Just what the doctor ordered

So after last weeks terrible game and performance last week at Shrewsbury last week it was back to the Mem and my hopes were given a great boost by a return to 4-4-2 and the return of Bodin and Montano. The resting of Sinclair was a surprise but personally I felt it was justified as was all the changes. Surely this team could perform far better than recently and thankfully I was not disappointed in what was a hugely entertaining game of football.

Puddy 5
A six foot goalkeeper that looks five foot 5 is the only way I can describe Will and his general goalkeeping. To be honest I feel a lot safer with Roos in goal especially for corners but fee; that the fact that DC selected Puddy again after last week has stuck his colours to his flag and probably means that Roos will go back next week and surely a new permanent keeper will be brought in. Hopefully a big commanding keeper who can keep about 10,000 at bay. I actually think Roos couldd have been a good long term goalkeeper but Darrells outburst has pretty well prevented that and we will have to hope that he can at last make a right decision on a goalkeeper as to be honest he has not done a very good job so far during his reign in that department. Should Puddy have come for the corner from which they scored? The defenders reaction after certainly seemed to indicate that they felt it was his ball but I would blame the lack of marking on the defenders who should not really have expected him to come and therefore gone for the ball. Puddy did in fact make one very good save and also surprisingly caught a cross under pressure.

Leadbitter 8
Back to his best and hopefully now given an extended run as a full back who attacks rather than a wing back. Did a good job defensively against probably Coventrys best player who was both skilful and quick. I dread to think what the winger would have done to James Clarke and reinstating Leads was the right decision as was bringing back wingers. Leadbitter first half was good defensively including a great last ditch intervention on the other side to cut out a dangerous attack after all the other defenders had been caught out but second half was good both defensively and getting down the wings tp provide width whilst Bodin cut inside and destroyed Coventry.,

Lockyer 6.5
A much better performance from Tom as both an individual and as a partner for Hartley against two big name strikers who both did little and whose reputations look very much history. Despite an improvement we still managed to look a bit shakey at the back on a couple of occasions but that did look very much like a case of little confidence in the keeper causing hesitancy rather than a continuation of their poor form although there was a cross in the second half where at least two defenders took a swipe at the ball and somehow it stayed out as they licked thin air.

Hartley 7
The goal machine did it again with a well taken header which put us in front and gave him his sixth goal so far and IMO if he keeps his place he is the first centre half in a long time who will reach 10 goals by the season end. He battled on bravely after a head injury in the first half and won his fair share of both aerial and ground challenges in what was a pretty good overall performance.

Brown 6.5
Looked a lot happier with a winger in front of him and to be honest I prefer it to be that way rather than have Montano at left back behind him! They linked well together at times but I still feel that Browner should release the ball quicker to give Montano a chance to run at the full back rather than receive it under pressure straight away.

Bodin 9 MOM
There is no sight better to watch than Billys footwork followed by an equally exciting powerful shot. He should have done better with the chance he had first half which Montano and Taylor put on a plate for him but Coventry had no answer to his second half performance which brought two stunning strikes , a great run for the penalty where he was tripped to prevent another goal from open play. Even the penalty was a perfect one in the top corner where no keeper in the world would stand a chance of stopping it. Must not forget either his deadly accurate free kick in the first half that was duly dispatched by a great header from Hartley. Personally I would like to see Billy involved a lot more in dead ball situations.

O. Clarke 6
Still goes missing too much for me and can only be described as an OK game but in all honesty the midfield did look better as a unit without Sinclair. I fully expect to see a permanent signing for this position but would not be at all surprised to see the return of Lee Mansell either playing or as back up to a new signing and even Lawrence IMO cannot be ruled out because both he and Mansell have the experience which we lack at times and also the leadership qualities that the experience brings.

Lines 6.5
Not so many surging runs as usual from Chris but was still heavily involved in the team performance and the midfield as a whole seemed a lot better balanced and disciplined. It would be interesting to see either Mansell or Lawrence start alongside Lines but whether that is being over attacking I am not sure but I feel that Mansell in particular could still make the role his own at this level.

Montano 8
Would be one of the first names on my team sheet and IMO deserves the same chance as DC’s favourites to have a run of games in the side. A winger should be rated over a run of appearances and not over each game and his substitution was another poor decision by DC and you could see the disappointment on Montanos face when he was substituted. Created more himself in the first half than Darrells diamond managed between them last week and I really hope that the second half of the season will see 4-4-2 as the standard formation and players brought in to play that formation rather than built on playing a diamond that lacks both width and the players to play either side of a diamond. In fact the only player it does suit is the one in the hole! He put over a number of good crosses and was only denied a goal by a brilliant save from the keeper in the first half- it would have been a well deserved goal.

Taylor 6.5
Without scoring it was back to a good performance from Matty whose clever turns and runs left Coventry at sixes and sevens . His sporting giving the ball to Billy for the penalty summed up the great team Spirit and I still hold out hope that we can retain his services in January and surely see him go very close to the 30 goal mark again. For certain it will be very difficult to replace his goals without spending most of the money we get for him and even then I am not sure we will be able to pick up a suitable replacement.

Gaffney 6
Ran his heart out without being as effective as recent games (Shrewsbury excluded). Did not really look like scoring and maybe a signing in January will put him under more pressure for his place and see him really at his best. He does lead the attgack well at times when the ball is not directed at head height.

Subs:
Harrison 7
One of his better appearances and looked really dangerous and was unlucky not to score with a great strike. Started to win the balls which Gaffney struggles with in the air.
Lawrence 6
Not on long but what he did do oozed class and I would not be disappointed to see him appear more regularly in the second half of the season if his injuries are behind him. It could be like havinga new player.

Mansell NOLE
Good to see him in the squad again and really think he should be kept on for his experience and leadership skills and he could still be the perfect foil for Chris Lines.

Crowd 8
Didn’t hear the crowd but sure it must have been close to 11.000 which is an excellent attendance. Really came to life when Billy did!

Ref 5
Another mixed bag of good refereeing and downright poor refereeing. He penalised far too many challenges that looked fair and stopped the flow of what was a very entertaining game.

Coventry 5 Like Bury before them it is lucky for them that relegation is not sorted by Christmas as they looked a poor side and the only question I would ask is – How many games will Russell Slade be in charge for?

DC Got selection right yesterday and I very much hope now that he will start to give the attacking players in our squad a fair chance and Bodin and Montano in particular. OK they might not perform to the level you require every week Darrell but they make us a lot better looking team in general with a lot more balance and also make other players look better. Wingers can be unpredictable but need to be judged over a run of games and not over 45 minutes. Not sure that the substitutions were really necessary but good to see Lawrence and Mansell again with both showing that they do have something to offer.

So we move on to the second of three holiday games and I won’t change my initial thoughts before yesterdays game of a win, a draw and a defeat from the three games as being satisfactory. Wimbledons big defeat yesterday does give us hope to pick up three points on Saturday and IMO 6 out of 9 would be a good return.

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