I'm reminded of our 1st season back in the league to be honest. I stopped counting the times I wandered back to the car after a game, unable to understand how we didn't bank 3 points after being much the better side over the 90 minutes, yet getting caught by a sucker punch. Bringing in an experienced (and very vocal at times) organizer for the defence (yes, I mean Branners!!) made for a much tighter ship and results picked up. Our home form is more worrying, as I can see the attendance figure slipping away without us getting back to winning ways.
Attendance was 2005 last night, which is not bad for a school night fixture. I was going to say it's early days still, but Saturday marks the 1/3 of the season point, even though we're not in October yet.
Just watched the highlights. Missed chances - plenty of effort - could have gone either way. Noticeable for me among other things were the two super crosses into the box and across the face of goal from Kalala late on and nobody near them. Sort of sums it up at the moment. Gary Johnston has to make his mind up quick with Duku. Either he gets a decent run to see if he can fit in and contribute or he needs to unload and find a replacement.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..
As I have said before, in patches we play the kind of football that could win this league and in patches we play the kind of football that could see us relegated out of this league.
Both on show in spades today.
... and again.
An injury or two too far for us.
We have four decent centre-backs but not one of them is that classic experienced old head. Would not be so badly missed if you had Hall or Dickson just in front.
Lots of exciting attacking play particularly in the first half. Conditions got trickier in the second.
Out-noused (is that a word?) again.
Re the Whitfield offside, I was certain he was off and Keating on - and everyone around where I was standing seemed to think likewise.
You cannot see their last defender on the video when the ball was kicked. The camera angle has the effect of making Whitfield look further back and their defender further up than they actually were. We were much closer to in line, but possibly had slightly the opposite effect. Whitfield may not have been as far offside as he looked to us but was very close at best.
Not surprised Whitfield and Andrews went off as they had both run their race. How could you not bring on Kalala? A couple of crosses that could have brought our winner. Yes he is a risk - but better to win one and lose one than draw two.
I would have got Lewis on to beef up centre midfield - either to replace Buse or move Buse wide. But then again, I don't know if Lewis still has fitness issues.
Disappointing result. Not the end of the world. We are not going to win this league - although I cannot see who is at the moment. We will look far more like potential play-off challengers with some or all of Hall, Evans, Little, Edwards and Dickson available.
Fair point, Jon. Still reckon it’s onside, myself. Much discussion elsewhere on the subject with a photo still having been offered up. It’s tight. Not scientific, but GJ reckons it was onside in his press call. On the subject of the press call, that was a good listen this week. He made the point also regarding Whitfield and Andrews needing to come off. He also makes a good point about the quality of some of Eastleigh’s crossing and I’ll readily admit dismissing our seemingly poor defending of that without giving credit for the quality of the ball.
We’re not far off being decent. I’d take 7th and a play-off tilt come the end of the season. GJ will obviously want more. We’re really not so far off that pace for chances made even with some creativity sidelined through injury. Whitfield I really want to see playing where CLE started the season so effectively, just behind Reid. He is a good player with electric pace. I haven’t got much faith that Keating or Duku add strength to our options in the final third and hope I’m shown to be wrong in that respect if there is not to be an addition up top.
As for our defensive frailties, I have faith in the current personnel as being good enough, although there was some rumour we may have some incoming news before Saturday. The space in front of our defence is not as strong as it could be owing to the injury list and that doesn’t help. I see a mini crisis of confidence for Cameron possibly creeping in, which is a real shame as he has good potential and is solid at times. Cundy is a decent centre-back and footballer. No problem with Niate as cover and Wynter and Davis are decent. The big problem is they are not performing as a unit and that needs to change. And if it’s a personnel change deemed required by GJ, so be it.
Basically, I’m just describing a young side. Which is exactly what we are. One which both encourages and frustrates the spectator as Jon’s flashes of brilliance analysis sums up.
Right. All this talk has made me think about a how we presently are ratings at 2 in the morning (on duty) gold standard. A straight yes/no/squad (player) rating to be attempted but I’ll deviate:-
Covolan - Yes Macdonald - Yes
Wynter - Yes Cundy - Yes Cameron - Yes but not in form Lewis - Yes if central Niate - Squad/candidate for loan out if gnarled old bastard incoming Davis - Yes Slough - Squad/loan out if considered ready for that
Andrews - Yes Kalala - Yes and bloody frustrating Whitfield - Yes Keating - Squad/candidate for loan out if forward replacement Little - Yes Dickson - Squad/injuries Hall - Yes Buse - Squad/getting some good game time Vincent - Squad/getting some good game time Edwards - Yes/rarely seen CLE - Yes/poss long term injured
Duku - Squad/candidate for loan out if forward replacement Reid - Yes Koszela - Squad/loan out for experience if replacement
Fact is we look just about strong and capable enough with a fully fit squad to compete properly in this division. Lose the "big" players like we have, the ones that can influence a game and we predictably start to look very average despite the work ethic that GJ has instilled being much the same as before. Undoubtedly the loss of the first choice midfield has played a huge part in our recent poor form. CLE for me is a massive miss and a clear reason why Jamie Reid's goals have suddenly dried up. Its also pretty apparent that perhaps surprisingly certain players who stood out and progressed in the league below last season have really struggled to adjust to the physicality and tempo of a higher level. Ben Wynter and Kyle Cameron I truly believed would have no problem shining again at this level but all to often they are being found out for nous and pace. I still believe Niate has been an easy target, the one to blame for all of our defensive frailties when I believe he had a pretty good start to the campaign and was improving before he became injured. Cundy looks ok but has been guilty of blatant mistakes that have resulted in goals. Not convinced as yet that he is a better option. In essence we are having t play a second string midfield and have yet to find a partner for JR while still playing the same tactics of attacking football. For all of his effort Ruari has proved he struggles technically at this level. We are so weakened further up the pitch the defense is paying the price and looking more and more vulnerable to counter attack. Duku has done nothing and doesn't honestly look like the right sort of player to play along side Reid. GJ has to give him at least three games in a row and make a decision as to whether he will contribute in the system. Can't see it myself but he must be given the opportunity to find some form because even coming off of the bench late on hes failed to make any sort of impact. I don't know his history but is he meant to be a goal scorer or a creator for Reid to play off? I think GJ is struggling to find an answer with so many key players out and in so many positions. Has even tried playing three central defenders against D&R which really didn't work for me and appeared at the time trying not to knock Lewis's confidence by accommodating him a after a good game previously. We need THE BIG players back and hopefully get some belief and confidence back in the side before it drains away completely and we end up with lower half fight on our hands.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..