Here we go again

Just one more minute, and this weekend would have been a lot nicer.

So we still search for our first victory in League One, although by the sound of it we were again masters of our own downfall. Especially when you read what STTA wrote, and how familiar it sounds…

90 seconds from our first win of the season. A cruel end for us but was it down to an excellent 2nd half performance from Rochdale or was it ‘Negative Neal’ that cost us with his tactics?

I thought we bossed the first half from start to finish. Rochdale were poor, creaking in defence, misplacing passes in midfield and causing us very little trouble up front.

We eased in front on 12 minutes, Whelpdale won the ball outside our area, ran the length of the right wing and put in a great ball that Andy Barcham nodded home. 1-0 Dons

Having seen a few first half displays like this I desperately wanted the 2nd goal that our dominance deserved, I knew we’d probably need it but despite all our possession we failed to create another clear cut chance.

The message in our dressing room at half-time was that Neal had a fiver on 0-1 and we were setting up to defend that one goal lead with our lives.

We may well have invited them on to us but the home side came out looking a different team. Jamie Allen was at the centre of all their good play, so much so that Dean Parrett was sent on to man mark him on 63 minutes. Tyrone Barnett also replaced Tom Elliot.

Our lack of attacking threat only got worse when Lyle had to go off on 72 minutes. His replacement George Francomb, who became our fifth man in midfield. We went to a 4-3-2-1 formation with Tyrone playing up on his own.

You can make your own decision on Neal’s substitutions, to me we needed another striker on the pitch, ideally one with pace which is sadly lacking in this team. Dom Poleon seemed a perfect candidate, so odd was that substitution I wonder if there a reason Dom didn’t come on?

Anyway, the plan was pack the midfield and defend our lead for the remaining 20 minutes. And for 19 of those 20 minutes we succeeded.

Any time you go down to a 95th minute equalizer it’s disappointing but for me Rochdale deserved their point and without our incessant time-wasting the whistle would already have gone.

It was another excellent set-piece from Allen and this one got the touch it needed to end up in our net. It could easily have happened earlier such was the quality of his dead ball delivery.

And I’m not going to put this one on Ryan. I’ve seen the goal back several times and I’m not convinced there was anything he could do. Our inability to keep possession in midfield, our lack of forwards to hold the ball up and our time-wasting were more to blame than our keeper.

Plus points: Should have been out of sight by half-time. Unbeaten in 2.

Minus points: Conceding in injury time. Negative tactics. Time-wasting.

The referee’s a…: can’t remember him, rightly sent off Callum Camps for 5 minutes of madness. Gave George Francomb a yellow he didn’t deserve.

Them: as awful first half as they were excellent second half. Jamie Allen is destined to play higher up but will guide them to a lower half finish this term if they can hang on to him. Good pace in attack (which highlighted how little we have).

Anything else: I’m not feeling the love for Tyrone right now, he doesn’t give me the impression he’ll spill blood for the cause. I hope it’s just rust and that we haven’t brought in a Byron Harrison type, we Wombles like to see a bit of passion from our players and I hope to see that sooner than later with our new man up front.

Point to ponder: we were 90 seconds from 3 points. If we’d hung on would the manager have been right with the tactics he employed in that 2nd half? I don’t think we’re very good at defending a lead and if being braver means we end up coming away with nothing I’ll live with that.

Finally: it’s the last week of the transfer window and it seems Neal is happy with what he’s got. I understand we are looking at an experienced centre-half from north of the border, but that’s it.

So let’s hope the squad we have improve as they need to, both in their fitness and their quality, if they don’t we are in for some difficult months ahead.

One day we’ll learn not to be so negative when we go 1-0 up. Saturday was not that day.

I’m sure if you go through pre-Xmas 2015 reports on SW19 and elsewhere, these type of comments made above would be quite prevalent at times.

As Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz said though, we’re not in League Two any more.

The momentum from the run-in to Wombley has truly gone now, and more disconcertingly with mostly the same group of players and management.

This step up was always going to be a challenge, but it does shock me to keep hearing how little we seem to learn. Both on the field and tactically.

I watched the highlights this morning, and while our goal was well worked Barcham’s celebration, well, wasn’t. Seriously, what was it?

But their goal? Personally, it looks like our defender (Robbo?) was equally at fault, and it does suggest there’s a lack of communication still**

** – which might explain why at the end of STTA’s report there’s a mention of another CB due in before the transfer window shuts.

Not that Robbo will get nearly as much blame as Clarke will. It’s pretty obvious our shotstopper is the designated scapegoat this season already, and it’s hard not to think it’s turning into a bit of a witch hunt.

True, he’s made a couple of errors, but he’s also saved us as many times as well. Part of his problem is that he’s not Kelly Roos, who has taken on the Billy Knott mantle of Loanee Deity.

But will replacing him at this stage do any good? If nothing else, there’s the man management side of things. You’ve got a keeper who’s finding his feet (literally on occasions), but has a lot of the time been let down by his backline and tactics further up the field.

Do you toss him on the scrapheap already, after just four or five games? If so, what happens if Shea does similar? And let’s be honest here – he’s been second string for a very good reason.

So you’ll have two keepers who you can’t 100% rely on, and it will make a not-good situation a helluva lot worse.

Personally, I think we should stick with Clarke at least for another five or six games at least – you know, just like the rest of the players we’ve got in.

And if you do want to blame anyone for the keeper situation, maybe look at those who brought him in to begin with…?

Whichever way you look at it, the mood is a bit tetchy right now. Especially with the club needing to make a bullish statement about the Secretary of State potentially calling in NPL.

I think the club does it to placate some of our more overwrought supporters, but you can’t blame anyone for being just a tad apprehensive that we’ll have to go through yet another delay.

But then, that’s what the Boris intervention has done to us. We should be all right with the SoS, but this is politics and politicians, and you are never 100% sure that they won’t have a brainfart.

Granted, the former Mayor of London is a loose cannon, and is apparently well known for making rash, irrational decisions that he then has to row back on.

The SoS is some bloke called Sajid Javid, who as far as we know doesn’t have any links beyond party affiliation to LBW councillors like the former Mayor did. There’s always that suspicion of course, but if he’s sensible and does his job properly then this won’t be an issue.

And yes, that’s an “if”.

As for the line of attack that NPL only got approved because LBM pre-determined it, as said in the previous update – that’s something I wouldn’t think is particularly easy to prove to begin with.

Not to mention what a can of worms that could get opened, especially if “we” start playing tit-for-tat over it. One can look at the construction going around Battersea to see what I mean over that…

Basically, LBW are trying to say that LBM shouldn’t make the decision because they’re biased. What they’re actually saying is that the GLA, TfL, Environment Agency, LBM planners and – most tellingly of all – their own planners are complicit as well.

When you think about it in those terms, especially with three consultations behind us already, this may simply be their last remaining tactic.

Speaking from somebody who understands little of these things, it does seem quite accusatory for LBW councillors to imply a neighbouring council has been dishonest, not to mention undermining their ability and democratic right to make decisions.

Of course, we must be on guard if it does become something that pricks the ears of Javid. The club did say to hold its horses until we get more clarification as to what we need to do re: SoS, so I guess we still need to be prepared for anything even at this stage.

And you thought building a stadium would be easy. Especially with a neighbouring council known for its vindictiveness.

Finally, it’s the Checkatrade Trophy tomorrow against the Swansea collection of youngsters and stiffs. A game that people are being discouraged to go to anyway, although it’s something that would struggle to get crowds even if it wasn’t.

Your editor will probably go, if only because I don’t get to many games as it is – if I was as regular as most people boycotting then I’d probably do likewise.

Cue the lectures from the terminally anguished 😉

Seriously, it’s a clusterfuck of a decision to begin with, that has somehow managed to make things even worse in its practical application.

We might be seeing the first stages of this trophy’s death throes anyway, and if it does die off nobody will miss it that much.

Sure, you get the day out at Wembley, but it’s a tournament that is suffering ever more in credibility, and this might just end up being a mercy killing.

We’ll see, I guess. I note that there’s the usual prediction that Celtic and Rangers will be joining the English footballing pyramid. Don’t we have this once a year? Not that I think that the PL clubs have been particularly enthusiastic about that in the past.

Increasing the size of the Football League has been on the agenda for a while, and given the clear distaste for B teams (and the way that the top clubs didn’t want to know about the Checkatrade to begin with) I wonder if that will actually happen.

I’m not against the idea of making the 91 club bigger at all, especially if it means merging the top 6/10/whatever Conference sides into the FL structure.

The Conference in particular has never been “right”, not just in terms of a bottleneck but the gulf between putting professional teams in with the likes of Slutton.

While you can say that the likes of Brizzle Rovers and Grimsby were in non-league for a reason, the “traditional” non-league clubs can’t compete in the Conference any more.

Not unless they splash the cash like FGR, and that in itself isn’t sustainable for long.

So maybe bringing in the likes of Tranmere, Wrexham, Lincoln and Daggers back to the FL fold would be best for all concerned? Besides, if we find we need to get rid of a club from the current FL structure, I’m sure there’s one we can all agree on…

14 thoughts to “Here we go again”

  1. Just a couple of points; the Manager is responsible tactic-wise, for the whole of the match, irrespective of added time. As for the goalkeeping “situation”, the Dons record over the past four seasons has clearly shown the difference between a team with an “iffy” keeper and one with a “good” one. Quite simply, if the keeper isn’t performing 100%, the team and the Fans are the losers. As for who is responsible, the goalkeeping coach, Ardley and the scouts must take full responsibility for the signing as well as not taking into consideration the lack of matches he played before joining us. Like many others, I was surprised by the signing in the first place – over to Ardley.

  2. Issue with keepers is always confidence. Once lost how do they get it back, how to convince fans they are to be trusted and how does their defence ever trust them again? Clark is not a bad keeper or Shea, but look how Seb Brown went from hero to zero. Our defence is OK and has got better, no one has really thumped so far? Shea deserves a chance, great stopper and has learnt to ‘manage’ his defence but Ardley wont change, he’s so dogged. Our problems are up front, not impressed with LTB or Barnett so far. TE good target man but so was the Beast, Poleon deserves a real chance. So Francombs back, NA’s love child, whoopy do, so more shit corners, lightweight tackles until he’s injured…

    1. (Pressed send too soon, meant to add…)

      Chances are if we did get Roos back he would turn out to be Pim Balkenstein instead.

  3. REPD – Does the SW19’s Army style guide permit the use of first names in match reports in such a gratingly matey way? 😉

    1. The SW19 style guide does allow, though not encourage, anything that seems matey, arselicking, high in fellating its subject matter or just outright positivity.

    2. Very happy to withdraw my contributions. I can put that 5 minutes on a Sunday morning to much better use.

  4. Clarke makes me nervous every time the ball gets crossed into our box. Imagine it unsettles our defence as well! If Shea does well midweek think he deserves to start Saturday.

  5. Sheesh. I quite like Slow Trains mumblings (no offence repd). Clarke had a season of NO game time, he will need 10 competitive games to be on the money. My concerns 1. Yet again the board is ok with a manager clipping the keeper budget to spend it elsewhere (TB) which is crazy having gone up a level. 2. After 4 years of chopping and changing keepers/repetitive faults, no one has questioned our banter boy ‘bayzo’ who must have a big input into keeper recruitment but also a questionable philosophy (note cuntgate keeper is doing fine-‘cuntgate’ also refers to our twitter twats who arslick or antagonise the clubs players according to the days trend). Oh, LTB either shape up or ask for a…

  6. Scoured the article (well it’s three articles in one really) looking for a mention of LTB. Nope – unless I missed it. Was hoping someone else had recognised this faux cramp display we are starting to see. Used to be a feature of his games in Scotland apparently – when he wasn’t scoring, wasn’t receiving the unremitting adulation of the fans. All the commenters having a go at Clarke seem to be missing our inept approach/ability to scoring at the other end. We ought not to have been hanging on to a 1-0, we SHOULD and COUILD have been defending against a 3-1 if LTB looked like he gave a shit instead of just going through the motions.

  7. The season is only 6 games old..still early days…

    I don’t think it’s down to the forwards – you shouldn’t have to score 3 to win a game. The run at the end of last season was due to the miserly defence

    Clarke made 1 bad error in the Bolton game and therefore has volunteered as this season’s scapegoat, rather than get on his back maybe we should get behind him

    To be fair to Ardley his signings are for the most part pretty good, let’s at least give the players a few games before we make judgements.

    2 games unbeaten COYDs

  8. Sorry chaps, but as a goalkeeper myself that Ryan Clarke looks proper naff. He has let in some real softies already and the season has barely begun!

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