The result was bigger than the performance
The trouble with winning games is that you know the run will come to an end and the only thing is you don’t know when it will be. For many reasons which all Gasheads know, surely Mansfield wouldn’t be the side to end our run. On current form this was very much a match that we were capable of winning but we all know how sometimes in life current form goes out of the window when you are playing a “bogey” team. Mansfield were a bogey side for one game only but that alone was enough to bring an edge to this game which seemed to reflect in the subdued atmosphere. Mansfield are no longer the good footballing side of the Disley days or; for those with the longer memories; the side that Harold Jarman used to run rings around at Eastville, most famously in a 6-0 victory. Anyway on to the game and the team sheet showed a change of formation and the return of McCrystal and Bodin and Montano which again showed the willingness of the Manager to change a winning side again in order to approach the new “project”
Mildenhall 8 Continued the great form he is in and although he actually had very little to do he saved us two points with a stunning one hander near the end that looked a goal all the way. His distribution was mainly in the form of kicking but that is fine by me as I don’t want to see throw outs all the time to players who are not the greatest in possession. He does throw the ball out but only when it is safe to do so. His handling throughout was safe and another clean sheet is always a good base to get a victory which really puts us in the mix for the Automatics and gives us a very good chance of making the play offs.
J Clarke 6.5
Solid and consistent in his play. Always gives the impression how he runs that he is on his last legs but generally lasts the match and gets in vital challenges and blocks. It is impossible to compare him to Leadbitter but the fact that he generally gets the nod over Leadbitter shows that DC has great faith in him and that is good enough for me because he rarely lets the side down and although personally I would like to see him a bit closer to his opponent at times ,that opponents certainly knows by the end of the match that James is there and Tom Lockyer just behind him seems to have a very good understanding and the pair look more solid than the Leadbitter/Lockyer combination.
Lockyer 8.5 MOM
It is getting a bit boring marking Tom now because the consistency of his performances is astonishing. Is he really still a youngster? He seems so composed and the number of times he nonchalantly comes out with the ball with a last minute tackle or block certainly belies his age but not the number of appearances he has now made for our team. Certainly he is the best player to come out of our Youth team in recent years and I just hope that he shows his loyalty when it comes to Contract negotiations so that even if we can’t hold onto him we get a good fee. It is just not good enough that we have to lose him over the vital Easter weekend to poxy Under 21 matches that surely could be better arranged to suit ALL clubs and not just the Championship and Premiership who Amazingly have a blank weekend on what is usually a money spinning weekend. I would say he is the one player who we can ill afford to lose for two games but hopefully we can come through unscathed.
A surprise recall for Mark IMO but maybe Parkes has been under the weather with the bug that has hit the camp. As DC says he never lets us know (or more importantly) never lets the Press know our injury/illness situation so it is difficult to criticise any tinkering he does because we don’t know why it is done. The only thing that can be said is that we kept a clean sheet and he gave a solid defensive display,winning the majority of his aerial challengies and a no nonsence approach. His distribution is always going to be open to debate in that he does not possess the quality on the ball of Parkes but is less prone to mistakes. Perhaps as well that DC is rotating it a bit to keep both players match fit so as they can be paired together over Easter to replace Tom Lockyer. I would say that it is very clever managing of a situation!
It is no surprise to me that Browner has played through a bug because if you cut him I am sure his blood would be blue! One of the best;if not the best; left back in the division particularly when you take into account the number of assists he has. He also seems to be getting g used to playing with a winger in front of him and his understanding is building with Montano both yesterday and at Notts County. I still feel that this could be used in ,at least, all home games and I am not convinced that a formation to include Montana regularly in away games could not be beneficial to the side. Yesterday Lee did a very good job of containing his opponent and still managed to go on some attacking runs.
Showed signs that he was not 100% fit but he still had his moments in the game and you know that there are times when he is going to give the ball away because he has that extra bit of creativity in his locker and will try the pass that others will not or cannot. He is never going to be a winger who takes on his opponent on the outside and gets crosses in and maybe in the longer term we need to sign a player with more pace but at the moment I feel DC is completely justified in giving him the nod over Leadbitter. He certainly has the tricks but maybe could be a little more involved in the play and from where I was it was him who missed an absolute sitter in the first half when it looked easier to score than put the ball wastefully wide. If it was Taylor who missed it and not him then I am sorry!
In many ways this was another eye catching performance from Manse and yet a lot of what he does can go unnoticed because it is not going to be the surging run or the defence splitting passes.His game is about pressurising opponents and filling in the holes that the more attacking midfielders can leave and when he is on top of his game he is very good at doing just that and is also always capable of getting the odd shot on goal. Solid in the tackle and a very hard working performance that enables us not to miss Sinclair as much as we might otherwise.
Not quite as spectacular as last Tuesdays performance but still put in a good shift and it is good to see him doing the hard unspectacular work as well as providing that little bit of spark and the ability to run at opponents. The way Mansfield set up made it more difficult for Chris to find the space to run into and the fact that both wingers in the 4-4-2 formation tend to go inside means we lack the width that Chris’s game can really exploit. He did however more than play his part and it is great to see him in the team and being more like the player we know he can be. Surely he will score a goal or two in the remaining games as that is the one thing that is lacking from his performances.
Like at Nottingham last Saturday for me it was very close to a Man of the Match performance as he looks so comfortable on the ball and takes up good positions with a willingness to shoot at goal. Not sure if the assist for the goal was a cross or a shot but it was a very controlled volley which left Taylor an open goal but it was only an open goal because of the instinctive run that Taylor made. Monty linked well with Brown and really put a shift in and was unlucky before the goal with a hard well struck shot which unfortunately was where the keeper happened to be stood. He is a quality passer of the ball and exactly as he did at Notts he set up Easter with a beautifully weighted pass in the first half and also put in a couple of quality crosses, one in the first half was crying out for a McBurnie or Gaffney to attack. I can see him becoming a very important player in the run in and wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a few more goals from him if he is selected and able to build his confidence.
Battled very well against a physical Mansfield defence. He is such an intelligent player and cleverly positions his body to hold off defenders though i do wish he would stop diving unnecessarily. He is now starting to get into very good positions and actually getting into scoring positions which he was not doing previously and he could have had three or four goals at least in the last few games had he not lost a yard of pace. I am sure that one week he will take a couple of these chances as he is getting into the great positions and getting shots away.
IMO Matty’s goal tally confirms that he is one of the best strikers in this division and he could well top 25 by the end of the season which will be a great first Season in this division and should he help us get to League 1 then there is every chance that he will prove himself more than good enough for that League. His goal yesterday was another Match Winner and just as much as the goal I will remember that brilliant flick pass which really confirms that Matty is a good all round player and far more than just a goalscorer. Certainly he took “one hell of a beating” yesterday against an uncompromising Mansfield defence but had the last laugh!!
Subs: O Clarke Not long enough
but did OK whilst on. Probably unlucky to be left out but I wouldn’t disagree with Lines and Mansell selected over him.
Ellis Not long enough
but showed his pace on a couple of runs but also his naivety in getting involved in an unnecessary scuffle and picking up a stupid booking.
I definitely think he has something to offer particularly if we are starting with Montano. He looks very strong in the air and could be what we are missing at corners. It would be interesting to see him attacking Liam Lawrence’s corners and free kicks when he returns and I would also like to see Montano given a go at taking corners as to be honest I am far from impressed with Lines high looping deliveries that drift so far.
Good to see a referee who punishes diving and IMO had a very good first half but then went for a period where he saw very little and his performance became frustrating and annoying. No where near the worse but also a similar distance off the best.
7,847- a pretty good turnout for a game against Mansfield but I can’t help but feel that our recent return to form should be seeing even higher crowds and surely if we can stick in there and push for the automatics then we should get over 10,000 in the last few games. It wasn’t a great game which showed in the mixed level of noise-at times loud but quiet for long spells.
Mansfield 6 For me not as bad as some thought. Not a good footballing side but a team who stuck to a plan to go home with something but not quite good enough to get it. We certainly deserved the win for the greater battling qualities shown particularly in the second half but for me Mansfield didn’t have the quality which they had earlier in the season against us before the game turned nasty.
DC Came up trumps again with his team selection and the change from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 yesterday. may not agree with all of his selections but really who cares when he continues to get results. It was a completely different game to the Wimbledon game. This was a battle against physical opponents who came with the intention of holding on to what they had and maybe sneaking a goal for a 1-0 win. To his credit DC went for a more attacking line up and in many ways it came off because we always looked the more likely to score and the team were also more than capable of battling. 12 points out of 12 and we are now back in with a chance of Automatics. Well done DC.
So we move on and like DC says we look at the next project which looks a tough assignment. Newport seem to win quite a lot of home games 1-0 but yesterdays 3-0 win at Portsmouth really shows us that even with our last four results we cannot be complacent because it will be a tough derby on what will probably be an awful pitch but for me the memories remain of that terrible 4-1 home defeat and for that reason something of a revenge is on the menu next week. Like most of our remaining games it is very much a winnable game but if we can achieve it then it will be a tremendous boost for both our Play off hopes and who knows maybe even what seemed aa dream not long ago…the Automatic second or third spot….now that Darrell even in the light of your other achievements would be …AWESOME. UTG