After a decent 0-4 away win for United against Stockport there will be some happy memories playing against this team although they have been subsequently strengthened and are playing much better now. We, on the other hand, are still in the midst of a deep injury crisis and somehow need to pick up some points until our players start to return to fitness with 4 or 5 due back in the next few weeks.
Still some doubt over Andrews in respect of a possible suspension and he would be a big loss, not just for his goal scoring or assisting potential but also because our decimated midfield is struggling and the way things are going an unusual 5-1-4 formation could be in the offering.
There is talk of a few signings coming in so will need to keep an eye out today for any news....
The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.
With the weather forecast not looking too bad this game is definitely going ahead tomorrow. I would have thought that Keating has done enough to keep his place somewhere close to Janneh up front and give the Stockport defence something to worry about at least. I realise its stating the obvious but this would be a HUGE three points in the circumstances if we could win...COYY !
More player options for the manager today and we should have a stronger bench. Keating and Janneh to start I reckon with Lewington waiting in the wings and chomping at the bit. Amrit Bansal-McNulty, theres a mouthfull, I reckon will get a start with our squad so depleted in midfield. Not sure how GJ will line up the back line this time out. I understand the thinking of playing a back three with the midfield area looking so weak. I imagine he was hoping that botnj wing backs would be able to fill in and push on more to maintain our attacking game.
Just hasn't worked unfortunately I predict we will switch back to a conventional back four if we can field a credible midfield.
More player options has to be a good thing but we need any additions to be up and running and ready to contribute big time to change our fortunes.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..
Nothing much you can say about that performance and result it was shockingly awful just as the scoreline reflects. 1-5 against a part time Stockport County tells you all you want to know. GJ's style has always been to attack the opposition relentlessly relying on the fact we will score more goal than the opposition. Up until the last month the plan has worked up to a point. Last seasons success with those tactics we managed to score for fun against some pretty poor part time opposition. Great entertainment it was too. That along with our superior fitness levels and some good luck with injuries got us out of a poor league though even then at times we looked very frail defensively and were usually punished when the front men didn't do the business. The bar has been raised - its a far better standard and before our injury crisis we were coping pretty well and knocking on the door at the right end again. No doubt the injury situation has been the root cause of our decline and capitulation in the last few weeks. Today highlighted that when we started with four players who are on loan, Asa Hall who isn't know here near match fit, Jamie Ried who didn't look 100% and off the pace and the anonymous Saikou Janneh who mysteriously looks a shadow of the player we saw last season. Keating should have started for me. He had a good game and scored in midweek but had no pitch time today and was overlooked in favor of new signing Lewington who has never experienced this level. Having said that defensively we were a complete and utter shambles. Rob Cundy caught in possession numerous times trying to play to fancy was to blame for at least two goals but in general we were poor in possesion, our poor passing often giving Stockport the initiative to attack us and open us up at will through our gaping midfield that failed to halt the flow. A lightweight Matt Buse and a slow recovering Asa Hall unable to stifle the flow. Once Stockport had figured us out that we were such a soft touch the game was as good as over as a contest. Their goals were unspectacular and soft in the main as we looked drained of belief and confidence they came on even stronger as we wilted in the wind. Klala made a diference and looked dangerous Lewington, predictably was rather anonymous. Good news to see an unexpected Connor LE return though again he looked so short of sharpness and match time it showed. His pass to Whitfield was a rare moment of quality though.
Many of our successful sides of years past have been built on a strong defense. This would never have happened to a Cyril Knowles side. Surely its time to address the tactics and defensive issues rather than go out and get another two forwards as we have this week or is it possible we could be dragged into a relegation fight?
That was a hard one to take.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..
No excuses, we were poor and were well beaten today and I suppose this score line has been coming. Yes we have had a crippling injury list in recent weeks and we have seriously missed key players like Davis, Little, even a proper fit Reid. But there is no accounting for such sloppy play especially in our own half. I remember remarking on this on our last home match, the difference is today we did not get away with it as much and Stockport took full advantage of our generosity. It was remarkable to think that it was 0-0 at half time and everything to play for. So to concede 5 goals in one half is criminal. Apart from Stockport's quality fourth goal, the rest were as a result of to our own sloppiness giving the ball away cheaply or slack marking. Today reminded me of those horrible humiliating defeats when we were last in the National League when Hargreaves, Nicholson or Dean Edwards was in charge! Yes we have plummeted to those depths and we need to wake up quick and deal with this crisis. Suddenly getting to 50 points is the bigger priority. Crowd a healthy 2,659 thanks to an impressive away following of 328 who were strangely quiet for most of the match. Oh well, at least the pitch is looking impressive this season considering all the rain.
Torquay kicked towards the Family stand first half with a strong swirling wind in their favour. It was cold but dry. Torquay started well for the first 5-10 minutes and new loan player Bansal-McNulty playing on the left wing was our brightest spark in the first half. He was lively, quick on the ball and very skilful. Stockport then came into the match and the game was played mainly in our half and Stockport had a succession of corners. The game settled down to an entertaining end-to-end sort of game. Torquay's best chance fell to left back Medford-Smith who caught the ball beautifully on the volley inside the penalty box and brought a top drawer tip over from their keeper. Torquay had 2 or 3 other half chances. However, Stockport had the clearer chances in the first half and keeper MacDonald did very well saving with his feet on a couple of occasions. Stockport also had a shot that went narrowly over and a free header that went wide. The warning signs were there and Torquay were fortunate to be on level terms at half time.
The second half went horribly wrong with two goals in quick succession that knocked the stuffing out of Torquay. Cundy in particular today had a horror show being so sloppy with his defending and was punished for it. For the first goal Cundy lost possession and Stockport were through on goal. The shot was blocked by covering defenders but the ball fell to a Stockport player to tap in an open goal. Shortly afterwards following a corner, Cundy covering on the line sliced the ball into his own net. Torquay lacked leadership and it was obvious Stockport were that bit sharper and Torquay's previous reputation of slick passing and confidence was nowhere to be seen. Lemonheigh-Evans replaced Hall (both returning from injury) but Lemonheigh-Evans joined in the charity of losing the ball in his own half to set up Stockport's third. The game was turning into a horror show. Incompetent at the back and toothless up front. Reid was clearly not properly fit and Janneh had another poor, anonymous game. Torquay had made a double substitution with Kalala and debutant Lewington coming on and Kalala made a big difference. Credit to Whitfield, he was also having a poor game but through sheer commitment took the ball on a run and shot into the corner of the net. Soon after Whitfield was at the back showing similar commitment in rescuing Torquay at the back when Scockport were about to score.
Torquay were doing most of the attacking trying to rescue the situation but Stockport also looked dangerous counter attacking. Stockport put the game beyond doubt with a quality finish into the top corner. Just when you hoped it did not get worse in injury time Stockport had a dangerous free kick on their left with a crowd of players around the 6 yard box. True to the game the ball was stabbed home at close range with again a sloppy looking wall and defending. Poor old MacDonald, he played very well today but was well angry letting in five. Thankfully the final whistle blew to end our agony.
There is no denying we are in a crisis and our defending in particular is being found out. Cundy had a horror show, Cameron looked bad probably mainly thanks to Cundy, our left back loan player has lost every match since he joined so we are clearly severly missing left back Davis who was having a great season. Only Wynter at the back played well as a defender and was also dangerous in attacks. In midfield Buse was anonymous and Hall was just returning from a long injury. Whitfield at right wing kept wasting possession but at least rallied in the second half and our debutant right winger, Bansal-McNulty, played very well in the first half and should do a good job in coming weeks. Up front Reid is carrying an injury and Janneh just isn't performing at the moment. I am disappointed Keating was not used today as he scored in the week and he is just the sort of player you need in a crisis when you need players to stand up and be counted.
We have all witnessed loads of these poor runs over the years and we all know only hard work and character will get us out of this slump in form. Let us not kid ourselves it will not be easy to get out of in the coming weeks and we will have to earn it through hard work first. The team is clearly low in confidence now and with so many young, inexperienced players it is going to be difficult to turn this around. It is quite obvious as well that players returning from injury like Hall and Evans will need time to get match their sharpness back. By the way, I have not forgot about today's sponsors MOTM - it was not announced. I think we know why.