Oh for crying out loud, what has happened? Look this season wasn’t super dupery fantastic great. We had a bit of cack at the beginning (e.g. Plymouth away) and some poor games at other times (e.g. Sheff U away) but generally things had been going canny and the times we didn’t pick up maximum points there was no need for despair. But this “festive” season has been truly awful. After the Forest game I debated the glass half empty, half full analogy – in the first half at Preston the players answered the point by smashing the glass off the bar and ramming it at the massive travelling support behind the goal.
As we wandered down the hill from the pub to the ground the heavens opened. It really was torrential and it stayed like that for most of the first half. OK, that does offer some minor attempt at an explanation but, as they always say, both teams had to deal with it. In such a god awful first half it would be invidious to single out any individual players. So let’s do so.
Piper. The word shocking is often used in football to mean poor (as in Alan Hansen “shocking defending”). However, Piper really did shock me. Lack of match fitness I had anticipated. Lack of ability to recognise a football I was not prepared for. He mis-controlled, mis-hit, mis-timed everything. He never got a ball to an SAFC player. He never got past a Preston defender. To be fair, he only did that for 20 minutes. After that he hid behind a big lad from Preston so none of the other SAFC players could see him and maybe pass to him.
Arca. Would possibly have been shite of the game if Piper were not so busy eclipsing him on the other side. For their second goal he did a cross field pass of such stunning stupidity Gareth Hall wouldn’t have been tempted to try it Of course the lad ran down the pitch and knocked it passed a Myrhe, who apparently was our goalkeeper.
Myrhe. Has someone stapled this bloke’s feet to the goal line? Is he suffering from the infamous Scandinavian depression or summit? For pity’s sake, command your area. Try with the six yard box first – I realise the 18 yard box would be too great a leap from how you’re playing at present. Is Poom totally nacked for this season and the club just won’t admit it, a la Kyle (who we also desperately could have done with)?
Whitley. That sliding tackle, handball combination wouldn’t fool anyone – did you really think the linesman with an unobstructed view from 20 yards was going to miss it? And that was their second goal. If you’re not going to get the ball, push the man out wide.
Caldwell. Having seen Jeff’s comical attempt, you decided not to repeat the mistake and so went for the full body lunge. How you escaped a yellow card is beyond me. And that was their third goal. Same comment re Jeff applies to you.
Don’t think the others were any good. Those were just the ones I had the most immediate need to get off my chest.
It could have been more if not for Preston’s stupidity. They decided to play keep-ball. If they’d given it to us, we’d have been happy to set up another couple for them at least.
We really felt like leaving at half time. It had been a truly depressing affair.
Second half and we came out and played our best 45 minutes of the last three games (I know the competition is not tough but we were alright). Piper and Arca went off (which itself would have improved us) but Tubby came on (as did Brown) and we went 4-3-3. Tubby was a joy to watch. He did the most amazing things – things we have hardly seen for 225 minutes – things like hold on to the ball, look for a man wearing the same shirt and kick the ball in the general direction of where that man was. I don’t know if Tubby has managed to slim down but from row 37 he looked slimmer – more like a ten kebab a day man than the vat of lard we knew and hated earlier this season.
Elliot got a goal, which was good as he was probably the only other player other than Tubby to come out of this game with anything like credit. As did Tubby – hooray! – and he took a bendy free kick, almost made a goal from another free kick and sent in some really dangerous corners.
Welsh came on for the player who came off (Stewart? Yes, let’s say it was him). He plays like John Oster. Please immediately jump to whatever conclusions you wish from that.
We didn’t get a third goal but it was fairly close.
We can get this back on track. We need to murder Gillingham. Tubs must start. Surely there has to be some reward for performance? I as much as anyone realise how hard it is to build him into a team. He’s a risk in central midfield and he isn’t a winger. However, he really did bring some creativity in a team that sorely needed it. I still think Piper could be great for us. I am prepared to put yesterday down to false memory syndrome. However, the obvious thing would be for Thornton to play right in a four-man midfield or even stick to the 4-3-3. Mind you god only knows how our defence would cope with that little cover – let’s just hope Gillingham never attack.
Thank goodness most of our promotion rivals have had fairly poor holiday seasons as well.