Entertaining Draw but rue the missed chances

After Saturday it was great to get back to a back four with two full backs both capable of attacking but knowing last night that their number one priority was to defend thereby allowing the players in front of them a bit of space to attack. Yet again I doubt many would have come up with the same team as DC selected last night as a midfield two of Boetang and Sinclair seemed a very odd combination when you have the quality of Lines and very likely Calkett too. The truth is that you cannot afford many mistakes in a midfield two because when one is beat then the other has a lot of ground to cover and in all honesty you really need your back four to be pushing up as a unit to provide good cover for the two. Harrison was given another chance to show what he can or can’t do and it was a good surprise to see Byron Moore on the flank and Bodin was played despite a very poor start to the season from him.

What was clear from the first half was that Walsall were a team who we should be capable of beating but who at the present time look further down the road in terms of organisation and understanding of each others game which is hardly surprising as they were Play Off chasers last season and really are now an experienced League 1 side. The big problem we have this season is that we are spending a lot of game time playing catch up and getting caught out far too easily. We have probably one of the best strikers in the division in Matty Taylor but overall we lack the killer instinct to both get in the position to score and actually take the chance when it came along. Taylor aside nobody else has really found their shooting boots this season which is a shame because if they had we could be sat much nearer the top of the table.

As is generally the case with us we were much more impressive in the second half than the first half where we seem to take our time to find our feet although at least last night we looked more balanced than Saturday and in Byron Moore we had a player who looked capable of beating opponents and getting in dangerous crosses but for a lot of the first half the midfield two were overrun with the no 10 giving eb=verrybody hope with the adage “Size doesn’t matter”!! He may have lacked a few inches but he looked the best player on the pitch and dominated the midfield area. Sincs did his best to upset the opposition with his hassling but a strangely subdued Boetang made mastery of that area of the pitch very difficult.

So we had a tentative game where although we looked dangerous there was not a great deal of goalmouth activity in the first half and overall I was pleased that we came into the interval at 1-1. we could have been leading but also could have been losing . At the moment ;as a team; we look very edgy in all we do and far too often are taking the extra touch and either giving the ball away or making the wrong decision which is exactly what we did for the opening goal with Boetang being the man being caught and the Walsall player then not closed down. Thankfully Bodin showed some magic to draw a penalty and surprisingly Taylor was the man to confidently slot the ball away and restore equality.

The second half was really all that the first half lacked with us doing the majority of attacking and there were times when it was a battle between us and ex Rovers Loan keeper Neil Etheridge with the keeper winning the battle with a mixture of great goalkeeping, “over the top” goalkeeping and with a bit of luck goalkeeping thrown in as well! To say we could have won by 5 is no exaggeration but also the big problem is that when you don’t take your chances you run the risk of being caught on the break and that is exactly what could have happened. In truth it is not only missing chances but more about making the wrong decisions with the final ball or cross.

Roos 7 Steady influence on the team. Handled the ball very well and distribution was good throughout. No chance with the goal and made two excellent one on one saves. He is not a spectacular goalkeeper unlike Etheridge but has a presence about him and for the older generation ,like myself, it is a bit like comparing Gordon Banks to Peter Bonetti. I have to say that I feel a lot more confident with Roos in goal when crosses come high into the box as he comes and collects most with assured handling. Looks a good signing to me.

Leadbitter 7.5 Back to his very best last night. His pace at the back and going forward is a great asset and he also put some good crosses in as well as defending well. All I can ask now is for DC to leave well alone and let him build his confidence up. Some players do seem to suffer with DC’s “projects” and Danny is one of them
. The same as Lee Brown Danny is far better when attacking from deep rather than from the wing back position.

Lockyer 6 Tom has not reached the heights of last season and seems to be struggling a bit to find his feet at this level. It will be very interesting to see the young Chelsea centre half play and to compare the two. Tom improved as the game wore on and made a couple of brilliant interceptions late on so hopefully is coming back to form as his unusual shakiness is part of the reason that we look so uneasy at times.

Hartley 6,5 Much better than Saturday . Shows great strength and leadership and looked commanding last night bar a couple of slack passes. The return to a flat back four definitely helped him and I really hope that DC can find a way to play a flat back four and still keep a strong midfield.

Brown 7 With a return to his full back role Lee Brown excelled and his link up play with Moore was one of the plusses from the first half and continued in the second. Like Leadbitter he put in some good crosses although his shots at goal were a bit disappointing.

Bodin 7 Another who was much better last night and importantly it was his skill which won the penalty and he was unlucky not to come away with a couple of goals. My only problem is that when playing 4-4-2 with him and another winger we are very light in the middle and can get overrun which did happen last night more in the first half than second.

Sinclair 7 Another competitive game from Sincs but not my Man of the Match because overall was outclassed by the Walsall number 10 however he got through so much work that the value of this cannot be under estimated. The problem is really getting the right combination in the middle of the park as the Boetang/Sinclair combination seemed to struggle but on the night this was probably more down to the ineffectiveness of Boetang. Take Sincs out and you lack that inspiration and workrate,keep him in and we seem to lack the ability to drive forward which Lines gives us. I suppose in a way it is a nice problem for Darrell to have but we have definitely not found the right combination yet.

Boateng 5 He looked really off the pace last night but how much of this was due to his role last night or whether two games in 4 days were just too much for him it is difficult to say. Alongside Lines on Saturday he looked a class act, striding through the first half and spreading the ball around with ease but he did noticeably tire in the second half. Last night seemed to be just a continuation of Saturdays second half but from the start. It was him being caught in possession that set up the Walsall goal and I am really unsure as to where exactly he can fit in, certainly not as a midfield two with Sinclair and I would ask the question is he a defensive midfielder or an attacking midfielder? I tend to think he should be a central midfielder with two attacking midfielders with him but to leave Sincs out would be harsh.

Moore 8 MOTM Great to see him in the team last night. Looked exactly the player I remember from his Crewe days and I really look forward to seeing both him and Montano get chances to play regularly or maybe one start and run themselves into the ground to be replaced by the other. He glides seemingly effortlessly past defenders and looks a really intelligent player. Could be another DC ace signing and would like to see Bodin, Montano and him in the squad and we could have exciting times ahead.

Taylor 7 Good all round game. Best penalty I have seen him take which probably emphasises his current form. Showed great awareness and touches throughout and was unlucky not to have scored at least another goal. It is now a case of finding the best partner for him as so far this season nobody has really justified their place alongside him. I would be tempted to give Gaffney another go on Saturday.

Harrison 6 Nobody can criticise the effort Ellis put in last night but his composure and decision making are sadly lacking at the moment. For a player with such pace he gets caught offside far too often and seems unsure when to shoot, when to pass or when to run with the ball. Wins his fair share in the air but is very frustrating as he has all the tools but is just not using them effectively and like the other players who partner Taylor he does not look like scoring a gaol.

Subs:

Lines 7 Did he deserve to be dropped from Saturday? Would he be a better foil for Boetang? Can he play in a two with Sinclair? All questions which I am not sure of the answer and am equally not sure if DC knows the answer. The Chris Lines that came on last night is a quality that we just need on the field because he can carry the ball from one end to the other and Colkett looks the type of player that could work well with him and form a real creative partnership but will DC be brave enough to go on the offensive. It is a problem that is difficult to answer and probably even harder with the signings but the only way to fit the players in is to play three central midfielders if you want two attacking and one defensive. I would start with the three of Lines, Colkett and Boetang but that is really harsh on Sinclair based on his individual performance.

Gaffney 6 Looked more his old self in a short appearance but really needs a goal to get him going. Should have at least brought a save from the keeper with that late chance last night but I would be inclined to start him on Saturday as for me Harrison has not shown enough to suggest that he is the ideal partner for Taylor and it maybe just a case of giving all a chance until one takes it.

Colkett 6 Not really long enough to mark but looks a class player and one who should be starting. Dc seems to have created a problem for himself in having a lot of individual players who all look capable of playing and playing well but finding the right combination could be difficult because Easter, Lines, Colkett, Boetang and Sinclair all have qualities but are either too attacking or not creative enough. I don’t envy Darrell keeping these players happy as he searches for the right combination.

Crowd 5
Where are the missing 1,000 or 2? Disappointing to be under the 8000 mark and I really wonder if; even with a new stadium we can substantially increase the attendance. I have little doubt that the lack of wins so far has kept the attendance going down as we certainly have some fickle fans but there again last season this sort of game would probably have been around the 6000 mark. It is to the credit of the supporters who do attend that they keep behind the boys and do try very hard to lift the team when we go behind.

Ref 8
Much better than the poor bunch we have had previously this season. Tried to keep the game going and even apologised when he stopped the game and then realised we had an advantage. Can we have a few more like this please.

Walsall 6 Not a bad side but we really need to be beating these. No 10 was excellent and Etheridge kept them in the game. That aside a very ordinary side and unusually were quite a short side for this division.

DC Thankfully went back to flat back 4 but for how long? Certainly his task is being made more difficult by players being inconsistent and making too many poor decisions but I am sure he will get it right in the end and that could be reasonably quick because he has without doubt made some very good signings and it is just a matter of fitting them into a formation that can work together. It really is exciting to watch the side coming together, frustrating as well but there is little doubt that we have the class but possibly still one big striker short.

We now move on to a period that will really test us as a League 1 side with two difficult away games at Bradford and Swindon. Will Darrell stick with a flat back four or revert to his 3-5-2? As they are both away I suppose there is a case for going with wing backs but IMO we just don’t have the quality wingbacks to play this formation and so IMO he should be looking to get the 4-4-2 with the right personnel and not make too many changes. Is that too much to ask as we approach another “project”. Only time will tell but how we could do with a win and quickly.

One Response to “Entertaining Draw but rue the missed chances

  • andrew snell
    8 months ago

    steve k
    last nights e mail comments refer
    perhaps i was wrong and etheridge was our best loanee between the sticks
    the penalty — have viewed it several times on sky replay and think contact could well have been outside the b

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