Another kick in the teeth

So after a week that seems to have really livened up the forum, for better or worse I don’t know we headed for another very difficult away game with yet again a fantastic following of gasheads but this time with a squad that had been decimated by the Managers decision to “No longer select” Puddy, Lawrence, Easter and McCrystal. To be honest when I saw the team sheet I felt what had started a difficult task had become that much more difficult. In my opinion you pick a team to give the opponents something to worry about and not a team to stop the opposition and the sudden reselection of Stuart Sinclair smelt of exactly that as straight away it looked like we would be defending in numbers with Lee Brown having no natural outlet on his side but countered a bit by playing a front three of Gaffney, Bodin and Taylor. There was a welcome return of Leadbitter but for me the worrying sign that Partington could only make the bench again. How many more players is DC going to sign who by non selection do not appear to be better than what we already have?

The trouble we now have is that our away performances are becoming as predictable as John Wards team selection used to be. We play OK but after creating a few chances we are hit by pretty well the first shot our opponents have on target and yet again it is down to diabolical defending this time by James Clarke and even more by a tame header by Chris Lines that landed perfectly for the Walsall skipper to hit an unstoppable shot past an unprotected young keeper.Is it going to be six away defeats on the trot? Well we all know that DC will not try to keep it tight and then hit the opponents on the break- No there is almost a gung-ho approach and the problem is that we seem to have been found out now and to be honest our defence goes on to look a total shambles after a far too regular error by our Captain gifts Walsall a second goal and what was a setback at half time is suddenly a mountain to climb! It is now no surprise when Walsall make it three after a diabolical mistake by Moore, losing the ball on the edge of his penalty area (where had the other defenders gone???) and leaving his opponent a clear run for goal and an easy finish. We could have had Puddy, Mildenhall, Roos or even all three in goal and they wouldn’t stand a chance with any of the sloppy goals conceded. We had long since that goal reverted to the familiar sight of a back three trying to do what four could not previously do – I really don’t understand DC’s philosophy at times!! It could have been more as Lee Brown went missing and only last ditch tackles saved the day. Taylor after missing a very easy chance by hitting a central shot straight at the keeper gave us hope with a looping header but the deficit was too great and another three points had been thrown away.

The truth is that the excellent away following do not deserve what is being thrown up and whilst it is mainly down to shocking individual mistakes there is certainly a case of deja vous about the whole performance- we always now look like conceding a goal even when there is no real pressure but now added to that is a squad that previously has looked quite strong with a good bench is now looking bare thread in lack of options and experience.

Anyway on to individual performances and to be honest there were not many out there who can be proud of their 90 minute contributions.

Lumley 6 To be fair he looks a reasonable keeper, vocal for his age and experience, very quick off his line and did nothing wrong. The trouble is that when the opponents do get a chance of a shot at goal they are in such a position that no keeper can be expected to save .

Leadbitter 6 Probably the best of a poor back four and tried to get forward without leaving gaps at the back but unfortunately injured again and what seemed a strange substitution with Partington an unused sub.

J. Clarke 4 Most of the time done OK but still manages to look a mistake waiting to happen and not sure what he was doing on the first goal as he seemed all over the place with his attempt to clear and where was he on the third goal as Moore seemed to be the last defender. In truth we were just a defensive shambles by that time .

Lockyer 3 Unfortunately just not good enough at the moment at this level. Talk of being a Championship player are just a mile off the mark. His distribution
at the best of times will for me stop him making that grade but he is being totally hindered by the Captaincy and switching off on a regular basis. The way he was beaten for both positioning and pace by the ageing Simeon Jackson was totally embarrassing. To be fair to him he did really struggle anyway with playing on the left side of defence. When a player is struggling so much for form the last thing they want is to be on their wrong side all game and to me it seemed ridiculous to be paying Mark McCrystal and not having him in the side when we were so short of left sided defenders.

Brown 4 Struggling for consistency this season and unlike Leadbitter he struggles to get back when being pushed forward and twice Walsall broke and could have added further misery down his side. He is playing like a man with no competition for his place and with the defence playing like it is then it seems that all DC’s transfer activity will be in that area when we are also lacking a powerful Centre forward and another creative midfielder to push Chris Lines. Great cross for Taylor to score and attacked well late on but IMO must get his defending right first.

O. Clarke 6.5 MOM Pick of the team again for me . Tried to make things happen , was unlucky just after half time with a drive that went just wide and then laid on a simple chance that Taylor failed to take. He is showing skills on the ball now that just never seemed in his locker
but in all honesty the inclusion of Sinclair seemed to get in the way of his partnership with Lines.

Lines 5.5 A poor header on the first goal which gave him the wrong type of assist! Robbed of a goal early on by a brilliant Etheridge save and tried throughout to put us on the front foot with his driving runs but in all honesty there were too many Hollywood balls and the midfield; although having a fair amount of possession; were too often found wanting with the final ball.

Sinclair 3 I cannot understand why he was suddenly brought back into the team when the two wingers has been working fairly well. Runs and runs but in doing that he leaves huge gaps out wide and when he is in the middle it was almost a nuisance value as he almost cut out the understanding that Lines and Ollie Clarke have developed and slowed the game down with sideways and back passing.

Bodin 5 Another who suffered with the goalkeeper bringing off a stunning save early on. seemed to be playing central in the three whilst Gaffney and Taylor played either side
. Struggled against a strong defence but was not helped at all by the ineffective Gaffney and the below par Taylor. Very much hope his injury was a precautionary taking off as we cannot afford to lose him on present form as he always looks likely to score.

Gaffney 2 Woeful. Wins nothing whatsoever in the air and yesterday was careless in possession which saw him lose out far more often than he won anything. In the ideal world DC would be bringing in a powerful striker but it seems his priority will be in bringing in at least one other defender and another Goalkeeper.

Taylor 5 Scored one goal and should have had another but he looked strangely subdued overall in a game where the service was lacking but also the understanding with his fellow attackers.

Subs:

James 4 What does he bring to the team I really don’t know. He neither appears to be a striker or a targetman and reminds me very much of Daryl Duffy but without the goals and that is not very mouth watering. Would have been much more useful to have brought Lucas on up top and kept Taylor alongside him. Another DC signing who just has not come off and yet he keeps persevering with him.

Moore 2 Terrible mistake on the third goal but what was he doing there as he is far from a wing back defensively and despite a turn of pace for me he just doesn’t get anywhere and cannot cross a ball. How he is being selected ahead of Montano is a mystery unless Monty is injured.

Broom 4 Seems better in a tight situation than he is in space in that at least he can get a decent cross in but showed his youth on several occasions. I feel he would be best used as a substitute when things are going our way at the present time.

DC
What a week and whilst there have been a lot of changes this week I am not sure they did us any favours whatsoever for yesterdays game. The silence from the owners is worrying as it seems that DC has been told to get rid of some players before getting any in but please what is the point of losing three experienced players two of whom played last week and were far from the worst players. DC must take the blame for our away slump as much as he takes the praise from our home form but at present IMO he has lost his way and the squad looks unbalanced and thread bare when it comes to quality. Is Partington to become the latest player who is going to sit on the bench whilst players in his position are not playing well! DC must sort this out and quickly because say what you like our away form is relegation form and our home form is Promotion form but on the evidence I have seen recently I know which of the two forms is likely to change and with the fixtures ahead I really worry that our presence in the top 10 is unlikely to last much longer and I dread to be looking over our shoulders come March. IMO we need 3 or even 4 more players if he is signing ANOTHER goalkeeper and centre half. A powerful targetman is a priority in my mind and another creative midfielder to push Lines.

Crowd 8 Another fantastic following that are getting fed up with the same old excuses and errors. Where is our next away point going to come from
? I really don’t know because everything that used to look unpredictable from the Manager is now looking like an open book. Ok DC can point to individual errors but what excuse can he have for continuing to play the players who are making these errors? Unless things change I can see a difficult February and a resulting drop off in our impressive home attendances which have taken so long to build and yet are so easy to lose.

Ref 3 All I ask from a referee is consistency and by that I mean like for like decisions. We are certainly getting consistency-consistently crap.

Walsall 5.5
No better than us but didn’t need to be when you gift them goals. Their goals were pretty well their only shots on target but overall they looked better organised than us and more careful in possession.

The time for must win games is not really upon us in terms of a win anytime is important but our problem is that if the home record goes before the away performances and results improve then the team could suffer a complete lost of confidence which could have disastrous effects. At this present time I just pray that we get to 55 points as soon as possible and then anything else is a bonus. I would settle for 15th place now which is a shame because the top 10 was a good possibility until this run of away results. even now we are not far off a Play Off place but personally each week I see that getting further away. UTG

My side for next week would be

Lumley

Leadbitter Partington (Capt) Sweeney Brown or NEW SIGNING

Bodin Lines O Clarke Montano

Harrison or NEW SIGNING Taylor

Subs NEW GK, Mansell , Lockyer , Harrison or NEW SIGNING STRIKER, Moore, Gaffney, Sinclair or J Clarke

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