Now comes the hard work

Fleetwood 0-2 Town

Well done to Luton Town FC – first objective achieved – if you can’t win the league get in the play offs, and via a circuitous route, we have done that in proud style today.

If that is what the Fleetwood fans are like when they are champions, I’d hate to see them faced with relegation. Good Lord, I’ve been in noisier libraries. Whilst the footballers and management certainly deserve their promotion, it strikes me that league football might be a bit lost on their fans (both of them). Perhaps I’m being a sourpuss – even Stevenage now average 3500 two divisions above.

Isn’t it lovely to have a manager who has tactical nous and it able to put a side together to do a number on the opposition? Apart from a 15 minute period in the first half today, we were on top and dominated. Perhaps Fleetwood have taken their foot off the gas a little, perhaps Luton have improved to the extent that we didn’t give them a sniff – but they were snuffed out good and proper. Vardy who?

Whatever happens for the remainder of the season, it seems to me that Buckle is able to set this team up to go out and get results. Wherever we are next year I think we will do well with this man at the helm. The players clearly have belief in him and are playing for him.

Delighted for Craig McAllister to (nearly) get the opening goal. His cross got a big deflection and looped over the head of the keeper. Exactly the sort of luck we never usually get (the nearest being Adam Newton’s goal 2 years ago?). Perhaps Buckle is a lucky manager too – but what did Gary Player say about luck? “The harder I practice, the luckier I get”. If you put hard work in, you get the breaks.

Is that five clean sheets on the trot now – that’s pretty impressive too. Where is the unerring ability to concede a goal in the last five minutes? Or has that been run out of them in the training ground. What’s more the town are assertive, but not dirty. It’s not a hard team, it’s not a cheaty team, just one that works hard to stop the opposition from having time on the ball.

The Luton players were quicker to the ball, first to block and always closed down – just like we always should. There was a danger in the second half of sitting too deep, but we quickly snapped out of that.

Osano is a player transformed. He only messed up once today, fairly early on when he allowed himself to be passed on the outside – but apart from that he looked every bit the player Andy Burgess said he was and he even played McAllister in for his cross shot. His run at the end was sublime – if only it had gone in. Let’s hope he goes one better next week.

Howells was as sound as a pound, his ability to close down has meant that his lack of pace is never exposed.

Pilks and Kovacs- towers in defence both.

Keano – bossed the middle – Watkins was quieter again, but had a brighter game than against Gateshead. Kissock didn’t fanny around with it and looked good – direct, quick with excellent vision and commitment. Transformed.

Up front Big Macca was a handful and a useful target man. We missed an outlet against Gateshead and McAllister gave us that today – time and time again we broke quickly – stretched the play and having the big man there gave us the opportunity to play it up to him.

Andre Gray – how many goals is that now? 5 in 9 games? A good acquisition by the club. I was surprised when Willmott came on for McAllister after an hour, but the change ultimately let to the second goal, Willmott broke quickly down the right after the hapless Pond’s cock up and played an incisive ball into the path of Gray who slotted home right in front of the keeper – a great goal on the break.

So – a brilliant win, well deserved for those of us brave enough to brave the Fylde coast and for the players whose recent efforts have been rewarded with a good run and a new-found self belief.

But – today’s win was a means to an end. We’re in the play offs now, and this is where the season begins proper. Normally I’d type that you could have just fast forwarded the whole season until now – but that would have meant we missed the fun and games of the past month. We’re playing our last year’s victims and perennial bottlers Wrexham home and away for a place at Wembley. If we can play as well as we did today, put as much effort in and stay fit and sound enough then the task, over two legs should be achievable. I am sure Buckle will get them to redouble their efforts and focus and it will be up to us to roar them on at the Kenny like never before.

I can’t wait until Thursday. Come on you Hatters.

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A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend

Town 1-0 Kidderminster

 

We needed to win and we did win. Most unlike LTFC not to try to do it the even harder way, by not winning when we needed to.

Robbie Willmott’s goal on 67 minutes was the only thing that separated the teams, though I thought the gulf in quality was much wider. Bearing in mind Kidderminster had won their previous five games there really wasn’t much to them at all. Lots of huff and puff and long ball, but charmless and talentless , and fortunate for us, luckless. Had they really been 5th? Just goes to show how bad we have been this season to let teams like this get above us.  Anyway we’re 5th now, and just need to win at Gateshead to get in to the play offs. Exciting isn’t it? I rather like this nail-biting stuff.

Of course there would be no crowing now if Jakey Howells hadn’t cleared the ball off the line after it ricocheted of the post, or had Tyler not made an outstanding  save earlier on. Apart from a couple of short spells where we were retreating rather than pressing we were in control and looking good. It was ironic that Willmott got the winner – I thought once again he had an okay, but not outstanding game other than the goal. For me he doesn’t push up high enough, he doesn’t test out the full back by hugging the touchlines and giving Jake an option to play the ball down the line over the top. He doesn’t quite get stuck in enough – but hey he does get winning goals in crucial games. I guess I’ll take that! It was a well taken winner befitting any game. Perhaps sometimes I forget that he is only 21. Their hapless goalie didn’t know whether to stick or twist as the fantastic sweeper type wellie from Tyler put Willmott in down the left, with Kiddy protesting about something at the other end. It was certainly a roof-raising moment a la Brko vs Hull, and we don’t get too many of them these days. All the more important it is exactly the sort of ball that he wouldn’t have been chased down a few weeks ago.

Lovely to see so many at the Kenny today  a splendid atmosphere and good to see that the players reacted accordingly. Buckle must wonder what the fuss is all about – he certainly knows how to make the players play the sort of football that gets the fans on board. Some of those players today might never have played in front of 8000 before and none of the players were left in any doubt as to the noise that can be generated at the Kenny if you get the fans going.  Good too to see a decent away following for a change, shame they didn’t stick around at the end to enjoy our lap of honour.

The game itself was entertaining without being a classic. Still plenty to work on, but the general ethos is so much better, as is the defending. Three clean sheets now. Osano seems to be playing much better under Buckle than he ever did under Brabin, though that’s not saying much. But he is better. Pilks had an outstanding game and was back to his best. Crowd-rouser Kovacs was immense again. Jake had his best game at left back for a while.

We started with a 4-4-2 again, but just like the preceding two home games the formation quickly changed to match what Kiddy were doing. Towards the end, as we got more and more defensively minded as we battened down the hatches it was handy having a quick player to release in the form of Andre Gray who ran and ran and ran, as did Stuart Fleetwood.

Lawless started on the right – but as against Hayes, pushed up onto their central midfielder. Watkins played deeper than him and you’d think they’d have been better swapping. Watkins worked hard without having the steel of Poku. Adam lights up when he gets in the vicinity of the goal – which wasn’t so frequent today. Keane was fantastic in the middle – all tackles and snarl. He ran and ran and tackled and tackled and broke up their play very effectively. Another player who was drifting into somnolence under Brabin, but who has been switched back on by Buckle.

The first half saw us dominate play, but the frustrating theme of the last twenty minutes was the Brabin-esque lack of bodies in the box. Seemingly opportunity after opportunity was squandered as promising crosses found their way into the box, but all of them seemed to breeze across the face of the goal with no striker on the end to stick it in. Certainly something to work on.

As I said in the second half we were treated to a nail biting last 12 minutes, we retreated too deeply for a while, forgetting how we got into this league position in the first place. Fortunately, a little bit of luck plus Jake’s boot, mirrored the change in fortunes since PB has taken over.

So, farewell Kidderminster and their comedy keeper – three games three wins this year. A rarity indeed – rarer than a straight kick from the boot of the Breeden, poor love.

Three points needed  on Tuesday, in the boggy mud of Gateshead-by-the-Tyne’s athletic pitch, where we will attempt to play decent football amongst the shot-putt divots. Of course, two draws now in the last week of the season would see us through to the play offs. No thanks! Having worked so hard to get and keep the win today, it would of course be most unlike us to do the simple thing and win on Tuesday, weather permitting. Gateshead, by losing to Bath today did us a favour as they now having nothing to play for – their slim chances of the play offs have gone. Lovely to be back in the play off zone, but the job isn’t done yet.

If/when we win at Gateshead, I don’t want that to be the be all and end all, as if getting to the play offs is an achievement in itself, and for us to take our metaphorical eyes off the ball because we have done what PB initially set out to do. I am sure he won’t let them do that, but getting to the play offs isn’t an end in itself, it is just means to the end of getting promoted. What I am trying to say is, I don’t want the players to be so pumped by realising their goal of finishing in the top 5, that the event of actually playing in the play offs is a come down in comparison. It does happen. You see teams so focussed on qualifying that they forget what to do when they reach the event itself.

We will see – we have got to get there first.

Of course the previous game was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch, on an evening where it was due to snow too. Now we haven’t got snow due this time, but it is due to rain pretty much constantly between now and then. I do hope the match stays on – I’m not sure when else we will get to play it.

So – overall I was well pleased with the win – we scrapped hard, could have had more,  but fought hard to keep a clean sheet.

I think the match said much about us as fans. When things are going well we make a bloody noise. We are quick to moan, but when something praiseworthy is presented in front of us we are as loud, man for man, as anyone.  Slow to cheer when things are going badly, give us something to sing about and you know about it.

I think us Hatters  – as fans – are terrible enemies, but brilliant friends. Someone once said “a wise enemy is better than a foolish friend” – I think the players have discovered this in the past month.

 

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I was there…

…when Craig McAllister scored. Don’t worry I’ve already got the tattoo done. Hopefully he won’t have to wait quite as long for his next goal!

Town 3-0 Ebbsfleet

 

After busy couple of weeks I thought I’d better put electronic pen to paper.

This is my first post since Paul Buckle was appointed as manager. I was impressed with his initial press conference and his desire to get cracking from the off. It was a pleasant change to have a press conference where the manager actually said something rather than a string of meaningless platitudes.  My first impression was that whilst he has managed clubs in the division above, and indeed got Torquay promoted out of this division, he isn’t quite prepared yet for the roller coaster ride he is going to experience. Whilst the likes of Torquay and Brizzle Rovers currently sit above us in the pyramid, it would only be a fool who asserted that they were ‘bigger’ clubs. He’s going to learn pretty quickly that he’s riding a tiger now.

What he said was music to my ears – pressing high up the pitch to win the ball back, put the opposition under pressure, play at tempo and let the smart football take care of itself once you’ve won the ball back.

And there was plenty of that tonight. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a football game at the match itself. The first half in particular was hilarious, made so by a comedy ref and a pair of blind linos. Whilst they were less visible and less random in the second half their performances certainly ensured that the crowd was livened up. We used to have a boss at work whose decision making ability was so poor that we used to do the opposite of what he asked us to do. The ref was a bit like that tonight – for a little while he managed to get everything wrong – missed handballs, free kicks, corners and throws given the wrong way, it was truly splendid and whilst it was vital that we won the game he added to my enjoyment with his spectacular wrongness. He even missed Osano’s career-ending challenge on Marwa early on. Or rather he let it go. In the Premiership that was a straight red, in non-league it wasn’t even a ticking off. To be fair to the ref he did let a lot of fairly crunching tackles go and let the game flow, which isn’t all bad.

And flow it largely did. Fleetwood’s goals either side of half-time relieved a lot of pressure and allowed us to enjoy it.  I lost count of the number of chances we had in the first half and whilst the football was less fluent in the second half we still pressed forward and tried for a third. Fleetwood drifted out to the right and Lawless into the middle again. Being on the right of the midfield three didn’t prejudice Fleetwood’s opportunities though. Gray worked very hard again, without getting much luck. He did manage to blast it over from about 6 yards out (perhaps we’ve got all of the goals we are going to get out of him!). His pace is always going to cause trouble at this level and while some of his flicks and passes didn’t quite come off tonight, one day they will and we will get double figures. Fleetwood looked forlorn under Brabin, often getting relegated to the bench by Big Hips Crow (who I understand hasn’t impressed the manager in training with his attitude and must be favourite to be out the door in June).  But seems somewhat reborn under Buckle.

Robbie Willmott seemed a little off the pace and out of touch tonight. That’s not to say he didn’t contribute and put some good balls in – but he seemed to be a bit lost out there at times. Blackett looked fit and quick when he came on at left back. Is there a case for pushing Jake forwards again? I’m more than happy to trust PB’s judgement though – which is a strange thing again. When did we last have a manager whose I implicitly trusted? Newell?  Watkins came in for Poku which was a more attacking move. Whilst Adam had some excellent touches and passes, I think he would have wanted to impose himself on the game a little more. He made one blistering turn and shot in the first half which would have been a cracking goal – there’s no doubt he knows where the goal is.

And on to dear Craig McAllister. There were plenty of comments when he came on around me “Well we’ve settled for the 2-0 then” and such like, and when he scored, capitalising on a fluff by the keeper and then taking the ball around him to stroke it home the relief was tangible and palpable. Some wags started singing “it’s a miracle” and ‘Macca’ to use the nickname Buckle used,  probably thought it was too. Must be galling to be paid for scoring goals and to go so long without one – bit like a salesman who can’t close a deal, a pilot who keeps fluffing landings or a lady-of-the-night who can’t attract a punter.  Big relief to know that you can still do it.

The manager must have imbued some confidence into them and it has been interesting to see the turnaround from a team who were happy to lay down and die to one which wants to get the ball and try for more goals.

Certainly the game against Hayes was a pretty good demonstration of this. It was utterly fascinating to see a team of players  who hadn’t won in eight games, and just lost to Braintree (Braintree – I ask you) be jolted back into life on Easter Monday. And how ironic it was Easter time– the team that died on the first day had been resurrected on the third.

We witnessed the passage from the old to the new during the Hayes match, before our very eyes. Despite the very obvious ‘rocket’ they had been given they still demonstrated some of the slovenly ways first up. I had shouted myself hoarse in the first 20 minutes whilst Pilkington, Kovacs, Osano, Howells and Keane had continued playing ‘after you’ to the opposition, escorting them onto them rather than closing them down.  It was as if they were yet to run the bad ways out of their legs, not quite having shed the cocoon of chaos that had been our comical defending in the recent poor run.

They were rough and ready at the back, but liberated at the front – the shackles of the mindless tactics of trying (and failing) to sit on a lead cast off like a heavy shroud from the attacker’s backs. And attack they did. Fleetwood in particular benefitted from having (initially at least) a second player alongside, and Gray too repeated his sharpness. Lovely to see Keano pop up at the far post too and give the Kenny the luxury of a rare treat a Keano goal.

I even liked the tactical awareness Buckle showed in the first half in the attempt to snuff out Hatter-baiting Jamie Hand, who from a deep position was pulling all of the strings in Hayes’ midfield. Whilst in recent weeks we’ve seen that a 4-5-1 doesn’t sit happily on our shoulders, the tactic on this occasion showed tactical nous, as opposed to bloody-minded inflexibility. Lawless pushed into the middle and pushed forward and closed down Hand, and with it ended Hayes chances.  Gray showed that he can still get goals on the right side of a three.

So we witnessed the team transforming before our very eyes – it was still rough and ready, still glaring errors, still mistakes from the past poking through, but a promising pointer to the future.

 

 

Alfreton was a different matter, it was always going to be tougher, they were pretty much the form team coming into the match. It was very much going to be a case of grabbing the ball off them and hoping to sneak something. And to be fair we nearly did. Both Fleetwood and Gray had excellent chances to grab goals, which perhaps on another day, with a little bit of luck we would have done. We couldn’t have come any closer: penalties turned down, posts hit and headers cleared off the line.  This would have been a game that Alfreton would have won under the previous manager, so I guess we should be grateful for small mercies – a clean sheet away from home – Lord, whatever next.

However the game was rather similar to what had gone before – plenty of opportunity to score, but chances not quite taken – not quite the clinical finishing touch that would have given us the edge.

The second half was a different matter, Alfreton got back into the game and to be fair had chances to win themselves. All the more important therefore that the defence remained resolute.  A triple substitution after an hour failed to make any meaningful impact and O’Connor came on and played on the left of a genuine 4-3-3 to match Alfreton’s. Boucaud got a run out and very nearly won it right at the end – but it did seem a little strange to have a midfield three of Boucaud, Keane and Lawless with the more creative talents of Watkins and Kissock nowhere to be seen. But there you go early days.  Though Mr Buckle doesn’t have much time he is still getting to know his players, how they react and how they respond. He’s also got to work out who to keep and who to ditch in the summer…

What is encouraging are the fact that ethos in training has been transformed from that of a country club, sauntering mid morning to do an hour’s jog-about,  to actually physically training, covering tactics and then some more training. They’re actually earning their money now, and alas the Playstations and Xboxes are sitting idly by during the day.  I don’t think they’ve gone out on the piss in the West End either. They can do that when they get promoted or when they’ve won four games on the trot. Hopefully Mr Buckle is helping the penny to drop. The players are waking up to the fact that an awful lot of people spend an awful lot of cash and come an awful long way to watch the team. Some people don’t have an awful lot of cash to spend on the club, yet still find a way of coming, week in week out. And they don’t deserve to watch awful performances.

What the Luton crowd have always appreciated, win, lose or draw is effort and commitment. Players going that extra mile to win the ball back or to close a player down – whatever the circumstances. In the past we have given standing ovations to sides who might have lost but who have given everything – and we want to see more of that attitude. If Mr Buckle can install the concept of fight into these players and let them express themselves with attacking football, we might just, just have a chance.

Now my maths might not be the strongest in the world, and assuming York will win both of their last two games (away at Braintree and home to FGR)  I reckon that if we beat Kidderminster we are going to need to win one of our last two games to ensure we qualify for the play offs, which is going to pretty ironic. In the event that we do get into the play offs we will more of less be the form team going into them. If – and indulge me for a second – we manage to beat Kiddy and Gateshead  – it will have to have been three wins on the trot, and unbeaten in five, by the time we play Fleetwood. After all the huff and puff about being the form team, we will actually have to be the form team to get in the play offs in the first place. Perhaps no bad thing?

 

Games at home to Kiddy, and away at Gateshead and Fleetwood isn’t  quite the run in we would have liked,  and puts the squandered points at Hayes, Bath etc etc into sharp focus at the tail end of the year. However, if we do win all three or even two , we will deserve to be in the top 5 and will be on an excellent run.

It’s no cakewalk though. Kiddy have won 12 times away this season, have won their last 5 games in all, and are unbeaten in their last 7. A bit of a tall order at the best of times, and at other times in our history, playing the 5th place side in those circumstances we’d not necessarily be too disappointed with a draw at home. But if we do draw against them, then we will need to beat Gateshead and Fleetwood, assuming York win again. If we beat Kiddy, York will only need to win one of their last two to ensure a play off place.

Gateshead won’t be a pushover either, they will entertain hopes themselves that if they can win their last 3 games, (Bath, us and Telford) they might sneak in if they are lucky with the other results. In a way that might count in our favour if they are going for the win themselves they might be easier to break down, thought it won’t be too easy. Perhaps we should remind ourselves of the 5-1 this season and the 2-0 at home in the FATrophy. Gateshead’s form is a little patchy at present, but they’ve won their last four games at home, all without conceding a goal.

Truly, if we win the next two games it will be a decent achievement, given that both of our opponents are in good form themselves.

So  the games on Saturday and Tuesday are quite literally ‘massive’. What odds would you get on Craig McAllister  scoring the winner in both?

Come on you Hatters!

 

 

 

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Alfreton Away)

A dour stalemate at the Impact Arena ( the only impact Alfreton has ever made on me is the high number of squalid housing the town has. Impressive effort. It’s possibly the only thing the East Midlands excels in.) plenty of effort little quality, a point that will only be of any use if both home games are won this week.

Patchy performance rarely touched the relative attacking heights of the Hayes win, decent enough in the first half, when we should have got our noses in front, Gray going close a couple of times, should have provided a tap in for Fleetwood, but his centre had too much pace.

Second half, we rarely got going, despite a triple substitution. Buckle missed a trick by not bringing on McAllister, as we were penned back for long periods by a physical Alfreton side and couldn’t get out of our half for a long time. They had opportunties as well but were let down by some wayward finishing. Tyler wasn’t really tested, nor was his opposite number Stewart, a man bulit more for comfort than speed. We could have nicked it at the end, as Kovacs showed some fancy footwork down the right, centred for Boucaud, whose header was stopped on the line.

The main positive to come out of the game was an all too rare shut out on our travels. Despite conceding far too many needless free kicks in dangerous positions again ( although with the referee got 1 in 4 decisions correct,if that, ), we held out well, Kovacs in commanding form. At one stage he got laid out by a stray elbow by Wilson, in the next attack he was cautioned for a regulation push on the same player and was promptly cautioned. Viva consistency. Pilkington stood up better than in previous games, and despite some well positioned set pieces played in by Deverdics, Alfreton never crowded around Tyler, so he was able to punch the danger away with relative ease.

Another excellent travelling support even allowing for the ease of the journey,making up over half the attendance, if you believe the official figures. The ground was apparently half full, good to see once again Football Clubs evasing tax like Lester Piggott in his hay day. Looked at least 75% full.

An unchanged starting eleven from the win over H & Y. Just a couple of changes on the bench, Gleeson and Boucaud ahead of Watkins and the ever annoying Kissock. Unless someone was playing with an injury, dislike having two defenders on the bench, as think you need as many players on the bench as can alter the outcome or affect the game. Watkins omission from the squad in Buckle’s first two games is disappointing. The set up was the same for the majority of the match. Fleetwood through the middle, Gray on the right, Willmott on the left , Lawless in the hole, Poku and Keane as the two holding midfielders, with Tyler in goal and the back four of Osano,Kovacs, Pilkington and Howells.

Alfreton are a very one dimensional side. But have got out of trouble with admirable timing and before their defeat by York, had gone on an impressive unbeaten run. Two commanding centre backs, Franks in particular was outstanding. But we missed a trick, the ball spent long in the air, Gray had the beating of Franklin for pace on our right, needed to shift inside and run through the middle more. Keane apart, the midfield struggled to get more of a foot hold in the game, with Poku very poor, Lawless produced some nice touches, but didn’t influence the game as much as he had done on Monday. They pressed us, increasing as the game went on, for the work rate they put in they didn’t tire either.

We settled quicker, looked up for the task in hand, got to the ball quicker, with Alfreton’s only ideas in open goal, a big boot up to their human totem pole Cunnington , or erm… a big boot trying to isolate Kovacs against the pace of Arnold. Nice to see their play had so much variation.

Lawless popped up on the right was cut out by Kempson. On the break Meadows and Deverdics exchanged passes, almost getting past Osano, but he recovered and adverted the danger. Tyler was almost done by a wickledly low bounce, as Franklin put in a huge throw from the left, Brown haeded down, the ball appeared to be a comfortable take, but the ball almost scuttled beneath Tyler. Kovacs robbed Cunnington, carried the ball forward , before knocking a pearling pass out to Fleetwood on the elft, such was the quality of the pass, Fleetwood was able to collect the ball and cut inside Low, just curling a dive over the bar. Although we were playing the better of what football was being played, Alfreton were a threat at dead ball situations, after Osano was adjudged to have bundled Jarman over. Deverdics floated a free kick on the left, which got a touch by Kempson and Cunnington reacted quicker to fire a low drive which Tyler saved to his left.

The first casualty of the game was an advertising hoarding, as Cunnington and Kovacs tussled, as Kovacs was shoved into one, and the sign ended up coming a distant second best. A clever reverse pass by Lawless, just had too much on for Gray, as Franklin could shepard the ball back to his goalkeeper. A trip by Osano on Deverdics in a central position, could have been problematic, but Low’s dipping attempt, merely dipped behind the goal.

We looked more likely to open the scoring. Lawless got his foot in, Keane played a perfectly weighted pass inside the full back, gave Gray a sight of goal, but drive hard and low across goal. A hack forward by Howells, Gray got the ball before Franklin, but lashed the chance against the upright. Another good pass by Keane, Lawless dummied the ball for Gray to run in and centre the ball for Fleetwood but was too powerful for Fleetwood, what made have been a simple tap in.

First booking of the afternoon was Poku, a clumsy tackle on Franklin, it was his first foul and rather harsh. The half petered out, Arnold went down looking for a penalty with minimal contact by Kovacs. Brown’s drive was blocked, by a pack of white shirts after it dropped nicely.

The second half Alfreton carried more of a threat, as we struggled to make much of an impact, although Poku should have scored early on . Willmott, who didn’t see much of the ball, put in a wicked corner, Kovacs make contact knocking it down, after Steawrt made a mess of it, but Poku clouted the ball well over, it is still probably orbiting the Earth, as I type.

The main tactic change Alfreton switched Meadows to the left wing. Osano, without a great deal of defensive cover, is always a source of concern, manging to squeeze past Osano, as the angle opend up, blazing over. He had a dig after being set up by Jarman , which curled wide. For all their play, the Derbyshire side barely forced Tyler into a worthwhile save in the second half.

Our performance did need freshening up, a triple one occured, which took hours, as they still have the old fashioned cards rather then the eletronic board. Gleeson, Boucaud, o’Connor replaced Osano, Poku and Willmott repectively.Can see why the changes were made, but it didn;t improve our performance. Boucuad against a strong team, with Brown proving a decent battering ram, isn’t his cup of tea. Gleeson,not surprisingly looks short of match fitness and O’Connor is usually more effective starting rather than off the bench. But unless there are/were injuries or illness, it was an unimaginative selection of replacements.The performance didn’t improve nor get worse. Just stagnated. We weren’t allowed time on the ball, none of the forwards could hold the ball up either.

A break from Deverdics switched the play to Jarman, knocked the ball to Arnold who beat gleeson with ease, picking out Devedics smashing the ball woefully over. Howells conceded a free kcik down our left tripping Meadoews. Meadows got up and lifted the ball to the near post, where Jarman guided the ball onto the near post. Franks’ long tghrow was also met by jaman unable to control his half volley.

Fleetwood with a rare touch, showed a neat footwork to defeat Kempson, rounlling the ball beyond Gray. Alferton seemed happy with a point, sticking on Streete, a giant of a centre half in place of the creative Deverdics, with that change they lost the momentum as we finished the stronger. A reall wasted opportunity as confusion between Boucaud and O’Connor on a free kick in a decent position was rolled by Boucaud but O’Connor didn’t react at all.

A penalty appeal was turned down, after Gray’s cross hit Franklin’s hand. It was unlikely the referee would have given a big decision, all afternoon he appeared to shy away from them. Low twice saved Alfreton with a couple of goal line clearances, first from Pilkington via a Lawless’ corner. Then as our charge came too late, deep into stoppage time, Kovacs made the most of some sleepy defending by the hosts, nipping in between Wilson and Franks, hanging up a delightful centre for Boucaud at the far post to nod down after rising majestically, but Low again somewhere managed to stop the ball.

Mark Tyler 7, Curtis Osano 5.75 ( Dan Gleeson 6) , Janos Kovacs 8, George Pilkington 7, Jake Howells 6.75, Alex Lawless 6.25 , Keith Keane 7.5, Godfrey Poku 5 ( Andre Boucaud 6), Robbie Willmott 6 ( Aaron O’Connor 6.5), Andre Gray 6.75, Stuart Fleetwood 6.5.

Subs not used – Craig McAllister, Shane Blackett. Booked – Poku, Kovacs, Lawless.

Alfreton – Stewart, Low, Kemposn, Franks, Franklin, Meadows, Brown, Deverdics(Streete), Jarman, Arnold(Clayton), Cunnington(Wilson). Booked – Meadows, Kempson.

*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 how good it is to read that the Government are sticking by their contingency plans in case of a fuel strike. Great – look forward to more panic by the idiots..erm.. I mean the wonderful Great British public as coffin dodgers and bored housewives rush out and fill up with a whole two litres of fuel.

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Hayes HOME)

That’s a first, both Jamie Hand and Godfrey Poku, who have given referee’s writers cramp this season, neither were booked despite playing the entire game.

Well done Paul Buckle. 48 hours after the deadbeat’s braindead defeat at Braintree to turn around and produce an fine second half display is a major achievement in typical Bank Holiday weather. The first half was rather patchy, had Hayes matched some of their neat thoughtful football, with better finishing, we could have been in trouble. All is hardly rosey in the garden, four goals in two games conceded from basic set pieces is alarming , but an attractive, enjoyable open game against opponents who came with a positive approach, meant the game panned out nicely in our favour. Footballing sides we excel against, defensive sides we struggle, that is hardly an exclusive.

But after a month of rancid performances, it’s a start. Know it’s only Hayes, but we would have struggled to beat Melvyn Hayes recently. Next weekend at Alfreton will be interesting( that is a oxymoron. Think of Mansfield without the glitz and glamour) as they are very similar style to Braintree. So if we can stand up against a physical side and get a result, it will be a good sign.

There was more drive, intensity and tempo in our play. Pressing the ball further up the pitch , and confidence started to grow. Plenty of shots and a rare goal rout, some quality strikes, not least Kovacs’ goal. Always deadly in the six yard box, shame it was ours .

Fleetwood was outstanding, full of running, pressurising the Hayes defence, scoring two clinically with class finishes and making the other two. Not bad for a winger. :o) A far cry from Saturday’s brief cameo. When he charged around like a elephant on vodka red bull. Has always been a good goal scorer throughout his career, which made the decision by Brabin to stick him on the wing all too often plainly absurb.

There were plenty of other good performances, both full backs overlapped well. Keane and Poku closed the Hayes midfield down after a sloppy start. Gray playing on the right, worked hard , even when he missed a chance, his head never drops and just looks to have another go, scoring eventually with a thumping drive. Lawless and Willmott’s work rate were noticeably higher( yes, I know not difficult), Lawless played well in a free role and looked something like the player he should be.

The first team which Buckle selected contained three changes – Fleetwood, Willmott and Poku ( Hurrah! Gawon Godders!) in for Blackett, O’Connor and Boucaud ( bit harsh, he was Braintree’s MOM) replaced we started playing 4-4-2, but for the majority of the game, Gray drifted to the right, Willmott on the left, Lawless just behind Fleetwood. Keane and Poku in midfield, in front of a back four, as creaky as a garden fence in a gale of Osano, Kovacs, Pilkington and Howells.

We used the pace of Fleetwood and Gray very well on the counter attack. Considering the limited time they have played together, have bulit up a good understanding. Gives us options on the break, as with Hayes’ struggling position, they had to attack, a draw not much use to them

As for Hayes. Thought it was a comment on our players drinking habits naming Tom Collins on the bench. Also in the sixteen were Owusu and Pele, an unlikely duo. Don’t just raise the roof by using Viagara would be a marketing man’s dream. In football terms, if not defensively, they were a breath of fresh air. Personally get bored with this repulsive League, all the time wasting and negativity, for a team to come out and play positive stuff is a credit to a team with few resources. Wishart looks handy upfront, if allowed too much time on his left foot. They broke well down the left through Spence and Williams. They played two forwards and the midget Mingoia ( which sounds more like a sexual disease than a non League player’s name). Dangerous on the break and at set pieces. Hope they stay up and condemn either Newport and Telford, both eye sore teams and places.

The first half wasn’t great, but for Fleetwood’s two strikes, we were slightly lucky to be ahead at the break. The improvement in effort was there, but so was the stunning lack of confidence. Thankfully we scored our goals at good times when Hayes were threatening to get on top. Most of the game, even the early stages, it was remarkably open. A neat back heel by Gray, sent Lawless running ( no typo) through the slow Hayes backline, but could only tap weakly at Arnold. We gave Hand too long on the ball in the early stages, as he proved with his assist at Grimsby when with us, he has a decent long range passing game, an arcing pass just had too much pace as Williams looked to have got got behind Osano. Then from Hand’s corner, O’Brien’s attempt was gathered by Tyler.

They managed to got between our defence and midfield with the minimal effort, a foraging run by Williams across the pitch, knocked it back to Argent, sqaure pass to Wishart, a quick touch defeated Pilkington far too easily, and tested Tyler with a well struck curling effort, which Tyler tipped behind. Even from the corner we didn’t switch on, Cadmore arriving at the back post, stabbed goalwards, blocked by Pilkington, the ball went out to Argent sending in a cross drifting wide.

After Osano was penalised , Hand took a quick free, allowing Wishart a clear run on goal but for a terrible first touch. . Lawless gave Fleetwood teh ball, half way in tehir half, head down, he just ran, jinking past Pele and toe poking a fierce, but controlled shot past Arnold slap bang in the corner.

That goal should have settled down the team, Willmott patiently waiting for Howells to over lap, finding Gray, turning but only head into Arnold’s chest. The lead didn’t last long, as bentley crept inat the near post following Hand’s free kick, was helped in at the far post by Wishart, with Kovacs on the line, just failing to keep the ball from going in over the line. A bad eror by cadmore, failing to cut out a routine pass, allowed Gray to spirit down the right, crossing low, but Argent put in a superb sliding tackle to deny Willmott a tap in.

Wishart allowed too long on the ball to turn inside, finding Williams, who in turn pushing Spence through, but he could only fire wide. A rhino charge by Poku, got the crowd back on side, knocking the ball out to Howells, putting in a splendid cross, which Spence just nicked the ball off Fleetwood’s head.

It was still Hayes who were playing the composed football, where as we were still a bit helter skelter, trying to do things too quickly. A long punt from Arnold, nodded down by O’Brien, gave Bentley a sight at goal, but slammed his drive wide. A strong tackle by Poku on Mingoia,gave Willmott the ball, prodding it to Keane shooting wide of the near post.

Fleetwood slightly blotted his otherwise explemery copybook, by delibrating handball and continued to voice his protests. One day he will learn to accept the decision like a man and not a brat. To be fair, he didn’t get many decisions his way, noteably one as he charged into the box on the left wing,was blocked off by Argent in the area , with the full back not even looking at the ball. We started to get the hang of things, as half time approached, poku and Keane getting through a lot of work. Osano helped a cross into the box, Willmott unselfishly chested down for lalwelss to finish tamely. . A break down the right, saw Gray pick out Pele, who kindly returned the ball to the former Hinckley man, this time lifting it over to the far post to Fleetwood who volley cannonned in off the woodwork. He couldn’t have hit in any sweeter. Natural goalscorer’s finish. We could have nosed firther ahead, Poku siwtching the play after a delayout to Howells, perfect cushioned pass, Gray opend his body up,but side footed wide.

The second half was an improvement on the first and we ran out worthy winners. After a quiet start, Fleetwood got on the ball, being closed by Bentley, looked likely to take the ball inside, but a clever reverse pass, let the overlapping Howells, centre for Keane to steal in at the far post to side foot past the prone Arnold.

Credit to H & Y, they kept going forward, Williams pushed the pass to Wishart getting the better of Kovacs, Howells had to be alert to hack behind with O’Brien loitering. Bentley sent a looping header from Hand’s corner, Lawless kept his cool by heading off the line. The let off didn’t last long, their second goal, was a mess frankly. Another Hand set piece on the left, inswinging, again Bentley, the major aerial threat, not properly guarded, it looked to be going wide,until Kovacs unfortunate intenvention, slide in and scored.

In recent weeks, heads would have dropped, but we kept going despite the setback, it could have been worse, had Poku’s somewhat erratic clearance, after teh ball had bobbled again, Kovacs tapped it out of teh D, Poku facing goal, smashed into a tackle on Wishart, the ball sent flying towards goal, Tyler had to help the dipping ball over. Godfrey,old bean we where shooting the other way!

Great run down the left by Fleetwood, taking out Argent, sent in a smashing ball for Gray, the finish was poor. But Gray does have a very handy knack of getting space in the box.

Hayes started to play long, as we closed them down higher up teh field and were rarely the same force in the game. Gray turning infield, sent a swerving strike, which Arnolsd dealt with well topalm wide. We were starting to conced a number of corners, but we brojke well away from one, breaking brilliantly through Fleetwood and Gray, the chance looked to have gone, as blue shirts got back, however Fleetwood played a side foot pass to Gray, who sent a strotching drive into the corner.

Confidence flowed and we played some very good high tempo stuff, shooting on sight and probably should have increased our lead, although that would have been harsh on Hayes’ efforts throughout the game. Howells and Poku linked to set up Lawless to help the ball over. Kovacs sent a low powerful headerr wide from Willmott’s corner. Willmott’s drive just wide from fully thirty five yards. Excellent claim from Arnold to deny Geray after good passing move between Keane and Willmott.

Wishart went on a mazy run, beating Keane twice in teh process, Kovacs covered the space and blocked the attempted shot. Osano sent an inviting low cross which skidded past Lawless. Lawless then the proivder for Fleetwood to gain a yard of space and fired a stinging strike which lashed against the post. Great shame,as Fleetwood deserved a hat-trick for his all round performance.

Collins caught out Pilkington and his recently acquired lack of pace, bringing down the sub in a dangerous position just wide of the box. Wishart stumbled into Hand’s set piece, and sent the ball harmlessly over.

Kissock replaced Gray, allowing him to indulge his now tedious and unsuccessful showpony act( it’s more pony and trap) , which ended up with him on the floor. Why Kissock can’t work out himself, he is a decent player, when he passes and moves into space, rather than his usual sealion impression is beyond me. When he is on stepover remix he really is a very annoying little man. But he is a scruffy northerner, so what can one expect of second class citzens?

Anyway there were brief appearances for Blackett and McAllister. Kovacs almost scored a fantastic goal trying to volley in via his back heel from Willmott’s corner.

So, one down and five to go. Pity late goals in other games went against us. But at least there were more positives than negatives in that performance, which you would be hard pushed to pick one positive out of Saturday’s match. Apart from it was a quid cheaper to park at the ground than follow the away car parking pay a quid extra for a longish walk. Word of advice, never ever follow a road sign that directs you to a football club, they are only telling you the way they want you to go. True dat.

Mark Tyler 7.25, Curtis Osano 7 , Janos Kovacs 6.25 , George Pilkington 5.25, Jake Howells 7.25, Alex Lawless 7.75 , Keith Keane 7.25 , Godfrey Poku 7.5, Robbie Willmott 7(Shane Blackett), Andre Gray 8(John-Paul Kissock), Stuart Fleetwood 9.5 ( Craig McAllister).

Subs not used – Aaron O’Connor,Adam Watkins. Booked – Gray, Fleetwood

Hayes & Yeading – Arnold, Argent, Cadmore, Pele, Spence, Bentley, Hand, Mingola(Collins), Williams, O’Brien(Walsh), Wishart. Booked – Cadmore.

*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 the chap who interupted the Oxford Cambridge boat race. Bit of a silly punt admittedly, but it enlived it up rather. Why do Oxford and Cambridge always get to the final? They should include the likes of Durham and Loughborough and do the ten pint challange before the dirty tax dodgers begin the race .

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (TOWIE away)

You know things are bad when a group of blokes standing in front of a bungalow start doing the Poznan when their part time team ease to a well deserved success, a fair reflection on the game, over our bunch of over paid spineless and gutless little lot. The sooner this dismal season ends the better and Buckle can hopefully do a repeat of the Texas chain massacre to get rid the disinterested members of the squad the better, perhaps we can start moving forward, getting this proud football club back somewhere nearer it should be . Buckle, watching on from the Main cow shed making copious notes, looked pale by the end, no mean feat considering the amount of fake tan he was wearing. At least his face tones in with our home shirt. What the bloody hell has he let himself in for?? Good luck, Mr B. He must have a serious amount of self confidence to take the job. Ferguson and Mourinho would have their hands full with this lot, let alone a man who failed majestically at Bristol Rovers.

The saving grace, the final whistle was blown and we could go home. A fitting obituary to Brabin. I wish him every success in attempting to complete a sentence in perfect English. It’s important to have dreams in life. A slot on ” Just a Minute” awaits. Namely in a cowardly, negative team selection, ending with two strikers on the wing ( a touching tribute) the players either look under prepared, demotivated and not able to carry out instructions. Confidence has gone, it has for weeks. Rarely can such a dramatic and collective lowering of standards ( for whatever reason) have been seen within a group of what should be decent players. Everyone has off days, but to be outplayed, out battled over all areas of the pitch is pathetic. Braintree are a typical non league side, bash it forward, challange for every ball ( we barely won a second ball), physical and rely on set pieces. Three years on and we still seem unaware of the teams we are up against.

Horrible to watch and anti football, but on a bobbly pitch with long grass which was as flat as a cobbled street on a hill, it’s not designed for the beautiful game. But trying to out hoof a specialist long ball side, is that how pitiful a shambles we have become? How shorn of ideas? It’s becoming more and more like amateur hour. The officials were dire all around, in the first half it’s probably just as well . As Braintree were denied a stone wall penalty when Thomas felled by a surprisingly out of position Osano, a foul when occured a good few yards inside the box, was awarded as a free kick, marks goal disallowed for a very soft push on Kovacs and Tyler produced a wonderful fingertip save, sprawling save to deny a stinging dive from Davis was given as a free kick. Aswad ” Don’t turn around” Thomas stole a good five yards at every throw in, under the Linesmans nose, even when he had a over due word, Thomas still continued to gain ground.

The miracle is we are still in the race for the play offs has become a case of a battle to avoid them. Us, York and Southport all lost the last two games.Which again sums us the absolute dross in this League. Which makes the situation it all the more maddening. We aren’t very good, but one poor team is going up with Fleetwood. Fourbald men fighting over a comb.

Didn’t like the starting eleven at all. Blackett at left back, pushing Howells further forward, fine no problem. Three defensive midfielders – Keane, Lawless, Boucaud. Admittedly Lawless shouldn’t be regarded as a holding midfielder, but he rares runs forward, actually he bares runs these days. If Neilson and Carden had picked a team to put tin hats on to battle and include say Poku ( If there ever a game tailor made for him, twas this ) and McAllister. Fair enough. But Boucaud against a team who would be in his face quickly. Really? On a nice, sunny day, show boating at 3-0 up, spraying the ball about, he would look brilliant, but unfortunately this is the Conference.

Tyler in goal, back four of Osano, Kovacs, Pilkington, Blackett. Midfield three of Keane, Lawless and Boucuaud. O’Connor and Howells out wide, leaving Gray to single handly cope with two nightclub bouncers. Once again he did his best, scoring with another fine finish which he took without thought and rapid too, one of only a handful of attempts we had. He has made the step in extremely well and deserves better than to be pitched in amongst a bunch of serial losers and people coasting, doing the least to earn their salary. Professionals? In name only.

As I have already said, Braintree are a muck and nettles team, odd when managed by Alan Devonshire playing in an usually attractive West Ham side. Hate long ball hoof teams , but they play to their strengths and know their roles in the team. Basic stuff, which was seemly beyond our previous management. The two forwards Marks and Wright, our former loanee, who can still control the ball further than most players can kick it. Combined very well. For a club with their meagre resources, a top high finish in the table would be excellent achievement.

Cressing Road, with it’s infamous white hot atmosphere, is a bog standard non-league ground. Believe it or not, it’s improved recently. Full of cow-sheds, amidst trees and a new housing development. If I bought a flat onlooking a non-league club, would draw the curtains. The support was pretty much 50/50 for both sides. We have an incredible support for the rubbish the team have produced for too many years.

We looked surprised by the way Braintree played. Why, as they acquainted themsleves well in the reverse game and it was always going to be a battle. Although O’Connor went close, with ashot which struck Gray and was hoofed away by Wells. We didn’t settle, waiting too much time on the play, passing was terrible when put under pressure and we looked like a team which are there for the taking.

Gibson, a thorn in Blackett’s side for most of the game, with his pace and delivery from the right, had already crashed into Pilkington in the box looking for a penalty. The referee waved play on, but as usually is the case looked to even things out and did so giving them a free kick on the right flank, O’Connor slapped in a well directed kick into the land of the giants, Tyler making a poor judgement coming out to fist, but the huge gangling figure of Bailey-Dennis flicked the ball into the far corner before he could get there.

Thankfully we got back into the game, O’Connor lookly slightly more lively than in his last few games, played a pass which Thomas unwittingly played into the path of Gray, reacting sharply to shot beneath McDonald and continue his impressive start for the Town.

Any hope, that would settle us down and we could at least attempt to try and play some football was a false one. Kovacs and Pilkington battled well against Marks, who backed in most of the afternoon without being penalised, and Wright, even when we cleared the ball, Davis and Reason snapped up the loose ball, got it wide, where we looked very dodgy in full back areas. Boucaud so ponderous in possession, at least he picked out an orange shirt, shame we were playing in our old dark navy strip. Lawless little better. Keane again at least popped his head out of the parapit in to put in a reasonable shift, but the help he received from his two midfield colleagues was lamentable.

Gibson’s centre was met by an off balance Marks, resulting in a wayward header . Boucaud, under little pressure, spread the ball straight to Wright, shifting the ball inside to Marks, who rifled the side netting. Gray won a free kick near the right corner after being sexually assault by Wells. Lawless clipped the ball which O’Connor couldn’t keep down.

But it was the Essex team, who looked dangerous when they got forward, we conceded plenty of soft free kicks and needless corners, just to ramp up the pressure. An excellent pass by Reason, a vaguely proper player in a team full of hackers fed Gibson, his cross flicking off Kovacs, Wright looking for a volley, which ended up nearer the bungalow/clubhouse behind the goal. A more woeful execution of a volley you couldn’t wish to see.

From another illegal Thomas throw, Reason flicked the ball down the line to Wright, with osano not in psosition, Wright could aim low to marks, who got in front of Kovacs( with presumably teh aid of a very light push), to divert the ball into the far corner, which got ruled out. .

Howells,putting in another anonymous performance, a far cry from his excellent start to 2012, hit a fierce cross from Gray’s throw, plucked out by the small McDonald. Then Reason rolled rolled the ball to the overlapping Thomas, tripped by Osano inside the box for a free kick. Wright looking for the top corner, only located Howells’ head from the free kick.

We couldn’t keep the ball for long periods, it was a dream of a game for a hoof ball fan. Gray put in plenty of good movement, shame no one spotted it. Then when hauled down by Bailey-Dennis, was booked for it and a drop ball was given. How? Why?

Tyler whose handling wasn’t good, made amends by prodding a brillant save, after we failed to get the ball away, Lawless’ weak prod was picked by Davis outside the box, hit a drive true and clean, Tyler, diving to his left , touched the ball onto his post and behind for a goal kick.

Somehow and incredibly undeservedly, we got to the break level. Surely Neilson and Carden would change it, too much for cones droppers obviously. It was crying out for Watkins, someone to keep the ball, commit defenders, all slow and looked shaking defending deep. Little pace, in the heart of it. Watkins, in the event, didn’t get his usual belated ten minutes.

Second half, we did improve slightly. O’Connor playing more centrally. Whilst the quality of our play was shocking, we did have more of the ball and the contest was even.

However Paine sent a dipping screamer wide. O’Connor missed a decent chance, a poor header by Dvais, gave him the ball between the right back O’Connor and centre half Wells, he should have shot earlier, but elected to drive into the box. McDonald made a fine save to his left. But in our current fragile state we need those chances to go in.

O’Coonor was withdrawn for McAlister, which didn’t help matters. Would have been better playing O’Coonor on the right, taking off one of the midfield flouncers. McAllister was given shocking service, with Bailey-Dennis on his back, the ball was pumped over his head. Often he kept pointed to his chest, but no-one appeared to notice.

Braintree looked to have run out of ideas. Wright and marks were a threat with their physiacl appraach, but apart from Marks’ header straight at Tyler from Wright’s swinging free kick. We weren’t under the same intense pressure of the first half. . Tyler did have to make a fine claim from Gibson’s free kick.

We started pressing higher up the pitch, under Bailey-Dennis gave the ball away to Lawless, his neat flick Gray was just unable to control. Poku replaced Boucaud, but was prompting played on the left of the midfield, rather than sit in front of the back four. His passing can be sketchy and was very poor today.

Osano, starting to have the confidence to go forward, but most of the time he just lost it, this time, his centre dropped nicely for Lawless, but the shot was blocked off by Bailey-Dennis. Just when we looked like getting on top, we lost a another poor goal from a set piece.

Poku made a clumsy tackle against Gibson about thirty goals from goal ina central position. Wright stepped up and played the ball deep, when Marks got around the back of the defence to nod in unmarked. Credit it was good movement and finish, but the defences were like statues.

Fleetwood replaced Lawless. He was very keen, almost too keen, his passing and control on a difficult surface were dreadful. He played on the left, Gray on the right ( switching over soon after), with McAllister.

That goal Braintree renewed life and confidence in them, and they starting knocking the ball aroundr and playing through the midfield, with ease. Wright held Kovacs shirt ( missed by the referee), played a one two with Marks before Tyler parried away the strike to his left.

As the game approached injury time, we almost got an equaliser, Osano dropped his left shoulder, and belted the ball low through a pack of bodies, McDonald must have seen it late, could only push the ball away to the left, Gray reacted but was denied by a superb match winning block by O’Connor.

Howells was crowded out ( spending far too much of the game on the right), Davis made an impressive break, flicking the ball to the right to Marks bearing down with only Osano back, Marks fell over Osano’s trailing leg, penalty was given. Marks took an age to limp off. The bog roll thrown onto the pitch from the uncovered terracing was an apt summary of our club’s current state. Gibson’s well struck penalty beat Tyler to his right with sheer pace.

Once again defeats for Southport and York have handed us a life line. Whether we deserve one , is an entirely different matter. What team on Monday should Buckle pick? Eleven who care and have some professional pride would do for starters, so that rules out many of our current playing staff.

Mark Tyler 6.5, Curtis Osano 4.5 , Janos Kovacs 7 , George Pilkington 6.5, Shane Blackett 6.25, Andre Boucuad 3( Godfrey Poku 4.5), Alex Lawless 4.75( Stuart Fleetwood) , Keith Keane 6 , Aaron O’Connor 6.25( Craig McAllister 5.5) , Andre Gray 7.25, Jake Howells 5

*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 the new manager. Well, everyone else has their say. Have severe reservations about Buckle and his two year deal. Don’t trust many people on the football side of the club on footballing matters, so hope they are right and I am wrong ( usually am). At least it isn’t Martin Allen, would personally have stopped going if he had been employed. Don’t wish to be associated by the raff riff like him. I do have standards. Personally would have gone for Tisdale ( not just becuase of his cravat either), Bogie, Daish ( despite his beard and terrible dress sense which would shame a homeless person) or if it had been an unemployed urchin,maybe Scott.

Just hope Buckle learns from his horrible time at Bristol Rovers. If he had come straight from Torquay, would have been more happy about it. But everyone makes a disaster of one job, hope that was his. Selects a team who attacks, has faith in younger players. Weeds out the weak. Gets the team fitter, sorts out the medical staff – how many players injured in training. Sign players with defined roles and not a lorry load of half hearted ones. Most importantly, do not play centre forwards on the wing. Please. Oh, don’t blame others for your own failures either.

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