PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions

A draw in the opening act of the Wrexham trilogy. It’s all a bit like The Lord Of The Rings, except there is nothing precious in Wrexham ( the A525 eastbound possibly), although Frank Sinclair o.g. does look like Golam.

Over the balance of play, the draw was about right, however had we scored 10-15 minutes prior to Jason Walker’s spot kick, we would have probably gone on and won the match, as we looked the more likely to score as Wrexham, after a decent start to the game, tired and settled for defending in mass numbers. Not that it would have mattered a great deal, although it stopped them doing the double over us in the regular League season.

Never going to be a great game. Wrexham fielded virtually a reserve team, personally surprised the strength of the team Brabin picked. It was a huge risk playing the likes of Tyler, Pilkington, Barner -Homer and Willmott to name but four only five days before a proper match. Thankfully no one got inured, although Poku hobbled off at the end. Although he always walks like his back and feet are killing him. Not the great man’s finest hour, he does try too hard and someone should tell him not to shoot.

We laboured badly in the first half, it terms of a cunning plan to give them a false sense of security it worked wonderfully, too ponderous on the ball, gave Wrexham far too much space in . Credit to them, for a stratch team, in the first half, they played pretty well, decent on the ball, reasonable movement.

Dan Walker was the attacking bright spot. As MBH looked uninterested until the second half, Owusu won little in the air, would have helped if he have timed his jump correctly. Willmott starved of sevice. It was left to Walker, backed up by another good performance from EAA( not the first player to up his game since the departure of Money), was allowed to run at his eternally back tracking namesake. His final ball/shot was wasn’t the best, but he kept going and when he can produce a bit more quality in that, added to his directness and pace, we have a very good prospect.

With Wrexham’s diamond formation in the midfield, Poku and Newton struggled badly to get much of a foothold into the game. On a sunny but breezy day, there was a good crowd at the Theatre of Comedy , pitch looking in splendid nick, watered heavily before hand. Reasonable support from North Wales, considering the lack of anything of the agme, the cost of transport, given the fact they are back in ten days time again. Good round of minute’s applause in memory of Allan Brown.

Our first effort of target of the game, came after an Edward run and checked back before slamming a cross onto Owusu’s head, simple catch for thje big man Mayebi in goal. He made some flashy stops, there is a bit of the juggler in him. Although you can tell Saunders is his boss, by the way everytime he caught a cross, he rolled over dramatically.

Brown’s through pass, would have been cut out by Pilkington, but for him slipping, the ball went through to Tyler, just too mcuh on it for the impressive Moss to get there. There were a nuber of youngsters in the Wrexham side both starting and on the ebnch. Had they been women from there, they were by pregnent by now, drinking Diamond White by the railway station opposite the Vauxhall dealership in Mold Road. Hmm…spent far too much of my life in Wrecsam.

Hunt allowed to travel down the left flank, poked the ball towards Williams, spotting Tyler off his line, his lofted effort was close but always drifting off line.

After some patient possession football between Tolley, Cieslewicz( who looked on the day, far too good, to be a squad player in this league) and Brown, played the ball into Williams, getting a bit of space, pushed the ball into the path of Moss ( looking offside) to tap in past Tyler and put them ahead.

Good ball up from the back by Kroca into Owusu touching off for Barnes-Homer to finish wildly over. With both Poku ( who at stage looked heading towards the world record for soft fouls conceded in a half of football ) and Newton, neither were positive or quick enough with the ball, although our Walker looked to have the beating of their Walker at right back, hacked doqwn as he attempted to round the whole defence, although Willmott could only blast his free kick at the wall positioned four inches away.

Ball knocked forward by Kroca, MBH gave half hearted chase, Mayebi claimed it but in the process knocked Fowler to the deck. With the pitch being so firm, Fowler looked to have sustained a nasty looking shoulder injury before being stretchered off, ironically he was one of the few players who have featured in their sixteen over the past few weeks.

Unfortunately Walker missed a golden opportunity to level the game, a wayward attempted header back by Andrews put his keeper in trouble, Mayebi could only knock the ball out in the direction of Walker, about twenty five yards out, fairly central position. He lacked the composure and wellied the ball nearer the scoreboard than the goal. Maybe he could have laid the ball off to MBH in a slightly better position.

It was only in the latter stages of the half, we managed to get a spell of pressure, which Willmott saw more of the ball, helping a pass from Graham from the right wings, Walker at the far post, caught in two minds, whether to control or shoot first time, did neither and the ball dribbled harmlessly across goal.

Ciesleswicz clattered Pilkington near the touchline, EAA sent a raking crossfield free kick across to Graham, who was slow initially to spot the pass, but he got there, finding Willmott, moving infield, sending a fine cross over which Walker nodded behind , getting in front of Owusu. Willmott tiptoed through both McMillian and Brown top fire a low drive which Mayebi held.

The second half brought about a much needed upping of the tempo and gradually took control of the game, mainly with the arrival of the subsitutions, both Adam Watkins and Jason Walker gave good cameo perfiormances, as did Alex Lacey filling in at at unfamiliar role of right back.

A ball forawrd by Graham, flicked forward by MBH, Willmott carried the ball forward, driving low at Mayebi, who stopped the ball but slipped it and had to recover the ball.

Willmott raiding down the right, but Andrews, who performing well for them at centre half, flicked the ball behind. From the resulting corner, Willmott recycled the ball after a duff delivery, finding Kroca neat chest trap, MBH lent back and fired over.

MBH and Owus for once combined well together, rolling the ball out to the newly arrived Watkins ( on for Willmott), he delayed his strike, but when he eventually tried a curler was deflected wide. dan walker sent in a naer post corner, which newton did well to stoop and turn his header which mayebi, a mite dramatically turned over the bar.

Wrexham whilst never having so much of the ball , were always a potential threat on the attack, Ciesleswicz got through too easily on the left channel centered for Williams, who had to sciore, but didn’t thanks to a great point blank reflex save by Tyler.

Excellent pass by Watkins out to Walker, slipping past Hunt, his centre was knocked away by Andrews before Owusu could reach it. The visitors were under the pump by this stage, since by Williams down in the area, being urged by the bench to get up to avoid having ten men at a corner, which Newton belted a drive, which maybei pushed skywards and eventually calimed before ending up on the floor again.

Jason Walker replaced Owusu, we just were starting to run out of ideas, when the newly arrived Stephens made a needless challange on Walker by the byline, from MBH’s forward ball. Straight forward decisoon to award a penalty. After Walker and MBH seemed to have differing views on whom should take the penalty. It was Walker stepped forawrd to be greeted by some extroidarny antics on the line by Mayebi , jumping up and down, shadow boxing. He fell down quickler than Audley harrison, diving to his right, Walker lifted the ball from wence he came, if he had stayed still he would have probably hit him in the face. Decent penalty, so that’s walker anme down on the list for the inevitable shoot out somewhere down the line.

Wrexham could have pinched it, more good movemnet and play by Cieslewicz from the left, a slight touch by Tolley and a screaming header by Salathiel, whizzed just over. Our last opportunity came from EAA’s fine run, turning back to centre for Walker to nod the ball into the ground.

Bring on the play offs and all the injustice it brings. At least this year we haven’t finished as the highest qualifer so if we don’t go up got no complaints. The current working of it is mind bogglingly stupid, why should one team have no advantage when they finish a long way clear is madness( admittedly that doesn’t apply so much in our league) . SKY love it, so that’s all who matters these days. Can’t say Im a fan of them in the slightest. 46 league games and could go out on penalities. That’s not cricket ‘arry.

Considering we have never won a play off match in four attempts, we can’t do any worse this year anyway. That’s optimism for you. At least we have got there with our match winners Lawless, Willmott and Gnakpa all in good form but do have the nagging doubts about our average results generally against the better teams in this division. Surely our rotten record against Wrexham has to come to an end soon, surely?

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and toilet rolls in the fridge.

Mark Tyler 6.75, Luke Graham 5.5, Zdenek Kroca 6.5, George Pilkington 6.25 ( Alex Lacey 6), Edward Asafu-Adjaye 7.75 , Dan Walker 7, Godfrey Poku 4.5 , Adam Newton 5.75 , Robbie Willmott 6.75 ( Adam Watkins 6.50 ), Matthew Barnes-Homer 6, Lloyd Owusu 5( Jason Walker 6.75 ).

Subs not used – J.J. O’Donnell, Kevin Pilkington.

Wrexham – Mayebi, Walker, McMillian, Andrews Hunt, Brown, Fowler (Tomassen ), Tolley, , Cieslewicz, Williams( Stevens), Moss (Salathiel ).

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The Wrexham Phoney War

Wrexham it is then – can’t say I’m looking forward to the third trip to North Wales in two seasons on May 5th- once in ten years is enough for me.

Let me speculate about the dry run on Saturday – not sure how we would play that. Do we play our best team and our likely formation against the side we will be playing away and home? Or do we play a ‘second’ XI and a 4-3-3, if the best formation is 4-4-2? Fortunately we’ve got a strong squad and have the luxury of both choices. I would have thought GB will just play the strongest team and hope that we can keep the winning streak going – perhaps if we drub them it’ll break their spirit ahead of the play offs? We can but hope. Their away form is pretty ropey and so perhaps it would be a good tactic.

It’ll be strange though – I guess it is what in cricket you would call a ‘dead rubber’. A meaningless fixture. If you were Wrexham what would you do? Stir it up a bit. Raise the temperature of the fixture and create a bit of bad blood. Get a couple sent off? Make us focus on retribution rather than the game plan? Heaven forbid.

Or will it be like that famous West Germany vs Austria fixture from the 1982 World Cup where we both dance around our handbags for most of the game, not wanting to give anything away?

What we do know is that some of our players are now in much better form than they were under Richard Money. Claude is back to something approaching his best and in Claude we trust. We know Claude – on his day he can bamboozle and bewilder whilst on others he can just bewilder (us). Most games he manages to combine both. He is a Wembley match winner though let us not forget that.

MBH got a brace on Saturday, we need him and Walker (both Walkers) in form and confident. Lawless needs to pull the strings from Midfield and I have total confidence in Howells and Willmott.

So, Saturday sees the phoney war. It will a game that will mean everything and nothing. It counts for nothing, but a good win or a decent performance will put Wrexham on the back foot – and also will let them know what to expect.

In the way that Stevenage turned up to our place last year and did us up like kippers – wouldn’t it be lovely if, just for a change, not only do we outplay a team, but out think them too. What a warm and lovely thought to be 2-0 from the away leg for example. I know being a Hatters fan we are rarely afforded that comfort. What am I saying? Fate never affords us that comfort – fate normally whacks us in the face just as we think we have it in the bag.

Perhaps it is our turn? We’ve certainly served our unfair and unjust punishment. Let us back please. We know we have the better players and the stronger squad – just once let’s dominate, let’s come across as the Man U of non-league.

Anyway – more of the tension and pleadings in early May. I’m growing my fingernails. Our long history would suggest I’m going to be nibbling-a-plenty…

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions

Back from Easter in Norway and I managed to miss seven goals whilst I was away. Here is PDWs excellent match report…

Little more than a sedate stroll in the sunshine against the village people on a bouncy, firm pitch, which would have made batting tricky in the fourth innings. Would imagine the team have had harder training sessions than the test posed by a youthful Histon team. So young they were positively foetal.

Be nice to get to the end to the in-season friendlies done with and get down to proper business. Now, it’s been confirmed it’s Wrexham, at will give the clubs time to sort out tickets as had it not been settled until next Saturday, it wouldn’t have been much time to sort out tickets for the first leg in that particularly unattractive industrial town in North Wales.

From a selfish point of view, could have done with the goal tally being doubled to bring in my 450/1 nap. But you will Im sure be delighted to know yours truly ended the day in profit from backing Luton-Luton and Gnakpa to score any time. So easy was the victory, we hardly had to get neutral, let alone go through the gears. A professional performance, no more no less. It’s been handy playing such poor teams in the last couple of days, the team haven’t had to stretch themselves to score routine bloodless victories.

It was Tyler, Pilkington and Howells turn to have a breather. The starting eleven was Kevin Plikington in goal, back four of Gleeson, Graham, Kroca ( captain – the mind boggles) and Ed at left back. Newton and Carden playing deep in midfield, Lawless playing off Barnes-Homer, with Willmott and Morgan-Smith. Although the system was flexible.

Histon, it’s easy to see why they haven’t won since the Korean War. They fielded an Okay in their line-up, but in truth they were anything but okay. They tried to pass and move to play in the right manner, but unfortunately for their sake, their majority of players could barely kick the football. Defensively , particular at full back they were a shambles, the keeper looked a bag of nerves and whilst we were far from foot perfect at the back ourselves, most of their shooting in the first, from Riza especially, the goal attempts threatened the traffic on the Cambridge bypass than Pilkington and his goal .

With all the changes, it was hardly a surprise, we weren’t fluent to begin with. Histon created a few chances down the flanks from the left foot of Sparkes, the best of a bad bunch, and Okijie over the other side. Riza’s poorly struck cross, almost ended up in the net, striking the near post, with Pilkington scrambling across his goal. Pilkington was called in action shortly after, another move down the right, Riza got ahead of Asafu-Adjaye, his centre found Sparkes, to drive at goal, which Pilkington saved.

After Oyebanjo headed MBH’s centre behind. Graham looped a header over from Willmott’s corner. A well worked goal started with a poor ball by Smith in midfield found AMS on the left, taking the ball forward in his stride, exchanges passes with Lawless, carried on his run, his shot partly blocked by Foderingham in goal, but went over him and into the net, despite Mills best efforts on the line.

Morgan-Smith looked back to somewhere his best, so it is worrying to read he had to be taken to hospital for a breathing problem. His movement and first touch were very good, back to his early promise after joining, even allowing the opponents were little more than pub side.

Pilkington played Willmott into trouble, after confidently catching Okijie’s centre, Willmott was marked by Mills at the time , Mills won the ball but his shot was very poor. Murray and Okijie combined down their right, the ball was cleared by Kroca but only as far as Smith thumping a goalward drive which Pilkington parried, with Graham tiding up before Riza could shoot into the trees behind the gaol again.

We did hoof the ball a lot during the first half hour, mainly as neither Graham and Kroca are exactly comfortably with the ball at their feet. Eventually we passed the ball about better, with Histon not shutting us down quickly enough, it was simple for the likes of Lawless, Willmott and AMS to move the ball around to players in space. MBH hooked the ball forward to AMS looking offside, but was allowed to continue his run before Smith blocked his shot.

Some terrible defending allowed us to double the lead, AMS popping the ball over to MBH’s head, both Foderingham and Oyebanjo left the knockdown to each other, allowing MBH unchallenged to drive into the far corner.
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Histon’s goal threat diminished as the half went on, some wild finishing didn’t do them any favours, neither did Sparkes curling free kick harmlessly sailing over the top, after AMS caught Oyebanjo .

Morgan-Smith and Adafu-Adjaye played a one two, his low drive spilled by Foderingham, MBH was this time unable to cash in. The half ended, after Willmott’s corner, played deep to Carden lifted the ball to AMS turning Oyebanjo, thumping a low strike, which this time Foderingham made a fine save.

Half time came and went, with the introduction of Claude for Willmott . He made an immediate impact, getting on the end of Lawless’ corner from the right, unopposed to bullet into the net with his head.

The game had long been over as a contest, Histon did have a small period of pressure, as we dozed off as the game laboured towards it’s inevitable conclusion. A slip by Kroca, allowed Murray the oportunity to play the ball through to Riza, he almost tackled himself before Graham put in a vital block.

Newton who again, did ok in midfield, played a superb slide rule pass to Barnes-Homer breaking from the right, got in behind Mills, but blazed miles over, in a manner which Histon would give him a 15 year contract, with such accurate finishing.

Dan Walker replaced AMS, however both he and Clasude were gulity of over playing and trying to break the world record of baeting their full backs and not getting the ball into the middle. We did try a bit to walk the ball in after AMS’ departure.

After Grham was adjudged to foul Riza, he maybe breathed on him. The newly arrived Taaffe flicked Smith’s free kick across goal. Clerimi given an alarming amount of space, nodded Sparkes’ corner in, Pilkington managed to sit on the ball. A fine counter attack, starting with Pilkington catching Taaffe’s pass, down the line for Walker to run on, fed Newton, laid the ball for Lawless to strike a shot straight at Foderingham. Jason Walker replaced Lawless for the final change of the afternoon.

The second half was an open affair, we did leave a lot of space at the back, didn’t matter today, but against better teams we could be punished, a move started by Stevenson, found Okijie, a dangerous low cross whipped in and Edward made a an important last ditch clearance to deny Stevenson contining his run from deep.

For the umpteenth time, Gnakpa sailed past Mills, the lack of cover and support they gave their dodgy full backs was incredible, MBH glanced over a headed chance . Then Claude lost his rag, beating Stevenson and teasing and taunting Mills, before the left back pulled Claude over, and Claude got up went towards his assailant and almost going for him head first, stupid thing to do at 3-0 up.

A fine switch across the field from Jason Walker found Gnakpa, it elduded MBH but dan walker seized onto the ball but a good brave block by Smith stopped the fourth. The scoring was complete by a wonderful solo goal by MBH controlling the ball and cliincial finish into the corner for his second of the afternoon.

No point risking anyone next Saturday, as although Dean Saunders maybe a cheating, dim witted fool ( even by football standards), it would give Wrexham a chance to clog some of our players. Let the likes of Lacey, Poku, Watkins, Carney,O’Donnell, Kidd, Tavernier, Nick Owen, Mike the ticket office manager, Keith from Liverpool or any of our celebrity punters or the two miserable moaning bastards who sit behind me can have a go. Even give Besta and Atieno a one match contract. LTFC should auction off places on the bench with the profits going to SOLYD for next week.

Although our record against Wrexham is lousy, Im happy enough playing them ( Kidderminster would have been ideal, relatively local, no problem with tickets), but from a footballing point of view, it’s not too bad, they have some decent players and won’t be pushovers. Difficult to read too much into our game up there earlier in the season, for the fact it was over five months ago and the game was always liking to be won up a mistake, thanks to Frederick and his oddly shaped head that happended very early on . Fleetwood and Wimbledon appear to be in much better form over the last six weeks or so.

Kevin Pilkington 6, Dan Gleeson 6.5 ,Luke Graham 6, Zdenek Kroca 5.75 , Edward Asafu-Adjaye 6.75, Adam Newton 6.75 , Paul Carden 6.5, Alex Lawless 7( Jason Walker) , Robbie Willmott 7( Claude Gnapka 7.5), Matthew Barnes-Homer 7.75,Amari Morgan-Smith 8.25 ( Dan Walker 6.5) .

Subs not used – Mark Tyler, Godfrey Poku .

Histon – Foderingham, Okay, Oyebanjo, Clerimi,Mills, Okijie, Smith, Stevenson, Sparkes( Cox), Murray, Riza( Taaffe). Booked – Murray

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After You, Claude!

We’re still not entirely sure about the rest of the squad, but there’s one Luton player who’s definitely up and ready to go for those tension-filled play-offs – Claude Gnakpa Johouri (yes, that’s his proper name, and I’ve no idea why he lopped off the last bit).

Despite some enterprising sprinting from sponsorsÂ’ man-of-the-match Robbie Willmott, Claude was the star of the show against Eastbourne yesterday, particularly in the second-half when the men from the seaside began to wilt in the heat.

Claude came good after a first-half in which he’d found himself dumped on his backside several times by uncompromising challenges, all of which passed without yellow cardage, as far as I can recall.

He hit the bar with a thumping header, turned all of Eastbourne’s left-sided players inside out time after time, and in one astonishing incident, took a powerful volleyed clearance from point-blank-range full on the chest and didn’t bat an eyelid. The opposition were truly stunned and two of them even shook his hand to congratulate him on surviving such a blow without flinching, let alone falling over and writhing around! In over 40 years of watching football I don’t think I’ve ever seen opposition literally step back in amazement, smile admiringly and then shake an opponent’s hand during the heat of the action like that. Claude just winked.

His headed goal (the 100th league goal conceded by Eastbourne this season) was well deserved and cranked up his show-boating even further. Initially he looked highly upset when the fourth official held up the board for No.18 to come off, but when the ground exploded into an instant standing ovation he cheered up immensely and milked it to the full.

After the game he was still not finished. Last man off the field (as usual), he started fooling around with the fans near the tunnel, and brought an even bigger smile to already cheerful Luton faces. What a difference it makes to have someone in our ranks who is a true entertainer and is prepared to work hard to get a good rapport with the fans.

It looked very much to me like our French Ivorian was rehearsing for the big finale on Saturday May 21 at the City of Manchester Stadium! Bring it on!

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions

So – after my minor post – here are PDW’s thoughts from last night’s defeat at the hands of the northern monkeys:

After the early promise of the first few matches under Brabin, it’s threatening to go back to square one again, after two very flat performances, with goal scoring a problem again. Tiredness maybe a factor, after countless Tuesdays on the trot. However the attitude or the bottle in the team doesn’t look right. Once again, against one of the better teams in the division away from home, we have failed to perform and pick up a result.

Except for four decent opportunities ( Walker missing a decent one on one opportunity, Ingham, making a flying save from AMS and two Gnakpa efforts, a free header in front of goal, plus a rasping drive), we weren’t an attacking force in the game.

Ideal opportunity to nail York for the season has gone down the swanny. They are reasonable enough team can mix it physically and pass it well enough , not the force of last season by no means , but if they qualify, They, like everyone else would fancy their chances given the paucity of the talent in the play offs this season.

Wish Brabin would have paid more attention to the selection and shape of the team rather than groping stewards. Punished for passion screams the web site. You can’t beat good old fashioned propaganda. More like punished for a lack of self control. He’s got to learn to control his temper, difficult when caught up in the emotions of a game, but a manager not on the touchline when it comes to the vital time of the season is no go to anyone. Mills, the York manager has always been a wind up merchant, so Brabin will become an easy target, he if isn’t careful. That said the stewards were very quick to jump in and made a bigger deal of the situation than was necessary.

Haven’t got a problem with experimenting, but Newton in central midfield, except for blind panic, when is Newton the answer there ( or indeed anywhere apart from cover at right back). If Brabin doesn’t know his best team now, injuries permitting, not sure what he has been watching for the past eighteen months.

However in the next two games, GB should keep a selected team, hopefully the teams can score a hatful against relegated, probably deflated opponents. Not that will prove a great deal, apart from a confidence lift, given we are flat track bullies par excellence. But when push comes to shove, this team has regularly come up short.

Except for the brilliance in the early stages of Tyler, York could have easily been three or four up. In truth we were well beaten, coming up short in all areas of the field. Unless the midfield trio of Keane, Newton and Howells were told to play like statues (if they were was they performed heroically), they were far to slow to close York down and rarely won second balls. Against such physical sides, you have to stand up and be counted, and we didn’t really do this.

The shape of the team was all wrong. York tend to use width, so leaving Gleeson exposed against a flying machine in Chambers was very risky. Gleeson was one of the few players to come out of the game with much credit. It’s too much of a ask for Walker to play upfront on his own. If we are going to play a central three in midfield, at least pop one man sitting in front of the back four ( Keane or even Carden, who performed that particular role well at Crawley last week).

Picking up injuries again isn’t going to help the cause. Murray looked in a great deal of pain before being stretched off with a knee problem, which looks serious. AMS twisted his knee when falling after yet another heavy challange and Barnes-Homer received a egg on his forehead, just in time for Easter courtsey of an accidental aerial collision which Parslow the centre half who come off worse. He came out after half time, sporting a Basil Fawlty bandage, just a shame far too many of his team mates played like Sybil .

Without Lawless, we never look the same side. But to omit the two inform attackers Gnakpa and Willmott merely compounds the situation. Also not having Owusu on the bench is strange. Appreciate he traps the ball further than most can kick it, but in certain circumstances, like being one down with twenty minutes left against ten men, would have brought his physical presense to the party, rather than a plethora of small, quick forwards we had on the field. York comfortably saw out time with in a minimum of fuss, captain Smith cleaned up most of attacks, and Ingham was rarely called upon.

The usual shufflehouses in team selection, Graham in for Kroca. He looked ring rusty. MBH and Newton in for Gnakpa and Lawless. So, we lined up, with Tyler in goal (how bizarre), back four of Gleeson, Graham, Pilkington, Murray. Keane and Howells in the midfield, with Newton, just ahead of then, with a front three of MBH, Walker and AMS.

The game played out after a beautiful day in Flat cap Land. It was always going to be a feisty encounter, the referee never really got on top of the match. To be fair, York were contesting EVERY decision, even straight forward throw ins, it must have been a very difficult game to officiate.

There was far more on the game for York, and they starting very quickly out of blocks. Tyler made a magnificent reflex save to turn over a powerful header by Reed, their best player on the night, good at running with the ball, quick feet, from Chambers centre. Pilkington had to cut out Kerr’s cross which was aimed for Constantine.

We didn’t get going for a good half an hour, but gradually improved thereafter. Our first opportunity came from a free kcik after Newton was brought down by C.Smith, AMS only could blast the ball into the wall.

That apart York, were doing the pressing and the majority of the play was towards Tyler’s goal. J.Smith got the btter of Pilkington before shooting at Tyler. Meredith allowing to bring the ball forward, slipped a cross into the box which Constantine barely made contact with the ball.

Reed eased past Keane after a pathetic effortof a challange, Reed then looked to take on Gleeson, but his strike lacked the quality of the run. MBH climbed above Meredith to into the path of Newton, a great little ball found Walker’s perfectly timed run, but screwed his shot wayward of the far post. Whuilst he adds a lot to the team, aerially when defending corners, Walker’s finishing like most of our forwards does leave a lot to be desired.

MBH was headed by Parslow, in an accidental collison. The York man came off worse with a cut to his temple and was withdrawn, in favour of Carruthers, filling in at left back, with Meredith replacing Parslow in the heart of their defence, so leaving a very small, if mobile centre half.

Howells nicked the ball off Kerr, a punt down the right to MBH, Darville covered around and passed a simple back pass to Ingham. The keeper made a wretched attempt to hoof the ball clear , fell nicely for AMS, his curling effort, brought about a flying, acrobatic save from Ingham, one for the cameras.

Whilst we were playing on the counter attack, York’s football was patient, looking for the full backs to link up, but they were guilty of over playing. A defensive header by Walker from Kerr’s centre fell nicely for C.Smith to head tamely at Tyler.

The major talking point of the first half, was Kerr (presumably Wayne’s brother), floored Keane with a late, wretched tackle. Foul given, Kerr booked. Brabin naturally not best pleased, after already being told off by the referee, after a frank exchange of views with someone on the York bench, was ordered off. A scuffle followed with stewards joining in.

Murray then went down in a crumbled heap by their byline, strecthed off, Gnakpa replaced him, the team had a better shape. Howells going back to left back. Claude on the right, AMS on the left, with MBH the golf ball lump on his head increasing by size by the minute joining Walker up front.

Barrett rolled in Chambers to hit a strike, which Tyler pulled off a fine take, the incraesing fraying of tempers not helped by Reed following in on Tyler, when he clearly had the ball. After seven minutes of extra added time, it was probably a good time when half time arrived.

The second half started quietly, no bad thing really. Keane’s pointpoint free kick near the right byline, Gnakpa thundered in and bulleted a free header over into the terrace. Gnakpa was our main attacking threat, there was a bit of a headless chicken about him, buit at least run at the York defence, he drilled a low drive from the edge of the outside of the box, which Ingham gathered easily.

York’s first chance in the half, came down the right, Reed, slicing the ball to Darville, a good kncok into the box, Gleeson put in a brave haeder to keep the ball away from Constanine, the ball dropply kindly for York, however Pilkington put in a brave challange to deny Chambers.

A quick thinking goal kick by Tyler, towards AMS got in front of Darville, he made a diagonal run across the field, but hammered his strike wide.

York were having far more difficultly breaking us down after we went back into a 4-4-2 formation. Gnakpa’s flick in, found Walker down the right, he booted the ball acros goal, but without anyone breaking in the box, the chance was wasted.

York brought on Till and immediately they had the lead, a neat through ball by Till , our defence caught square, Reed surged forward and beat Tyler lashing the ball into the far corner.

We were allowed a way back into the game, Kerr needlessly body checked AMS’s run forward. It was a soft booking, but if you are on a yellow, you have to be double careful. Don’t suppose they would not have been impressed in the same phase of play Keane caught the back of Till’s knee. Still it will give them something else to moan about for years nay decades to come.

York, withdrawn their lone front man Constantine and packed the midfield. We brought on Willmott and Dan Walker for MBH and AMS respectively, but neither really got involved in the game. We had little time on the ball and didn’t use our extra man well enough.

Apart from Willmott’s free kcik, which Ingham flapped, Dan walker touched the ball out to Howells, his drive blocked by a army of red shirts, apart from Claude managed to turn past Merredith and , go on a solo run before firing narrowly over.

Mark Tyler 9 , Dan Gleeson 7 , Luke Graham 5 , George Pilkington 7.5 , Freddie Murray 6 (Claude Gnakpa 7) Keith Keane 5 , Adam Newton 4.5. Jake Howells 5.5 , Matthew Barnes-Homer 5.5 ( Robbie Willmott), Jason Walker 5, Amari Morgan – Smith 5.5 ( Dan Walker) . Booked – Graham, Pilkiington, Willmott .

Subs not used – Godfrey Poku , Kevin Pilkington.

York – Ingham, Darville, Chris Smith, Parslow (Carruthers ), Meredith, Jonathan Smith, Kerr, Barrett (Till ), Reed, Constantine (Mackin), Chambers. Booked: Chris Smith, Kerr, Jonathan Smith, Barrett, Carruthers. Sent Off – Kerr ( second booking)

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One step forward….

Thought I’d better put electronic pen to electronic paper again, as I haven’t for a while – not for a want of not trying – but just for a shortage of time because of work and York is a bloomin’ long way.

With the 1-1 at Crawley I thought after a slow start we began to dominate and always looked like getting something from the game. Alarm bells began to ring in Mansfield not because of the way we played but because the familiar spectre of failing to find the net, and last night at York well, least said soonest mended. I rather hoped by now we would be hitting our straps and games away to Mansfield and York would be the sorts of games we cantered to a win, rather than getting one point from six. We are tiptoeing across the line rather than running. We have not got the form we wanted.

Now saying that of course our next two games are Eastbourne and Histon. Both games against part time sides who will be playing in the division below next year. We’ve already put nine goals in against them both this term – and so now that they are relegated and have nothing to play for – frankly I am expecting Gary Brabin’s orange and white army to stuff them both – form or no form. Perhaps finding the net again against these two will be the catalyst and give the confidence they need – or will it be a little bit too late to translate into genuine form?

Ironic of course that we are playing Wrexham in the final game of the season – I suspect we will be playing them again shortly afterwards.

But for me – the Wrexham game will be the last (league) game of the season. Mrs Mosque has treated me to an Easter weekend in Norway so I will be missing the goalfests against the minnows.

Come on you Hatters, and come on Gary Brabin – show us that your way will indeed lead us to the truth and light….

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions

A drab, non event of a match with both teams winding down ahead of more important fixtures next month. A really good opportunity to get an all too rare away victory against a Mansfield team, who posessed all the attacking verve of a impotent dung beetle. Poor Mark Tyler must have been bored senseless, with just the one shot to save all afternoon. Even that a simple catch from Higginson’s dipping strike after a rare Pilkington misjudgement from a header. Otherwise Pilkington had a faultless afternoon.

Now, Im not sure, but maybe Mansfield have qualified for a minor Wembley final, given the fact they played Que Sera Sera ( is that the best their brains trust can come up with) not once but twice ( makes a change for their fans rather than going to Lidl or Matalan) and the sight of the usual tat clubs have the gall to sell before a trip to that flea pit in North West London. Personally my awe is postively inspired the way football clubs have the front to sell rubbish with a club badge that even Gypsies wouldn’t flog and people will purchase it. Still, Mansfield are looking to recoup the cash they paid the referee off in the semi final. Alledgely. The locals seem jolly excited. How sweet.

So, it is safe to say it wasn’t a classic in the delights of Field Mill. The amount of time the ball spent in the sky, it would have acquired a healthy haul of Air Miles.Whatever the game lacked in excitement, it made up for in spades by the fifth rate quality.

We were the better side, but a lack of a cutting edge in and around the Mansfield penalty box cost us, To be fair, Mansfield defended well in numbers, particularly the veteran captain Foster and again Grof looked a fine young prospect. When Tyler finally hangs up his gloves and hair gel, we could do far worse than sign him up from the side managed by Martin Allen is a wanker, is a wanker. Now he has managed Notts County twice, he will probably qualify for a testimonal, after his long spell at Barnet.

Once again, Brabin rung the changes. Pleased to read his comments on Friday, that is looking for a Plan B, not the singer, as that would be tactically naivety. Sadly one wasn’t found today, but unless your name is Graham, Owusu, Walker ( Daniel variety) or Poku, most of the other outfield players have had given a chance to show want they can and can’t do under the tieless Liverpudlian.

Gleeson returned at right back instead of Newton, Keane back from illness for Carden and Morgan-Smith replaced Willmott. So back to the usual 4-4-2, what is now the first choice back five, midfield four of Claude, Keane, Lawless, Howells. Upfront J.Walker and Morgan-Smith. It’s the first time that pairing didn’t achieve much. Walker has had a couple of flat games this week, and AMS rarely got involved. As both Lawless and Willmott were short of their usual standard, clear cut chances were at a premium.

Our best attacking outlet was Claude, who was on the wrong end of some pretty strong Mansfield tackling, by fair means or foul. He managed to get clobbed twice in the opening moments by Foster and Stonehouse. His final ball ball at times was of dubious quality, but he always looked to get involved and run at the Mansfield rearguard.

The first opportunity came down the other flank, Lawless finding Howells overlapping, low centre in, but Foster belted clear before AMS could react.

A hopeful hoof down the line by Gleeson, saw Naylor make a mess of a simple defensive clearance, AMS seized on the ball, but had to turn before we could shot and Silk manager to get his body in the way. A similar incident occured, as another Gleeson pass forward, was mis-judged again by Naylor, the first touch by AMS wasn’t good enough, and Grof swept up.

Howells shrugged off Nix in the middle of the field, lofted a pass over to Claude, brilliant first touch, taking the ball away from Stonehouse, his second sent a cross whizzing across goal. Claude again involved a smashing ball to walker, squared pass to Howells, cross in flicked away by Foster, fell nicely to Lawless, a weak effort, for a player of his ability, but recoverdd to send a hanging cross towards the back post, but Istead nodded behind.

Until this point, apart from a sneaky run down the left flank by Stonehouse found by a good crossfield ball pass by Silk, allowed to carry on despite the ball going out twice, eventually he was stopped by a sliding stop by Kroca. Mansfield hardly threatened, using Nix as a quarter back to lump the ball forward to two young forwards. Less wet behind the ears, more wet in their nappies. Both Mitchley and Higginson, looked like players who need the ball played into their feet. So our defence had a very easy afternoon.

Howells, started to see more of the ball, popped a pass in Gnakpa his thumping drive hit Preece on for Naylor, the ball rebounded kindly for Lawless, but a heavy deflection , the ball rolled straight to Grof

Walker should have done an awful lot better than nodding weakly off target at the far post, after a all too rare excellent move involving Gnakpa ( now wearing one grey boot and an orange one), Gleeson and Lawless.

The half ended with a Mansfield shot, Cain drilling the ball into Howells after Briscoe squared the ball to him.

The half time brought about or first substitution, MBH on for AMS. After a lazy effort at Crawley , at least MBH put himself about today. Once again we had enough of the play, but it was one of those games , both sides wouldn’t have scored if they were still playing now .

MBH blasted the first attempt of the half, being played in by Lawless, Grof diving to his right pushed the ball away. Walker held the ball up, short pass to MBH, got to back and rturned it to MBh, to go on an arching run away across the field, the ball played to Gnakpa who got to the ball first dragging an effort at grof, but was caught by Foster and both players needed treatment. Gnakpa went off and replavced by Willmott, who rarely received the ball over the top which he requires.

An excellent pass by Howells, found Walker, who nipped in past Grof, he managed to turn and put the cross for Kroca to head hopelessly well over, another waste of a good chance.

Lawless managed to beat Silk and Preece, fidning Walker centrally but his touch/shot was truly awful and the ball was poked out miles out of play wide.

Mansfield upped their game( would have been hard pushed to lower it), with the introduction of Smith, one of the brave heroes of the Oasis bottle war in May. He beat Gleeson with ease, but Murray hacked clear with yellow shirts in the box..Smith receiving the ball from Nix, played a neat give and go with Higginson, would have sent Istead clear through, but he fell over. At this point Mansfield went 4-5-1, ultra attacking minded switch.

Follwoing Nix’s rugby tackle on Walker, Higginson become the second Mansfield player in the book, although if the dozy buggers running the game, had opened their eyes to see Higginson boot the ball away minutes earlier, he could have gone off.

Better move starting with Gleeson and Lawless, sqwitched over to Murray, simple ball to Howelss, putting in a lovely cross, well it had have been if anyone had moved.

Murray, getting forward found Walker shifted the ball, to Barnes-Homer whose powerful hit was repelled by Grof’s legs. MBH played as though had a point to prove, racing towards a lost cause to close down Preece, it looked as though he may nick the ball but the centre half recovered. Grof again called into action denying Willmott with a low snapshot.

Bravely, Mansfield had a shot and it took a seventy six minutes to test Tyler ( three cheers for such pluckyness!), a misdirected Pilkington header fell to Higginson, his dipping drive ended up in Tyler’s mid-drift. Anyone could have kept goal today and we wouldn not have conceded, even Emberson, Abbey, actually the list of trully woeful Luton keepers is too long to list, but you get my drift.

Gleeson coming off second best in a challange with Smith inside the Mansfield half. It looked well over the ball, however the referee eagled eyed waved play on. FFS. It may not have been malicious but Gleeson has lucky not to receive a nasty injury to his knee. However, Smith did a very similar ” challange” on Murray during the Play Off first leg last year, so he may well have meant to do the player.

Muray, who is improving as a attacking full back, passed to MBH threading the ball through to Lawless his toe punt blocked again by the excellent grof.

Time was running out , MBH managed to seize upon an awful pass by Silk , Howells produced a lovely cross for Walker to head just over. He got decent contact and not the direction. A very one sided 0-0 .

Hopefully we can get an away win before the normal league ends, what better place to do so than with our chums and mates from York. Sure it will be a nice, sporting occasion. Wonder if their fans still have their toilet roll lobbing fetish? After all the nonsense, it would be very satisfying to finally kill off their play off hopes. A home defeat by Tamworth. Oh dear.

Seriously with Lawless unavailable it will be a good test up there on Tuesday, we are starting to have more draws than Ann Summers

Mark Tyler 6 , Dan Gleeson 6.5 , Zdenek Kroca 5.5, George Pilkington 7.75, Freddie Murray 6.75 , Claude Gnakpa 7.25( Robbie Willmott 6.5) , Alex Lawless 6.5, Keith Keane 6. Jake Howells 7, Amari Morgan – Smith 5( Matthew Barnes-Homer 7) , Jason Walker 5.5 . Booked – Willmott, Keane.

Subs not used – Adam Newton,Paul Carden, Kevin Pilkington.

Mansfield – Grof, Silk, Naylor ( Preece), Foster, Stonehouse, Cain, Istead, Nix, Briscoe, Mitchley(Smith) , Higginson . Booked – Nix, Higginson.

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