In terms of bouncebackability, that was as fruitless an exercise, as hoping to bounce off the pavement after jumping off the top of Canary Wharf. An insipid, clueless second half performance, which lacked any punch, resulted in our unbeaten home record hitting the wall. Everyone can have a stinker, but when the manager and the vast majority of players have one of the same night, then problems are there for all to see. Gash wasn’t just the opposition number nine.
A braindead team selection not helped by one of our better and experienced players having a hissy fit on Saturday , the sort of selection which flies in the face of rationality. Two holding midfield players in a home game, as two bright ball players played warm the bench. Triffic, Rodders. If you pick a team not to lose a home game in a league with so few promotion places,smacks of fear and massive self doubt. Then the manager deserves all stick he gets. Lost respect for him tonight. Since he has been manager, he’s gone with a positive attitude in lots of matches but he made the likes of Money , Lawrence and Blackwell look like an attacking football freak like Keegan. You don’t have to have the foresight of Mystic Meg to see that was a wretched starting eleven that was. If that lot starts another home game for Luton again, with better options on the bench, heads should roll.
The transformation since half time at Bath is desparately worrying. I blame me, my fault for starting to have a bit of optimism after the gutsy win against Lincoln, when my gut feeling when the season started, we were a play off team at best, with either Fleetwood, York or Newport winning it ( Erm….. great call that!) . Got suckered in when the likes of Fleetwood and Kissock were bought in. Thought that would give us some much needed quality. But in the space of seven days, we have unravelled dramatically.
In the last three games, we have played so poorly in three out of six halves, Not forcing a goalkeeper into a save sums it up after half time. Cambridge kept their shape well, defended fiercely with McAuley outstanding. Cambridge came with a simple but effective game plan of keeping it tight, then nick one in the break, if possible. Fair play to their manager George for turning them around so quickly after a season of struggle last term, with a young side, little money to spend and the Rossi Jarvis handicap system. Actually, we could done with the Fakenham Flouncer Rossmondo tonight, which speaks volumes. He was his usual self, some wildly mis-directed passes trying to be clever, but some reasonable short range passing. Compared to Keane and Hand, he was made to look like Ricky Hill in his prime in his distrubtion.
On the ball it was ropey stuff. The centre halves and central midfielders played pass the parcel with the ball before the hopeful hoof forward. Good job we have a target man. Oh . Felt sorry for Stuart Fleetwood, not one decent pass to his feet. Could have had Rooney and Aguero up top and it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference, if the final ball is poor. None of the forwards showed for the ball though ,until Kissock came on – at least half an hour too late, it needed more quality at half time.
The final insult came after a long overdue change. O’Connor emerged off the bench not Kissock or Watkins. Eventually Kissock came on with quarter of hour left, Watkins a paltry ten minutes should have started. No discussion required. If O’Connor is plan B, well would prefer Ben Drew himself to play or even his sister Nancy.
If neither Watkins or Kissock doesn’t start against Barrow unless there is a reasonable excuse, the dressing room wall at York isnt the only thing which needs punching. Not by me though, Im lover not a fighter.
If Brabin needs a hand picking the team for Saturday. Im happy to help, you can’t beat doing your bit for the less fortunate members of our society, can you? Keane at centre half ahead of the currently hapless Antwi, Watkins to partner Hand in the middle, stick AMS up front with Fleetwood then give Kissock a role out wide, with license to roam. No need to thank me. But do it, please.
Or Beckwith with Kovacs ( problem unless Barrow’s forwards have more pace than a asthmatic tortoise), Keane full back. But that will never happen, as it’s too obvious. Football is a simple game, don’t be clever, select your best players in their best positions when possible and it gives you a better chance. It’s still early days, but the margin for error is extremely small.
The lawless Lawless is obviously a massive loss, missed his ability on the ball and to bring the ball out of deep areas. Although hopefully he could use his time off wisely, by getting the rest of his hair cut and shave that beard, he does look like Baldrick from Black Adder. All our play was in front of a massed ranked light blue shirts, but a succesion of passes backward , sideways, going nowhere until we lost it often when Cambridge hadn’t pressed the ball. The more we had the ball, the less we looked like finding an orange shirt.
The first half was ok, nothing special, some good moves but never looked like scoring. Better football, but Fleetwood had to go wide to get the ball, so on a number of times, a ball flashed across goal, no one gambled by making a run in the box.
Cambridge, you can see why they have an excellent defensive record. Very well organised. Difficult to break down, but impossible when you have not one ounce of creavity in the centre of the park. Whilst we scored from a short corner against Lincoln, mainly through the quick feet of Kissock. Do we really have to repeat it every corner, with the same outcome of playing the ball deep into Kovacs at the back post. Ten out of ten for predictability.
Willmott was the most likely source of creativity, raw pace left Roberts standing, but after doing the hard work, his crossing let him down. Too often, crosses were sent in line with the penalty area. Making life easy for Coulson and McAuley to clear, with Shaw sweeping in front of them. All of the named trio, did expertly, but we made it easy for them.
First half was relatively even. Cambridge looked to pass it, not time waste as much as some of our visitors tend to do, they even bought some empty seats dressed as football fans. Whjat are these away fans in the Oak Road you speak of? It was fairly open but few chances credited. Apart from a brilliant save by Tyler to deny Shaw, diverted behind for a corner to stop a sure goal with a shot like a kicking horse. How often does that man bail us out of trouble? A wonderful goalkeeper. How he isn’t playing at least two divisions higher, is frankly a disgrace.
Winn opened up the play, with a pass across the field, Carew’s centre was easily gathered by Tyler. Our first chance, came from Willmott who intially looked bright against his former colleagues, but then blendered into the murky waters of of the mundane fare on show. His wicked inswinging cross, was well cleared by the strecthing red headbanded McAuley , reaching his leg out ahead of Crow. Willmott working space for Fleetwood to get the better of Roberts, his low centre was completely missed by Coulson, but no-one was there for a tap in. The most likey suspect would have been Fleetwood, but he was the provider.
Willmott cutting onto his right, delivered a teasing ball, Crow flicked the ball away from naisbatt who got down, to palm the ball away, AMS could only manage to fire the ball wide. Not one of his better games either, he look anxious, snatching at the ball, it’s time now for AMS and Fleetwood to try to forge a partnership.
A fine pass by Dance, dummied by Crow, Fleetwood look surprised to receive the ball, leaning back, smashed the ball into the scoreboard. Carew clearly leaned into Howells, but as often is the case the officials choose what they wished to see. A free kick, was returned by Shaw only for Coulson to thump a header at Tyler, with the linesman waving his flag.
An unusually fine pass by Kovacs, one of the players to come out of the game with some credit, hooked a crossfield pass, to AMS a lovely take, continued his run into the area, denied by another block from McAuley.
Cambridge were looking comfortable, both forwards Gash and Berry got through plenty of running, they started to get on top., Coulson and Carew combined for Jarvis to tickle a shot at Tyler. Fleewood dragged a shot after another good pass by Kovacs. Almost a good interchange of passing Crow and AMS was repelled by astute reading of the game by McAuley.
We needed a change at half time, followed by one say a quarter of an hour in, if nothing had improved. We lack a bit of quality around the box, although the performance took a turn for the worse after the break. Keane could only clear a poorly hit Winn corner back to him, returned with interest, Berry, allowed the space to hit a powerful drive from the angle, which Tyler did superbly to get anything on the ball at the near post. The same forward Berry should have done an awful lot better than miss the target after Antwi, now playing like a nervous wreck, after a decent start to the season, must be dropped for his and the team’s benefit, failed to cut out Jennings’ lofted pass over the top.
We never got started, lacked a leader to drive us forward, someone could have have competently shifted the ball would have done. Cambridge did look a threat going forward, Jennings short free kick, played over Winn’s shoulder to slam a centre across goal.A horrible sliced clearance by Howells failing to deal with Roberts’ cross, fell to Shaw unexpectedly, could only sliced the ball wide.
Finally a change came, O’Connor rather than Kissock or Watkins come on for Crow, whose final touch, was to lazily curl a shot, high into the Kenilworth End. Crow’s confidence like many of his team mates has vanished quickly. After his performances since joining, to be honest would have preferred Pilkington the gloves or Edward to come on up front than O’Connor.
Soon after Cambridge took the lead, a goal which had been coming for twenty minutes or so. A looping high ball played in by Coulson , McAuley peeled off to get on Dance’s shoulder, sending a soaring header in over Tyler into the top corner.
At this stage, we had gone mentally. No one could grab the game by the throat. Cambridge’s high work rate, meant we were reduced to knocking the ball about unconvincing around in the central area of the field. Very little width, when the ball was played out wide, it was usually too well struck to be kept in.
Ryan Charles appeared, unfortunately most of our players had the vision of Ray Charles. It was painful viewing. Apart from a few hopeful crosses into the box, Keane just to high for O’Connor, then AMS exchanging passes with Howells, but quickly got blocked off by three Cambridge defenders, smashed his drive yards high and wide.
Kissock replaced Willmott, whilst Willmott was getting frustated, at 1-0 down you need as many attacking options as possible on the field. Eventually we went back to 433/451. Midfield three of Keane, Watkins and Kissock, with AMS and O’Connor out wide, offering little support to Fleetwood.
Kissock at least showed for the ball, on a night where few players had the courage to go out and seek it. Both both and he watkins were on for so little time, they made little impact on the game. At last we got teh ball wide, but dance and Howells wasted deliveries from a promising angles. AMS lashed over, when Cambridge switched off from Keane’s low poorly directed corner. Then was still enough time for Keane to floor Jarvis and move closer to yet another suspension.
Lots of work to do done before Barrow come down on Saturday. Everyone employed by the club, needs to work doubly hard to turn around the recent results. As performances like the second half are totally unacceptable. We have players to turn this dip around, but whilst I appreciate Brabin isn’t a wordsmith, mumbling it was frustating in his voice like he was been inhaling Helium balloons does make the situation slightly more than frustating, trust me. For all my moaning ( even more than usual), we have to stick with Brabin. Can’t keep sacking managers every five minutes. His results record is very good, even allowing for the fact we are in the Conference.
Mark Tyler 7.5 , James Dance 5 , Will Antwi 4 , Janos Kovacs 7.25, Jake Howells 6.5 , Amari Morgan-Smith 6.5, Keith Keane 5.5, Jamie Hand 4.5 ( Adam Watkins), Robbie Willmott 6 ( John- Paul Kissock) , Danny Crow 4.5 ( Aaron O’Connor 4.5), Stuart Fleetwood 6 .
Subs not used – Edward Asafu-Adjaye, Kevin Pilkington . Booked – Keane .
Cambridge – Naisbett, Roberts, Coulson, McAuley, Jennings, Carew, Shaw, Jarvis,Winn( Dunk), Berry, Gash ( Charles) Booked – Roberts –
*THE DISCLAIMER* The above ratings were picked on a whim and very rarely are an accurate reflection on the player’s performances simply to annoy the reader. Today’s fatuous comments about Carlos Tevez. Apart from the fact the operation to replace his face with the buttocks of a dead person wasn’t really a good look . Would love to be paid thousands of pounds per week, just to say ” I don’t really fancy playing football tonight” Quite brilliant. Modern football, a sport that attracts the finest, humblest people to play the game, doing it for the love it. How unlike an Argentinan to have a dodgy attitude.