Revenge is sweet!

The great thing about this division is that on their day most teams are capable of getting a result (Dagenham excluded!!) and after the way Newport beat us at the Mem and the fact that they seem to win a fair few of their home games 1-0 this was without doubt a potential banana skin and the sort of game that ends runs of wins. With it being an early kick off it was very much a case of trying to win the game and then sitting back to see how the other teams fare. The original team sheet really held no shocks other than I was surprised to see Gaffney start rather than McBurnie but there again with McBurnie out next weekend it was sensible Management by Darrell to enable Gaffney to get some minutes under his belt in preparation for next week. Before the game even started Mansell had pulled out with injury and Ollie Clarke was recalled. Three minutes in and I was very much thinking that Newport were going to be our bogey side this season as they went at us from the off, the goal was very much a case of a “soft centre” as their scorer had the freedom to run and run and despatch an accurate finish in off a post. So the game was on and with the pitch resembling a beach I really was not expecting what was to come.
The match that was served up was credit to both teams as they took every opportunity to attack and the surprising thing was that we played the ball mainly on the ground and some of the football played was eye catching and a credit to League 2. In fact the game was almost opposite to the Mansfield game where there was very little good football on display and when it came down to it revenge was sweet.

Mildenhall 8

His handling throughout was faultless again and the impressive thing is that it was on what can only be described as an awful state of a pitch. At the game I thought he should have saved the goal as it seemed a long way out but having seen it again it was a better goal than I gave it credit for and a perfectly placed shot. Mildy is certainly a calming influence on the team and a great example to younger players because it could not have been easy for him after being left out in the cold and pretty well told he would not be first choice keeper again at this club he has maintained his dignity and in truth worked hard on his fitness to come back better than the keeper that started this season. To be fair to DC Mildenhall did look well past it at the start of the season and maybe being told in no uncertain terms what his future was in fact inspired him to prove the gaffer wrong. Whatever it was, it is great to have a keeper who is winning us points and looking safe as houses and whose shotstopping is back to its best. I really thought it was his last season but on present form and if we did get promotion it would be very difficult and harsh to not offer him a one year deal because on this form he is still one of the best keepers in this division and not going to be easy to get better if Alex Nicholls was anything to go by! At the end of the day distribution is not the be all and end all and the important thing is to keep the bloody round thing out of the net.

J Clarke 7.5

On this pitch and against a pretty quick opponent I thought James had his best game in a while. He stuck to a difficult task and never shirked a challenge and let the winger know he was there and he wasn’t going past him and in fact rarely did. There is a certain consistency about what you get from Clarke and he reminds me very much of an old fashioned full back rather than the weaker more athletic ones like Leadbitter that seem to be the trend in the game nowadays. I think that James provides a certain steadiness to the defence and a solidness which is very important if you are going to play with two wingers. The fact that Bodin is not a good defender really means that you don’t want your full back marauding down the flanks leaving us very open to counter attacks and so the decision to play JC over DL is a no brainer and Tom Lockyer seems to have a great understanding with him.

Lockyer 8

Was caught out a couple of times by the bounce of the ball but that was to be expected on a pitch that really is several divisions down on quality. Tom kept their star striker very quite but that is something he does most weeks and we will certainly miss him next weekend. It seems totally unfair to me that League 1 and 2 teams have to suffer because of U21 games particularly on such a busy weekend. I very much hope that we are working even at this early stage on getting him to sign a new contract. He reads the game so well and this is what we will miss so much next week, yesterday he covered across the whole back four and got in some vital interceptions and he seems to be overcoming his weakness in passing the ball and gave little away.

McCrystal 7

Looked very shaky early on but then settled into his usual reliable self, never spectacular but always there to sniff out danger and put in those timely aerial challenges that lets his opponent know he is there. Since the Portsmouth game the defence has done little wrong and at the moment is almost picking itself. Mark has the edge over Parkes for me because IMO he is more reliable defensively and you know exactly what you are going to get,Parksy is without doubt the better footballer but Mark far more less likely to make a crucial error. It will be interesting to see if DC plays McCrystal and Parkes or brings James Clarke across and plays Leadbitter. I have the feeling he may do the latter but you just never know with DC but whatever he does I am sure will work out.

Brown 7.5

Lee gave another good display but really that is just the norm and IMO he is so much better in a 4-4-2 than as a wingback. Always willing to get forward with extraordinary fitness levels to be able to get back I would still like to see him play the ball out a bit earlier to Montano and restrict the number of runs he makes down the wing because I feel less is more and that move has become a bit too predictable at times and Montano is more than capable of going past his full back. That said yesterday Lee gave a good all round display and the understanding between the two players is improving with each game they play together and now all we have to do is get the right side to produce more.

Bodin 6

His silky skills were not really suited to a game on Weston beach but in all it was a disappointing display overall and he gave the ball away far too often and for the second game running he should have buried the chance put on a plate for him by Montano in the second half. I would very much like to see DC go out and get a right winger before the window closes to at least put a bit of pressure on Bodin for his place because at the moment he is looking a bit of a luxury.

O Clarke 7.5

Probably at fault for the goal but that is understandable so early in a game that he did not expect to be starting. He went on to produce a stunning equalising goal and a good all round display that really frustrates me because we just don’t see it on a consistent basis in a run of three or four games. He is still young so maybe he can still make it because he is the only player we have who is capable of putting in such fine shots and he has scored some important goals in the last two seasons and each one a beauty. Yesterday was his best all round performance full of running ,tackling and commitment and if he can get to that level regularly then he would be in the starting line up far more often.

Lines 8

Chris is really coming into form and yesterday was his best match of the season and it was amazing that it should be on such a poor surface. This was the Lines of first time around, running at the opponents at every opportunity but with the added bonus of working hard to win the ball which is something he lacked in his early years. His return to form is an absolute bonus and couldn’t come at a better time. Some would have made him Man of the Match but I haven’t because for me he should have scored in the first half and too many of his runs did not have a final pass or a shot at goal and then there are his bloody corners-surely Montano should have a go at them because they are at the moment so predictable and wasteful. That’s my opinion anyway but the great thing about football is that others may think they are fine.

Montana 8.5 MOM

It gives me great pleasure to say “told you so” when such words as “useless” “terrible” “get rid of” were being used to describe Montano. It amazes me how supporters can come to an opinion on a player based on so few games and a player who until now has not had a fair crack of the whip. Players need games to build up match fitness and Confidence but in his limited appearances I could see some good touches and the ability to run at players. I can fully understand why he hasn’t been given the luxury of a run because we have generally this season looked better in the wing back formation and the general results have shown DC to be right on so many occasions. I have given Montano my Man of the Match because not only did he score the important second goal but he also set up three other clear opportunities for Taylor, Lines and Bodin which really should all have ended up in the net and generally I felt he worked his socks off to get back even though he is not a particularly good defender (perhap0s Bodin should learn from him). With a continued run I am convinced that he could be our best winger in many a year and could score a few more goals this season.

Gaffney 7

Looked well off match fitness as was to be expected and his touch was to cause the Newport goal where he gave the ball straight to the goal scorer however he went on to give a battling performance full of running as he dragged the Newport defence all over the place and made room for others. It was certainly good to see him back especially with all the injuries we seem to be picking up as he does give us a strong physical presence and a different dimension to our game. A sharper Gaffney would surely have scored a goal yesterday but hopefully that will be for next week.

Taylor 7.5

Not his greatest game as a whole but scored a brilliant goal and as everybody would say that is what he is there for then he has to have a good mark. Could have scored on two other occasions where the chances were far easier than the one he took where he controlled the low pass from McBurnie, turned past his marker and away from the other defender before hitting the ball in the corner. 21 goals is a sensational return for his first season in this division and who is to say he is not capable of playing the next division up-only time will tell as who would have thought that Richard Walker would not be able to score regularly in League 1. Certainly he must be on to score at least 25 injuries permitting.

Subs:

McBurnie 7

Another good display from the bench and very lively and committed. Chases everything and I am sure he will soon get his first goal. He did very well to set up Matty for the third goal and I am sure he will be a great asset in the run in and maybe the Play Offs.

Harrison 7 Looked lively when he came on and great to see him get a goal however not as good to see him get another senseless booking.

Broom 7 Not sure if he had long enough to give a mark but I’m going to mark him anyway because in his brief performance for a young player he showed a good bit of pace and a willingness to “run the line” and also to cover back. He definitely looks like he could have a good future and it was good to see DC give him a chance rather than use his other more experienced options.

Referee 8

Good sensible refereeing. Allowed the game to flow and to be honest didn’t really notice him much which is always a good sign!

Crowd 7

This has long been a sell out and no doubt there would have also been a fair few at the Mem to watch the beam back. Good atmosphere but certainly not a hostile one as there was little noise from the home fans once we were level.

Newport 6.5 In some ways I expected more from Newport however what we have to remember is that they have to play 23 games on that pitch . They were certainly a quick side in attack anyway and had a few players who were quite happy to run at us but defensively they looked quite poor and with better finishing we could easily have had 7 as we carved out at least three other clear opportunities.

DC So the run goes on and DC must take great credit for 15 points from the last five games especially taking into account the injuries we now seem to be regularly picking up. With the pitch how it was I fully expected him to set up the side with hoof ball the main aim however instead we set up to attack them and pass the ball around and to be honest we did it pretty well. Yes there were some mistakes and giving the ball away but overall it was an enjoyable game played at a high tempo and pleasant to the eye. For me the big test now for DC is whether he enters the Loan Market and if he does, the quality he is able to get. With Sinclair, Lawrence and possibly Mansell out for a while I would expect another Central midfielder to be brought in and personally I would have been looking to bring in an out and out right winger anyway as Bodin is a luxury which we cannot afford if we are to go for automatics.

The selection of Gaffney yesterday was sensible thinking of next weekends games and it was great to see a bit of emotion from Darrell at the end of the game. He is a superb Manager and we are very lucky to have him as his record speaks for itself and the good thing about him is that you go to the game and you never know what the team will be but you always know that they will always be professional and that on the majority of occasions DC will get it right. Long may it continue.

So now its on to Friday and the first of two games which could be key to how the season progresses. We enter those games in an automatic promotion spot which is far better than most of us could have imagined five games ago and it is sure to be an exciting period. I would definitely take four points from the next two games as neither will be easy particularly taking into account that we will be without Lockyer, Harrison, McBurnie, Sinclair, Lawrence and possibly Mansell. As I have said previously I would hope that we will see 2 loans in before Friday to give us the best possible chance of automatic promotion. I’ll be honest and say that I really think the only way we will go up this season is by the automatics as I don’;t see us beating the likes of Portsmouth in the Play Offs. UTG.

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