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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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions: Mansfield away

Last one back? Sorry for the delay. You just can’t get the staff these days can you?

Given the circumstances of a patched up team, missing key players notably in midfield, an excellent result against a very physical outfit who had no qualms about cynically breaking the rules, however when the boot was on the other foot, they confronted the referee like a baying mob. It’s the East Midlands charm, with that awful accent there isn’t any. In respect of their behaviour, they weren’t unlike Stevenage. It was a minor miracle that twenty two men stayed on the field. Green, the Oxford somersault King himself, should have gone . Beckwith penalised for trying to mount Dyer in Richard Keys ” hanging out the back of it” stylee, Green unnecesarily raised his arms towards Beckwith, Beckwith fell somewhat dramatically as if he had been shot. If only.

A rarity in this league, a well contested open game, both sides gave it their best shot . Probably about a fair scoreline, as either side could have pinched the winner. Whatever the limitations of our current motley crew, lacking spirit is not one of them. Third game on the trot, we have conceded first but come back to get something from the game.

Without Lawless, Keane and Willmott, it was never going to be an easy night. The midfield looked lightweight, personally would have prefered Poku in there, keeping Dance on the right wing. He would have added a bit of muscle to the team and O’Connor isn’t that effective on the wing. He’s quick, but around twenty yards from goal , he lacks the awareness and the ability to assess the correct pass and shot. His goal scoring at Rushden , whilst perfectly adequate, didn’t suggest he was any better than what we currently have. His performances so far confirm that.

As it was the team lined in the usual formation captained by Antwi , having another very steady game( strange when Beckwith was leading the team in the gay pre-season friendlies) with Edward filling in at left back ( having an absolute stinker. His passing has always been poor, but at times he he would struggled to find a white shirt with a map and compass. Ran ragged as well by Briscoe. It was a merciful release when he was finally withdrawn. Although Baldy Murray was equally as poor in distribution). The midfield comprised of Howells, Dance, with Watkins playing the more advanced role. He struggled to get into the game early on, Murray was virtually man to man marking him. Leaving O’Connor and AMS on the wings, with Crow up front.

Hardly suprisingly, with all the changes, we started slowly.Beckwith and Antwi showed some solid defending to defy Kendrick, a left back with a great delivery from set pieces and Green. We kept the ball poorly at first, struggled to contain Mansfield’s high energy side, but we started to gel better, getting AMS in to the game, who absolutely murdered his full back O’Neill, but didn’t get enough service.

Crow turning, fed O’Connor on the right, motoring his way towards goal, he did two attempts blocked by Futcher and Riley. Mansfield hadn’t scored many goal this season, with their poor final pass, it’s easy to see why. Melkie, one of a trio of Right said Fred lookalikes, caused Osana a problem or two with his pace. A poor touch by Osana, conceding a throw. The ball was transferred to the opposite side, where Briscoe showed a clean pair of heels to get past EAA and fire wide across the goal.

After our slow start, we did have a good spell of pressure, camped out in Mansfield’s half. AMS turning O’Neill from Tyler’s throw, set up Dance to hit a low drive which was simple for Marriott. Crow’s pass to Dance, receved it back to hook wide. Another excellent move Watkins into Osano, cross to the far post, AMS, who hung the ball up for Dance to head just over.

Against the run of the play, the hosts took the lead, we switched off, from Kendrick’s quick throw into Meikie allowed to turn, squaring the pass to Green, who passed a fine, curling effort, which was always going away from Tyler’s left into the top corner.

Crow felled just outside the post, allowed AMS to step up and glide his free kick inches wide. Mansfield, whose confidence was going before they scored , upped their efforts before the break. Futcher’s headed spilled by Tyler, then a timely header off the line by EAA from Riley, when the ball was returned Dyer fluffed his shot with the goal at his mercy.

The half break was notable for two reasons, one of the prizes in the half time draw…..a beach towel ( why so generous?) and the gentleman who took part in the Croossbar challange, run up , slipped and the ball trundled towards the corner flag.

The second half started slowly, the only real chance , Osano conceding a free kick on Dyer near the byline, Kendrick whipped in the set piece and Futcher somehow missed the target.

Osano, on one of his runs out of defence ( coinsidering both he and Antwi were only brought in because of our defensive injuries, they have both been excellent and as long as their form holds up, deserve a longer contract), brought the ball out of defence, spotted Watkins who rounded Howell , fed O’Connor but he was offside despite looking along the line.

Howell, another giant in the Mansfield side, spreading the play out to the left, Melkie’s centre was headed away from Briscoe by EAA.That was the last bit of action seen by Edward, as Gleeson replaced him, meaning another switch of lfanks for Osana. Beckwith ‘s poor pass put Osano in peril, being nutmegged by Briscoe, Tyler claimed the low centre at the near post.

We started playing some very good passing football, helped by the fact Mansfield conceded ground. Their defence were still arguing with the linesman over a disputed throw in, Gleeson took it quickly, to Crow firing wide of the far post. Dance picked out watkins, switchingh feet befire flying over Marriott, which the keeper tipped over. Dan Walker appeared for O’Connor. Naturally he looked very rusty without the benefit of pre season.

Great save by the post, after a good move down the right, Melkie played the ball to Kendrick, tidy lay off into the path of Green hammering his fierce drive against the woodwork.

On the balance we looked the more likely, although with the pace of Green and Melkie , they always had opportunities.Osano from Gleeson’s side pass, cut past O’Neill and drove into the side netting.

Then came about the nonsense between Green and Beckwith. From the free kick, Green should have done better from Kendrick’s lifted pass than to coil and head tamely straight at Tyler.

With MBH waiting to come on, AMS was allowed to run at Kendrick , lucky not to be grotted, such was the force of the elbow into him. A fantastic delivery from Howells, found Antwi in the crowd of bodies, managing to convert his header past the despairing hand of Marriott.

We managed to see out the game, with only the odd alarm, Tyler beating away efforts from Green and Briscoe, although Futcher again should have done better than to misjudge a diving header ( more like a bellyflop) from a O’Neill teasing centre.

Good night and a promising effort by the Town. Good result as long as Braintree which looking at the table, we are the underdogs for ;o) and Hayes & Yeading are beaten in the next few days, we won’t be far off the mark.

Unlike the parking of a certain former captain of ours, whose motor was left, on the corner , just the wheels on the kerb and on a double yellow line. Apart from that, it was terrific. His armband says he doesn’t get a monkeys about parking restrictions

Mark Tyler 7.5 , Curtis Osana 7.5 , Dean Beckwith 6.5, Will Antwi 7.5, Edrward Asafu-Adjaye 3.5 ( Dan Gleeson 6.25) Aaron O’Connor 5 ( Dan Walker 5.5) James Dance 6.25, Jake Howells 6.5 , Adam Watkins 6.75 ,Amari Morgan-Smith 7.5, Danny Crow 7.

Subs not used – Matthew Barnes-Homer, Godfrey Poku, Kevin Pilkington . Booked – Morgan-Smith, Crow, Osana

Mansfield – Marriott, Kendrick, Riley, Futcher, O’Neill, Meikle, Howell, Murray, Briscoe, Dyer, Green. Booked: Green, Kendrick, Briscoe, Dyer.

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A Game of Two Halves

Whilst the first half was more of the same from Tuesday night – a seven minute spell in the second saw the Hatters turn the game around and put Southport to the sword in the way only we know how.

In the pouring rain Southport took an unexpected lead after 8 minutes when a break forward from the ever-threatening Kissock found Lee on the right, he outfoxed Jake (at left back today) and drove it across for Brown to blam past Tyler. They couldn’t believe it – they had come to frustrate, time waste and get some men behind the ball and here they were with an unexpected lead. But there were four events that turned the game.

We had been disappointing for the first half an hour – the passing had been poor, we had been closed down too easily and though we had been trying to build from the back, the passing from the back had been woeful. The first turning point was when The Shadow, James Dance went off with a head injury. No disrespect to The Shadow, but Aaron O’Connor who had been ineffective as a lone front man and had been bouncing off the big centre halves. O’Connor went to the right of the front three and Big Hips Danny Crow came on an played in the middle. And played well. Much more of a presence and he put himself about. We then began to dominate and the passes started to find their targets and we bossed the game. Adam Watkins made his first start at home today, after a good pre-season, and what a good little player he is. He played in the middle, alongside Lawless and in front of Keane. He was a breath of fresh air, and it was fitting when, just before half time the Hatters’ pressure paid off. A nice little through ball from Lawless picked out Adam Watkins who drove forward with the ball outside the box, cut inside – gave himself an angle and curled it into the bottom corner very neatly indeed. A mature finish from a good young player.

The second turning point was when Kissock didn’t reappear after half time, he is their best player by far, their talisman and bosses any attacking moves. Without him they were toothless and it made their task even harder.

The first part of the second half saw us controlling possession and getting half chances. But the pressure was building on us to grab a second. O’Connor was replaced by AMS and he was electric. Brabin called for those on the bench to make a difference this year. This was borne out against QPR, and Willmott made the difference on Tuesday and now Crow and AMS added sparkle where there was none.
Then the fourth turning point and probably the key one. Akrigg who had already been booked for what he did to The Shadow, caught Watkins as he broke clear through on goal – he was given a second yellow. Could have been a straight red?

Four minutes later after Watkins had won us a corner, Lawless’ cross found Beckwith who nodded the ball across and Antwi stabbed home a couple of feet out and put us in the lead. Southport made a change and brought on an attacker but thinned out the defenders at the back. Bad move. Now we had the room, confidence and space to dominate in the way that only Luton in their pomp can. As I have said on these pages before give us an inch and we take a mile. So few teams give us the space to play so that when we do get the opportunity we tend to take it, whoever the oppposition. It was hot knife through butter time.

Morgan-Smith had swapped to the left with Willmott on the right – he tore down the left and cut into the box and kept on going, I thought he would pass but instead he drilled a shot on the inside, the nearside of the keeper, the smallest gap and it was three. Some said it took a little deflection, I didn’t see that, but if it did it did.

What seemed just a handful of seconds later a lovely passing move involving Antwi and Watkins saw AMS drive forwards again, he squared the ball to Willmott, running onto it, and who struck the ball from outside the box and his lovely strike made it four.

No let up from the rampant Hatters. Osano and Keane linked up down the right Osano put in a lovely curling cross for a hungry Danny Crow to head in after rising high to meet the ball. 5-1 now. All too easy. 6-0 last year 5-1 this – welcome to Bedfordshire. After the fifth goal we continued to pass the ball around easily and could have had more, but the pace dropped and the players were having target practise – but it wasn’t to be. There was a distinct possibility of six or seven or eight when the fifth went in, such was our dominance at that point.

A deserved win for the second half performance. Who would have believed it after the weak start to the game?

Tyler came back in place Kevin Pilkington – I felt sorry for Pilks – he did nothing wrong the other night and put in some good saves. A good team player – he seems to take it all so well. Other than to pick the ball out of the net MT didn’t have too much to do. If the truth be told I think MT will be disappointed with the goal. He went down too slowly and I think the ball went through his legs. Osano played on the right in this game, with Jake moving to left back. He seemed more at home on that side. Lovely cross for the goal, some of his passing in the first half went awry. He did look lively and was better once he overlapped more in the second half. Antwi got his goal from two feet and did well. Looked better assured at the back, but again his passing was poor initially. Hopefully the goal with give him confidence. Beckwith’s header set up the second goal, sound enough at the back, wasn’t under pressure too often. Once again, when he had the ball in the first half the midfield opened up like the Red Sea in front of him as all of the Southport players picked up a player. Just like on Tuesday he stopped and didn’t know what to do. No Hansonesque run for him. What did happen was once the Southport players realised three converged on him freeing up space on the wings – unfortunately the pass didn’t quite get that far. Jake played at left back. Played better than the other night, in a different position, but still hasn’t quite hit his straps. Again, once he was able to overlap down the wing he posed a greater threat. Seemed to have to use his right foot more than usual for crossing, passing and shots today. Keano broke up play well and was determined. Passing not good initially, but was playing with lots of confidence towards the end. Fancied a goal himself (which would have been no 6) but should have played Willmott in. Willmott had another good game after he was the difference the other night. A cracking goal for the fourth. Lawless worked really hard in midfield and completely ruled the midfield in the second half of the second half. Watkins, I’ve already mentioned. Great finish for the goal and constantly a lively threat to Southport with his passing and movement. The Shadow didn’t have too much of an impact and we played too narrowly in the period when Dance was on the pitch that he had little to do. O’Connor – not strong in the challenge and not suited to the lone striker role. Slightly better when moved to the wing, but it was when he was replaced by AMS that the turning point came. AMS posed a real threat, was direct, tenacious and quick. Danny Crow – old Big Hips had a point to prove and did well, despite the lone role not being his position either. Gave it his all – closed down well and we looked a different team once he was on. Good header for the goal and on another day perhaps could have had at least one more.

Southport without Kissock were entirely without substance – truly a one man team. I didn’t like their time wasting tactics (who would?). What a palaver McMillan their keeper made over tying his laces and putting on his bloody gloves. Cox went down in the box to conveniently try to break up play. Aided and abetted by another bald ref who seemed to spot the timewasting too late (and failed to spot a penalty) though to be fair did add on 5 minutes at the end.

With Forest Green winning 6-1 away today perhaps Tuesday’s performance is cast in new light? The division hasn’t settled down yet – York losing at home today, Darlington lost at Tamworth. Stockport struggled to beat Ebbsfleet and Grimsby got a point, but not any goals still.

Off to Mansfield on Tuesday hopefully not for another 0-0. For a fixture that has traditionally yielded plenty of goals the last two away games have bucked the trend, though we were unlucky not to win in March 2010. Doesn’t bode well as Mansfield already have two draws this season (though they were clumped 3-0 at Gateshead.

So, an unbelievable transformation today from how we were playing in the first half of the first half to the second half of the second. I think Brabs must have spiked the half time oranges with something.

By the way – I know some of you prefer the traditional black and white – but I must say the new (old) kit looks fantastic. It’s got to be my favourite since the adidas kits of the late seventies early eighties.

Right – see you all on Tuesday night in Notts. Might not get the report done to the following night though.

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions: Southport Home

A welcome, confidence boosting victory. Must have been the seasonal appearance of MC Gobby on the PA, helped the team . English is obviously not his first language, but fair play to anyone who can get so excited about non-league football. It had looked anything but an easy victory during the first opening half hour, which was torpid. Slow crab style football, sideways, backwards, not using the width of pitch despite having two good wingers on the field, it was shaping up to the same shambles shown at Southport last season.

As it was, it became a repeat of the home match routing, Southport collapsed quicker than India’s batting. AMS was sublime coming off the bench to replace the ineffective O’Connor. Good to see him back to his sparking best after last season’s injuries and illness. We were starting to put some pressure on their goal, before Watkins having a very promising game was upended by Akrigg, ten yards outside the box to earn the centre half his second yellow of the game. Whilst the Lancastrians were trying to re-organise, we hit them in a purple patch as four goals rained in past a startled McMillan in the space of seven minutes. Antwi a scruffy poke in from a corner, a strong run into the box, followed by a deflected strike by AMS, an inch perfect arrowing drive by Willmott from outside of the box, followed by Crow netting a header from a majestic centre by Osana.

It’s bizarre, utterly Luton to go from playing so poorly hardly having a chance worthy of the name, to run riot, against admittedly a poor side, who deserve little sympathy, time wasting from the start. The goalkeeper McMillian taking off his gloves, taking an age to tie his laces, was simply embarrassing and summed up the pathetic, negative nature of this League. The funniest aspect was even at 3-1 down, he time wasted.

Three changes in personnel, from Tuesday, Pilkington, Edward and MBH returning to the bench to be replaced by Tyler, Willmott,Watkins. A far stronger looking team, lessons learnt from Tuesday, so at least Gary Brabin has flexibility in his thinking . Osana switched flanks to the right looking far more comfortable on his natural side, Howells shuffling back to the left, Watkins played the farther forward of the three midfielders, O’Connor up front and Willmott on the left wing.

Southport were a big side without any adventure, only Kissock is a reasonable player small, well balanced, good little player for this level when given time , surprised he stayed there, would have thought he could do better than them. Not that Southport should have been allowed to stay up, once you are down toodle pip, sod off. Why reward failure? Play it with 23 teams, two less games in this league is akin to time off for good behaviour, better that than have the awful drag across to the M57 from there. Thanks to Rushden for going bust to allow another northern team back into the league. How selfish are they?

The first half is best forgotten, only Watkins, as bright as a button, seemed capable of running into space, finding an orange shirt and was positive trying to break forward though a sea of white shirts . We looked nervy from the off, whilst dominating possession, didn’t look to have the nous to break down Southport. Keane struggling once more, with his passing, putting in a laboured performance. O’Connor lacked the support but let himself down with a poor first touch. Antwi had a nightmare in the first half, but pulled himself together later on, rather like the rest of the team.

Willmott had the opening strike, fizzing wide after been found by Keane. Apart from a strong dash down the left by O’Connor only for a neat combination between him and Lawless broke down.

Once again, the opposition netted with their first attempt, Lee dispossed O’Connor, with Howells left vulernable, knowing neither to close down Kissock or Smith breaking forward on the right. Another problem with this formation , if we lose the ball, gaps appear in wide areas. Smith’s cross was tapped by Kissock to Brown who scored between Tyler’s legs, who probably a goalkeeper of his ability could have done better.

They had a sniff at an opportunity to double their money, Whalley’s running from the left, to poke a drive at Tyler. At this time, confidence was gone, every pass was delayed, trying to be too careful and easy for Southport to defend against in their large numbers.

Most of our corners were taken short, pointless trying to launch the ball in the box, with only Beckwith providing any height of note. From one, Watkins was rolled the ball by Willmott , he managed to sneak past two defenders, with a subtle change of feet, at least forced the under employed McMillian into a save with his palm, the ball fell to Keane, however Lever managed to block that strike. The lack of service to Dance was criminal, his one cross of the afternoon was an inviting, floating effort to the back post, Willmott over ran it slightly, so Brown could marshall the ball away.

Dance recieved a facial injury (free feel to make up your own gag) and was immediately withdrawn replaced by Crow, meaning O’Connor replaced Dance on the right. Crow put in a good shift, looking like a man with something to prove. Playing a lone front man isn’t really his ideal role, far better playing deeper, and laying the ball off to runners. In the meantime Akrigg picked up what would become a significant booking for bringing down O’Connor.

The apperance of Crow did bring a slight improvement before the break, although a looping headed clearance from Antwi from Whalley’s cross, could have gone anywhere but sailed away from Tyler’s goal. Watkins allowed to run into open space from O’Connor’s pass, before Akrigg closed him down and the ball deflected behind. Lawless playede the ball across the box, from Willmott’s short corner, O’Connor’s hit was closed down by Lee. Crow was unlucky with a dipping strike, from Keane’s forward pass. Willmott and Watkins combined for the equaliser, Watkins placing an inch perfect side footer into the corner to leave McMillian helpless diving to his left.

Excellent control by Gray turning from Bross’ cross, his low shot was weak and comfortable held by Tyler. We continued to huff and puff, Lawless and Antwi went close from the same phrase of play. Then Osana marandering down the right, beating Ledsham in his wake, his centre turned behind, but Antwi powered in aheader, well held by McMillian from Lawless’ cross.

The second half start was equally as sscrappy, untl Lawless started getting more involved in the game, however still in the early stages we never threatened the visitor’s goal. The best move another forward surge by Osana, finding lawless, but O’Connor produced a powder puff effort.

Keane sliced two attempted clearances in the same move, fortunately this was repeated by Ledsham, who hoofed over. We lacked rhytthm, too often Tyler went for the kicking option, poor thinking, as Crow has little hope of outjumping two six footers.

Whalley cut inside past Osana, driviely wide of the near post. It despartaely needed changing, AMS replaced O’Connor and immediately he set apart dismantling the right side of Southport’s tiring defence. Howells desrves credit too, as well as joining up with AMS, he made some intelligent off the ball runs, allowing AMS to bring the ball towards goal on his favoured foot.

He should have given us his lead, as Crow played a clever flick from Keane into his path, he elected to side foot across goal ,inches wide. Judging by Crow’s reaction he wanted the ball back. Almost trouble at the end, on a rare move forward, Brown swept in a wonderful cross, which had Tyler on the stretch, but Osana managed to cross down Whalley. Crow poked wide from an asuste angled path by Lawless, the angle was always against him, it wasn’t a bad effort.

Things become interesting, as a loose ball broke to Watkins, motoring forward to be tripped by Akrigg, already booked had to go. Before the free kick was taken, an argy bargy session between Beckwith and Lee took place, Willmott’s powerful free kick was diverted away by the flying head of Grand. Another bizarre decsiosn, as AMS chased down a back pass McMillian hammered the ball into AMS and was penalised for hand ball. He did extremely well to move his head out of the way, the force the ball was belted into his direction.

We used the space well, with both full backs supporting the wide men , getting many 2 on 1 situations on the flanks. About the first corner which was played in, saw us take the lead, Willmott’s flag kick from the left, nodded on by Beckwith, allowing Antwi in the centre of the six yard box, in lots of space to poke the ball home.

Then came the extraordinary passage of play, Lawless allowed to dictate affairs, without Kissock Southport didn’t have a player who could keep the ball. AMS skinned Lee, before skipping into the box, having a shot heavily deflected past McMillian. He was involved in the fourth, Howells made an off the ball run to take Smith away, allowing AMS to find Willmott in acres of freedom, he arrowed a low drive clincally struck which whistled past a bemused McMillian. The fifth was a corker as well, Osana dancing down the right, dispatching a perfect centre for Crow to connect with a free header.

After that, the game calmed down, with us utterly dominant trying some shooting practice from the most unlikely of angles. Watkins withdrawn to receive a well deserved standing ovation on his first league start.

Weird game, you could look at it two ways, making hard work to beat a very poor side, or kept going and being patient despite not playing well until Southport were there for the taking and run away with a comfortable scoreline. To be honest, in the latter stages, whilst there was some very good play and some fine goals scored, since we were relegated, we have always knocked in goals aplenty against the teams, so bad it’s barely worth playing. If we can do that against the stronger sides on a regular basis, than would that be a big positive step forward, until then we are merely flat track bullies.

The fixture list looks kind for the rest of the month, so we need to captalise on this, before we start playing most of former league clubs in September. Onward and upward then to Mansfield to see what delights await us then, that place is always seen in it’s best light in the dark.

Mark Tyler 5.5 , Curtis Osana 6.5 , Dean Beckwith 6.5, Will Antwi 5.5, Jake Howells 7, James Dance 6( Danny Crow 7.5 ), Alex Lawless 7, Keith Keane 5, Adam Watkins 8.5( Edward Asafu-Adjaye ) , Robbie Willmott 7.5 , Aaron O’Connor 5 ( Amari Morgan-Smith 9) .

Subs not used – Matthew Barnes-Homer, Kevin Pilkington . Booked – Keane.

Southport – McMillan, Smith, Akrigg, Grand, Lever, Lee, Whalley, Brown (Osborne ), Ledsham, Kissock (Benjamin), Gray (Owens) Sent Off: Akrigg

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