…were the words of the old boy who sits in front of me and who I have never heard utter a comment before. He was, of course, referring to our skipper Kevin Nicholls who was a passenger in the game. The second half I watched Rushden pass the ball around him, whilst he puffed and panted like a sixty year old smoker playing in the back garden against a team full of kids. Fortunately the new manager would have been watching from the stands probably thinking “Why have they stuck this bloke in? Is he blackmailing the MD?”
In his defence he did two nice passes in the first 20 minutes, one a lovely dink through for Craddock to run on to and hit the post. The other good thing he did was to manhandle Alan White away from the ref at half time. Once again, someone had managed to press Whitey’s mad button at some point in that half.
That was it though, as the game went on he looked more and more out of place. The fastest he ran all game was when the ref blew the final whistle and Nico disappeared up the tunnel like a rat up a drain pipe – fortunately not quite quick enough to avoid the constructive comments issued from the front few rows of the main stand.
Oh – I haven’t mentioned their first goal have I? Do I need to? Nico tried his hardest to lose us the game in the very last minute against York. He went one better in this game by getting the ball stuck under his foot, slipping over and gifting the ball to the Rushden player who ran on and slotted the ball home.
As I’m on the Nico bashing theme let’s do a few stats – an empirical test if you will:
Games played with Nico:
P12 W5 D4 L3 win percentage 42% loss percentage 25%
Games played without Nico:
P7 W5 D1 L1 win percentage 71% loss percentage 14%
QED – or as that meerkat on the telly would say “simples”.
Right on to the match report, such as it is:
Game of two halves – officially. First half it was all us – we had the ball in the net twice and Craddock et al had plenty of chances. It looked a breeze and only a matter of time. We were getting the ball behind R&Ds back four time and time again and looking good on the ball. Second half – we were appalling. Our game dropped significantly whilst R&D raised theirs considerably. I think the main difference was that they closed us down rather than letting us play and played further up the park. What they did do was to time waste from the first minute. I’ve not seen too many sides do that, but they did. Shockingly. But who said cheats never prosper? Rushden’s finishing and crossing in the first half, and frankly for much of the second were woeful. Sub-non league. Which probably states how poor we were.
Tyler hardly got a touch all game, apart from a couple of good saves in the first half and a nice save in the second, most of his effort was expended in picking the ball out of the net.
Ed A-A was in the mood to impress his new boss, he tackled and passed well all game and was let down by his team mates. The only criticism I had is that he didn’t push forward enough when we were attacking. He should be an option for the winger to lay the ball back to and cross, or should overlap – but too often Newton (and then Gnapka) had to search for him.
Pilks was sound as ever. I’m hoping that he will be wearing the skippers arm band from next week onwards.
White had a good game. Not only was his heading and tackling good, but his running and long passing were impressing. Got into their box once and laid off a cracking pass hoping to get a 1-2 from Craddock. He also played a super crossfield ball to Burgess at one point (I think it was Burgess – happy to be corrected).
Howells, was slightly more subdued and got caught in possession a couple of times but still managed to put in a good performance.
In midfield, Jarvis started on the left, though he did keep swapping with Hall who started in the middle in the ‘hole’. Jarvis was far too narrow – or rather perhaps felt he had to come inside to get the ball- but he hardly touched it in the first half. I was surprised when it was Hall and not he who was substituted. And this first substitution turned out to be an error, as I will mention later. Once Burgess came on for Hall, Jarvis swapped into the middle, and was still anonymous, and was then replaced by Gnapka/Gnakpa after 70 mins.
Have I mentioned Nico yet? Right, onto Adam Newton through whom most of the play went in the first half. Good game first half and then was swapped into the middle with the introduction of Gnapka/Gnakpa.
Craddock looked lively and hungry in the first half, but hardly got the ball in the second. I was delighted when he put the ball in the net for what I thought was a good goal, following on Ed A-A’s thunderbolt shot well parried by the keeper. But it was ruled offside.
Poor Tom. I so want him to score for when he does the goals will start flooding in. Come on Tommy – perhaps the new manager will get him scoring again. One thing to mention about his game though, once again he got booked for another stupidly obvious handball this time from a corner. Don’t know why he does that.
Gallen played well; again good effort, without perhaps the finesse he has offered previously, which I suppose is understandable bearing in mind this is his first ‘proper’ game back after the training game last weekend. One thing to mention though was his sublime chip over the keeper for the first disallowed goal.
Back to the substitutions. Rio and Burgess were warming up and were stripped off ready to come on- but only Burgess came on. Then Gnapka came on (and looked the liveliest of them all) for Jarvis, and then White took a knock and was replaced by Freddie Murray. No Rio. How did we manage that? We left the liveliest and the player most likely to score on the bench in a game where we needed to get a goal. Dropped the ball there.
What should we have done? Well, if we needed to bring Burgess on – then Jarvis was the obvious choice for the substitution and Gallen for Rio. When White got injured we could still have brought Gnapka/Gnakpa on and swapped Newton to right back with Ed in the middle. Or, God forbid, just played three across the back.
So, all in all, unsatisfactory and 2-0 was a piss-poor result in a game we could and should have had sewn up in the first half.
Richard Money – you have plenty to do, including having the balls to drop the skipper.
P18 W9 D5 L4 – Pos – 5th still. But 11 points behind that 1st place.