PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Barrow away)

On Pancake Day, we gave up our unbeaten record for Lent. The only batter on view was the battering of the gale force wind and the role of the tosser provided by the referee. Inept and out of his depth. How Barrow escaped without a booking, let alone two sendings off is frankly disgusting. The referee got the majority of the important decisions wrong and the others he was influenced by the home crowd or merely guessed.

That’s not to say on ot another day, Kovacs could have gone for an elbow on Cook and Fleetwood ran into the referee after a penalty appeal was turned down. The sooner the club tell him to shut up and get on with the game it would be better for all concerned. But as Brabin spends most of his time having a go at officials the discipline aspect of the team it’s not going to improve. When things don’t go exactly our way (however bad the provaction was last night and it was), we do have a few too many spolit brats playing for us and not enough who can man up in frustating games such as this one was.

On a foul night in Barrow ( is there any other kind?), it was always going to be a dog of a game. Similar to Wrexham last season, howling gale, bobbly, muddy, unflat pitch which started to cut up. Horrible night with rain swirling in from the Irish Sea. As often is the case the first goal wins these type of matches. It’s typifies the Conference to me, nothing about football, just seeing how far you can break the rules of the game whilst weak officials stand then and do nothing about it.

Smith cuffed the back of Fleetwood’s head and was only spoken to. Bolland’s late challenge on Boucaud, which only due to his nimble feet would have seen his leg damaged if not broken. A fifty fifty challenge between Boucaud and Owen, Boucaud held the Barrow man down( not bright), but Owen got up and flicked a elbow in his face. Two players raised their hands and nothing done. Actually Howells got pushed by Skelton trying to take a free kick, nowhere near as bad, but in the climate these days, usually you can’t breathe near an opponent. The inconsistency of officials from game to game now is pathetic. But the village idiots who run Football in this country will just shrug their shoulders and come out with banalities ” It’s a difficult job”. It is if you only employ sub standard people.

We didn’t adapt to the conditions well or quickly enough. Nor make the most of the advantage of playing with the strong wind at our backs, and were bullied out of the game. Teams know now, if they get into our faces, we don’t respond well to it, it suits the opposition and becomes a battle. If it’s an open game, we would win more times than not. It’s the type of game, you can learn a lot from the players, which ones stood up to it and which ones just moan. We started off alright, Boucaud and to a lesser extent Lawless got on the ball, but with Brabin’s team selection which he went back to shoe-horning players into the team, not in their best positions. We got suckered in to Barrow’s winding up niggly tactics, reacted and we lost the plot.

Too many long balls playing trying to hit Taylor in space, often sailing ten or twenty yards over his head. We needed the ball on the grass, anything in the air was a complete and total lottery. Regardless of the conditions we weren’t good enough in the final third, only when Kissock arrived on the scene far too late, there was someone who trying to play the ball forward on the deck and run at defenders. Two headers from McAllister, O’Connor and a shot by the former which was perfectly placed into the empty terracing, were the sum total of our efforts in the first half. A wind assisted cross by Taylor, which hit the top of the bar, although Pearson had it covered.

Didn’t like the team selection one bit. Fleetwood has played well played up front in the last couple of games, shifts to the left wing ( waste of him there), replacing Howells have been exceptional, Saturday apart, gets shuntered into the midfield. Can see why McAllister was picked, although it weakened the balance of the team ( in my not important or valid opinion). having Hone and Bollard foul him most of the evening, barely got a free kick in his favour. But he didn’t win much in the air against Hone, none of the three midfielders selected were unlikely to get beyond him and chase down the flick ons.

After Saturday’s performance, there wasn’t much need for many changes, apart from Osano’s injury, Keane returned at full back in his place. With Blackett, Crow, Kissock, Watkins on the bench alongside Lewis Kidd. Couldn’t Pilkington at least have stayed until a replacement goalkeeper had been found? With due respect to Kidd his eye for a quick throw and accurary is very good, his all round game is not as good as other goalkeepers we have had at his age ( Beckwith, Brill, Barrett) and would be unfair to put him in the team should Tyler get injured/suspended.

Barrow, excellent home record and doing well with their limited budget, some of their results have they achieved is more than people just losing the will to live going up there. Beating Fleetwood and Wrexham up there was a fine achievement. They play in the style of Dave Bayliss. Push, kick everything in their way. Awful to watch, but each to their own. They matched us, two wingers, three in the midfield. So space was a premium and the likes of Owen and Harvey got around the pitch up and Cook battled well up front on his own.

The first half was poor fare, even allowing for the conditions. Barrow wellied the ball forward and surprise to surprise, the ball disappeared out of play. Smith, the right back, looked to play the same pass down the flank towards Mackreth four or five times with the same result, the ball disappeared onto the road.

In the early stages, we looked bright enough, Boucaud having a freer role than Saturday, with Lawless playing deeper, and O’Connor looked sharper than recently earlier on, but Skelton managed to stay with him or Turner would double up.

Howells’ turning from one of number of long throws by Taylor, feed McAllister to shoot weak wie. A hack forward from Kovacs caught out Hone, one of few errors he made all evening, gave Fleetwood a chance to scamper through on the right channel, a mis hit shot no danger but McAllister would have been a better option ( or possibly not!). McAllister glided a a turning header at Pearson from Keane’s cross.

Barrow hardly saw the ball, when they did threaten Taylor snuffed out the pace of Mackreth, and they were reduced to getting any scrapes from Cook. Cook should have had a decent chance but wasted it after a poor touch from Baker’s through ball. A lovely ball down the channel, flight by Boucaud, Fleetwood cut the ball back to Taylor, swung in a centre for O’Connor to get up well and head straight at Pearson.

The feisty nature, always bubbling away at the surface, started with a late challange by O’Connor on Owen.O’Connor beat Mackrell rolling in Fleetwood but his cross eluded Howells at the far post.

As the half went, our passing become ragged, rather than keep it simple and rely on movement, we looked too often for the top of over the top. Futile. Barrow had their first little psell ofpressure. Clever free kick down the line by Skelton towards mackrell on the left, turned by the byline far too easily for comfortable, but he wasted the opportunity with Lawless being picked out rather than a white shirt. Baker drove a shot at tyler, after taking Smith’s pass in his stride, a fairly routine pouch.

With out and out chances far and far between, any that did come around needed to be taken.McAllister missed a glorious one, Fleetwood flicking on to O’Connor, square pass, mcAllister initaially changed his fet well to drag the ball away from Bolland, the goal lit up, whilst Sjkelton closed down the space, McAllister should have done better life it over.

With a series of bizarre, bemusing decisions, it wasn’t going to take much to lit the blue touch paper, it duly arrived after Fleetwood had been penalised for a late tackle on Smith. It was a foul, but no more, for some reason Smith slapped the back of Fleetwood’s header and incredibly no card has shown. Boucuad clogged by Bolland. Hone cleared Howells’ floated free kcik from the left from Kovacs and a goal kick was awarded. The dire standard of officials isn’t funny any more. As half time approached, Taylor chased down a pass , the centre, wind assisted effort touched the top of the bar.

Second half,we never got going, nowhere near good enough. McAllister isolated, Fleetwood cut a forlorn figure on the wing, we never looked like getting it down and playing. Barrow stepped up their game, got tighter in midfield, Owen and Harvey got into our midfield, denied us time, and out battled us. That really was the winning/losing of the game in a nutshell. They also sussed out the conditions and played a number of clever little low passes between Taylor and Pilkington, allowing Mackreth to go into the space as we held a high line, although his end product was poor, they had the right idea.

Tyler slicing a clearance, but no problem as Keane made a vital interspection as Cook dwelt. Cook got the better of Kovacs,not one of his better evenings, chasing down the ball, cutting inside and drilling a shot wide of the far post.

After Boucaud was booked from presumably saying something to the referee after being elvbowed by Owen. His hearing is obviously better than his eyesight, was taken off before he could ahve been sent off and was replaced by Watkins.Whilst it was probably the right decision as Boucaud is a volatile chap. Kissock would have been the better call, Watkins is struggling for form currently and a heavy pitch against teams quick to close him down, wasn’t the best time for him to time and regain form, he hardly figured. Although Barrow had the better of the game, it says a great deal about their approach to the game when Turner was replaced by Rutherford, he was told by his bench to slow down when running off. Rutherford, the sub had an impact in the agme, creating the winner.

Harvey, a growing uinfluence in the game, showed a rarity in the game,a quick thought, playing a quick free kick towards mackrell, we were slow to raed the sitaution, Mackrell drilled the ball across which Tyler missed,fortunately there was no Barrow player quick enough, in thought or pace, to get into the box for a simple tap in.

If anyone was going to score, it was likely to be them rather than us. Harvey picked up a loose ball, found Rutherford down the left, a return pass to Harvey, who controlled and placed a low shot perfectly into the corner, with Tyler probably unsighted.

With less than twenty minutes left when the goal was scored, it was only the introduction of Kissock ( it needed changing at 0-0)who looked like getting us back into the game. Cook charging down Mackreth’s looped pass, beat Kovacs for pace, but Pilkington, one of the few players to come out of the game with much credit, covered.

Kissock on for McAllister, immediately showing a smart change of feet to defeat Harvey, his through ball just had too many power for Fleetwood. With the goal, the match inevitanly become more open, Smith beating Taylor, rolling teh ball to Mackreth, looking up attempted to find Cook, but Pilkington cleared with an important header. Kissock tripped after a mazy run by Hone ( no booking naturally), got up and hit the free kick low, which got a nick off Owen, but that just took the ball through to Pearson.

The best chance of another goal feel to the hosts, Baker’s pass out to Rutherford, picked out Cook stabbing the ball onto the near post, with Tyler quickly scooping the ball away. The game ended in a undignified scrum the last of a number, O’Connor unhappy over Hone’s tackle. Foot up, seen red cards recently for virtually the same type of challenge.

The manner of the defeat more disppointing than the result – although fed up watching football in the grim north in bad weather. Endless poverty is somewhat tedious seen often enough. Draws aren’t much help at this stage in our position, as we didn’t do nearly enough to win the game. At least on Saturday, with Gateshead, that rarity in this league a team worth watching normally, coming an outbreak of football should hopefully break out. A draw is not needed. Barrow and Gateshead in a week? The Syrians think they have it bad!

On the bright side, the free scarfs handed out by Sweat and the non playing members of the squad ( Willmott, Asafu-Adjaye and Poku) were a nice touch. Better than the manky pencil and rubber handed out by Cherry Newberry at Carlisle in similar circumstances back in the late 1990’s. Three cheers for some creative accounting by Barrow. Appreciate they are in money troubles, but less than a thousand and 70 from Luton? Really? Try 1,100 in total and about 140-150 from Luton would be nearer the mark.

Mark Tyler 6.5, Keith Keane 6.25 , Janos Kovacs 6, George Pilkiington 7.5, Greg Taylor 6.75, Alex Lawless 6.25, Andre Boucaud 7( Adam Watkins 5) , Jake Howells 5.5, Aaron O’Connor 6.5, Craig McAllister 5.75( John-Paul Kissock), Stuart Fleetwood 5.75

Subs not used – Danny Crow, Shane Blackett, Lewis Kidd . Booked – Kovacs, Boucaud, Fleetwood.

Barrow – Pearson, Smith, Bolland, Hone, Skelton, Mackrell, Owen, Baker, Harvey, Turner ( Rutherford), Cook.

*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 are about Z list footballer spotting. Part time goalscorer and full time ruffian Andrew Carroll wearing a Liverpool tracksuit ( what a fashionista) seen spitting on a M6 service area. Charming. That’s the last time, I use that glory hole.

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Lambs Chopped

 

After what seemed like an eternity since the last home league game the Hatters comprehensively beat a rather subdued Tamworth team.

Andre Boucaud made a belated debut in a midfield comprising a rare start (in the league) for JP Kissock and Alex Lawless. Up front was the ever-willing and sharp Stuart Fleetwood, with Howells on the left and O’Connor on the right.

Osano reprised his role at right back in an otherwise unchanged back division of Taylor, Pilks, Kovacs and Tyler.

Fifteen degrees warmer than this time last week (though it didn’t always feel it), today’s crowd and indeed the players experienced some of Bedfordshire’s best rain. Fortunately, this had cleared up by half time which was just as well as the electricity, thus the floodlights was cut off for much of the second half. I don’t know if it was because Gary hadn’t paid the bill or if all of Bury Park was cut off, but it was quite pleasant enough to sit in the gloom for forty minutes. In fact the lights came back on just before the end in an embarrassing late entrance, a little like Derek Smalls’ late exit from his pod in This is Spinal Tap. Ah the irony of having NiceIC as match sponsors.

Osano went off shortly after the goal which was a shame (yes, I did type that) because he had been in so much space out wide on the right touchline, you had to wonder if he was playing in the same game. Or if he’d wound the team up the wrong way and they were avoiding him like a smelly kid in the playground. Strangely, one of the few times we did manage to get the ball to him he surged into the box and shot/crossed, the ball found Fleetwood to took a touch and neatly rounded the keeper for an expert finish which warmed us up.

Brabin said afterwards that Osano had felt his hamstring tighten with all the exertion, and so they brought him off as precaution. Lawless slotted in at right back, breaking up a promising midfield three – and Watkins came in, with Boucaud moving back to the deeper of the three midfielders.

We had three hungry midfielders after that, and their desire to dominate showed. Kissock was always lively, he played some good through balls and cross field balls as well as his characteristic dribbles and step overs. Watkins was as dynamic as usual and Boucaud impressed me – with his work rate, his passing accuracy and his vision (but not his shooting!). Seems to be a good addition to me – but how many midfielders do we have now? Especially as he sees Henry in a free role – what chance has young Watkins got with Keano waiting in the wings – and Poku – good enough to start with Southport each week and not a sniff of the bench for us. How far back is Henry behind all those? Bodes well for the cup next week though…

Fleetwood’s goal puts him level with AMS on ten goals for the season. Unlike Danny Crow who doesn’t like playing on his own up front, Fleetwood seems to relish it. When McAllister came on later on Fleetwood moved to the left, but still up top. Now those two looked as if they had played together before as McAllister nodded on to Fleetwood with impunity – despite being marked by the enormous Watford lump Francino Francis.

However in the first half it was Greg Taylor who first earned his crust – a fine header, more or less off the line kept out a shot from Marna (last seen at Kettering). That was more or less their only shot on target apart from Pilks snuffing out a point blank shot from Reece. Poor Reece – he seemed to be less popular with his colleagues than Osano was with his – hardly got a pass all afternoon. I fully expect to hear that he has signed for Coventry tomorrow having been sent there today.

In the first half we dominated without being convincing, we were a bit ring-rusty I thought. However the second half we completely bossed the game, without getting to the point of mercilessly tearing them apart. Apart from the first five minutes that is. I don’t know what it is that Brabs says to them at half time. Knowing that the opposition are going to come out fighting, he seems to underwhelm them into underachievement. Fortunately today, they threw off the shackles of his motivational speech and carried on embracing some decent footie played on the front foot.

Shortly it was 2-0 – JPK won a free kick on the left. He took the freekick and swung across a lovely booming millionaire’s cross to the far post where Kovacs was waiting having jumped up and down like a mad thing trying to get Kissock’s attention and got a free header to double the score. McAllister was already on the touchline ready to come on and the deal was completed with Kissock being replaced. Jake moved into midfield and for the last 25 minutes played alongside Boucaud in front of the back four, with Watkins being the most advanced in the midfield.

Luton kept on pressing coming close on a number of occasions and played bright attacking, entertaining football having gained confidence from the second goal.

The third goal was an interesting one – Howells had started the move playing the ball to Kovacs staying up the pitch, as he had got a taste for this goal scoring lark. He didn’t quite get his head on it, but in effect nodded it on for Fleetwood to pick up on the left. Fleetwood played in a deep cross to the far post where Howells ,tucked around the corner, headed it back in, Kovacs pounced on it but I think it was Francis’ shins that did the deed. Kovacs celebrated as if he’d scored it, but I think it was a little tongue in cheek.

The last ten minutes was all Luton, driving for the fourth – confidence oozing from every pore – it didn’t come. The usual disease of not being able to convert a higher percentage of chances. But there you go. For the record, Willmott came on at the 90 minutes were up for O’Connor who had worked his socks off all afternoon.

Kovacs and Pilks had sound games at the back and completed most of their passes – hey Pilks even played a cross-field ball to O’Connor, who unfortunately didn’t control it and it rolled out. Taylor had an excellent game and nearly got another goal. Most unlike a Luton left-back. Must be something about the surname. Lawless filled in well at right back and had the freedom of the park in the way that Osano had.

Tyler had barely anything to do – I like the way he recycles ball quicker than Kevin Pilkington and looks to throw the ball out when possible.

Even though Tamworth had the first half-chance in the game, I never thought the result was in doubt. I don’t think it was the same Tamworth that battled through to play Everton in the cup or indeed the team that with 10 men got a draw at Fleetwood. Perhaps we didn’t let them play – perhaps we played too well for them – perhaps we are a great side after all!

Good or bad, we had a good solid win today that put me in a good mood. The Hatters are five points clear in third and I think it is something like thirteen games unbeaten in the league. No, it doesn’t look like Fleetwood or Wrexham are going to slip up, but it is a good time to get a bit of form and confidence. Always good to be the form team going into the play offs – hey you never know, we might not need to go to penalties…

 

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Tamworth home)

After the the highlight of every season that is bad weather cancelling games, it was back to the old grindstone, with a decent performance and a comfortable win, which we didn’t really have to get out of third gear to achieve. Whilst the Lambs weren’t roasted, just merely well beaten. A bottle of mint sauce possess more footballing ability than our visitors from Staffordshire. Although such is the appalling standard within the bottom half of the division, they will probably get a mid-table finish, even if the team from SnowDome land are making their usual descent down the League after Christmas.

A few fists of fury aside from a number of Tamworth corners, Tyler had an untroubled afternoon. A brilliant flying block by Taylor stopped Marna’s fierce drive from going in. The match began in a heavy shower ( but more about the Tamworth team later), finished in sunshine with a power failure thrown in for good measure.

Postives today were a fine, unselfish display by Fleetwood, rediscovered his confidence and scoring touch in recent games, combined with an outstanding work ethic, which isn’t always the case with him. If he can learn to stop moaning all the time at officials however absymal they may be. Boucaud was excellent on debut ( if the bad weather had continued much longer he would have qualified for his testimonal before his debut) Confidence player, always looking to get on the ball, sprayed it about well, comfortable in possesion. However seem him enough at his previous clubs, to know he is rather hit and miss, and when things go against him, he can sulk and the toys go out of the pram. Promisiig debut all the same.

Kovacs, outstanding as ever in both boxes. Lawless filling in at right back after Osano made a quick exit, giving us drive from the both full back areas and against the weaker teams at home, it’s a risk worth taking playing two attacking full backs. Most teams which come to Kenilworth Road these days are negative and cowardly. We have enough players at the club, who can fill in the holding role in midfield anyway (Boucaud, Keane, Poku). Osano’s has done better in his last couple of games, his lack of awareness, positional sense in a defensive situuation is always a concern. On his day, he can be an asset going forward.

At times we looked rusty,only to be expected the players who weren’t involved at either Bedford or Kidderminster have had a long wait for a competitive match, the ideas were good, the execution of some of the passing not so,whilst we had plenty of possession most of it was backward and sideways not threatending the Tamworth defence, we didn’t create the usual assorted missed chances we get in home games normally.

Slightly unexpected line up. Kissock given a rare start after impressing at Kidderminster, as did Henry who wasn’t even in the sixteen. Funny old game, Saint! Fleetwood kept his place after playing well in the same game. It was the now usual shape, Tyler in goal, back four of Osano, Kovacs, Pilkington, Taylor, central three of Boucaud, with Lawless and Kissock in front of him. O’Connor and Howells out wide, Fleetwood playing on his own centrally. Plenty of attacking options on the bench but as usual no defensive cover, Watkins, Willmott, Crow and McAllister.

Tamworth looked medicore in the game up there and didn’t look any better today. At least their tedious little nobody in charge can’t moan about the sending offs this time ( Green was a obvious red card in that game and whilst they do have a point about Francis’ dismissal, it was 3-0 at the time so hardly effected the outcome and Tamworth played betetr with nine men). Playing 4-4-2, only two of their loanees stood out, Reece made some decent raids down the flanks and Isaac drove forward reasonably from midfield. Apart from Keane’s Bouncing Castle Francis who defended solidly. There isn’t much there and looked to have decline from the last couple of seasons. If they are relying ion that captain of industry Marna to do much, they are extremely optimstic.

Curious first half. We started brightly moving the ball well, if sometimes too slowly lacking width to our play, playing the safe pass or the lazy lump upfield was the order of teh day. Fleetwood had some poor passes look spot on and chased both whire shirts and lost causes. Howells in particular had a poor game considering some very good form recently. having a sharp haircut made him look like a Belson victim, to be honest he played like a man who had been gassed at times, before improving later. After Fleetwood’s goal, a real poacher’s effort, mananging to control Osano’s attempted shot, turning and squeezing past Hedge at his near post. rather than being a catalyst to better things , we stopped playing allowing Tamworth into the game. Which we got away with on the day, but against stronger sides we may not.

Tamowrth elected to pack the middle of the park, playing four narrowly across the pitch, but stood off us, allowing the team to gain control, but in a half of few chances Hedge was as unemployed as Tyler. Kissock, who didn’t get involved in the game often enough, fed Osano breaking forward , slipped the ball to Lawless, whilst turning but was unable to progress due to a solid tackle by Green. Tyler punching clearly away from McDonald’s left wing corner, the ball repled into the direction of Fleetwood, flighting a tremondous pass over to Kissock, he was slow and waited for the ball to cme to him, but Barrow anticipated first.

Most of long range passing was better than short range, a cracking ball by Kovacs, picked out Taylor outstandingly, a super controlled first touch by the left back, he hesitanted and could only flick it off Tate back to the keeper, the shot was on, albeit on his weaker right foot.

Tamowrth’s first sight of goal, came as we slept from a quickly taken throw by Patterson, an opportunity set up McDonald, his poke wide across goal with the aid of a deflection. We scored with our next attack, Osano moving forward,low strike, looking as though to would trundle back to Hedge, but Fleetwood controlled it, and turning the ball past the keeper.

Osano’s assist was his last involment, Watkins replaced him, with Lawless going back to full back. That goal seemed to push us back and allow tamworth into the game. The referee helped them out Watkins clearly having his shirt pulled off his back by Tate, but the referee waited and elected to give them a free kick near the half way line, drilled forward towards two of their taller memebers of their team Francis and Patterson, Kovacs managed to nod the ball away, but only as far as Marna, who caught the ball clearly with power and Taylor diving across to block the shot ( trust his side parting wasn’t harmed in the incident!).

During the period before half time, we got sloppy and Tamworth mainly through the guise of McKoy started to close us down. Kovacs haeded a Reece cross out of Tykler’s hands, we got nervous, decnt football was far and far between. Although Taylor started a stylish move down the left flank, Fleetwood’s reverse pass weatkins following it to it, squared the pass for O’Conor, who saw precious little of teh ball, could get enough on his shot to trouble Hedge.

Isaac get close after Kovacs rose highest to clear mcDonalds’s corner, the striek flew wide of Tyuler’s left post. Excellent give and go between Boucaud and Howells was only denied by an excellent sliding tackle by tate. Fleetwood missed a gulit edged chance, from Pilkington’s poke forward, getting on the shoulder of Green, through on goal, looked ideal for a chip, but shot tamely low and Hedge saved with his feet.

Pilkington’s passing was poor again, nothing wrong with his defending sliding in to keep out Barrow’s cross after overlapping Patterson’s pass.

We had a slowish start to the latter half. Apart from Tate’s header denying O’Connor, after Watkins fed the ball towards huim. Tamworth had a few moments. A purposeful drive forward by Isaac, knocked the ball down thr right channel, a dangerous low cross, Kovacs had to hack over the bar. From Barrow’s corner, picked out Isaac in acres of space, then Reece with a neat body swerve defeated Kissock, Watkins and Howells in the same movement.

After Barrow’s drive from Reece’s square pass, had the sting taken out of shot by Kovacs, which eventually went safely through to Tyler, although not far from the feet of Patterson.

Then we clicked back into gear, a delightful pinpoint pass from Watkins found O’Connor eronously ruled offside. Hege pushed out Boucaud’s drive. With McAllister ready to come in, Kissock farted about near the byline and waited for the inevitable foolish shove on him by Green. Kissock sent in a fine set piece towards Kovacs, heading down and in at the far post. Despite his assist Kissock made way and with McAllister on, we looked a better team, aklthough being 2-0 up helped massively. Fleetwood ended up playing on the left, with Howells moving inside.

Tamworth only had the odd further chance, Reece rolled in by McKoy struck wide and Boucaud blocking a decent move involving Marna, St Aimie and Patterson.. Watkins played a short cornher into Howells, playing a fine cross towards Kovacs, the surge of tanmopwrth all afternoon in both boxes, climbed above Franics, no mean feat, Hege tipped high but not away, McKoy doing his best to score an own goal, his header passed the post by a few inches.

Lawless having a fine game, attacking from full back position, sent in a cross, which Fleetwood had to retrieve on the left , spearing in a centre, which was knocked back by Howells and turned in by Franics with the close presense of Kovacs sliced into the net. Rather cheeky of Kovacs to claim that goal ( unless my eyes really are knackered).

Confidence rose, getting McAllister linking the play, both full backs almost playing as wingers. Hegebnsaved comfortabloy from Fleetwood’s dink. O’Connor held the ball up for watkins to shoot wide, with Fleetwood in a better position to his left. Neat pass by Howells, lovely touch by Taylor with his heel, turned and fizzed a low drives inches away. O’Connor combining tio good effect, Watkins’ header kissing the post from Lawless’ centre.Then what would have been a fine move but for Watkins’ heavy touch when aiming for McAllister after Lawless and and O’Connor feeding him the ball.

Nice local derby in Cumbria on Tuesday to start off our World tour in highly dubious places to visit by night. Barrow, Darlington, Wrexham and Gateshead( twice possibly). We struggled earlier in the season to cope with a packed programme of night matches and suffered some poor results. Which all but killed our title chances before they started.

Mark Tyler 6, Curtis Osano ( Adam Watkins 6.5) , Janos Kovacs 8.5, George Pilkiington 6.75, Greg Taylor 8, Andre Boucaud 8 Alex Lawless 7.5, John-Paul Kissock 6 ( Craig McAllister 6.75) , Aaron O’Connor 6 ( Robbie Willmott) Stuart Fleetwood 8.5, Jake Howells 5.75

Subs not used – Danny Crow, Kevin Pilkington,

Tamworth – Hedge, Tate, Green, Francis, Barrow, Reece( St Aimie), Isaac, McKoy, McDonald, Marna( Christie), Patterson(Thomas) . Booked – McKoy, Green.

*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 are being thankful ( or that be fankful) that the sex tape stories involving Adele are not true. That would put me right off using t’internet.

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Kiddy Away FAT)

The ” dream ” double is still on – F.A. Trophy and the Coppa del Bedfordshire, no less (Read it and weep Barcelona), as the carpet munchers were swept out of the tournament, as it all went pear shaped for the Worcestershire outfit.

A throughly deserved success as well, a very pleasing performance both in work-rate and a football sense in a good old fashioned cup tie – unusual for a match to by well worth the admission fee these days, always get a smashing game when we play there, as neither team wanted a replay ( Valentine’s Day night at Kenilworth Road would be a very romantic setting). A decent workout for some of the players who needed a game, with reserve team matches few and far between these days. Apart from Darlington now being a mid-week game – Hip hip hooray :o( , it went according to plan. We should have killed the game off earlier, has been a recurring theme this season our lack of being clinical, we do need an awful lot of chances to score goals. Our finishing wasn’t great and we are becoming like the Non-League Arsenal of years gone by – trying to walk the ball in at times, Henry’s attempt is still orbiting the Moon. Some of our football played on a soft surface was extremely good. This is Luton and it wouldn’t be Luton without the odd heart attack moment ( or a million) as you watch the team cling on to a narrow lead away from home.

Jake Howells was the stand out player here, there and everywhere ( he must start regularly wide left) although our three creative, if lightweight midfielders, Kissock, Henry and Lawless all played very well too. Except for Tyler’s handling which was a long way short of it’s impeccable best,Osano wandering up field, and not getting back. Willmott had another poor night. His crossing was terrible, his control not much better and generally looks a shadow of the player who impressed at Cambridge and in his early performance for the mighty Hatters.

The scoreline didn’t reflect our supermacy for the vast majority of the game. We looked the sharper side, playing the more controlled football, apart from a wobbly spell just after they equalised and Fleetwood missed a penalty, one of several fine stops by Lyness in goal. Who did the same in the League game. Considering he is only their back up custodian, he’s very good.

Several surprises a) the game was on, b) I didn’t die from Hypothermia ( a balmy -8 around Buckingham on the way home) C) seeing so many first team players in the warm up. Was slightly disappointed the younger players didn’t get another game. It was a risky selection,with only four days before Forest Green, although Kissock got cramp and Taylor managed to run off a limp ( possibly the result of shanking two shots with his right foot impossibly wide. Less trampoline boots,but could do with a Sat Nav in his right boot), we seemed to get through the game without any major injuries. Seeing the names of Henry and Blackett in the starting line up of any game is always a collector’s item.

The team was Tyler in goal. back four of Osano, Beckwith, Blackett, Taylor. Central three of Lawless, Henry, Kissock. Howells and Willmott out wide ( often swopping wing), with Fleetwood the lone central striker. Both centre halves did reasonably well considering their lack of football recently. Solid and steady games. Not much pace to trouble them.

Kidderminster, like ourselves had a few injuries and cup tied players, were their usual feisty selves ( they love a late challange and a blind back pass). From what I have seen , the fact they are challanging strongly for a play off berth at this stage of the season, does say an awful lot about the lack of strength in depth about the League. If we could rig it in a Oxford stylee and get to hand pick play-off opponents, they would do nicely, thank you.

Always a combative unit, look to play it long towards Matt, their much vaunted striker, not sure why, unless you want a centre forward to regular bounce the ball off him. Arsenal were interested ( not sure he would get a game at Arsenal Ladies), out wide is their strength and at set pieces, apart from back four, our team resembled Willy Wonka’s assistants.

We settled the quicker looking to pass and move the ball about on the deck,Henry in particlaur looked to get his foot on the ball and control matters, having an usual amount of time helped no end. Our midfield three took hold on the game, far too much for the two in the middle for Kidderminster, Storer and Bradley, two decent battlers but not much more. The hosts looked to hit Matt,an awkaard customer to defend against given his size early, Blackett didn’t do badly against him, as they looked to support him and run on to flicks on, mainly through Bradley. There were a number of soft free kicks in the match. The first that big bully Howells grounded Matt, after the forward had got past Kissock, Demmetriou’s free kick, has cleared by the wall, to Vaughan, his attempt deflected behind. Kidderminster another team with short corneritis, played it to Vaughan his cross whipped in, Tyler punched thin air, rather than the ball, leaving Storer unopposed to head wide.

Until his point, we lacked a decent final ball to convert some composed passing moves into chances, Willmott’s shot ( if you can call it from Jones’ partically cleared header, threatened the Black Country more than Lyness’ goal. We pressed the ball high up the pitch, with none of their centre halves looked comfortable on the ball, so hacked it merrily anywhere. Over the last couple of months, it’s an aspect of the agme, the team have improved vastly.

Storer broke forward, trip by Henry, who initially appeared to injure himself in the process, giving a dangerous free kick, just outside the area in a fairly central position. Bradley chipped it, Tyler diving to his right pushed it away, a proper save for the cameras. Decent stop, all the same. After Demetriou had made untroubled progess down the left, his ball into the box, was safety claimed by Tyler.

Some sublime play by Fleetwood broke the deadlock, latching onto Taylor’s forward pass down the left flank, nudging it past the barely fit Vaughan, showing a nice of speed and awareness to pick out Howells finsihing in style before Lyness could react.

Blackett timed his leap to perfection as Demetriou centred for Matt. Obviously with Osano and Willmott on the sameside, defensive assureness we weren’t. The game become scrappy and Kidderminster equalised with a good breakaway goal. Matt held off Blackett, turned the ball to his left for the advancing Bradley running into our vacant right back spot, not challangd throughout until he arrived in the area, toe poked a low shot into the far corner.

We reacted well to the setback, a fine one two between Taylor and Howells, saw Taylor clearly tripped by Jones. Without O’Connor or Pilkington, Fleetwood stepped up, sent the ball to Lyness’ left, but the goalkeeper produced a good full length diving save. It was a good height for a keeper. Just the 2,678 missed penalty this season, we have lost the knack of playing the one two off the keeper these days.

The game become stretched and open from there on in, Jones’ header from Demetriou’s corner stabbed off the line by Taylor. Matt rose like a Giraffe on a pogo stick and sent an easy header from Wright’s cross at the near post. An excellent passing move involved Kissock, Howells and Fleetwood, gave Henry an opportunity which was blasted miles high. Fleetwood’s lob after Willmott teed him up was comfortably caught by Lyness. Fleetwood drove Kissock’s cross drove after a deflection. Kissock, was his usual mix of back flicks and following the ball about after a pass.Just a question of how Brabin can fit him in and use him to the team’s advantage.

In the dying moments of the first half, a move between Osano and Howells broke down, the ball went to Williams, who dwelt and played a back pass blind to Fleetwood, who gratefully accepted the gift and side stepped the keeper before finsihing into the empty net.

The second half was slow to get into it’s stride, Bradley’s pass down the right, Matt drove a fierce cross across teh face of goal, was uable to by turned in by Guinan, a touch or a burp would have sent it in. Most of their play was frenzied. Williamsl looking to make amends for his mistake, brought the ball forward, Tyler watchfully let the ball go past his post. A good sign was we didn’t look to sit back on our lead and went looking for further goals. Jones’ header struck Howells and Taylor wellied clear from Wright’s corner. Tyler picked a drive fom Matt after Vaugh and Gittings set up the chance.

Henry spun Gittings, picking out Howells in space on the left to drill low into Lyness. Howells again breaking forward, spraying the ball to Willmott, the loopy cross deceived Fleetwood, a poor touch and red shirts managed to get back into their positions, although Henry was found he was slow to get his shot struck and it was blocked, probably doing 90,000 step overs didn’t help his cause.

The newly arrived Vincent , played a perfect crossfield pass just over Osano’s head to Wright, an increasing influence in their attacking play, jinked inside, but dragging his shot wide of the near post.

We always looked dangerous on the break, with the home team holding a high defensive line despite their lack of pace. Henry’s side footed pass found Taylor advancing past Vaughan, the shot hitting Jones and going being. Another excellent piece of play Henry, Fleetwood and Howells, again find Taylor breaking forward, his right foot strike sailed out endangering the corner flag.

Woolley replaced Fleetwood, who was involved heavily in our good play. The lone striker role doesn’t bring out the best in him ( McAllister alongside him wll do), but he is starting to score goals in minimal game time.

A great touch by Willmott following a meaty punt upfield , took him away from Demetriou, low centre just beyond the persevering Woolley.

Always felt we needed another goal, as Kidderminster upped their game, Bradley a terrific shot spilled by Tyler, Beckwith held off Matt, so Tyler could collect at the second time of asking. They went closer still, a clever drag back by Wright on the right, leaving Beckwith for dead, taesing cross-shot which Matt appeared to be more interested in not moving into the post than tapping the ball in it.

Watkins replaced Kissock, who had been subject to some close marking and kicking when the official’s back was turned. Watkins immediately involved searching out Woolley setting up Henry to shot low into Lyness. Howells won the ball of storer, but played a wasteful pass towards Willmott, but found Wright instead. lawless couldn’t get enough on Wright’s centre, inadvertably teeing up Vincent his right footer hit Blackeett and span behind. Taylor sped past McQuilkin, hang up a cross which Howells was unable to direct.

Desperation was the name of the game for Kidderminster as the clock ticked down. Vaughan chested down McQuilkin’s pass, before hitting fully from thirty five yards wide.

We had a lucky escape in the three minutes of added time, Willmott tripped Wright half way in our half, on the left, Demetrious played in a deep free kick, flicked on by Matt, and Wright finsihed with aplomb, but the linesman had his flag up. Looked debatebale to say the least. But on the balance of play, we deserved the win, admittedly with some scares along the way.

Nice to get a home tie in the next round, although there is really no need for a replay Gentlemen. One of those games if the score is tied in the latter stages, it’s a case of ” Would someone score please? Anyone would do ” Gateshead or Alfreton on a Tuesday night would be a fairly grim prospect. The words ” on a Tuesday night” are not needed.

Back to the League on Saturday ( weather permitting, see Snow is forecast on Friday and with the ground in the sticks up a steep hill, it would cop it). Go there in good heart after that performance, be interesting to see if Brabin sticks to this formation with Crow up front or elects to partner McAllister and Fleetwood.

Mark Tyler 5.75, Curtis Osano 5.75, Dean Beckwith 6.75, Shane Blackett 6.5 , Greg Taylor 7, Robbie Willmott 5 , Alex Lawless 7 , Charlie Henry 8 ( J.J. O’Donnell), John-Paul Kissock 7.5( Adam Watkins) , Jake Howells 8.5, Stuart Fleetwood 7.5 ( Jake Woolley 6.5)

Subs not used – Kevin Pilkington, Janos Kovacs Booked – Willmott.

Kidderminster – Lyness, Vaughan, Jones, Mike Williams, Demetrious, Gittens ( Vincent), Storer ( Marc Williams), Bradley, Wright, Guinan (McQuilkin) , Matt. Booked – Demetriou.

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