I started to write my report this evening and then PDW posted his. I can’t improve on his words – so why bother. I think that Claude has switched off defensively. He only switches on when we are attacking but drifts out of the game when we are on the back foot. I actually thought it was a good game punctuated by random and wholly wrong decisions by a very strange ref.
MBH had a great game and deserved his goal. He worked hard and was everywhere on the pitch. Shame he wasn’t in the middle on a few more occasions in the second half, but he can’t be everywhere.
George Pilks is making more mistakes – Kroca looks as solid as a rock. Tyler went down in slow motion for the goal. Carden showed some good touches, but is quite slow. Keano had a good game. Jake showed moments of brilliance as did Freddie Murray. Owusu was fine but became more and more anonymous as the game went on, wheezing like a 40 a day man by the end.
Anyway – those are my thoughts – I agree with PDW, why water the pitch before the game? You had dried rolled sand and mud – why turn it in to a bog or quagmire by watering it? Wonders will truly never cease.
Four things sprang into my mind, as we were camped inside Kidderminster’s half after their equaliser, never remotely looked likely to regain to lead after a decent first half performance.
What more (or less) does Claude have to do to be dropped? The way he allowed Vaughan to wander past him just prior to the free kick which they scored from was quite majestic. If things are not working and need freshening up, why does Money just allow things to drift? Why is there no plan b and you are allow to make subs which aren’t like for like? Does Money not notice Owusu needs gas and air after an hour? ( All that diving must take it’s toil).
Not that any local hack would have the bottle to ask the manager. So, they are just idle thoughts really.
Our inability to take our chances and score more than our allocated one goal per game whilst playing modestly, was always likely to catch up us somewhere. In terms of creatively, we are largely reliant on Lawless, and if he is absent, for all the huff and puff, effort there is little to trouble teams even at this lowly level.
Whilst a draw against the form team (who but for their points deduction would be above us) in the league is hardly a disaster. Realistically that is our Championship chances gone, although like affordable petrol prices it has been that way for a while. Unless Crawley blow up dramatically or better still get blown up. Kidderminster are no mugs, a perfectly competent side. the form team in the league. Quite possible we may meet them in the shambles that is the dicgrace of the play offs. They would be a tough nut to crack in it. Function well as a team but without many highly skilled individuals
Pre-match, looking at the pitch, which had a vague semblance of grass, amongst the mud. Never thought, what it indeed was for some water on it. Hey presto, up pop the sprinklers. There were a good number of Scandinavian Hatters in the Beech Huts, which at one stage threaten to outnumber those travelling from Worcestershire. Fair play to them, all mentalists.
With Willmott out (thigh injury apparently, thank goodness his yellow booties are unhurt) becoming the latest casualty of the Press Conference curse. It’s amazing how players aren’t mentioned in it as injured but fail to pop on the Saturday. If Money doesn’t want to let the opposition know. Fair enough but that don’t bother disclosing any information.
There were the following changes to the team which beat Forest Green on Tuesday. Gleeson, looking far from fit replacing Graham, Howells switched to the left wing for Willmott, with Carden coming into the middle. While Carden is perfectly adequate at his job, he doesn’t do anything more spectacular than Godfrey would do. At the moment Carden is the better player with more know-how, but Poku has over a decade in hand and if you can’t blood players in this league, when can you? The games stacking up, a loan spell is not possible I appreciate, but hope for Poku’s sake, he isn’t left to stagnate in the way that Asafu-Adjaye has and all that early promise that EAA showed has gone.
Personally would prefer Howells in the middle to give us control on the ball, if Lawless is injured. Then fill in on the wing with Morgan-Smith. Granted he isn’t playing that well currently, but at least has pace. To be honest, whatever team we selected, who could pick holes in it, as too many players are below par currently
Talking of pace, the quickest in which Owusu made sure he tripped over Briscoe’s trailing leg was stuff of Olympic Gold. After Barnes-Homer had initially driven across from the left, jinking past three Kidderminster defenders, before flicking the ball in Owusu’s direction. That’s two games in a row he has tried to cheat. Same old Brentford. He has done well for us since january, but he can cut that out for a start. A doris tottering on eight inch high heels on sheer ice after a skinful would keep their feet better.
Generally the first half was a decent open end to end match between two well matched sides, the pitch isn’t easy to pass and move on, but few pitches have been recently, it’s the same for both sides and you have to adapt to it or moan as the manager does. We moved the ball around well at times, Murray, Howells and Barnes-Homer tended to be in the thick of our better moves. At times, it did almost get scrappy, start stop unaided by a shocking referee, even by Conference level, who missed at least a dozen obvious fouls, after booking Owusu for going down like a whore’s drawers, seem to lost his cards (and his marbles) by not booking everyone else but elected to chat players up. Not that it was a dirty game, but as always there are two or three tackles which are worthy of a caution.
Barnes-Homer had a barn storming performance against his former employers. A cracking goal from difficult angle, was motion personified for most of the afternoon. Maybe we should tell him he is playing against his old clubs every week. Doubt he is difficult to fool. Seriously if he could turn that kind of performance in more often, the team would benefit from it greatly.
To be fair, to Kidderminster, both their centre halves Briscoe and Albrighton were outstanding throughout, defending deep. They were hard to break through and impossible to get behind. They left only Canham up front, with McPhee, one of their more influential players off him. But they broke quickly down the flanks, Blair and Gittens looked tricky customers, quick and accurate. Kidderminster looked to pass it patiently, with the odd hoof down field, but they look a well drilled outfit. Pilkington struggled against the height of Canham, would it not have been an idea to swop Kroca over?
Barnes-Homer showing some fine determination and workrate (usually well hidden), by chasing down and blocked Briscoe’s attempted whack up the line, MBH kept his composure, rolling the ball across to Owusu, his stabbed attempt shoved around the post by Lewis.
As seems to be the case it at the moment, we take twenty minutes to get going. Up to now, all Kidderminster had to show was a wildly optimistic lob by Canham from miles out following a quick throw from the left, which Keane had needlessly conceded.
Pilkington was adjudged to have fouled Canham (the forward had backed in for ages long before Pilkington had even touched him). Generally we weren’t good enough at set pieces all afternoon, either attacking or defensive. Shaw’s free kick from their right was allowed to drift to Briscoe at the back post on his own, to nudge the ball across goal, the lino had somewhere found a red shirt offside.
Some super build up between Keane and Owusu just failed to find Glesson overlapping. Howells whipped in a corner, barnes-Homer taking a touch or two before hooking over off Williams.
Blair cutting past Murray, who remains vulernable against direct players , attempted to play Gittens in, Gleeson hoicked his clearance up and not away, but recovered sufficiently to calmly knock the pass away.
A strong tackle in midfield by Keane on Gittens, pass picked by Carden, sending MBH away with a great knock with the outside of his boot, Briscoe, turned the ball behind. We were starting to get some joy down our left, as their right back Sharpe didn’t get much help from his team mates.
Calude nailed the scoreboard but not the goal with a thumping header froma Howells centre. Then MBH and Howells, linked to feed Murray, popping in a low centre, Owusu had to rush his shot but scooped it wide with his left foot. He couldn’t let it rush across his body as would have been closed down.
Howells played a free kick, Kroca in space maybe should have gone for goal rather than laying it to Owusu who in turn shifted possession to MBH before striking goalwards only for Briggs to get a vital block in.
Daniel Lewis’s long boot ( not his left foot), caused Pilkington a problem, nodding sideways gifting the ball to Blair, was cross was perfect for Gittens, from point blank range could only head straight at Tyler. A yard either side and it would have been curtains, or should that be carpets. Pilkington is struggling with his direction with heading recently. Another popped off his head in the second half, but fortunately landed straight at Tyler.
Immediately we scored, a brilliant individual goal by MBH. Taking a pass played at awkward height from Gleeson, chested it, turning away, stepping past Briscoe and hitting across the ball at an angle, curling the ball in between the keeper and near post in before seemingly to veer back and onto the far post. It looked in from the Main Stand. The referee dawdled and it took the lino an age to flag for the goal. Fantastic piece of football from a player who still got booed when he was named MOM – it was probably ironic but with our crowd you never know.
We had another narrow escape shortly after our goal. McPhee’s right wing corner, Owusu mistimed his leap and header then to Albrighton, fine first touch, second to strike, Canham lifted the ball onto the bar.
Down the left Williams, Gittens swung in a cross for Canham who has over all Murray, before turning the ball towards the goal which Tyler helped over. Only then was the foul given. Good lord, if Canham had got any more closer or touchy feely, it would have been sexual assault. Another close shave, after a corner was cleared but came back straight away, McPhee stabbed wide and was caught by Pilkington. Corner given. How I don’t know.
We ended the half on the front foot, Howells prod towards Murray, graet cross cutting across the ball, Lewis the keeper in no mans land, Owusu should have done better than hammer his header away. Barnes-Homer went close, long ball by Murray, over Owusu, MBH beat Briggs before drilling over.
Second half was poor. We started sloppily, as we always tend to do. Conceding a daft free kick, Keane body check on Williams, nice of Claude to wave the left back through. Fine delivery by Gittens to the back post, Shaw’s header beat Tyler rather easily, Tyler seemed to get down too low and ended up pushing the ball into the net.
We never recovered. If Kidderminster had some more belief rather than back pedalling for their point, we may have lost. We had plenty of the ball, but run out of ideas, the lack of replacements didn’t help. Danny Crow maybe a worthy candidate for a modern day Mr Creosote, but changed the game at Guiseley and did OK at Forest Green, surely worth a go for the knackered Owusu. Teams have sussed us out now since Owusu arrived. We do severely lack a player who can pick the game by the scuff of the net and run at defences, commit challenges. Make something happen. Keane and Carden’s fine impression of crabs is all well and good, but it’s not going to break down a stubborn defence.
Claude’s one piece of good play, dancing past Briggs, wrong footing Albrighton before rolling in MBH to cross which was deflected behind. The corner, came out, played back it by Kroca off Williams, the ball span forward and very high before Lewis, running towards goal, had to help it over the bar.
Murray, probably our best attacker in the second half, shifted the ball centrally to Keane, flick forward nudged into Owusu’s path by Kroca but could only steer it wide.
A few tackles start flying in. Shaw’s wasn’t very sure footed as he went over the top on Gnakpa. After a romantic chit chat, only a free kick was a,llowed, no booking . Owusu deserved a caution for diving, but diving isn’t going to break people’s legs like that tackle could have done.
Excellent slide ball by Carden, Claude run at a timid looking, back pedalling Williams, he beat him once, then gain, but with people queuing up, decided to shot. Keane shinned over the top after some outstanding centre forward play by MBH chesting down Owusu’s flick, waiting for support and rolling Keane in. It needed changing, some new ideas, but none came until it was too late.
All possession in the world is worthless unless you are creatively or at least having a shot. Which Owusu did, seizing upon a poor Sharpe pass, he was thirty yards and the ball sailed wide, but at least he tried something.
A weak tackle by Keane, was easily ridden by Shaw, passing the ball forward, for a moment Blair looked like he may get there, but Murray blocked off his run, extremely well. With ten minutes to go AMS came on for Howells, who admittedly lost any influence on the game second half, but there were far more deserving cases to be hooked off.
The only opportunity AMS came was a one two with MBH and Briscoe, managed to turn behind.
So, it ended all square. For all the play and set pieces we had we didn’t creative much. Hopefully when Willmott and Lawless this should improve. But with our struggle it to beat the teams around us, yet to beat one of the teams currently in the top five. It doesn’t auger well for the play offs.
Mark Tyler 6.5, Dan Gleeson 6, Zdenek Kroca 7, George Pilkington 5.5, Freddie Murray 8 , Claude Gnakpa 3.5, Keith Keane 5, Paul Carden 6.5, Jake Howells 7( Amari Morgan-Smith), Matthew Barnes-Homer 8.5, Lloyd Owusu 6 .
Subs not used – Luke Graham, Danny Crow, Godfrey Poku and Kevin Pilkington. Booked – Owusu.
Kidderminster – Lewis, Sharpe, Briscoe, Albrighton, Williams, Blair, Shaw, Briggs (Morris ), Gittings, Canham (Matt ), McPhee