A result based on one refereeing decision

If I’m completely honest this was a game I was not really looking forward to as it is not the most welcoming place to be on a Saturday afternoon and a dreary day in November made it even worse. It was my first visit to the New Den and my first thought was nice ground but too bloody big for the team that play there however the atmosphere for me was far better than most you get in this situation where a ground is only a third filled. For the first time this season I pretty well came up with the same team that was selected other than I would have gone for Gaffney in preference to Ellis up top.

Roos 9 MOM
Made some outstanding saves to keep us in the game before Millwall opened the scoring and after. Was very unlucky with the first goal when he did brilliantly to save the first shot but his defenders ;not for the first time and certainly not the last; were too slow to react and prevent a simple tap in. Those who were so willing to write this this man off after a couple of uncharacteristic errors should now give him the season to assess him as a keeper. If we could sign him permanently in January |I would jump at the chance.

Leadbitter 4
Still very niaeve in his defending and whilst for me it was a poor refereeing decision he should never have allowed himself to get caught in that position and had started the game anyway looking a bit slack.

Lockyer 5
Far too often caught out physically by some experienced forwards who played on a weak referee who could not, in many of the challenges that took place distinguish between blatant diving and falling over and a foul. Tom struggled back in the full back berth that he played in several seasons ago and we really paid for having 6 loanees where only five can be in the squad and Roberts missed out.

Hartley 5
Lost out in the physicl contest on two occasions against tough opponents and both led to goals. Like the rest of the defence were really up against it with a referee who favoured the robust approach of Millwall and allowed them to niggle the defenders throughout the match. Like all the defenders a lot of what he did was good but can only give him a five when for three of the goals the defending bordered on farce. He was very unlucky with his early header which was cleared off the line and in all honesty was not helped when McCrystal came on as we then had two left sided defenders both who lacked pace and match game time.

Brown 5
Not at his best,tried hard but allowed his winger too much space, too often.

Boateng 7
The only one in the midfield who looked up to the physical battle and showed at times what a fine player he can be with his neat skills and strength on the ball but tired as the game went on. Was unlucky with a run in the second half that took him right in the penalty area but his final shot lacked the power and accuracy to beat the keeper. Has the ability to pass the ball accurately and bring others into the game but does sometime run into trouble but IMO should be persevered with and given a good run of games. it is true to say that in DC’s teams some players get that time and others do not get the luxury.

Sinclair 6.5
Has the fitness to keep going whilst others cannot and kept pressurising players and cleared up well on a number of occasions however lacks the real physical physique to win the ball against bigger players and Millwall certainly had a very strong side.

Lines 6.5
Would have been a 7 but for the woeful pass back that set up the fourth goal on a plate. Was always willing to dwell on the ball and bring it out from defence but did give the ball away with Hollywood passes on several occasions when a simple pass was on and also showed an unwillingness to try his luck from long range when on his surging runs. This for me is the only thing which really holds Chris back as he rarely looks like getting a goal and yet he possesses a good shot.

Colkett 7 Dropped this to a 6 from my original 7 because although he seemed to be playing himself into a good game this was taken away from him as he was sacrificed for the extra defender following the sending off and whilst he was worth a 7 the fact he only participated in about a quarter of the game made me think of a 6 but then I thought that sometimes a substitute gets a 7 for a short cameo performance so reinstated the 7 as the midfield did look up for the game in the first twenty minutes whilst he was on the pitch and it was probably our best spell of the game.

Taylor 5
Should have at least got his shot on target following Hartley’s header being cleared off the line but was well contained by the home defence. he seems to be in one of his dry spells at the moment. I am sure a goal will come soon and then another spell of goals will follow but we really need to find a partner for him and for me this would be my main target in the transfer window as none of our other forwards has looked good enough to cement a permanent place in the team and we look physically short of strength in this sort of game.

Harrison 3
Has not warranted a starting place IMO and it is disappointing to see a player who has the talent but does not have the football brain or overall physique to play the role he is being asked to play and therefore is struggling for form. The problem DC has is that nobody else in the squad is any better in that position and a failure to have brought in a strong powerful leader of the attack will cost us a few points between now and January. For me he should stick with the Gaffney/Taylor partnership because at least Gaffney will run the channels and provided the ball is kept on the ground will control it and bring others into the game. Unfortunately I do not see too many goals in him and therefore it is essential that DC corrects this in January however I appreciate that many teams will be looking for this.

Subs: McChrystal 5
Did OK but two left sided centre backs were always going to struggle a bit and Millwall really had too much quality up front to contain and were always going to be able to find space when Rovers numbers were reduced so early on. I have gone for a 5 across the back four because they were all physically out battled and three of the goals were all down to the defence as a unit failing and onl;y Roos’s goalkeeping prevented it being a six or 7 goal romp.

Easter 6
Came on and immediately showed the physical strength and quality to participate in this sort of battle. He is a very intelligent player and one who for me deserves the luxury of the sort of run that Harrison is getting. He is not for me going to sort out our lack of goals by scoring regularly but just behind the front two he is the best option. His ability to hold the ball up just in front of the midfield was sadly lacking yesterday until he made his brief appearance.

Montano 6
Another who IMO deserves a run in the side as he at least has the potential to beat an opponent. his cameo appearance was the usual mix of clever running, skill on the ball and the odd poor decision but he does look like he can unlock the defence and on two occasions was unlucky not to set up a goal.

Crowd 8
Just over a thousand was for me a good turn out in such hostile territory and the vocal battle went on throughout the game to create a good atmosphere ina match that was ruined as a game by a poor decision from the referee.

Ref 3
One game changing decision IMO cost us the game both in terms of the result and the quality of the game. For me if it was a sending off then it was a penalty and as the decision was a free kick then the original “foul” that was given was a booking at absolute best (or worst) rather it was two players both looking like they were trying to get the ball unbalanced and their legs became entwined- it was not a clear case of last man anyway as at the time the offence was given outside the box there was another defender who had the chance to get in a tackle so in many aspects the decision was a farce and really opened up the game in advantage to Millwall’s strong, physical style of play by constantly giving free kicks to them and ignoring the home players backing in. The trouble is criticising the referee can be looked upon as sour grapes but it has to be said that this game heavily rested on a poor decision from a poor official who ruined what really could have been a good game as the opening fifteen minutes had been an end to end affair that we could easily have been leading. Unfortunately the general standard of referees in this division means we are sure to face a few more matches like this.

Millwall 7 For me this was one of the best teams we have played full of experience and physical power with the ability to pass the ball around accurately, the willingness to shoot from distance and most of all strikers with the killer instinct and the ability to get shots on target. In fact I would say there is a fair chance that they will be fighting for the automatics come May and I hope we are not far away from them.

DC Cannot be too critical of him as this really was a result that was pretty well beyond his control and the starting line up was pretty well what most people would have selected other than his willingness to persist with Harrison up front but even then he could be defended for his decision because in all honesty none of the other strikers has done enough to take that place. At the end of the day by some miracle we held on to fifth position with two winnable home games to come and I am sure most supporters would have settled for this position at this stage of the season.

So we move on to a FA Cup replay on Tuesday and I really hope that DC goes with an attacking out look and plays at least one winger with the the great chance of progressing to the 3rd round unless there is an upset. UTG

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