After winning away last Saturday we need to follow this up with a home win and have a good opportunity against strugglers Ebbsfleet. Our cause is helped with them hampered by a couple of suspensions with Blackman and Payne out but 3 reds in the last 3 games may be sympathetic of a side battling away to avoid the drop and this is likely to be a tough game.
Out injury crisis continues to ease with Cameron now fit after just the one game lay off for a knock and likely to return to a back line that for the first time I can remember was comprised entirely of loanees last week! This only left room in the side for one other loanee in the form of Evans and if the new loan striker deal comes off shows how Johnson most manage the match day squad at least in the short term until Davis and Wynter are fit to resume duties again.
Johnson played an attacking 4-3-3 or approximation of this last week. Little could potentially start but unlikely to play more than 60 minutes but a midfield of Little, Hall and Evans with Nemane waiting to come on in the wings is possibly our strongest line up and a far cry from where we were just last month. With Kalala back in form and Warren marshalling the defence we are going to be a hard side to beat and should definitely be looking upwards as go into the last third of the season!
Ill be getting off the promotion train just now if you don't mind. That was a shockingly poor performance in every respect. Right through the side today not a single player looked capable of rising above the level of "abysmal". Mind you I would add that I thought Aaron Namanee was the pick in the first 45 but was replaced at half time by a rusty Armani Little - no doubt GJ was clutching at straws for an answer to combat a committed and hard working but very poor Ebsfleet side who will need a miracle to save themselves from the drop. From first touch to passing a simple ball a few meters to our own player we looked like the side struggling at the bottom though Ebsfleet, who had more meaningful possession were dreadful also. A fact that tells its own story. Why do we always seem to struggle against "the struggler's" is a mystery to me but I was sort of mentally prepared after having witnessed it so many times but as always hopeful we could break the spell. How wrong could I be. Pointless reporting on that garbage and the referee just added to the sub standard performances missing or just ignoring blatant fouls the most obvious being when the totally isolated Jamie Reid was hauled back in the area but managed to get a shot away in the second period. A definite penalty 99% of the time. Maybe JR was to honest but that was our only clear chance in a long, tedious, poorly officiated and most boring games I've had the displeasure to witness for some time. If we perform like this at Barrow, make no mistake we will be slaughtered. Ebsfleet deserved their point and could have won it on one or two occasions with half chances again I almost expected them to snatch it - we would never have got back.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..
A dreadful game of football to watch bereft of any quality from either side. If you were a neutral supporter you would have left early or if you were watching this on TV you would have switched channel. Sadly loyal supporters have to sit through this dross in a vague hope things might improve. Surely it would get better in the second half after a disappointing first half showing? The truth of the matter is that the game got worse the longer it went on.
The only positives I can take is that I like the look of Longridge at left back and Warren in central defence. At least we were reasonably solid in defence and did not have any comedy moments today gifting the opposition a goal. Covolan did what was needed in goal and apart from coming out a long way and missing a cross he was solid enough. In the first half we did at times do some very good build up play and got into decent positions. But the final ball all game was missing. Both keepers had very little to do all game. The game gradually descended into a hard slog with neither team able to find that quality to unlock the opposition defence. Torquay's play got ragged, too many misplaced passes, set pieces all wasted typically not even going past the first defender. Reid, who still showed glimpses of quality had Torquay's best opening in the second half but his shot was saved by their keeper's legs. That was about it excitement wise, I don't think Torquy had another meaningful shot on target all match and Ebbsfleet were little better. From their viewpoint, it was a decent away point. The onus was on Torquay as the home team to take the game to Ebbsfleet but they were sadly incapable of that.
The crowd of 2,300 with 71 away supporters did not get value for money and at the final whistle there was virtual silence. Hall got Torquay's sponsors MOTM and he does look fit now and gets stuck in and has a good engine. Players like Kalala and Lemonheigh-Evans were frustrating today. When Kalala did beat his man his final ball was usually dreadful and when things do not go his way you feel he does not put a shift in. Lemonheigh-Evans deliveries were dreadful all game. When Torquay did put a decent cross in, Torquay lack anyone who can head the ball. Ironically it could have been a game where Keating might have made a difference with his tenacity and heading ability but he has gone.
It was pointed out to me today that all our back four were loan players. To me that rather sums up the poor state our team has become. Too many injuries this season, too many loan players coming and going and the best we can hope on recent form is to limp to safety this season. This season has become an anti-climax after our bright opening this season and I have already written it off. We should get enough points to avoid a relegation scrap but we have little to get excited about. We DO have quality in the team but too many are not showing it and if our passing game breaks down like today we have little else to offer. We are not physical enough or good enough in the air to win games in any other way. Oh well, at least we did not lose...
A low quality match today not helped by a very physical Ebbsfleet side who understandably were battling for everything although the referee let a lot go and consequently it was quite a drab game, a bit like the weather, a damp squib. Thought our passing was not up to scratch today either.
Chances were at a premium and neither keeper had to work particularly hard in goal. Our two main chances in the first half both fell to Ben Whitfield with first a shot just outside the area narrowly going wide of the right-hand post and towards the end of the half a cross to the far post was headed wide with the goal gaping. Kalala also had a chance again at the far post but towards the pop side this time although it was a header that was directed straight into the ground and bounced up nicely for their keeper to collect.
There was a moment of worry towards the end of the first half when their player went down from a challenge in our area, however any contact was minimal and he went down very easily and just earnt a yellow card for his troubles.
Probably the main highlight of second half was Little coming on at the start and although his first touch, a pass back into our area that was intercepted was poor, he came into the game well, picked out the passes we know he can as well as running hard and while still rusty is not far off the pace and could start next Saturday.
Reid was able to burst through their defence at one stage but only got a weak shot away due to being held back but the penalty appeals fell on deaf ears. Andrews was also hauled down in the area at the far post but somehow Ebbsfleet were awarded a free kick. One of the few times that we did get behind their defence, on the left in this instance, a poor cross was delivered which their keeper was able to collect when an onrushing Reid would’ve had a tap in with a more accurate delivery.
Ho hum, it was not to be today but at least we had a rare clean sheet as something to take out of the game. Possibly less chance of Reid going in the transfer window now as he hasn’t scored a hatful of goals in January. He did beautifully control a hoof out of our defence during the first half and looks a top striker though.
JR continues to look isolated. Is it any wonder we didn't score. Ebsfleet worked hard and pressed us all over the pitch and we couldn't get a hold on the game because of that. Didn't think their forwards were much of it hey looked poor when they had opportunities and wasted one or two good moves with careless deliveries. If we had been playing a decent side we would have been 2 or 3 down by halftime. Reid needs help for sure he just had no one playing on his shoulder and looked a lonely figure for long periods as we sank deeper and deeper inviting the opposition on. Kalala and Whitfield were kept strictly out wide almost as if they were forbidden to roam and didn't swap sides which surprised me. It need some lateral thinking from the bench yesterday, the subs did little or nothing and the shape stayed the same despite the problems. Notably the entire back line were loanees. No news on the new forward signing - my guess is its gone tits up.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..
Kalala and Whitfield were kept strictly out wide almost as if they were forbidden to roam and didn't swap sides which surprised me.
Agree on that.
Formations don't win or lose matches on the own.
When the team is "at it" (copyright Paul Buckle) you win more than you lose. When the team is a bit lethargic and lacking in energy you will usually lose - unless you are at home to bottom of the league and scrape a 0-0.
Make no mistake, we would have lost against a decent team. Without Warren (how we needed to sign someone like him in the summer!) we would even have managed to lose at home to Ebbsfleet.
A totally lacklustre display, no zip, no sparkle no energy.
I really do not like the formation we played but it could have been good if played well.
Reidy was totally isolated and we did only have one up front, meaning we did not even test a defence as bad as ours was without Warren.
In a 4-3-3, the other two up front need to be wide strikers not wingers - cutting in at every opportunity to join Reid. Three strikers not one. But as Pete says, it looked as if Kalala and Whitfield had been told to hog the touchline as if they were 1950s wingers.
If you do that, you really need Evans or Nemane to bomb through the middle to join Reid - making it a 4-2-4. But both looked lacking in energy and inspiration and never really joined the attack.
On paper we had five forwards - almost strung across the park like Eric Webber might have set a team up. With the skill those five possess, they could have ripped Ebbsfleet to shreds.
But it really was a 4-1-4-1 - with none of the four strung behind Reid really attacking.
I don't know what the problem is, but we need to get back the high-energy, high-tempo rhythm we had when we were winning games.
If we do that, the formation is secondary. But I would like another channel-running out-and-out striker up front with Reid - and get back to getting the ball quickly into the channels for then to harass defences.
We can play some "pretty football" but if it is lacking in zip and energy it will be easy for opponents to fend off.
I sensed a change of approach yesterday - an attempt to be more solid when defending particularly just in front of the back line but we ended up playing too deep looking rather negative and punchless as an attacking force. It had to come, we have been shipping far to many goals all season and Its my guess as to was why we looked so poor.
The emphasis on a more attacking style and to score more than the opposition could now be resigned to NLS history. Not sure if I'm gonna enjoy the rest of this season as GJ attempts to strike a balance but hey it was inevitable in all honesty.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..
Personally i think the best few minutes watching were Saturdays half time cross bar challenge. The gentlemans first two beautiful efforts hitting the cross bar and then very unlucky with his third. Well done that man...will we ever see the likes again !