Impressive performance but just not our night

So it was another long trip for a Tuesday night drawn up by a computer that unfortunately for all the advantages of technology has no common sense whatsoever. Amazes me that we go to Sheffield United on a Tuesday and Northampton on a Saturday. Surely it is possible to draw up fixtures with some sort of programming to try really hard to play long distance games at the weekend., Anyway , enough of that Sheffield United it was on a Tuesday with both teams defending a six match unbeaten run with United’s more impressive 4 wins and 2 draws after awful early season form and Rovers 2 wins and 4 draws.

I have to say it is an impressive stadium which looked about three quarters full with a crowd of 19,000 although I am not sure on the capacity. Pretty impressive for League 1 and shows all the signs of a team who have seen much better times and will see them again in the future. Then there were us gasheads and taking into account the circumstances a magnificent turnout of around 800 and very vociferous backing for a team that has looked well up for this standard of football and certainly in no way looks out of place at places like this.

Would we have an unchanged team after Saturdays victory? Of course not, this is DC we are talking about not your run of the mill Manager and in all honesty whether we had won or lost Saturday would have made no difference to him as this was a different project and his team selection will be based on the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition and agree or disagree with this policy it has served us and him proud and his willingness to make changes during the game has on many occasions turned games around and given him such a magnificent Managerial record. There was no Matty Taylor again and so there was another chance for Harrison and Easter to stake their claims with Gaffney dropping to the bench. It was a surprise for me that whilst the young Colkett is being slowly introduced to League 1 football Jake Clarke Salter went straight into the starting line up and James Clarke was recalled in place of Peter Hartley for the second time in a week. Personally I don’t think either Danny Leadbitter or Lee Brown shine in the wing back positions and therefore it worries me that DC continues to persevere with this line up but his record speaks for itself and he seems to get away with any changes he makes so who am I to question his decisions and I have to say it is refreshing to have a Manager who actually always makes changes aimed at getting a win rather than holding on to what we have. Boetang came in for Sinclair in a midfield three.

Unlike a lot of the games this season we actually played very well in the first half and more than held our own against more illustrious opponents. To be honest I don’t know how we lost the game because if anything we edged the game even after we were down to ten players. Appropriately when we came out I heard two united supporters saying that it was refreshing to play a team who came out with the intention of either winning the game or losing it and I would always praise the Manager for this attitude although I believe it is the first time that I have known Darrell’s substitutions result in us conceding a goal straight away.
For those who were not there we just didn’t give up and twice in the last five minutes when we were still going for it we were so unlucky not to equalise and how the ball didn’t go in at the death when I believe a Sheffield defender cleared the ball from right under the bar I don’t know. At the end of the day it just wasn’t our night and the players deserved the ovation they received from our supporters for possibly our best performance this season.

Roos 7 Another brilliant one on one save when a goal looked certain but to be honest this was not a busy night for our keeper who looked assured with everything he did have to do. Have to say that whilst I don’t mind the keeper going up with a minute to go it is not something I particularly agree with at 1-0 down with still five minutes to go.

Leadbitter 5 Not one of his better nights as despite his pace getting him out of trouble on occasions his control and touch let him down too often and he allowed the winger far too much space on the goal but maybe that was as much down to the substitutions a minute earlier with the change of formation and players not having settled into it.

Lockyer 7.5 Had a great game and defended stoutly throughout on many occasions showing his great reading of the game and getting to the ball first,

James Clarke 7 Another strong game but for me Peter Hartley is stronger in the air and a presence in both boxes but I really think DC has to make his mind up if he wants to play two centre halves or three and decide which are best rather than keep changing one game after the other.

Clarke-Salter 8 MOM Great debut for one so young and inexperienced. Played like a veteran and looks quick, accomplished on the ball and a good man marker. I would have given him a 9 but he was caught out on the goal but probably hadn’t got used to suddenly have James Clarke missing and being in a central two rather than a central three but it was a hesitation between him and Lines on who would challenge the scorer and neither did.

Brown 6 Looked pretty tight at the back. Did well going forward in the first half and for the life of me, I cannot understand why he was substituted rather than Leadbitter if a full back had to come off.

Lines 7.5 Class. Chris is playing really well at the moment and there is not a better player running forward with the ball in this division that is up until he gets to shooting distance ! I remember when he used to fairly regularly score goals but for some reason this is deserting him but to balance that his work rate is probably twice what it used to be.

O Clarke 7.5 Played his part in what was an outstanding midfield display. Unlucky with one shot just wide and should have had one or two more attempts in the first half when he drove forward well. He can be frustrating when he messes up with the straightforward pass and this was no more evident than late in the game in the centre of the park where he brilliantly flicked the ball over his and an opponents head; ran past the opponent ,drove forward and then failed to make a straight forward pass to Leadbitter. This was the best game I have seen him play for us. Well done Ollie.

Boetang 7.5 Came back in for the suspended Sinclair and had a very impressive first half showing great close control and lots of Premiership class standing out with his physical strength and ability on the ball. This was very much the player I thought we had signed and he seems to thrive in a midfield three and IMO he is used to playing in a midfield where everybody has a definite role and position.

Easter 6 Have to dock a point off for the sending off which really stuck us up against it having only a minute earlier gone one down. He played well up until that incident and looked very lively but should have put us one up when brilliantly set up by Harrison only to put the ball past the onrushing keeper but just wide of the far post.

Harrison 7 An impressive performance but how on earth did he not put the header away in the first half when all it needed was a touch. He led the attack well and was a willing runner in what was a very good team performance.

James 5 Didn’t get enough of the ball to shine but a couple of good touches. I would like to see him being given a chance to replace Easter on Saturday if Matty Taylor is still missing.
Moore 6.5 I like this player. Direct, quick and intelligent. far too good to be left on the bench and I would have him in front of Bodin every time this season.

Bodin 5 Sorry but this season so far has not done it for me and last night his performance did nothing to even warrant a place on the bench. Does not put in enough workrate for me to come on as an impact substitute.

Ref 7 Good performance. Not sure if he got the sending off right or persuaded by the onrushing home players who tried even harder after that to get other players booked or sent off.

Sheffield United 7 Play nice football and a fairly solid team with some good individuals but don’t like the way they try to get opponents booked/sent off by surrounding the referee and play acting.

Crowd 10 Fantastic turnout from gasheads for a Tuesday night match so far away. Vociferous and appreciated what was a good game of football. In all honesty other than the roar when the goal went in you would not have known there were 18000 home fans.

DC I have to say that the team selection worked last night and it was a match that in no way did we deserve to lose and possibly deserved to win. We played lots of neat football and the midfield as a unit probably gave their best display of the season. Without Sinclair I would describe it as a disciplined midfield performance with all three showing good skills ,close control and working for each other. Brave decision to put Clarke Salter straight in. Did he get the substitutions right last night? No as IMO we were playing well and could not really see us conceding but there again the move was made to make us more attacking so for the right reasons. Sometimes it is going to backfire and last night it did as we conceded before we had time to get comfortable in the formation change.

So we move hastily on to a very difficult game against a Northampton side beaten only once in about thirty games and not the best place to be going after a defeat. I fully expect us to play the same formation as last night and if we are going to do that then I think the time has come to give Connor Roberts a run out at wing back in place of Leadbitter. If Taylor isn’t fit then I would go for James up front.


Lockyer Hartley Clarke-Salter

Connor-Roberts Lines Boetang O Clarke Brown

Harrison James

Subs Mildenhall J Clarke Colkett Gaffney Montano Moore Bodin


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