PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions: Hayes away

A frustating evening against Hayes & Woking in Yeading. Oh, hang on. That’s not right, Im easily confused, sitting on the M25 (not literally) for seemingly decades has affected my brain. The team paid for self inflicted penalty clauses. Still unbeaten, but a golden chance to have a flying start to the season with the opening fixtures was been wasted, injuries or not. Just grateful, we had the pick of the players available in the summer. Otherwise the club would be running around like headless chickens to get players in near the deadline when it beocmes a buyer’s market, the squad never looked stronge enough in the Summer to seriously challange for a title assault. It’s not being wise after the event, we weren’t pro-active enough in my opinion then . We do have some good players, in some cases very good ones but not enough of them.

Now Hayes don’t play at Church Road, the glamour has been taken out of the fixture. Woking seems an odd location for a West London team to play whilst Yeading’s old ground is updated. Wouldn’t Staines, Slough or Maidenhead been a better choice? It’s a funny ground, a massive seated stand behind one goal, with the rest of the ground, an old school football ground, two small seated stands either side of the half way line, a a covered terrace to house the Hayes massive of a dozen and a shallow terrace overlooked by a hideous factory.

Hayes, back to being part time, put up a creditable show but it was a game we should have won. The first half, we played some decent stuff, let down by a poor final ball, some dire defending and of course two missed penalties, admittedly AMS at least converted from the second one. Personally find it amazing that Willmott hasn’t taken any of the recent spot kicks.

He takes most of the set pieces, and is the cleanest striker of the club at the club. The body language of the penalty takers has looked awful, it’s no surprisingly they have all missed, credit to Arnold in goal for makiing two fine saves, but neither Crow or Howells penalty was very good.

Second half was a non event. Hayes happy with the point, sat back and guile, invention, pace, power, passing range were all things missing from the second half performance. It could have got worse, as Osano was asleep ( he’s a fine attacking full back, good athlete, but his defending needs working on ), Wishart waltzed through to squared the ball to the diminitive Williams, Tyler blocked smartly, and then Soares’ strike from the rebound was hacked clear.

It felt like a home game, with 80% ( if not more) from Luton, with Hayes setting out to counter attack, which they did well. Both of their centre halves Bentley and Cadmore ( quite why he has remained there for so long is a mystery) were excellent as was their defensive midfielder Hand. Playing only the much travelled Pacquette on his own as the lone striker, suported by two speed machines Soares and Dubois on the wings.

As for us, we selected the same personnel, formation and subs which featured in the Braintree win. People do moan about the numbers of coaches we have , but in their defence Neilson and Carden’s cone management was poetry in motion, whilst Kharine’s first touch in the keepy uppy knock about between the subs was exceptional.

We started on top, keeping the ball well, but the only chance to show for the bright beginning was AMS’ backward flick ping over the bar from Willmott’s cross. Both the Hayes full backs, Diak and Bayley looked ropey but our balls into the box from wide areas left an awful lot to be desired.

Once again, we conceded the first goal of the game, a quick break down the left, the pacey Soares made inroads down our right, the ball was transfered to the other side to Dubois, given too long to pick our Soares, whilst our defence just watched, Soares continued his run and side footed past Tyler, who didn’t have a chance to save it. Williams, just playing off the front, the amount of space we leave between our defence and midfield is alarming, played the ball through to Pacquette, luckily Osano managed to get around and blocked the drive, we were defending far too deep.

Keane’s forward pass, neat touch and turn by AMS, was about to run towards goal before Hand got a vital foot in. A angled hook by Willmott towards the right, left Crow and Diak chasing the ball towards the box, Crow got there first but Diak hauled him down. Crow got up but saw his low penalty well saved to his right by the tall Arnold.

Despite the scoreline we were still in control, Hayes defended well in large packs and it was difficult to find space to get behind their defence. Willmott motoring through was denied by a well timed tackle by Bentley.

Keane by the byline took advantage of some lax defending by Bayley, allowing Howells to get goalside, then clamoured all over him. Unusally both penalties were taken by the player fouled. Howells went for the power option, but down the middle, and Arnold stood firm to reply the strike, thankfully AMS was on hand, to steer the ball into the find corner.

Our second goal, wa the result of a lovely chipped pass by Lawless, found Crow, running through, rounded the advancing goalkeeper and slotted the ball home into the net.

We didn’t take advantage and press home our advantage , Soares making progess down our right, laying the ball to the overlapping full back Diak, found Williams and he took aim and misfired, wide.

Howells took a whack by Bentley on his knee, which saw the Hayes man cautioned was unable to run over the knock. On came EAA. Keane won a hard 50/50 against Hand, managed to get past Soares, before finding Crow, his attempt sailed wide.

A nightmare moment for Edward, as he failed to rid rid of a routine long free kcik from Saville, he delayed and delayed his clearance, Dubois pinched his pocket , his pass turned in again by Soares to level up the scores. The team performance dropped after Howells’ withdrawal, missing his thrust down the left to aid Willmott.

The second half was a nothing affair, we simply couldn’t get going. The effort was there, but apart from a ten minute spell of pressure, Hayes could comfortably see out the time. Williams pushed a pass through, Antwi produced a splendid tackle on Soares to deny a potential hat trick opportunity.

Watrkins replaced the ineffective Dance, who after a bright start to his Luton career, his performance level has dropped in the past couple of games. With Watkins on, we went back to 4-3-3, with AMS moving to the right and Watkins slotting just behind Crow. Think Brabin missed a trick by not giving Kissock a chance. It was never working in the second half, so why not change it, freshen it up and introduce some new ideas.

Hayes were always a threat on the break, Bayley helped the ball on to Soares, his strike smashed into Osana’s face. A hook across goal by Bentley, gave Saville a chance, flattening Pacquette in process, but his header missed the target.

Keane sprayed the ball wide to Willmott, a better delivery, but Dow thumped over with his header. Willmott nutmegged Crockford, giving Lawless a shooting opportunity, which was fired into the side netting. Keane as well went close, clean strike but unable to keep it down after good patience passing between Osano and Watkins.

It was now a case of now of never, watkins becoming a growing inflouence on the game, toed the ball through to AMS, but Cadmore moved across, to divert the ball for a corner. Lawless pick a lovely low pass for Watkins to turn past the red shirted defence, low drive, half smothered by the on rushing Arniold, the ball continued to trickle goal wards but Cadmoire on the line cleaned.

Our momentum stopped with the arrival of O’Connor for Crow. The fact he kept running offside, just assisted the hosts. Time was ticking down, the recently arrived Wishart got the better of Osano, turning the ball to Williams, but Tyler saved us by making a smart stop, late on was Hayes’ only real chance of the second half, as Beckwith got the better of Pacquette mostly in the air.

Mark Tyler 7, Curtis Osana 5.5 , Will Antwi 6, Dean Beckwith 7, Jake Howells 7 ( Edward Asafu-Adjaye 5), James Dance 5( Adam Watkins 6.5) , Keith Keane 6.75, Alex Lawless 7.5, Robbie Willmott 6.75, Amari Morgan-Smith 6.75 , Danny Crow 6.5 ( Aaron O’Connor).

Subs not used – Edward Asafu-Adjye, Kevin Pilkington .

Hayes & Yeading – Arnold, Cadmore, Bayley, Bentley, John (Saville ), Williams, Hand, Crockford (Mackie ), Soares, Joseph-Dubois (Wishart ), Pacquette Booked: John, Bayley, Bentley, Hand, Saville

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions: Braintree Home

Well that, was buttock gripping tension, drama and excitement, the best of professional sport. But enough of the Twenty20 finals day. As for us, we had to be patient but ended up winning a touch cosily, although in the early stages, we lacked the zip in our play to cause problems for the Barcelona of Essex.  However, we re-discovered our pace to go forward in numbers and the quality of football was very good at times in another decent game.  Difficult to break down a big physical side from the small town in Bocking. Their two centre halves Bailey-Dennis and Paine, were just like bouncers from their native county, hideous to look at, hard to pass.

3-1 at the break, flattered us despite having more possession. We took most of our chances, which is a lovely change. We were guilty of some sloppy, slow predictable passing, Osana taking over when Edward left off in Mansfield. However, take a bow AMS who vajazzled the Essex boys, class performer,  a long way  ahead of the others on the park. His movement and first touch were a joy to watch. Who would have thought any good could have come out of a horrible little dive like Ilkeston? Fully deserved his two goals, shame he can’t take penalties either.

Braintree to be fair didn’t time waste too much, weren’t negative and gave it a go, never stopped working. Broke well in the first half and caused us a few  problems. Their good start appears not to be a fluke and should stay up. Delightful as ever, to see our former loanee Benjamin Wright play. He traps the ball further than he can kick it. A common assault on poor old Adam Watkins, should have seen red, as a clueless referee only produced a yellow. We won so it doesn’t matter, but where do they get, these officials from? More importantly, can they bugger off whence they came.

Second half, we were in control, Watkins helped the performance replacing Lawless maybe still not completely well from his illness, we played some pleasing one touch football between Crow, AMS, Willmott and Watkins. Although we didn’t create that many chances, when we did threat, McDonald in goal made some good saves.

Once again, we were thankful  for the Oak Road woodwork ( it’s my player of the season so far), saving Paine’s bullet header, from a corner given when Tyler cleanly got nowhere near the ball from Wright’s centre. Had we been 3-2, it might have been a different story.

A good start to ‘er indoors joining the coaching staff. We might not be able to sign that elusive quick, mobile target man ( maybe that should have been sorted in June rather in the dying days of late August deadline, just a wild thought) but we do have a poisoned dwarf to put the cones out.

Brabin changed the formation back to 4-4-2. Tyler in goal, back four Osana, Antwi, Beckwith and Howells. Midfield of Dance, Keane ( off to Stevenage, according to the mouthy know nothing on my row), Lawless and Willmott. AMS and Crow up top. Kissock the Rab C.Nesbitt lookalike ( sorry Barry for nicking your line) on the bench. He’s a good little player and gives us another option in a squad full of talented creative players. My only slight gripe would be, he is a vey similar player to Watkins and would both be able to play in the same team? Sad to see Godfrey depart on loan, although it’s good for him and Dan Walker to get some regular football. Four months in Southport? Good luck, chaps. You can have my share.

It took a whole 69 seconds for Thomas, their otherwise impressive left back, to waste time at a throw in. We started rather pedistrianly , in the main, the distribution between  the back four to the midfield was far too slow. with Braintree playing a very narrow 4-4-2, it enabled them to file back and keep their shape. Although Im not the biggest fan of 4-3-3 ( away it works, but don’t like it for every game), Davis their captain was able to break past Keane and Lawless, with little protection to our somewhat brittle defence, they ahve done OK so far, but as a group of four don’t fill enormous confidence. It’s fortunate that the clubs in this league who have a massive inferioty complex when they play us. As, if they were bolder and went for it, they may have more joy .
Once again, don’t think we used the width well enough at times, although Dance trotted down the right, his centre for AMS was too long,  Willmott did well to keep the ball and slap a cross in , which Dance failed to get a touch at the back stick.

A simple worked move gave Braintree their first sniff. Marks flicked on to Wright on his left foot, the attempt sailed wide of Tyler’s left post. Braintree exploited the gap between our defence and midfield, which probably wouldn’t have happened playing an extra man in midfield, Wright on the right shifted the ball to Davis to hit the ball against Osana and bounce wide.
In same ways, it was against the run of play when we took the lead, a lovely slide rule pass by Dance, gave AMS the opporunity to run through and finsih across McDonald with aplomb. Willmott ( the owner at FGR needs to sell an awful lot more veggie burgers , if they wish to sign him), exploited Peters down our left, a low cross, evaded AMS but Crow should have done an awful lot better than poke wide.

Dance pulled down by Thomas, although the set piece was cleared, Lawless chested down and played a clever reverse pass for Klane to send a curler wide. Reason was allowed to wander down the left wing, Osana and the rest of the defence waiting for a whistle which never came, Keane alert to the danger . A clear push by Wright by Osano, went unpunished. Wright allowed to continue his run, swept in a cross from an acute angle, which was deflected in off Marks, our defending on skid row again.
A neat turn by Crow, gave Willmott another run at Peters, Howells overlapping well but his centre was too high. Efforts on goal were few and far between, as Dance’s crossing was unusally somewhat hit and miss, prouduced a quality delivery, for Crow to loop a header over.

As the game approachd the break, we were starting to get ourpassing agme toghether, with AMS the fulcrum of our play, good work between he and Lawless, a pass through found Crow in the box, he looked to round the keeper, and cleverly waited for the contact ( which didn’t look much) and he colloapsed in a heap. As he was going away from goal, the booking of McDonald was corect. Up stepped AMS to hit his penalty too straight and a nice height to save, it was lucky the rebound fell kindly and AMS tucked home.

We went further ahead, the pick of the goals, Howells overlapping on Willmott( they combine well as they always tend to, they have an extremely good understanding, Orange boots himself played Howells through to keep his composure to slot the ball under the advancing keeper. Not long before Howells was fouled by a late challange by Davis. With the referee and linesman in close attendance, no caution was in the offering. AMS was caught  late by an equally late challange by Paine, play on signalled the ref, Lawless pushed the ball through to Crow only to be denied by a last gaps block by Thomas.
The interval brought about the arrival of Watkins for Lawless. With the lead, we put in a more controlled performance, looked more comfortable, playing some very good one touch approach play. Although Braintree were always a threat on the break, as Yiadom proved firing wide.

Osana, on one of his trademark rhino charges, shrugged aside Reason, stepped past Davis, only to fire narrowly wide. dance collecting an over hit cross, centred for Crow to nod wide, AMS again beat Peters before shooting wide as well. Crow seemed hell bent  to grab a goal himself, slamming a drive into Thomas, but Dance was free to his right. Part of our good play, was helped by Tyler throwing the ball out  and not automatically looking to hoof the ball onto our non existant aerial threat.

On came the wonderfully named Chibuzor Chilaka for Marks, he caused the odd dodgy moment with his direct approach and pace, he should have done better with his first touch , not getting much power after seizing on Yiadom’s right wing cross.
Watkins displayed no little skill holding off Davis, running past Bailey-Dennis , only to see Dance denied. Reason got the better of Keane, squaring to Thomas to drive wide of the far post.

Keane felled by Bailey -Dennis, Willmott’s whipped free kick, was beaten away by a super flying save from mcDonald. At this stage , came a heavy shower, wetter than an otter’s pocket, Braintree who looked a beaten side, had a second wind. Wright’s  cross , was adjudged to have been palmed away by Tyler. He didn’t look to have got close. Wright’s corner was headed against the upright by Paine. Then Tyler had to alert to sweep up Reason’s pass aimed for the perserving Chilaka.

AMS created another chance for Dance, bit too slow to strike, and the grey shirts surrounded him. Willmott running down the left, centred for Watkins, who unfortuantely got the ball stuck in his legs and Quinton cleared. Whilst there were cameo appearances from O’Connor and Kissock, neither had time to make an impact.

All in all, completes a good week’s work. Apart from the draw aginst Forest Green , we have got the results I hoped for. With a very winnable game at Woking, we should be in a good League position by Tuesday evening. Whilst some of our performances have been hit and miss at times, the numerous changes through unavailability haven’t helped, the team is starting to  gel together , there’s potential there, if well hidden on occasions and hopefully a further improvement when some of the injured players return. By the end of September , after playing a number of former League clubs, the picture will emerge whether we can challange for pole position or fall slightly short again.

Mark Tyler 6.5 , Curtis Osana 5.5 , Will Antwi 6.5  Dean Beckwith  6, , Jake Howells 7.5, James Dance 6( John Paul Kissock), Keith Keane 7, Alex Lawless 6.75( Adam Watkins 7.5) , Robbie Willmott 8, Amari Morgan-Smith 9 , Danny Crow 7( Aaron O’Connor).

Subs not used –  Edward Asafu-Adjye, Kevin Pilkington . Booked – AMS.
Braintree –  McDonald, Peters, Thomas, Paine, Bailey-Dennis, Symons (O’Connor ), Reason, Davis, Yiadom, Marks (Chilaka), Wright (Quinton ). Booked: McDonald, Peters, Wright

 

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Hatters Batter Cockney Cloggers

Jake avoids gentle tackle

On an afternoon that inter-dispersed sunshine with lightning and torrential rain, the only thing greyer than the skies for a while was Braintree’s kit, which looked as if it had been washed with a rogue black sock after their last home game.

If their kit was clean, then Braintree certainly weren’t. We were promised a strong physical team and they didn’t disappoint. I think they were the most physical team we had had here for a while. They were assisted ably by a ref who gave them too much leniency and got the book out too late. He tried to be their friend, he tried to appeal to their better instincts, and they took the mickey. Ironically the ref booked Amari Morgan-Smith for a non-foul which occurred right in front of the linesman but for which he did not flag. The ball was played over the right and AMS jumped with their no4 but whilst there might a clash there wasn’t an elbow or punch or whatever was alleged. But the ref managed to see from a distance what the linesman didn’t from 2 yards. Strange.

We started brightly – got the goal, dipped briefly, conceded the equaliser and then more or less on the front foot the remainder of the game. If it was important to get one goal before the break, then two effectively killed the tie off.

Braintree played with one hefty guy up front in Marks, with former hefty loanee Ben Wright on the left of an offensive three pronged attack when attacking. Their two centre halves were man mountains and full credit to AMS and Crow who won as much as they did and who managed to keep the ball away from them. Braintree, like so many things from Essex, were fit and willing, and lacked class, and it was their technical ability that let them down.

We played 4-4-2 and it made a welcome change. I think we were the better for it. AMS and Crow formed a pretty good partnership up front. On the left was the returning Robbie Willmott (groin obviously feeling better) in the middle were Lawless and Keane (who is not Stevenage bound – the very thought). On the right was The Shadow James Dance, who looked much more comfortable than in the middle of the park the other night.

In the heart of defence were Antwi and Beckwith, with Jake back at left back and Osano on the right. Lawless was replaced at half time by the livelier Adam Watkins who continued to shine.

The first goal came when The Shadow picked up a ball just outside the edge of the box when a Braintree player failed to jump and head and cut out the ball. It was very strange. He sort of allowed the ball past him, it fell kindly to Dance who put AMS in and he tucked it under the on-rushing keeper McDonald neatly. Only 12 minutes had gone and for the first time this year we hadn’t conceeded the first goal in a game. So good to see a genuine defensive error punished so clinically too.

Their equaliser came after our players stopped for a foul (or was it a throw?) that never was, down the right and Wright persevered and took the ball into the box crossed it and it was bundled in – I thought it was an own goal by Jake – it might have been Wright or Marks who scored it. Nevertheless we let them back in. A few errors had crept into our play – Tyler made an uncharacteristic kick directly to Marks, whose complete lack of touch and control ensured that the danger was averted quickly. it was fairly even stuff until we started to reassert ourselves in the latter part of the half.

Just like the Belgrano, Danny Crow was pointing away from the target when he was downed and frankly was about as much of a threat, but nevertheless it was an infringement, though I thought for a second that the ref wasn’t going to give it. AMS blammed the ball to the keepers right – and to his credit he kept it out – but AMS pounced on the rebound and tucked it in. Something else you don’t see happen to us all that often on the rare occasion that we are treated to a penalty at home.

With our tails up again, and now playing in injury time at the end of the first half we played the ball around the park magnificently well. I actually think that the fast-paced one touch passing was more because the players knew that anyone found dwelling on the ball was likely to get his shinpads tested to see if they comply with BS EN 1177.
And so it came to pass that after a pleasant interlude of passing play the ball came out to the left via Lawless and Beckwith and lo there was a fine interchange between Willmott and Jake of the Valleys which resulted in Jake driving into the box and neatly curling the ball into the far corner. In Essex there was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth.

Slipping into hot knife through butter mode we could have had yet another just before half time with Crow missing a good chance after Willmott put him through after the ref (to give him some credit) played a good advantage after AMS was left in a scruffy heap.

To be fair in the first half both sides could have had another couple of goals each, had the finishing been a bit better.

Watkins replaced Lawless in the second half, again he had a good half looked to run at the Braintree defence where he could. Braintree ratcheted up the hard stuff after the break. I’m not sure it was borne out of frustration of if it was a direct tactic. But we did to well not to have an injury. I was happy to trade not scoring a fourth for ending the afternoon without a trip to Luton and Dunstable. The heavy rain was another factor to add into the equation, whilst a few players did skid and fall over, the game was modified a little with players not sprinting after balls they would otherwise have done, for fear of not being able to stop, or standing off rather than putting the tackle in for the same reason.

Glorious bank holiday weekend weather

Mentioning Dunstable for a second – it looked from where I was sitting that it was copping quite a lot of lightning. Perhaps the good Lord’s comment on the plans for the guided busway?

We dominated for most of the second half – we had plenty of half chances – Crow not quite getting on the end of a good cross, Dance missing out on a goal at the far post after the cross was cut out. And Willmott forcing the save of the day out of McDonald the Braintree keeper from a free kick. They rattled the woodwork at the far end, and couldn’t quite believe the ball had stayed out.

Crow was replaced with about 10 minutes to go by O’Connor who in the short time he had available managed to demonstrate his good and bad points: A neat turn of pace, but also alarmingly lightweight and easy to knock off the ball.

Kissock came on for his debut with 20 seconds to go – appearance fee anyone? Will be interesting to see how he does here. Was he a bit fish in a small pond before or a genuine talent rising back up through the ranks from the heights of Everton only two years ago the nadir of Newton in the NW Cheshire league just a year ago. We are his fourth club in a year. I hope his career path continues to journey upwards with us attached.

We played well today, and did enough to beat Braintree without hitting our top form. Dance has his best game, marauding down the right and putting good crosses in (where’s that front man??) as did Willmott from the left. AMS looked like the AMS we had at the start of last season. Crow did well. Lawless looked a little blunt, but played his part in enough significant moves (including the 3rd goal) for him not to be too disapointed. Watkins looked good, Keano’s passing has improved a little. Antwi and Beckwith looked sound. Tyler, though flapping a bit and the obvious error with one of his kicks, did look to roll the ball out whenever he could. This is so good – remember last year and the year before endlessly punting the ball down towards poor Claude or towards the tiny men at the front. He only does this reluctantly now.

As I sit here and type this three thoughts occur to me. Firstly Mrs Mosque has just made me go upstairs because a whopper of a spider was in our bedroom and she needed me to deal with it. Which I did, but then she objected to me killing the thing which has made her blood pressure go through the roof a few seconds before. Why do they do that?

Secondly as 747s rumble overhead I ponder how I have managed to own three houses in my adult life, each of which has managed to be on the centre line for the North East bound departures from Heathrow.

And thirdly, why oh why are we deprived of a Bank Holiday fixture against Hayes and Yeading – who now play in Woking by the way – on Police advice? Hayes only get a few hundred at the best of times, and okay, perhaps that will go up with the mighty Hatters in town, not to say the couple of thousand Lutonians traipsing into leafy Surrey, but it will hardly be the Poll Tax riots. Do the police honestly think that because QPR haven’t got a game on Monday that the rag’n’bone men and assorted pikeys from Shepherds Bush are going to get in their wagons and drive all the way to Woking for a pagga, because of our traditional fun’n’games in the past? Or is it more likely that they can’t afford to pay quadruple time to the handful of coppers they might have available to be on duty on Monday? It strikes me that instead of having adequate resources in case there is confrontation, they are managing events so that there isn’t the chance of confrontation eg postponing the Telford game, and moving this one. So risk-averse as to be perverse. Health and Safety gone mad. Hang on, I sound like Richard Littlejohn.

Rant over. Enjoyed today’s game a lot. A good win and some well-taken goals in some trying circumstances.

Roll on Monday Tuesday against Hayes (a must win) and Stockport on Friday. I’m missing the Hayes game, but will be listening on the ‘net from Manchester and will conveniently still be in Manchester for the game on Friday.

Scores on the doors:

Tyler: 6
Osano: 6
Antwi: 7
Beckwith: 7
Howells: 8

Willmott: 8
Lawless: 6.5
Keane: 7
Dance: 8

Crow: 7
AMS: 9

Watkins: 7.5

Once again I’d like to say hello to those overseas Hatters who read this blog from as far away as Guatemala, Japan, New Zealand and Qatar.

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Looky-likey

Looking at that picture of the startled scouser holding up that shirt reminded me of:

Martin_Freeman_1149482aJPK

JP Kissock                             Martin Freeman

I’ll get my coat.

Come you  Hatters. Good luck JPK, welcome to the rollercoaster.

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Kissock it is

JPK

There’s us expecting a 6′ 8″ striker to be unveiled and who pops out? John Paul Kissock, last week’s half time substitutution which turned the game.

Adam Watkins must be delighted.

So – from having a plethora of strikers we now have a plethora of midfielders: Kissock, Howells, Lawless, Keano, and Watkins. We’d better keep playing 4-3-3 or any three of them are going to be bench-warming at any one time.

Kissock was Southport’s best player by far. They will be odds-on relegation now, if they weren’t already.

He’s a good player. We are stronger for having him. And he’s the only one who will understand Brabs…

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Braintree at Luton? Funny old world . . .

Saturday is a worry. In this household anyway. Anything less than a Luton victory against Braintree will be one hell of an embarrassment for me, and I may be forced into semi-hibernation if it doesn’t happen.

You see I live not far from Braintree, have friends there, and years ago I even worked there for a while. I even recall, as a junior reporter on the local rag, having to go to the mighty Cressing Road stadium and cover a game. It was no big deal even for an inexperienced cub reporter, for in those days Braintree were just small fry in the Eastern Counties League and the ground was basically a field with a bit of rope around it.

On that chilly evening there was no way I could ever have imagined that one day I would be watching that same rag-tag club play Luton Town in a league game.

Nowadays, of course, somebody is pumping a bit of cash into them and they’ve got ex-moustachioed Hammer Alan Devonshire at the helm. And they’ve already thrashed Grimsby and Forest Green, and their goalkeeper is better than Mark Tyler – well, according to the England ‘C’ selectors anyway.

At least they haven’t had the cheek to say publicly that they are bidding for Robbie Willmott. That’s been the exclusive preserve of the mad Forest Green chairman. Whatever next.

I don’t know why, but I’m backing Will Antwi to score for a third successive game tomorrow. Isn’t it funny how often a club can make a number of pre-season signings – and the man who goes on to make the most impact is one of the quiet deals that hardly anyone noticed at the time?

Presumably Mr Gleeson will be back against Braintree, replacing the ultra-honest Ed Asafu-Adjaye, who shocked his Facebook friends this week by fronting up and admitting the first half at Mansfield was the worst experience of his life.

His teammate Daniel Crow was also confessing things – I read a questionnaire somewhere this week where he admitted that he and Keano had a ’10-pint challenge’ during the summer and both were successful. What could he have been talking about? Donating blood?

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"Robbie was feeling his groin again"/ Transfer Troubles

A great post match comment from Mr Brabin. He does come out with the occasional faux pas, or on this occasion double entendre. He’s good value for money.

I got back pretty late on Tuesday night and so didn’t get a chance to do a report. Bearing in mind we lost three key players of Keane, Willmott and Lawless’ quality (at this level at least) then the patched up midfield of Howells, Watkins and Dance were pretty sound replacements if you ask me. We fought to the end and well deserved the equalizer, wonderful delivery from Jake.

But what about all of this transfer speculation? Three points to make.

Firstly – we are obviously trying to get players from clubs who don’t need to sell them, and whose strikers don’t want to come. Constable, having signed a 3 year deal earlier this year has made it quite plain he doesn’t want to leave – and Oxford have made it pretty clear that our offer is short of where what they would even consider.

Styche has just signed a new deal to stay at the country retreat of Nailsworth. Doesn’t show much ambition, but I would suggest that their gyppo hippy of a chairman has flashed the cash once again to keep him there – either that or he has a very good agent playing us off against FGR to get a decent deal for his player.

I hear various things about others we are trying to bring in, all of them rumours. GB says he is working 24/7 on bringing someone in. I know we nearly signed someone this week and then he had second thoughts. What does it say to Crow, AMS and co? I want to bring in a big man, I like playing 4-3-3, so you’ll be warming the bench my son. Motivation out of the Richard Money school of Human Psychology.

Let’s remember that two things have to be in place for a transfer to occur a) we have to offer so much to a club that they can’t afford to turn the offer down and b) the player wants to come.

We might have ambition to sign the likes of Constable, but if we can’t back it up with a eye-watering bid then we need to walk away. Sustainability first, ambition second. We cannot afford to live beyond our means. We are experiencing what happens when we do.

It is no also no good trying to compete with clubs who are existing unsustainably (eg FGR). Sounds a ludicrous thing to say – but if we only have so much capital to splash then why try to tempt a player from a club who has a millionaire who can chuck money at players?

Which options does this leave us with? Getting a player from a club who really do need the cash, getting an out of favour player with a club, tempting a player who wants 1st team football. Or a good youngster on loan from somewhere.

Now this brings me to my second point. Richard Money and Mick Harford and Mike Newell were very well connected, having spent their lives in professional football at the top level they have more contacts than a Hollywood agent. This might not mean we ever got Ronaldo on loan, but it does open doors. I think Gary Brabin is honest enough to admit that whilst he is reasonably well connected in the lower leagues and non-league, he is not as well connected as others in the business, neither is he as shrewd as a Pleat or a Kinnear or Big Mick for that matter.

What this does mean is that to a certain extent we are on the back foot in the transfer market, we have less choice – GB has more work to do than just picking up a phone to an old mate.

How much did we pay for Steve Howard – was it £50k? We need to find another Howard equivalent from somewhere. We need to uncover a bit of a rough diamond. But that is harder to do unless you have the contacts, the bargaining power or the gift of persuasion.

Which brings me on to my third point. MBH has gone on loan. And how bizarre, he has gone on loan to a club above us in the football hierarchy. How odd is that? Does that not further emphasise our strange position trapped temporarily in the fifth tier? We’re loaning out players who can’t get in our team (or who get on with the manager for that matter) out to clubs in need of a striker who are two leagues above us. If he starts banging goals in for them, then I know we have a fundamental problem at our club.

Onto Braintree tomorrow. I know nothing of them I must admit – I don’t even know what colours they play in. I do know they are a big banana skin. They’ve already humbled Grimsby, and whilst I know the league hasn’t settled down yet, tomorrow is a great opportunity for us, but also for them.

Will they come and stick 11 behind the ball? Will they timewaste? Or will they come and give us a good game? Let’s hope they don’t play 4-5-1 – the perfect formation for dealing with our 4-3-3!

Anyway – all comments welcome on the ongoing transfer saga please.

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