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Firstly, if you haven’t written to the Secretary of State yet, do so. We’re in the political lobbying stage of things now, and we don’t want any further delays…

Speaking of things taking too much time, once again we failed to deliver against Sheffield United. I won’t do much of a writeup myself, but STTA will do just a good a job:

As I sit down on Sunday morning to gather my thoughts on another home defeat a sense of groundhog day comes over me. The signs weren’t good in the pre-match interviews, Neal said we were playing the Blades 2 or 3 games too late…

Two things you could be sure of after reading his comments, firstly that we’d be in our (failing) 4-4-2 formation and secondly we’d be concentrating on defence before attack.

There was some encouragement hearing the team news, Poleon and Parrett both getting deserved chances in the starting lineup, that should give us more attacking threat with Dom providing the pace and Dean always looking to get forward.

It didn’t work out that way.

To take a line from the Chesterfield report something was wrong, very wrong … and this week it remained that way for 90 minutes.

We created a couple of chances early on, Barnett came close with a header, Barcham blazed another chance over the bar.
Then all too predictably we conceded. Then all too predictably we conceded again.

26 minutes on the clock, 0-2 on the scoreboard and our players visibly scratching their heads. Whatever instructions they’d been given were proving beyond their abilities, I feared the worst, this could end 0-5.

Surprisingly we got back into the game on 37 minutes, Andy Barcham finally delivered a decent ball into the box and Dom Poleon added to his recent goal tally with a glancing header. 1-2.

At this point we had a glimmer of hope, if we could get to half-time changes could be made. It was clear that our best chance in this game was to try and cause them problems rather than rely on our leaky defence. With Elliot waiting in the wings we had options.

Half-time arrived but no changes were made.

The opening 10 minutes of the 2nd half saw Sheff Utd walk through the gaping holes in our defence 2 or 3 times. A combination of decent goalkeeping and poor finishing was all that kept us in the game.

Still no changes.

Then all too predictably we conceded. In fact there’d been a dress rehearsal of the goal a few minutes earlier. 1-3 behind and the game pretty much over.

Now we made the changes. But not the changes that had brought us success last week. This week we took off Barnett and Charles (yes… the centre-half).

I had no more idea of the formation than the players from that point. Barcham seemed to be operating at left-back with Meades at centre-half. Poleon, Elliot and Taylor up front.

And we did get a goal back, bloody typical that the only time this decade a set-piece has worked it wasn’t relevant to the outcome of the game.

So 2-3 but unlike the Chesterfield game I didn’t believe we could rescue this one, it had been a mess from start to finish and had we salvaged a point we wouldn’t have deserved it.


Plus points: we scored a set-piece goal

Minus points: tactics, defending, the weather and pretty much everything else

The referee’s a…: another okay ref, they’re definitely better at this level.

Them: decent side who will challenge for top 10. Personally I thought Scunthorpe and Bolton were both better footballing sides. With the space we offered and laziness in our pressing we just did more this week to make them look good.

Anything else: yes Darius. Strange display yesterday and the fact he was withdrawn makes me wonder if he wasn’t 100% fit. He had food poisoning earlier in the week so I’m putting it down to that.

Point to ponder: we can’t produce many more of these defensive displays before personnel changes have to be made. Could we end up with Lyle and Robbo both sitting on the bench? That definitely wasn’t in the script.

Finally: we have 3 fixtures now against teams in the bottom half, teams under pressure as the table takes shape. So let’s go there and put them under a bit more pressure, back ourselves to be too strong for them when we attack.

Because if we go to Charlton and Coventry and try and defend for 90 minutes we’re going to continue to come unstuck…

Just a very quick point – Darius wasn’t much better against Chesterfield, and that’s a long time to have the shits.

What is becoming clear is that we now need to do something with the defence, and quick. While we always “give it ten games”, we’re now at game #7 (or #8 if you count Peterborough in the League Cup) and if anything it’s getting worse.

For this reason, perhaps we ought to play Robertson and/or Nightingale instead for Charlton? Because our back line has cost us too many goals, and therefore points.

And January is still a long, long way away.

Even just changing that dynamic slightly in the back line might give it the kick up the arse it so desperately needs. At the very least, it will prove to Charles/Robbo that they’re not indispensable, and they can’t keep pinning the blame on Clarke**

** – who by the sounds of it is improving week by week, and seems to be less error prone now than the Great Deity Roos at Brizzle Rovers. Not that it will silence his detractors, of course.

We’re still losing by the odd goal, but that’s still 0 points instead of 1 or 3. And unfortunately, teams that go down do exactly what we’ve been doing in this first month-and-a-half.

More later this week. If I can be arsed…