, I simply cannot even start to think was Gerken was thinking at all.

Two poor goals to give away, but that said, Wigan did miss good chances, including some free kicks in very good positions just outside of our box.

Too many times did we give away silly freekicks, Luke Hyam being a prime example and talking of Hyam - we know he has potential - but he had a shocker today. Had Mick taken him off at halftime it wouldn't have been too soon. The poor lad looked out of his depth all game, replacing him with Wordsworth was far too late when it happened.

As mentioned by another poster, our plan A seems to be get it onto Murphy's head. For throw-ins the lack of movement and options is a concern, the impressive Skuse tends to be the only man moving and showing for the ball. Think we need more ideas - although that said, we did create chances which we should have taken, but teams and opposition managers shouldn't have too much trouble sussing us out and setting up and playing against us accordingly. I also feel that Wigan were granted too many opportunities. We need to tighten things up.

Some negative stuff here I know, but we did lose 2-0.... what do you expect? Brighter comments, I like Skuse, Tunnicliffe showed some nice work and ability and Paul Taylor when he came on made a difference. He looked tricky, up for it and made one or two things happen. I'd like to see him start against B&HA. Anderson looked lively and closed down well I thought. The back four did okay, although an early yellow card for Berra was a concern, he did well to be as combative and as competitive for the remainder of the game.

Overall, very disappointing indeed. I'd have taken a draw, which would have been a more accurate reflection, but with missed chances and two soft goals, it could and perhaps should have been a better result.


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Birmingham City v Millwall Your Report added at 20:39:06
Marvellous - in a word. The game saw us get gradually better, especially in the second half and the substitutions worked extremely well. Their goal so early had us thinking the flood gates would open as per the Foxes and Palace away game debacles; thankfully those feelings were very wrong and there were many dogged performances throughout the team. Think we should have closed Mark Davies down before he hit, what was to be fair, a tremendous strike, Hendo having no chance. He did do well to tip an Andrews effort over the bar early on. Barnett put himself about a bit and Dudley was busy, but they were feeding on scraps really - don't think the service from either flank was fantastic today, although better from the left side in the second period. Drury was a disappointment in all honesty and he was rightly substituted. Edwards I think struggled and was moved to right back later on in the game, when Orr went into centre mid, the latter doing okay and looking physical and active throughout - he put in a few robust challenges, good to see to be honest. Still not convinced by Cresswell I have to say, an opinion that won't be shared by many... Martin didn't have a good game, but hit a very nice effort from a well-worked, centrally placed free-kick. What looked like a training ground routine created the opportunity but was well saved by Bogdan between the Trotter's sticks, palmed away to Orr who hit a decent strike but over the top from an acute angle to the right side of the goal.

JET showed some decent form, good feet and was very physical in a couple of shoulder to shoulder challenges. Had he not ballooned an opportunity wide and high when he cut in from the right wing, beating several players, it would have been the goal of the season! The manager will be pleased with his display.

DJ took a decent spot kick to equalise - the pen was nailed on, good work from Orr to put Murphy through who did well, took a nice touch to beat a man before being brought down. No complaints by the home team over either the pen or the subsequent booking. Leading goalscorer Dudley was replaced by Chopra with 15 to go. Chops got booked having just come on for silliness really, but he actually looked sharp. Martin hit a shot towards the near post from the left hand side, saved by the keepers feet. From the resulting corner, Chopra did well to follow the Orr shot that Bogdan spooned and bundled it in, and should really have scored a second, but was perhaps trying to be a bit too clever having worked a good opening after some clever movement off the ball.

Our support deserved the victory and we thoroughly enjoyed it when it came. The home crowd, who could at the very best have been described as lacklustre, did nothing to assist their team in putting the game to bed in the first half, which with another goal before the break could have been the case. Having been at the Reebok when we got hammered 4-1 (four nil down at halftime and basically relegated - a fantastic strike by Jamie Clapham in the second half) it was great to experience victory and - possibly - the resurgence of our club?

£9 for the lad, who enjoyed a hot chocolate / Kit-Kat combo at half time.

A deserved win by a team gradually gaining confidence and now scoring goals. We need to be able to grit it out from time to time which we did in the parts of this game - no bad thing. The centre backs battled and worked hard, if not completely assured and calm at times. Man-of-the-match for me was N'Daw, but there were other good performances and as a team we did well. Chopra and JET's contributions will have really pleased the manager. (By the way, does anyone know where we put Jason Scotland?)...

There is a long way to go, but a few more decent performances and one or two more wins, let's then see what movement takes place in January and I think we'll be well set for a good second half to the season. All in all a very decent display, certainly as the second half progressed. I'm sure McCarthy has a very good idea where he needs to strengthen and who perhaps are surplus to requirements.
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Bolton Wanderers v Southend United Your Report added at 12:07:42
The dust has now settled and it doesn't get any better. My knee jerk response to this game wouldn't have been vastly different to my thoughts and opinion now. I missed the 6th goal as I had just left the ground when the cheers went up... this, the first time I have ever left a ground before the final whistle.

At half time we hoped we could come back maybe grind out a 2 all draw... how wrong we were. The first goal was a major error by Loach (who should have claimed the ball) and Cresswell (who was under no pressure) - I still can't understand why they did what they did. The 2nd goal, poor defending basically, although it was a good finish.

The second half was shocking. We looked vulnerable each time Blackpool went forward. Ince looks a decent player and there was some good finishing, but we allowed it to happen, didn't get a foot in, didn't get tight enough and sat too deep. When we did have the odd attack, it rarely created a chance and we failed to pick up any second balls that came from the Blackpool back-line as our midfield were on the halfway line with our defenders sat even deeper. We night as well have squeezed up the pitch and competed better than we did. If we lost 7 or 8, so what? We were inviting them onto us at the end. They kept the ball well, but we didn't harry, close down or - more importantly - tackle.

Onto performances, oh dear - where do I start: Luongo looks like a player and fought for the ball and looked lively - why he was taken off I do not know. Hyam - poor. Goes sideways or backwards and defended very poorly, adds nothing to attacking play. Cresswell - is it me, or can he not defend / tackle? £5m from Villa - take it. Chambers - ordinary; Smith - ditto. Edwards tried hard, did okay, but lost the ball once or twice needlessly. Loach - made one or two decent saves, kicking / distribution - must improve and he should have took responsibility and claimed that ball that came across for the OG.

JET - no brain. Drury - does his best, worked hard. Chopra - very poor. Martin - okay.

The subs... Murray - out of his depth; Scotland - ok, didn't get the service that suits him. Carson - not convinced.

We had very little in the way of ideas, were predictable (not sure what plan A was never mind plan B) and lacked movement or options when we did have the ball. Attacks, such that they were broke down too easily. It was embarrassing to be honest.

We do have a young inexperienced squad - good for the future IF these guys progress. But the future is now and we don't want to be celebrating the coming good of these kids when we are in league 2 (or do we?)

At the moment, the Hyams and the Carsons simply aren't good enough and it seems to me that they are only playing because we have low numbers and little option. I'd rather have seen, for example, a Colin Healy on Saturday than Hyam and Carson - sad but true I'm afraid. N'Daw might add some must needed bottle / strength / tackling in midfield, good Lord we need it. I'm all for young players coming through but they cannot do so in a struggling side. They cannot be carried. We need folks to be as good as they can be and give 100% every game. There is no room for us to develop players, unless they are already there or thereabouts good enough and none of ours are, or we are blasting sides away and bringing these kids on.

I don't know what PJ and his bench do during games. Holloway was screaming orders, despite being 4 or 5 up, and looking bothered. PJ just looked glum. He MUST have seen what we were watching but didn't seem to want to try to change things. It was obvious what was going wrong and what the team needed to do from my seat - why not from the bench?

He does need to bring players in - that is clear. I am not a guy who seeks for managers to succeed quickly or face the sack, and PJ does seem to have the backing of the board and owner, but he seems to have had two cracks at this - one: with experienced (has been) players, and now with kids for the future... or so it seems. Clearly, you need a balance, you need players who are good enough irrespective of age and that can fit in to what formation you want to play. Holloway has a strategy, a way to play football - simple and effective, the basics done very well. Not sure PJ has that vision or the ability to implement similar...

I will however be at Carlisle tonight...



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