Suicide Mission

After a couple of exciting performances at home it was great to see that nearly 1600 fans took to the road to support the club yesterday in what was obviously a tough game against a Charlton side who had beaten us 5-1 on our own soil not so long ago. What we saw was enough to put a fair few off going to the next away game and to be honest after hearing the team selection I am sure quite a few were having second thoughts as DC ravaged the team that had played so well two days earlier. Ok some will say that there was no real surprise knowing DC as we do that there were quite a few changes but to change the entire midfield bordered on…no I will change that to AS ridiculous. Please can somebody please tell me why we get thrown all this nonsence about fitness coaches who provide our Manager with fitness levels and then see Mansell and Lawrence selected . Neither looked completely fit and I don’t blame either player because players who haven’t played for a while or most of the season cannot be expected to be as fit as players who have played regularly even if they had played 48 hours earlier. I would almost suggest that the team selection not only disrespected the travelling hordes who spent their hard earned cash but also paid disrespect to our opponents. How could Darrell honestly have thought that a team which lacked our best striker and all our best midfield players would be good enough to beat opponents who had already thrashed us at the Mem? I would further add for those who then throw at me “What would I have said if he had played the same players and there had been injuries because they played 48 hours earlier” my answer would be that the back four had all played 48 hors earlier and if we lost Lee Brown because of that then we would be in a far worse position with no real replacement in the squad!

Whatever any may think of my opinions even with all the changes I still held out hope because DC has done it before and on many occasions his selections had come off even when looking at the team you thought it was unlikely and he has really achieved miracles with players who were mainly Conference players two years ago. That said this team did have the look of a suicide mission and so it proved to be as the failings of our defence were there for all to see without adequate protection in front of them.

It was a bloody cold day that welcomed us as the game kicked off and we could and probably should have taken the lead very early on when Easter surely should have chipped the keeper however it was not long before he got in on a poor defensive error just in the opponents half to keep his cool in racing clear of the defenders chasing him and rounded the keeper before planting the ball in the empty net. That was to turn out to be our best moment of the day and I will take the match forward by writing on the individual performances although I am afraid it is not going to be good reading !!

Puddy 4 The strange thing is that I can’t really totally blame him for any of the goals. Should he have come for the first two goals that were identical free kicks to the far post expertly headed in by Charlton’s centre forward? What I would say is that the way the defence lined up for the free kicks certainly seemed to be in a style that they left a huge area for the keeper to control as they lined up on the edge of the penalty area where any opponent running in held a huge advantage and it was almost as if they expected Puddy to be able to come for any cross however deep. I have to say that the way Puddy waves his hands about at any free kick of corner doesn’t me with a great deal of confidence and the truth is that they hit the bar twice as well as scoring four goals and other than that I can’t recall many strikes at our goal hence my mark. His positioning on the third and fourth goals did look a bit questionable and it bewilders me that an Italian keeper has to come on trial with a respectable CV on trial when surely a keeper should have already been lined up for the first game after the deadline similar to the way Northampton signed Boateng?

Leadbitter 5 Did Ok without being spectacular either defensively or attacking., In fact he didn’t get the chance to attack much and the way he hobbled off I doubt very much he will be available Saturday.

Lockyer 2 Not much I can really say other than he was physically out battled as he has been far too often this season and it would be easy to blame him for his involvement in all four goals. Some may say that comment is harsh on the fourth goal where the winger was completely free to choose where to cross but Tom is the Captain and surely part of that role is organising the defence to make sure players are marked. Personally I would be looking this week for a tough ,tall centre half to win the balls in the air because physically neither Tom or Peter Hartley are particularly tall and both seem very susceptible to the high ball. Tom seems to switch off this season and is makinf far too many mistakes far too often to be ever present when available. The problem as I see it is there is no better alternative on the books.

Hartley 5 If we say that it was Lockyers man who scored three of the goals and most of the danger was on the right side of defence then probably Peter had a reasonable game but even Hartley is not the strong dominating centre half that I thought we had signed but similar to Puddy he didn’t seem to be in a great position on at least the third goal but couldn’t really be blamed.

Brown 3 Distribution in the first half was not of his usual standard and didn’t really impress me yesterday but unfortunately we have no competition for his place and perhaps complacency is creeping into his game.

Moore 5 The best of a poor midfield he tried hard throughout and looked confident on the ball. What I like about him is that he rarely gives the ball away , criticism would be that he rarely takes on and beats his man.

Mansell 3 Does not look up to playing 90 minutes and the surprise was that he was asked to. Second best far too often with challenges and what really surprised me was that neither Lines or Ollie Clarke were on the bench to replace him and it would have been difficult for Colkett to have to come on and try to dictate in a midfield that was being over run. If I had to make a decision on him I would probably say that he is not now up to League 1 standard although if he had somebody alongside him who stuck to his position then he may have performed better.

Sinclair 4 To be honest he was no better and in some ways worse than the others but his mark represents the running he did. The problem is that when you have two wide men it leaves a lot on the other midfielder when Sincs goes here there and everywhere and this probably made Mansells return that much more difficult. In this standard organisation and discipline is far more important than enthusiasm and commitment and I must now say that IMO Ollie Clarke has overtaken Sinclair in the pecking order but it is an area that I would like to see a new signing but from the latest from DC I would not be over confident that we will see an addition.

Lawrence 3 Similar comments to Mansell in that he was put in to the Cauldron and all we really saw were a couple of neat flicks but looked as expected well short of match practise. If his inclusion had been the only change then I think he would have been OK but with Sinclair running everywhere I would have thought it would have been better to play him in the middle with Mansell. I would say that for both players this would be their last season of League football.

Gaffney 2 All effort but the only thing that remains in the memory is two or three time swhere he ran back with the ball and passed it straight to the opposition.

Easter 5.5 MOM For me the only player who did himself real justice and the fact he was brought off astonishes me when the midfield was so poor. Good on the ball, missed one half chance and scored a good goal but must have been frustrated with the lack of service he received


James Clarke 3 Looked far too slow and is not the answer at right back. Couple of willing runsd forward but no quality in crossing.

Harrison 5 Tried his best for a lost cause.

Taylor 5 Why was he left out? Downright poor Management and what was the use of bringing on two strikers when neither of the starting strikers had been given a good service.

Referee 6 Average but a bit of a homer with some decisions .

Crowd 8 The team did not deserve the support they received yesterday., Supported the side from beginning to end and nearly 1600 is amazing.

Charlton 6 Made to look far better than they were and other than their goals and two “crosses” that hit the bar IO can’t remember them doing much else. Their centre forward was exactly what we lack but there again it would be interesting to see our strikers against our defence.

DC Sorry but totally flabbergasted that such a good Manager could get it so wrong. No team could leave out Bodin , Matty Taylor, Ollie Clarke, Montano and Chris Lines and expect to compete with one of the better sides in this division. Arrogance is starting to come to mind and the fact that in his interviews he is starting to regularly mention Supporters views and expectations sends out the wrong signals and more and more are starting to question his selections and whilst I said in my last report that yesterdays match was a bonus after a six point haul I did not expect us to throw in the towel before a ball had been kicked. I now find it worrying that after saying a couple of weeks ago that we needed two or three players he ios now saying that he is willing to wait to the summer for his first choice signings. Surely there are far more players available that would improve the team than just a few first choice ones?

So we move on to an important home game against a strong Northampton side. I say important because our away form seems to have deserted us now but the problem is that we now don’t know if our form had picked up and would have continued to improve because we gave the game to Charlton.

My team for next week would be


Leadbitter (or Lockyer) NEW CH Hartley (Captain) Brown

Bodin Lines O Clarke Montano

Gaffney Taylor

Subs Easter Colkett Lawrence Roos or Puddy McCrystal Moore Harrison


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