Snow Business/Kneejerk Reactions

I saw the forecast and didn’t go. However PDW braved the elements and supplied the following excellent report yesterday:

A triumph for brain dead, wildly optimistic approach over down to earth common sense.

The pitch may have been playable yesterday and at 10am, but that doesn’t matter when a quick look at the forecast predicted heavy snow for the Luton area from 12pm.

With the ridiculous thoughtless scheduling of games in all leagues (this head up the arse attitude football has, really doesn’t it any favours. Notts County had to go to Brighton last night, called off thirty minutes before kick off. No thought or consideration involved.) which sends teams hundreds of miles away in midwinter (play local teams in the Winter and the farther away ones in August, September, October, November, March, April), when there is any reasonable doubt, they should call the game off, just to save York travelling and the hotel expenses, should have called it off yesterday. Hat dothed in their direction to the two hundred hardy souls which made the long trek south. Goodness knows how long it will take them to get home, took me three hours to do fifteen miles. Just grateful, we have had it lucky this year playing Fleetwood, Grimsby, Barrow, Gateshead and Darlington before the Winter set in and go to York and Southport in the Spring.

Appreciate times are hard, the fixtures are piling up, but there did seem an indecent haste to get the game played today. As the game was all-ticket, when was nevr an opportunity for a walk up crowd. No one really benefits, the players on both sides body language wasn’t great, don’t blame them either. I love my football as much as the next man, but when temperature in the car was -2.5, it does temper my enthusiasm. May be great for Captain Scott or Pingu, but no-one else.

Did laugh at Gary Sweet’s comment about wanting football. It’s would like not want. Tut. I would like a night out with The Saturdays, but I doubt whether that will happen either.

The pitch was OK, on arriving in the ground, it started to snow – nobody needed the gift of hindsight to work out finishing the game was always going to be a longs odds against shot, good job the lines on the pitch had been repainted (Oh). The surface was slippy, players struggled to maintain their footing. never going to be a classic but it was reasonable given the dire conditions.

At half time, a blizzard came over Kenilworth Road, and after ten minutes of the second half, at least the referee got something right by abandoning the result. Although we were just starting to great on top

Before the game, a perfectly observed minutes silence for poor old Dale Roberts. Such a tragic waste of life, but enough of that scumbag Paul Terry.

After school kids night out in Welling, Richard M reverted to a more experienced line up. Which was as follows Tyler in goal, back four of Edward (not sure where Gleeson was, down the bookies probably), Kroca, Pilkington,Howells. Midfield of Claude, Drury, Keane and Morgan-Smith, sporting a Petr Cech skull hat. He must be absolutely mental to want to play football so soon after a cheekbone injury. But bravo, it character. Even an insane one). With Barnes-Homer and Crow up front. Wouldn’t really argue with any of that, except for maybe Barrow Walker ahead of Crow. He looks like a ferret and plays like a ferret, when MBH is having one of his little days, having Walker alongside him, may help.

York are much changed from last year’s team. Neither of the Gashes played up front. Michael didn’t feature and the other gash, Brodie is now at Crawley. The spirit of Brodie lives on though, surrounding the referee any every decision went against them. They have hit a good spell of form. With a good keeper in Ingham, defence well marshalled by McGurk (would be a fine acquisition if York could do their business with a touch more professionalism, good calming influence and no problems in the air), it’s easy to see why they haven’t conceded many goals recently. Leaving the not inconsiderable bulk of Rankine, two fast wingers either side and played three holding midfield. They can to stifle and their plan worked reasonably.

They settled better, passing the ball simply, Barrett and Smith getting the better in the early exchanges. We looked hesitant, slightly loose as well, not getting into them. We almost attacked exclusively down the left wing, Howells and Morgan-Smith combined very well at times, and caused Parslow some problems defending his flank. With Drury not at his best, struggled with his passing game. York had targeted both Drury and Morgan-Smith for his rough treatment. Our two forwards were isolated, Barnes-Homer held onto the ball at times, well bgut but wasn’t his conditions to bring out the best in him but Crow hardly featured in the game.

Morgan-Smith was always our brightest spark, found down the left channel by Drury, jinked inside Parslow and thumped a strike which McGurk did well to block.

Although York were better on the ball than us, they didn’t create much, apart from Tyler almost dropping the ball when Barrett closed him down, their first effort, come after Chambers and then Barrett, fed the ball to J. Smith, whose poke was comfortable stopped by Tyler.

A free kick, played long, was flicked on by Barnes-Smith, finding it’s way to Morgan-Smith into the box, was impended by McGurk’s shoulder, anywhere else on the field, it would have been a free kick, but the referee waved on. Another shout, moments later, Howells, clipped pass, Morgan-Smith full of life today, fell a touch dramatically with McGurk in close attendance. He wanted the penalty kick, but was unlikely to get one.

Rankine taking advantage of Keane’s slowness to close him down, he popped a shot off early and with the pitch rather like a sticky toffee pudding, Tyler did the sensible thing, pushing the ball away to his right.

Drury, with little on, went on a slalom run, shrugging off Weir and making Parslow back pedal, he was then tripped in the box. Nothing given. Which was a terrible decision, it was a stonewall penalty. We continued to press down the left flank, good determination from Jake Howells, got the better of Chambers, slapping a cross over , which Barnes-Homer may have showed a degree more desire to get on the end of, with Carruthers giving him a yard or two. We were improving but it wasn’t really falling for us and left Ingham with a comfortable afternoon between the sticks. Drury landed a perfect free kick to the unmarked Kroca, the ball bounced off him nod behind for a goal kick.

Meredith was given space to motor away, never a good idea, two fine blocks from Pilkington, the ball bobbled out to Barrett his right footed was wayward. A quick pass by J. Smith, gave Rankine a chance to wobble past Edward, Kroca swept around and dealt with the problem near the by-line.

Of course, we almost gifted our traditional goal through lack of concentration, Rankine rose highest unmarked to Chambers’ inswinging free kick but sent his header crashing over. The last chance of the first half arrived, a short throw by Edward, Keane turning and quickly flicking the ball over from the left, would have been if MBH had made a token gesture.

During the half time, the blizzard swept in quickly and with the wind blew into the Main Stand. Delightful. One change at the break, the man of the moment, Godfrey Poku entered the fray, he needed a bit more oomph to match them. Poku responded with a couple of his trademark robust challenges. Crow went off, Morgan-Smith lined up behind Barnes-Homer, with Drury playing on the inside left, which would have made our play narrow, if the game had continued to it’s full conclusion.

As it was only ten minutes of play were completed. It wasn’t a good sign, when the referee kept rubbing his hands and a couple of the York players went up to him to complain about the visibility.

There was time for Chambers to run amok through the left of our defence, before Kroca blocked his strike and Claude, starved of service in the first half, legged it inside from the right, only to be cynically tripped from behind by C. Smith. Twenty yards out, this was Dreary range, with the wall not the full ten yards, he did outstandingly to get the ball up and down, to strike the crossbar, with Gingham a spectator.

Moments later, after a brief discussion between the referee and the two managers Money and Mills. That was that.

Mark Tyler 6.5,Edward Asafu-Adjaye 5, , Zdenek Kroca 6, George Pilkiington 7, Jake Howells 7.5, Claude Gnakpa 6, Keith Keane 6.5, Andy Drury 6.5, Amari Morgan-Smith 8, Matthew Barnes-Homer 5.5, Danny Crow 4 ( Godfrey Poku)

Subs not used – Craig Hinton, Jason Walker, Alex Lacey and Dan Walker

York – Ingham, Parslow, McGurk, C.Smith, Carruthers, Chambers, Barrett, Weir, J.Smith, Meredith, Rankine.

*THE DISCLAIMER* – The above ratings were picked on a whim and very rarely are an accurate reflection on the player’s performances simply to annoy the reader. Today’s fatuous comments about supermarkets. Not sure what is worse, playing non stop Christmas songs ( although Have Cheeky Christmas by the Cheeky Girls, is not a song merely an abomination) or letting their staff dress up in fancy dress ( which is only acceptable for little people under 10). Call me miserable, I can’t hack false jollity, just because it’s Christmas. There was one chap with blue skin, presumably dressed as a Smurf, although given the weather it could be the advanced stages of Hypothermia.

Standard

Guest View: PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions

PDW was one of the loyal 76 present last night. Hats off to him and here is his most excellent report:

After the fantastic football fest on Sunday, wild horses wouldn’t have stopped me visiting the dubious delights of Metropolitan Kent on a Tuesday night ( being stuck between South East London and the Medway Towns – they really don’t have their bad luck to look for). My personal bete noire or summat , like * sniff*. It’s amazing what the lure of the prospect of playing against the mighty Middlesex Maestros of Uxbridge will do. Their sporting prowess of being a County Cricket outground( not a patch on Southgate, mind), an outer London version of a poor man’s Aylesbury.

In the end it was a case of job done, even if it was rather heavy weather made of it. Would have been nice if the dim wits had removed digits from rectums earlier and had got the job finished on Sunday, but this is Luton Town, has this football club done anything easily? It’s part of the charm apparently. Or a never ending ability to annoy and frustate.

The main positive from the night, was to come from behind and win the match with six players 21 or under on the pitch, four of whom considerably younger than that. A momentous night with our first win in the Trophy Flower Vase whatever thingy. Last gasp smash and grab victory to leave the Kent side welling up in tears, sealed with a perfect finish by Lawless. He’s had a quiet start to his career at the club, but personally think he has a bit of quality ( saying a non league player is quality has to be a oxymoron) and will become an asset. If nothing else, he looks like a garden gnome whose had his fishing rod pinched. So the piss taking opportunities are endless.

A vital goal, not just to win the game, but to save everyone’s vital organs dropping off with frostbite. Bizarre though Lawless spent the first hour at right back. Appreciate we have to be careful what we wish for with that sensitive little flower Richard Money around, but seeing as he’s asking so poitely, the best passer of the side in central midfield please? If RM wanted to select that XI fair enough, Poku could have slotted in at full back. Can think of more things I wish for but none of them are football related and most of them would see me arrested.

It was a similar side which played in the first game, only the one change, O’Donnell in for Howells. Fair bit of shuffling around. Ed switched to left back, Lawless to right back, with O’Donnell on the left wing. Wouldn’t say our substitues were youthful, but most of them were still attached to their Umbilical Cords. Only Jordan Patrick had previous first team experience, that was very briefly some time ago.

A sparse gathering, around 500 I suppose( somewhat kills the theory that clubs benefit from replays in this tournament), maybe 80-90 from Luton if that, at a little old fashioned ground, with a new stand on one side of the pitch and a fire hazard of a main stand opposite, with the Welling fans changing ends at half time to be behind the goal which their team attacked. There was little snow still left behind the goal which we defended in the first half, at the top of the slope.

Welling had more about them this time, than their damage limitation exercise on Sunday. Day, their player-manager returned to their midfield and Healy an old fashioned clever, left winger, who was decent on the ball, improved their team.

We were slow to settle. Welling looked to launch the ball forward to Pires who was a handful for Lacey and Hinton. As on Sunday, Lacey produced another promising display which belied his years. They looked to use Pires strength and pace, however their final ball whether from Fazackerly on the right and Healy on the left lacked the quality and Tyler swept up with ease.

Only J.Walker and O’Donnell, who had a good first hour before tiring, looked like producing any worthwhile attempts. Got to say disappointed by Dan Walker’s performance in both games. He’s been outstanding as a sub in the league games, but failed to make much of an impression against lower ranked opponents at Corby and the two games against this lot. Maybe just twenty minutes at the end of games, running at tired defences is the best bet for him at the moment.
We played much too much long ball, along Jason Walker was decent in the air, for a small lad, Atieno couldn’t really hold the ball up to any great degree. With Poku and Besta in the middle, our creativity was to what Terry Wogan is to convincing syrups. Poku was in danger for having a right old mare before turning it around. The last couple of games, whether under orders or getting a bit too confident. rather than just shovelling the ball to our better players, Godfrey kept trying to produce Hollywood passes, but ended up being more like Boreham Wood, wildly inaccurate. He kept losing his position, by running from deep far too quickly, leaving the midfield exposed.

As for Besta, if there was a gold medal going for shadowing the opposition and being generally unproductive, he would win it. Im sure there must be a point to him, but it’s proving elusive to spot what it is yet. The fact he’s been pulled off twice by the manager, where as the others have had to settle for an orange.

Welling started the better, they looked to hit the height of Pires, proving a tricky customer for Hinton in particular, who is a small man for a centre half, he stuck to his task gamely and whilst he hasn’t done anything wrong is unlikely to be our salvation at centre half, even in the short term.

Although we were sluggish, the hosts were kept comfortably at bay, Fazakerley showed a good turn of foot, but could only hit Tyler with a low pas at the near post.

It took us a good twenty minutes to settle, Jason Walker having to come deep in attempt to get the ball, as it was his aerial ability caused problems for Andrews, his marker. Backing in to Andrews, Walker received a quick throw by Lawless, turned and managed to gain a yard before striking the box wide of Stewart’s near post.

Hinton found Walker again, this time with a dug out cross from the right, he got up high and managed to hang in the air, but the direction of his attempt failed to trouble the keeper.

A lovely turn by O’Donnell was far too sharp for Coyle, only to be dealt with by a hard challenge by Andrews, near the by-line. O’Donnell dusted himself down, floated in the set piece, Clarke nodded behind before J.Walker could reach the ball.

O’Donnell, looked far more confident than in previous matches where it all looked far too much for him, managed to roll a pass to Poku, the shot rolled harmlessly wide. The two former St Albans lads combined again, Poku winning a crunching tackle against Clarke, slipped over in the process, the loose ball sat up nicely for O’Donnell to crack a shot into Stewart’s chest.

Welling’s attacking play was rather predictable, the ball would be in the full back areas, they would hit diagonal balls forward, one from Coyle, caused Hinton, out of position, a problem, but showed his experience getting a vital foot in to deny Cumbers a run at goal.

Welling started a little spell of pressure. Fazakerley’s corner from the right, Clarke popped up unopposed but couldn’t force his header in. At the other end, Dan Walker waltzed past Oberstellar, decent ball in to his “brother”, good contact from the header, but Stewart who appears to have good positional sense catch the ball.

The game started to get stretched, another ball over the top by Coyle, gave opportunity Pires an opporunity to run into the wide open spaces, shruging off Besta before dragged his drive tamely wide. They opened the scoring, lousy mistake from Tyler. When I said we should throw the game, was only joking, a long ball from Oberstellar down the line, found Healy, hooked centre came down with snow on it, Tyler, could only drop the cross, which deflected off Cumbers and into the net. This season Tyler has looked slightly vulnerable, whereas last year he has virtually unbeatable. Although considering we have defended like the Nolan Sisters at times this season, not surprising he looks less confident.

The second half continued in the same vein, tight, little to choose from both sides, the final ball lacking in quality.

Cumbers stuck a leg out to trip Poku. Lawless drilled in a free kick, which Parkinson could only clear straight to Dan Wright, whilst the angle wasn’t easy, he merely knocked the ball wide of the far post. Cumbers missed a rare clean opportunity, which could well have sealed the game. A body swerve and quick ball forward by Healy sent Cumbes clear with Lacey trailing in his wake, this time Tyler saved the day, rushing out and standing big, Cumbers could only shoot straight at Tyler.

Money had an early change, Newman Carney coming on for Besta. He’s a defender who could play left or centre back. He’s hardly a shrinking violet not quite a Sol Davis, but that kind of player, bit of a spiky character, his main asset is his ability to ping the ball accurately across the pitch. He had a very steady debut at left back. Edward switched to right back, Lawless and Poku in the midfield. It gave the team a more balanced look and improved steadily thereafter. It allowed Lawless to pop the ball around and Poku a more advanced role, which gave Welling players less time on the ball, unlike Besta, Poku will always get stuck in and when running the ball it’s like trying to stop a wardrobe on wheels going down a hill.

Cumbers breaking down the right, got the better of Carney, flicked over a pass, which Pires was slow to respond to. Pires another opportunity, Oberstellar’s pas into the feet of Cumbers, shifting the ball to Pires dragging his shot off target.

Another change saw Woodrow on for O’Donnell. Woodrow’s got great balance and movement for a kid his age and as long as the coaching staff don’t knacker him up, he could be anything. Straight involved into the game, two attempts from the left wing blocked.

Time was beginning to run out, a neat header forward by Patrick (recently on for Dan Walker), gave Walker a chance to run at Andrews, his low diagonal shot was saved onto the far post by Stewart but trickled in, unlike O’Donnell’s effort in the first game, which Stewart saved omto the post and bounced back to safety. Welling were gone from that moment. They tired badly in the last twenty minutes, so our fitness levels were superior, as they should be.

Ten minutes left to win the game, Welling as was the case on Sunday, everyone back. Edward sent Walker bounding down the right flank, his weak centre easily dealt with by Parkinson. A long ball into the box by Carney, controlled by Walker allowing Atieno to shoot across goal, would have gone in but for the deflection from Parkinson.

Woodrow given time to size up a cross from a short and quickly taken corner, Hinton headed the ball down, but attempts from Walker and Atieno proved fruitless to get through against a wall of red shirts.

However from the corner, Carney scuffed it, to the near post,after a bundle of head tennis the ball came out to Lawless prowling around the edge of the box, good control and the second touch even better, sweet strike which Stewart may have got a hand too, but no way was he going to stop it.

Practically the last kick of the game, a bye awaits in the next round. Over the ninety minutes, bit harsh on Welling, but they way we finished stringly in normal time, there was little doubt we would have won in extra time.

As ever there are more questions than answers, the biggest one why in Welling High Street is the Tesco’s directly opposite to Morrisons?

Mark Tyler 4.5 , Alex Lawless 7, Edward Asafu-Adjaye 6.5, Alex Lacey 7, Craig Hinton 6, , Dan Walker 4.5 ( Jordan Patrick), Godfrey Poku 6, Pavel Besta 5 ( Newman Carney 7.5), Jonathan O’Donnell 7 ( Cauley Woodrow 7) , Jason Walker 8 ,Taiwo Atenio 5.5.

Subs not used – Lewis Kidd and Christian Tavernier.

Welling – Stewart, Coyle, Parkinson,Andrews, Oberstellar, Fazakerley, Day, Clarke, Healy, Cumbers, Pires Booked- Pires.

Standard

Guest View: PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions

PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions:

That’s an afternoon of my life, I won’t get back. A dismal goalless draw against lower level opposition in the poor man’s HIV Trophy on a cold, damp afternoon in an empty Kenilworth Road (I salute everyone who didn’t turn up. Bravo, you made a great decision). Yes, it was as good as it sounds. Admittedly it was a seriously weakened team, but still should have enough about them to gain a victory. As it was the worst result of the three, another game, another opportunity to pick up injuries and bookings.

Can quite understand why Richard Money didn’t want to risk any of the key players in a competition designed purely to cause fixture congestion. If we are in it next season, can’t we just throw the game? Know it’s not the spirit, but corruption in sport, as in life is the way forward.

Don’t see the point of naming the likes of Barnes-Homer, Crow and Gnakpa on the bench if they are not going to be called upon, when it was obvious even in the early stages we were going to struggle to break them down. Less huff and puff, most of the team were disinterested.

The only plus points from the afternoon were it finished at ten to five and we could all go home. Watching Atieno today, was like Peter Thomson had been reincarnated. In terms of comedy, it was great value. His finishing was absolute dross. Most of the chances kept falling to him and got gradually worse. His last few performances have shown an improvement, but he was shocking.

I’m glad that month off for Besta has reaped rewards. He’s further off the pace now even against modest opponents, than was earlier in the season. The only time he ran today was when he was hooked off. At least if a couple of the players get bombed out in January, the match wasn’t a complete waste of time a la Alan White at Cambridge last year. Only Poku and Lacey came could out of the game with much in the way of credit, out of the non regulars.

Tyler and Howells kept their places from the Charlton game, the rest was all change please. Lining up in the usual 4-4-2 formation — back four of Asafu-Adjaye (even given allowance for his lack of games, has regressed dramatically), Lacey, Hinton (looked all right. However the fact he hasn’t broken into a struggling Northampton team has alarm bells ringing. Made one mistake, needlessly giving the ball away on the half way line, wasn’t punished, but against better sides could be), Howells. Midfield of Lawless (very poor, tried lots of fancy flicks but produced nothing of substance), Besta, Poku and Dan Walker (disappointing, had the beating of his full back, but kept trying to beat him twice and the end product was poor). The forward two of Jason Walker (could do little with limited service provided) and Atenio.

Happen to say I knew bog-all about Welling apart from the fact you can see lots of buses from their ground, my dear old thing and the road by the ground is full of bungalows in desperate need of repair and looking after. It speaks volumes about them that we desperately poor, but they hardly tested Tyler in goal. The midfield two of Parkinson and Clarke covered a lot of ground, whilst Andrews at the back was good in the air. Competent in possession but devoid of any attacking ideas. But the standard the division below must be dire, if a team such as them are flying high. If we play that poorly again on Tuesday, we deserve bloody shooting.

Stewart in goal made two excellent saves, one from his own centre half a flying header by Sambrook and after a rare good move involving Edward breaking forward, J. Walker teeing up O’Donnell to hit a sweet strike, which Stewart turned away with his right hand, hitting the post and bouncing out to safety. Which was as good as it got. Like most modern day football teams, they can defend in numbers, but hardly offered much punch in attack. From set pieces, they could be troublesome, as the left back Oberstellar has a reasonable delivery. Even in the latter stages, when the game became stretched,

Welling seemed far more interested in holding the ball by the corner flag, than trying to win the game. Which spoke volumes for their ambition. They have a few ex league pro’s, Stewart played for Bournemouth and a couple of them played for Gillingham. Poor sods. Considering it’s an awful horrible journey, they brought about a couple of hundred. Laudable effort to find the money to save their club. Although there are far better ways to spend £60,000 than waste it on a football club.

Playing badly can happen, but at least you can look interested with a bit of tempo or urgency. However in the first half especially, we simply went through the motions. But footballers will always do just enough. One player who at least did bring some much energy was Poku. There are certain things he lacks, long passing range, can’t shoot, but he covered the pitch well and always showed for the ball, when some of the other players appeared relieved not to have it.

A lovely curled ball over the top from Howells, gain Atieno a sight at goal, he could merely just lift the ball over. A quick free kick by Poku, to the left channel to Howells, some fine movement by J. Walker defeated Coyle, his low cross found Lawless, shooting into Andrews.

J. Walker in his box, rose like a tin of John West to nod the ball behind with Clarke waiting to pounce from Oberstellar’s free kick. Atenio looped a header from Lawless’ right wing centre, easily pouched by Stewart. D. Walker showing control and pace to nip beyond Oberstellar but Andrews managed to stab the ball behind until pressure from the other walker.

After a scrappy period of play, J. Walker combined with Ateino to create some room on the left of the box, just before J.Walker was going to hammer the ball towards goal, Sambrook produced a perfectly timed tackle. The quality of the first half was summed up, Lawless alert enough to play short corner to Poku, in his own time zone of space, but the drive ended up nearer the scoreboard than the goal.

The moment of danger came from a free kick on the right, swung in by Fazakerley, Clarke managed to get a faint touch and Tyler flicked it behind, after the ball took an awkward bounce off the surface. At the other end Atieno dug out a cross almost perfect for Lawless but for the late intervention of Coyle.

The first shot on target of the half, came into injury time, Edward having a nose bleed being so far forward, had an optimistic shoot on his left peg, which dribbled into Stewart’s body.

0-0 at half time and boo’s rang out, from those who haven’t lost the live to live at the tripe on display.

Second half, for the opening few exchanges, we looked sharper, but it didn’t last for long. A goal almost occurred with our first attack, Poku carrying the ball forward, knocking it out to lawless on the left, an inviting cross between the defence and the keeper, Sambrook launched himself like an Olympic diver, connected the ball, and Stewart did superbly to tip the ball over. From the resulting corner, Lacey couldn’t keep the ball down from Lawless’ flag kick.

Edward sent D.Walker with the ball down the line, he sent in a low skimming cross which Atieno couldn’t control under pressure from Andrews, although the Welling defender looked to had got the final touch.

Tyler held a low cross from Fazakerley after the stocky winger had broken past Howells. D.Walker has seeing more of the ball, finding Atieno with the goal in his sights, although Coyle came across to narrow the angle, the finish was tame, over the ball.

O’Donnell replaced Besta, playing on the left wing, with Lawless reverting back into the middle. Probably would have better to send Howells farther forward. Haven’t seen much of O’Donnell, but hadn’t seen anything which makes me think he will make it at Luton.

Welling almost gifted us a goal, a terrible backpass by Andrews, straight to Atieno, all he had to do was round Stewart and tap in home. His first touch was very heavy, the touch of Fred West and ran straight out of play. Terrible.

Walker bravely flicked the ball through, Atieno at first did well, beating Coyle inside and out but again his finish was nervy and he lashed it wide. To complete his hat trick fo woe, he could head weakly wide from a fine Howells’ centre.

Both full backs were starting to get forward more regularly, as the Kent side dropped deeper and deeper. It’s hard to remember any noteworthy service to either Cumbers or Pugh. This time Edward sent in a decent cross, not dealt with and O’Donnell could only spoon over. He went closer, with an effort that sailed over. Drury may have scored, but asking a lot for a young kid making his way to score from outside the box.

We had the ball in the net only to be ruled out offside, quality piece of football, Howells having the vision to pick out D.Walker and ability to find him, Walker’s effort was good, opening his body out and side footing it beyond Stewart. O’Donnell then was unlucky to be denied by another smashing save by Stewart, Edward breaking off the line, Walker nudged the ball into O’Donnell, his shot looked to be creeping in, before Stewart stuck out an mit.

Atenio had to clear from another Fazakerley inswinging free kcik to deny Clarke. But time was running out. Wouldn’t say Welling are a dirty side, but they know how to foul and take one for the team. A pull on Atenio by Andrews, allowed Howells a decent angle, but only drilled his shot into Stewart.

Mark Tyler 6.5, Edward Asafu-Adjaye 5.5, Alex Lacey 7, Craig Hinton 6, Jake Howells 6.5, Dan Walker 5.5 , Godfrey Poku 7, Pavel Besta 2( Jonathan O’Donnell 5.5), Alex Lawless 5, Jason Walker 6, Taiwo Atenio 3 .
Subs not used – Dan Gleeson, Matthew Barnes-Homer, Claude Gnakpa and Danny Crow. Booked – J.Walker and Poku.

Welling – Stewart, Coyle, Sambrook,Andrews, Oberstellar, Fazakerley, Parkinson, Clarke, Pires, Cumbers, Pugh ( Johnson). Booked- Fazakerley, Cumbers

Standard

A damp and cold December 0-0 to forget

I guess we could have predicted the outcome of the last two games: dominating – but ultimately losing to – a better team, and then struggling against a weaker team. It is the way of the Luton world. What didn’t help was that the strikers left their shooting boots on the coach.

I was one of not-very-many who turned up in the shivery December cold this afternoon, and my attendance afforded a queue-free opportunity to get a beer before the game and at half-time. Every cloud has a silver lining they say.

Richard Money had promised us changes aplenty, and changes aplenty is what we got. What we actually got was 11 footballers who looked as if they hadn’t played together before, which is in fact what they are.

What does it say about our performance that young Alex Lacey a centre-half making his first team debut was the sponsors man of the match? I had hoped that we would go about breaking some records this afternoon but we really failed to dazzle. Well, no, that’s unfair. At times in the second half at least we were back to the old ‘hot knife through butter’ scenario where we were attacking for fun against a weaker team. But could we finish? It was one of those days when we could have played for another 90 minutes and still not scored. I understand we fashioned 16 chances with only one or two of those being on target. Same old same old – lots of opportunities, no one to stick ‘em in.

Big changes from the Charlton XI:

Tyler in goal – who was made skipper for the day, being the obvious and most experienced option in Pilk’s absence. He had a handful of saves to make after a couple of harum-scarum defensive lapses granting opportunities for Welling in the game.

Ed A-A – at right back, good opportunity to shine today, but didn’t really. Perhaps it was the cold, perhaps it was the lack of games. Ed did get forward and support where possible, though some of his passes went astray down the line. He was sound enough at the back, and that is after all what he gets a paid to do.

Craig Hinton made his debut at centre half and had a tidy but unspectacular game at centre half.

Alex Lacey – had an excellent game and on this account at least looks a good prospect. Made some important and cruicial challenges and looked unflustered on occasions when you would have expected a young chap to be flustered. A cool head and good in the tackle are key attributes if he is going to make a living in the game which of course we all hope he does.

Jake Howells – who was my man of the match today. He did look like an England C player and stood out. His drive, determination, ambition and frankly, pace, looked at times like a man playing with boys (if you excuse the expression) which is ironic bearing in mind Jake’s age.

Dan Walker started on the right, swapped to the left and then went out to the right again. He came into his own more in the second half and made his excellent pace tell on a couple of occasions.

In the middle were the unconvincing partnership of Poku and Besta who sound to me a bit like a Norwegian children’s cartoon. ‘On fire’ Godfrey still has a bit of convincing to do as far as I’m concerned. Against Charlton I think his Blue Square South pedigree stood out like a sore thumb, the only player really to be outclassed by Charlton and again today, apart from a lot of huffing and puffing and chasing around his passing was generally poor. He improved in the second half when he seemed to push forward slightly more rather than wholly sitting in front of the defence. I wish him well and given time and opportunity, clearly he has something about him – but sometimes energy and the ability the run and run aren’t enough on their own.

Besta again failed to impress. He seems to chase the play around in the way that Keano doesn’t. He’s the sort of player I who I think could come in for the occasional game to cover for absences, but I don’t think, on the appearances I have seen so far this year that he can seriously challenge for a place.

On the left was Alex Lawless which was a bit surprising as a) he is pretty one footed and that foot being his right and b) Dan Walker has played more on the left and Lawless had played on the right previously. Perhaps RM wanted to see him in action on the left. In any case after about half an hour he swapped with Dan Walker and in the second half played in the middle when Besta went off. When he was on the left he had to cut back onto his right foot, and when he was in the middle we did improve, but he didn’t show me any of the class I know he was capable of at York. Early days.

Up front we started, and finished with, Atieno and Jason Walker. Atieno must have missed five or six chances, by far the most of anyone in the team. He was getting gradually closer nearer the end but by-Christ he had folk in the Kenny End diving for cover in the second half. The ball was banging around back there like a game of pinball – the empty blue seats being the flippers.

Jason Walker seemed to be involved in lots of interchanges and held the ball well on occasion – but how many chances actually fell his way? He had a header from a Dan Walker cross but he had nothing to pounce on which must have been very frustrating. If he’d just had half the attempts that Atieno had, Walker would have snatched a hat-trick.

Welling for their part came, saw and closed us down. Fair play to them a good effort from them, but they did strike me as an unspectatular team, other than their slightly ramshackle but effective keeper Gareth Stewart.

I can’t say too much about the first half because there wasn’t much to report on. Our first proper shot on target came on about 45 minutes.

I’ll list the chances – Atieno missed one which was easier to score when a Howells cross found him in space.

Lawless then shot after some hard work and a cross by Jason Walker after a good pass by Howells, but his shot was blocked.

Some hot chocolate and a tasteless hot dog later and Poku had a good chance running on to a short corner by Lawless but endangered nothing but the kids playing in Oak Road.

Ed got forward for the first time just towards injury time but his weak shot was easily held by Stewart. 0-0 then, and disappointing. Nothing too adventurous and clearly the players had been instructed to have a good run out, but nothing more than that.

But shortly after half time a brilliant diving header from a lovely cross from Lawless brought off a fine reaction save by Stewart. Alas, it was a full length defensive dive by Sambrook who presumably was just trying to head it behind rather than give his keeper a coronary. Smiles all round though as they saw the funny side. Would have gone into the top 5 all time own-goals though if it had gone in. It might have broken the net too. I think Lacey headed the ensuring corner over the bar.

A while later Dan Walker was played into space and showed his pace when he drove down the wing, cut inside and shot just wide of the far post.

Cue the sequence of Atieno howlers, probably the best chance came up first, presumably draining his confidence and our hope of seeing a goal from him today (or ever again?) Stewart’s kick went straight to him but alas the Kenyan saw fit only to whack the ball wide. Next chance a few minutes later – Atieno himself created the chance with some good skill on the edge of the box but put the ball the other side. Another confidence sapping effort was missed shortly after when a good cross from Jake Howells saw him glance it wide, when it might have been easier to score.

JJ O’Donnell had entered the fray by this point, replacing Besta. The last time I saw him my memories were of a player who liked to get a cross in and put the effort in but was knocked off the ball slightly too easily. Nothing really happened to change that impression this afternoon however he did have a couple of good efforts too – he popped up at the far post from a deep cross by Ed but had the crowd ducking rather than the keeper. The better effort was when he found himself in the middle just outside the ‘D’ and drove a shot which would have gone in had Stewart not made a full length stretch to palm it onto the post and out for a corner.

Other than another couple of Atieno half chances the only other incident was when Dan Walker had the ball in the net only for it somehow to have been offside. Howells had found him in room and he shaped up and thumped a shot to Stewart’s right. It would have been a good goal to win any game, but somehow by then it would almost have been wrong to break the deadlock, such was the very nature of this game.

Scores on the doors:
Tyler: 6
Ed AA: 5.5
Hinton: 6
Lacey: 8
Howells: 8.5

Dan Walker: 7
Poku: 5
Besta: 4
Lawless: 5.5

Jason Walker: 6
Atieno: 2

O’Donnell: 6

Uninspiring and a bit lacklustre, but with the occasional glimpse of brilliance, this was your archetypal 0-0. “Remember these games” I keep telling my son –“ when you are thirty my boy and the likes of Man Utd and Liverpool are coming to visit us in our new stadium, remember this awful 0-0 on a freezing cold December day against a bunch of part-timers from somewhere you can’t find on the map.”

When I am having discussions over a pint, one day in the future, about the worst striker to have played for us, and friends suggest to me the regulars of Peter Thomson and Tresor Kandol – I will say “yes, they were shite – but did they ever struggle to score on against the part-timers of Welling when we were in the FA Trophy?” It is only when you contextualise where we actually are now do you realise the true horror of a gallery of missed chances against a sixth tier team.
Oh well, such is life. York at home on Saturday lunchtime next.

All comments welcome – not just about my post but all things Luton Town.

Standard

Guest View: PDW’s match report

I’ll be doing my match report on last night’s Charlton game on Saturday, but I have teamed up with the excellent PDW from the Outlaws site to post his report here, which he kindly sent me at mad O’Clock this morning.

Please read, enjoy and comment in the usual way!

PDW’s match report:

Always going to be difficult to replicate the outstanding performance at the Valley. For two thirds of the match tonight, it wasn’t too far off. But we badly run out of stream and Charlton took advantage and saw the game out comfortably. 3-1 was a very unjustified scoreline on the balance of the play, which we played some outstanding innovative football in the opening hour, but unfortunately we couldn’t kill off a side who were there for the taking. The nature of cup football is that the best team doesn’t always progress and that was the case.

If you don’t take your chances when massacring the opposition and continue to develop new ways of shooting yourself in the foot, it’s a great shame that the excellent creative football goes to waste. For three halves of football we had battered Charlton and didn’t ever get a lead for more than five minutes, there was always, sadly, going to be a sting in the tail.

We gave it a damn good shot in both matches, we were the better side for seventy five per cent of it, against a vastly higher ranked side. But it’s gone now and no point moaning like the media over the World Cup bid. Take it on the chin and hopefully learn to correct the mistakes. But this soft-goal-per-game malarkey will continue to stifle the team’s progress.

Don’t think Richard Money helped us much with in the subs tonight. Whilst we were starting to lose the midfield battle. Drury very subdued. Was very stagnant in midfield, rarely got on the ball with his majestic class and swagger he normally shows, whether he was under instructions not to join up breaking from midfield, but we ended up having two deep sitting midfielders. Keane again, did well enough. With their good away record, they are a decent counter attacking outfit.

Would have preferred Walker to come down the left to try and give us an attacking spark. Apart from a couple of nice touches, Morgan-Smith was well controlled by Francis, we were starting to run out of ideas, as Charlton were better organised in the second half, we were passing the ball in front of them, not rarely threatening to go through or behind them, which we did almost at will in the first half.

Thought Crow and his child bearing hips were having a good game, he looked bright and was on the wrong end of some robust defending by Charlton defending, in particular one G.Doherty esquire. The old boy was never quick in his early twenties, but I have seen dead carthorses turn quicker. To be fair, he did read the game OK, but looks like his best days (or should that be day) are well behind him.

Think Crow should have been left on, if his fitness is an issue, rest him against Welling. Sure the object of the exercise will be give the likes of Poku, Walker, Lacey, Hinton and the like a run out.

Whereas Parkinson put on Abbott, a thorn in our side from his Huddersfield days, turned the game, gave them some thrust up front, they looked a different team, not a complete coincidence they improved after Benson, a truly awful centre forward by Third division standards was hooked off.

It’s Totteringham whom I feel sorry for. Denied their big day out against the rip roaring Hatters. It’s a shame, but have always said the F.A. Cup is nothing compared to the glamour of the F.A. Trophy! If you believe that….

Twerton Park instead in the first weekend of January. Both venues very similar, can’t park anywhere near the place. Probably because I smell, never been a fan of Bath and bloody tourists who just get in the way. Whoever invented the camera phone deserves being burnt at the stake.

When I arrived at the ground, it was like attending a floodlit cricket match. The groundstaff removing the covers, which were placed between the Main Stand and the centre spot. Was expecting Pilkington to stride out, win the toss and bowl.

As it was, we selected the same eleven which performed with such credit during the first game. The only change Lacey replacing Asafu-Adjaye on the bench. Charlton had more options available, the likes of Doherty, Semedo and Fry missing rom the first tie, but surprisingly left out Reid. Daniel Gleeson’s lucky day.

Thought Charlton may have tried to close us down quicker, but they didn’t seem to have learnt from their errors. We started the better and were dominated the opening half, start to finish. Playing some thoughtful, one pass and move football sweeping through Charlton at times with nonchalance, whether it be on the flanks or though the middle of the field. Often through Crow, who was dumped on the deck for his troubles.

Barnes-Homer and Howells combined for the first good piece of football down the left, lovely ball from Howells, and Jackson had to be alert to shepherd the ball behind. We forced plenty of corners. Drury tended to go low between the near post and the middle of the goal, Charlton coped Ok, but hardly cleared the ball far away. Presume we were trying to hang the ball up, as Charlton are a tall team, the likes of Doherty, Fortune, benson and Jackson all component in the air.

From the first Drury corner on the right, you could have thrown a blanket over the groups of players waiting for it, it broke kindly for Keane to stab goalward, Fortune got half a block, but Crow poked wide.

Gnakpa was lively enough, a few galloping runs, although Charlton doubled up this time with Fry and Jackson reducing his threat. Morgan-Smith showed a very classy change of feet and clever football brain, another Drury set piece, came out to Morgan-Smith, moved the past Fry and left Wagstaff for dead, but having the composure to stand up a cross but unfortunately no one could get on the end of the cross.

Crow almost got on the end, of a fine Howells’ clip over the top, Fortune covered well and stuck a leg out to concede a corner. The Londoners had showed very little to this point, Racon’s raking pass out to left, Jackson curled in a centre. Kroca headed the ball up rather than away, for a player of his experience he really is poor at timing his jumps, Drury wildly miscued his clearance and Tyler had to claim.

A poor header by Doherty gifted Morgan-Smith a chance to run at him. No contest, well there wouldn’t have been but he tripped Morgan-Smith, when just about to round him, but for the presence of the back tracking Semedo, Mr D could have sent off. Good chance for Drury around the D, central, but slipped over in taking it and no harm for Elliott wearing his pink top, he looked look an extra in a Black Lace video. Tasteful colour it wasn’t.

Claude had a run down the right, looked up and unselfishly rolled the ball to Crow, the Charlton defence watched on like statues, allowing Crow one touch to control and another to smack the ball against the bar.

Doherty again was penalised for another lunge on Crow. This time Keane had a go from a similar position which Drury fell, whilst the Charlton wall was farting about, Keane took advantage, luckily for the visitors, Elliott was alert and made a fine finger tip save over. Elliott again saved them again, catching Gnakpa’s header from Drury’s corner.

Whilst the score was level, we were murdering them. Charlton looked clueless in attack. Pilkington sweeping away any danger. They either knocked it long to Benson, whilst Semedo and Racon were reasonable in possession, they rarely managed more than four or five passes before handing us control of the ball, with a miss passed pass, normally not under pressure.

Kroca brought the deadlock to give us a thoroughly well deserved lead, it had been coming from the word go, another Drury corner, was half cleared, a shot blocked, fell nicely for Kroca to slot in past Elliott. In the opposition’s penalty area, Kroca is a threat, not so handy in our box, Kroca is still a threat, but to ourselves.

The lead wasn’t to last long. Howells unable to cope with Jackson’s pass across the box, Francis from an acute angle, produced a fantastic cross. Once again, our defending was a shambles, Wagstaff able to jog into the six yard box, not picked up and produced a deft headed finish beyond Tyler into the far post.

We started OK in the second half, however Charlton looked a far tighter unit than in the three halves of football previously. Kept their shape, get closer to us, and we rarely looked the same team again.

Fine skill from Gnakpa, the blue shirts backed off, and the effort just went a whisker away from the right post. Racon winning a free kick after a flamboyant dive from a Gnakpa challenge. Semedo took the free kick quickly, to the left, Fry was allowed to travel unchallanged, pops the ball across to the far post, benson get a touch on his header, but easy for Tyler.

Then the chance, which in hindsight was our final one. Keane launching a Delap style fast, low and flat throw, Doherty could only prod a nervous header, out to Pilkington, sending the ball back with plenty of pace, and again Eliiott did brilliantly back pedalling and clawing the ball over the top. Splendid save, he really is the main reason Charlton progressed in the competition. His kicking is a bit dodgy, but his goalkeeping was very good.

Abbott came on, and immediately made a difference, his movement far better than Benson, linking up and bringing Anyinsah into the game, before that Anyinsah cut an anonymous figure. Abbot on the right, found by francis, given too much time to cross, and Racon racing in unmarked, wasted a free header, nodding down at Tyler. Something we are desperately poor at, the runners into our box, are often unchallenged. The midfield need to back track and help, as our defence just isn’t as good as it needs to be.

Semedo has starting to turn the game into their favour, again finding the always willing francis to attack, simple pass Abbott turned, smashed a low drive, which Tyler spilt, no harm done, as he got his body behind the ball, it merely squirmed out to his right rather than into the net.

Pilkingtion slipped allowing Anyinsah to hunt down Wagstaff forward pass, he showed great determination to block off Anyinsah at the expense of a corner. Costly one, we couldn’t properly clear Francis’s set piece, the ball finding its way to Fry on the edge, he drove hard and low through goodness knows how many bodies, and rifled into the bottom corner, with Tyler unsighted after Anyinsah’s flick at the ball.

A change was needed, not the one I was hoping for. Poku for Morgan-Smith. Sure Poku put in another shift, but we needed a put more than dear old Godfrey and his high work ethic, breaking up the play and playing the correct pass. Charlton could defend in numbers, and we weren’t hurting them. Walker was the ideal choice, but was left unused. Don’t understand that.

Charlton’s confidence was flowing now. Their protected their lead well. Elliott taking an age on every goal kick. After Drury’s corner was cleared, quickly they broke, Semedo and Racon finding Anyinsah to flick over. Atineo, but never got involved in the game replaced Crow who had been booked for a late tackle on Jackson. A free kick would have been ok, but Crow was cautioned. maybe that’s why he was subbed. Barnes-Homer like the team faded badly through lack of service. Although at times, got the impression (rightly or wrongly) unless the ball is perfect, he won’t be bothered to attempt to chase it. Shame he didn’t get booked, so would miss the Welling game through a ban, rather than an important league match.

We had run out of ideas and steam. The game was over as a contest. A soft free kick was awarded in the favour of Anyinsah against Kroca. Jackson hit the free kick with his left foot, it was hugely deflected and ended up going in the far corner with Tyler helpless. When your luck is out, it’s out. For all our defence problems, the team deserved better than that. Charlton saw out the remainder of the game with the utmost ease.

Mark Tyler 5.5, Dan Gleeson 6.5 , Zdenek Kroca 5 , George Pilkington 7 , Jake Howells 6, Claude Gnakpa 6.5 , Andy Drury 5.5, Keith Keane 7.5, Amari Morgan-Smith 6.5( Godfrey Poku 6), Matthew Barnes -Homer 6, Danny Crow 7.5( Taiwo Atenio). Booked – Keane and Crow.

Subs not used – Craig Hinton, Pavel Besta, Alex Lacey, Dan Walker and Lewis Kidd.

Charlton – Elliott, Francis, Fiortune, Doherty, Fry, Wagstaff, Racon(McCormack), Semedo, Jackson, Benson( Abbott), Anyinsah( Sodje). Booked – Doherty, Benson, Racon.

*THE DISCLAIMER* – The above ratings were picked on a whim and very rarely are an accurate reflection on the player’s performances simply to annoy the reader. Today’s fatuous comments- Mucho bravos to the Football Authorities for organising the bad weather so the piffling matter of the football didn’t get in the way of the Creekit. Nice touch that. Also gave me time to be ill as well. Without going to much detail, Douglas Bollinger with his thrillingly bad wig* and his chums weren’t the only ones to leak plenty of runs recently. Forza Imodium.

* which looks like the result of leaving a visually impaired Gorilla, full of sweeties and pop, left with some scissors, Pritt Stick and some pubic hair.

My thanks to PDW for the posting. Feel free to post your comments – the more the merrier.

Standard