(SW19 note: due to a WordPress updated related balls-up, some of the features may be missing on this site. If you find any, let me know)
If it only takes a second to score a goal, then what does two minutes do?
The brutal reality of losing to Cambridge last night was that it was just totally avoidable. A bit of discipline at the beginning of the second half, a bit more clinical finishing in front of goal in the first, and we’d consider it a good few days.
As it stands right now, if you have a pet dog you’d have (metaphorically) kicked it.
What makes the whole thing triply annoying is that the first half was one of the best I’ve seen in ages. Obviously we were still buzzing (cough) from the second half of Crawley, and you can never underestimate momentum.
Elliott was well up for it, anyway, and deserved the goal he was eventually allowed. And when you force the opposition to make a tactical change after 30 minutes, you know you’re doing well.
So, how the fuck did we lose then? Half time, that’s why.
For the past couple of seasons, we have a problem with the concept of football lasting 90 minutes. Saturday at Crawley was a great example of that, and unfortunately so was last night.
Anyone who knows anything about football will know that when you’re 1-0 up at the break, having played well, the opposition will always come at you at the restart – whether it’s Manchester United you’re playing or Merstham.
Why we couldn’t handle that is anyone’s guess. But it happens a fair bit too often for my liking, and judging by those around me last night I wasn’t alone.
When we went behind, there was that rather odd shrug of the collective shoulders. It didn’t help by not putting on any subs and changing things until after 70 minutes – perhaps NA has a stat that proved changing things at that stage is 0.001245% more effective…
I hope I’m joking.
Reading NA’s comments from last night (apart from his laughable “I take total blame” comments), I’m going to cut him a little bit of slack today, as he did get the 4-4-2 spot on in the first half.
Not too much slack though, because questions remain about what the fuck we do during the break to send them out unfocused. As somebody elsewhere put it this morning – you wouldn’t send out players physically “cold” after the break, so why mentally?
Even so, the 11 on the field do have some responsibility. Osbourne in particular is getting some grief this morning, and we could replace him with Nightingale right now.
I hope Big Willy is getting benched just to make sure we don’t re-injure him, or we do our usual treating of a youngster with kid gloves. If he plays, does well and then somebody comes in for him in January, that’s the chance you take.
A bit more thinking for the first five minutes of the second half last night, and things might have been different. Cambridge are good, but they are nowhere near unbeatable. Like most if not all teams in League Two, especially ourselves.
There were a couple of positives from last night. Elliott scored, and I think he’ll turn out to be quite useful. The 4-4-2, beloved by all bar the biggest of NA arselickers, is the most effective for this group of players.
We have enough problems without formation adding to them, so at least that’s one less self-inflicted wound to deal with.
This still fails to answer the charge of our one-half-only strategy. More to the point, why is it becoming an issue yet again this season?
Maybe one should look at Neil Cox and Simon Bassey and ask what they do? Do they offer anything different and effective? NA is the focal point and gets the brickbats when it goes wrong, but he can’t do it all himself.
One of the reasons managers have assistants is to give a different perspective during games. Which is why SW19 has long opinioned (?) that we missed a trick not getting Shaun North onto the first team staff.
That may be water under the bridge now, although he used to help out with some half-time observations and more often than not, we seemed to improve after the restart.
I don’t know who takes responsibility for the psychology side of things, but it doesn’t seem particularly effective. For too long in the second half yesterday, it felt the game was already lost, even when – like Saturday – there was just one goal in it.
And for a team that supposedly has “leaders” in it, it looks pretty rudderless too many times…
Still, the season is young, and at least this collection of players is – talent wise – good enough for another season in L2. I seriously doubt if we’ll be anywhere near a relegation battle, although we shouldn’t even be mentioning that very scenario to begin with.
Your editor may or may not be at Carlisle this weekend – (related plug alert) I’m always looking for work during the week, so if anyone needs somebody to write sports-related copy, just let me know.
The problem is, the phrase “may or may not be at Carlisle” could apply to our squad as well…