So late that Jampot sent me this on Saturday evening and I hadn’t even opened it. So excuse any typos made.
Proper update tomorrow (maybe), but for now….
And for once didnâ€™t we play quite well. Not well enough to get the three points we probably deserved, that ultimately left us feeling like it was a loss; particularly with every other team around us winning.
But positive steps in the right direction and a structure to begin to believe it. Midson and McCallum as two up front; a hard working midfield that looks more balanced if still coming to terms with dominating a game; and generally a robust defence, though still prone to defending too deep at times. But a valid work-in-progress. You feel a degree of optimism now facing up to Accrington next week; us unbeaten in 3, better form away from home than at it. Perhaps more points to be gained. We can but try.
So why unlucky? Well, their first goal richoeted off about 3 people and flew past the one spot Sullivan could not cover; the chances we had from the flick and headers by McCallum another day would have buried the game out of sight; and their equaliser which again seems to have been douse in the luck of the Irish to go through a crowd and into the bottom of the net. Weâ€™ve played worse and won; today we played better and felt like we lost. Oh, and it was Match 13 on the season ticket today. Perhaps we should have known â€¦
Sweeney had a measured debut; Husseyâ€™s was flying. Both Midson and McCallum burned themselves out and certainly Midson needed replacing sooner than happened. Meades did well at left back first half and though adequate in the second at right back always seemed impotent going forward, always preferring the left foot. At fault for the poor header that allowed their second goal but questions there of the management.
Why defend so deep? Oxford played all defensive duties at goal kicks from the halfway line; we give the oppo the extra 10 yards. And why all 11 back for defensive duties? No outlet to hold the ball and reduce the pressure. It encourages packing the box and a stray ball always gives way to a chance. Still not sure about MKK â€“ still canters to the ball rather than gets to it quickly and puts himself under pressure. But him and Antwi did ok.
Plus points: McCallumâ€™s goal poaching and hot streak; Hussey looking the part; our second goal â€“ one of the best at KM for a very long time.
Minus points: Conceding and drawing when winning (again the bogey of conceding first preventing us winning); defence still too deep and some strange substitutions (taking 2-goal hero off looking for his hatrick?)
The refereeâ€™s aâ€¦ One or two poor decisions initially, but decided pretty much anything physical would go. What was refreshing was it seemed after 5 minutes we realised we could get away with it as well and did the same. Thought he missed the foul on Long that lead to their first goal and was conned by a fall as Moore chased their player for the second (from where we were Moore appeared nowhere near him!)
Them: Certainly not substantially better than us but perhaps still a bit more committed. Kept going at it and got their result after we had failed to finish them off. Relegation candidates? Maybe, if they hit a bad run it will be interesting to see how Ainsworth manages to do them.
Point to ponder: What do we do for goals if McCallum goes home? At the present it really does look like no one else can score. Midfield had chances yesterday but didnâ€™t take them.
I was asked what I thought of Jolley leaving; a shame as I thought he might stay till the summer to learn from NA. For me Jolleyâ€™s problem is decision making. He makes one and then a few seconds later seems to change his mind. Go pass the defender, get pass him and then come back instead of carrying on with that committed course of action. That was our midfield yesterday in front of goal.
Threeâ€™s a crowd: Well it was 4507 with 700+ for them, which I suppose, showed how significant people thought the game was. Vocal and good banter by all accounts.
Anything else? It really is getting a bit tight down at the bottom and the bottom is moving up on those in mid-table. Two or three wins for the bottom clubs and not for those in the middle will really start to make a few bum cheeks quake. Two games in hand and a point behind Accrington if we win there next week. That illustrates the point.
Mind you, positively, we would have lost that game earlier this season so a point in a way is a gain; yet it continues not to feel it. Whether this will matter in the end will remain until that time. We had the chances to win and we did not take them. We need to do that and start doing it now!
Undoubtedly NA has more transfer ideas in his pocket so it will be interesting to see what develops and where. Left back and left midfield I would say is sorted. Middle of defence maybe still need dominant centre back but maybe that should be Pim. Can he do it now after the lack of confidence earlier in the season? Upfront we still have Midson but finding the right long-term permanent foil still needs to be found. Like a harder battling midfielder too.
In a nutshell: Seven points out of nine in 2013 â€“ better than a kick in the goolies, yes?