PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Newport Shambles away)

That was conclusive proof, if further proof was needed, that against the best teams in this League we aren’t good enough. If things don’t improve, with happenings elsewhere , obvious replacements are waiting, we can pick Bogie or Mellon. Buckle hasn’t done himself any favours, making life hard for himself and takes a age work out the seemingly obvious problems and needs to buck his ideas up. It’s odd he did very well with Brabin’s players, but has looked lost with the players, he has brought in.

Even by our pathetic low standards, some stunning inept defending killed us against a decent team who couldn’t believe their luck. Last chance saloon happened ages ago. As Mr Jolley made it a very unhappy night. Wins against poor opposition merely paper the yawning cracks which needed addressing during the Cricket Season ( When Richards and Spiller are apparently stellar signings alarm bells are ringing. More like Stella Artois drinkers) , it’s all rather late with Father Christmas about to unload the contents of his sacks on your living room floor. (Hope he cleans the mess up, the dirty git). With Newport fielding three former Wimbledon play off winners, it was like a meeting with a ghost of Christmas past

There were a couple of mitigating factors in this defeat. The late return of Smith to York- couldn’t they have done it after last Saturday? They don’t play again until this Saturday. Dear old York, even when they aren’t the same division as us, they continue to shaft us royally. He had proven to be a vital cog in our team. Shame as thought Smith and Mendy had some potential together. Although in reality, Smith is only a honest toiler, but we don’t process any of that ilk in midfield, not filling the void left by Keane and Godfrey, who can put their foot in breaking up opposition moves , covers the green well. Howells had a perfectly good goal chalked off, as someone breathed within twenty yards of their goalkeeper Julian (who is surely sponsored by Teflon). We could have had a penalty, but to by fair, they could have had as well for fairly obvious handballs. But we were rank in defence and midfield.

At Rodney Parade we defended like plonkers and sadly the collective football brain at our beloved, if increasingly haphazard club makes Trigger look like Einstein. Selecting two centre halves, one is not good enough and the other is suffering a crisis of confidence, was an awful idea, as the best centre back at the club was left thoroughly exposed against a classy winger. Mendy and Howells in midfield, Ant & Dec, Laurel & Hardy, Renee and Reneta or even Pepsi & Shirley are combinations I would prefer being selected. The big question about Mendy was whether he would fancy a cold night miles away. Answer – he doesn’t. Whilst he has ability, it’s easy to see why he hasn’t lingered long at any club. Not going to labour my point about Howells in central midfield. Beckwith is weak, has there been a worse player given a two year contract at Luton? A

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Dorchester Home FACup)

 

Thank god for Mark Tyler. Saving us for the umpteenth time during his Luton career. Everyone owes him a few beers. As we did our best to throw away a 2-0 lead. We need January to come around as quickly as possible and get two defenders in, although given some of the fairly dreadful player recruitment in recent years; I don’t be holding my breath for an improvement. Both collectively and individually, the defence is not good enough. I don’t doubt Buckle and the coaching staff are working hard at set pieces, but you could practice 24/7 and if the players aren’t bright enough at set pieces it’s a waste of time. Concentration is the big problem and awareness as well. The 4-4-2 formation hasn’t helped much either, in fact playing that formation we have gone backwards. We need three centre halves in the team, desperately. At least until the defensive frailties have been addresses, then we can move on forward.

After a first half, which we will in control, but until a spell before the break, we weren’t a huge goal threat not until half time approached ( our best spell of the game) , as we moved the ball too slowly, although did use the flanks well. Played reasonably, but nothing more. Fortunately really, Dorchester parked the tractor in front of goal, weird they had already seen they could hurt us as an attacking force. So they handed us the incentive, very softly. Strange they left out two players, Malsom and Thompson, who made a positive impact on Tuesday.

When Matthews’ faux pas gifted Lawless a second goal, looked like they were going out of the competition with a whimper. Unsurprisingly, they got back into the game via a corner, a low dragged delivery by Gosling, was back heeled by Nicholls into the path of Pugh to side foot past Tyler.

Panic stations, we defended too deep, Rendell long since disappeared into the back pockets of Pugh and Clough, they managed to ping cross field passes over to Gosling usually by Nichols, who doesn’t have the legs to get round the park, but can spray the ball around pretty well. . O’Donnell failed to backtrack to give LRT the help he needed. Too big a gap between our defence and midfield. Kovacs and Lacey won a number of headers in the air against a makeshift forward in Clough, but we didn’t win enough 50/50 balls and we couldn’t get out, holding a deep defenisve line, further hindrered ourselves. Centres rained in and it was virtually shooting practice for the Dorchester forwards against Tyler. Fortunately he made four or five saves from good to outstanding, to prevent an unwanted trip back down to the Dorset County town. There isn’t much between the two teams considering the full and part status of both clubs.

Do hope we avoid a team from the top two divisions, although the financially it would be marvellous. A good team would destroy our numerous obvious faults and may leave a psychological mark for the season. Also we have lots of games before the fifth of January, non –league players presumably think Manchester United away is a big deal ( the reality is all rather mundane. Trust me, been there, seen it, lost it) and disappear from far more important matches . It happened against Watford before we played Liverpool, when we were a proper football team.

On a cold, cheerless day, The Theatre of Comedy was an empty place come kick off time. Good following from Dorchester, probably more than attended Tuesday’s night match. One change from that game, Beckwith recalled for the cup tied Ainge. Again 4-4-2, Tyler in goal, back four of Henry, Kovacs, Beckwith and LRT. Same midfield and forward line from the last game. Surprised that Fleetwood didn’t have a trundle instead of Gray. Although Gray worked tremendously, taking his goal very well, far harder chance than the numerous misses down there.

It was a low key start; we tended to improve as the half went on. Smith was at it more like himself, just as well as Howells was a passenger. Rendell like the team was decent enough, and then faded badly after the turn around. Dorchester only left the small Watson up front on his own, playing three centrally in midfield, so our main joy was down the wings. Lawless was heavily involved. They are tactic was Mr Mobile himself, Matthews to lump goal kicks towards Watson, no price against Kovacs, who was better in the air today.

A good run down the right by Gray was halted by Pugh. First sight of goal came courtesy of Rendell peeling off his marker to smash Lawless’ low corner into Pugh. The Dorset’s side first hit was wayward, Jermyn latching onto Beckwith’s nod forward. Lawless picked out O’Donnell on the left, a perfect delivery into the corridor of uncertainty which eluded the dives of Rendell and Gray.

A tug, outside of the area by Gleeson (still looking nothing like Beckham) on Lawless, gave Howells a reasonable position, but his left foot wedge sailed over. We missed a trick by not shooting on sight to make the most of Matthews’ lack of mobility. Henry noticing getting forward more, with Garcia barely involved, lashed in a cross which Matthews punched away from Rendell, O’Donnell seized upon the loose ball, Clough touched him, but JJ went down instalments. A poor intended back pass by Clough was reached by Gray, a delightful back heel, gave Rendell a clear sight of goal, rather than carrying the ball into the box, he went for the difficult option, by curling the side footed wide, from a hard angle. If he could pop them in from there, he wouldn’t be wasting his time in the Conference.

We coped better against Gosling, O’Donnell a bigger help, but LRT at least showed Gosling down the line on his weaker foot. We started to take a grip on the game, mainly through corners by Howells; Beckwith slipped with the goal at his mercy, the ball came out to Smith, stabbing at the ball, taking a touch off Gleeson. The next corner saw Beckwith make better contact, but a simple catch by Matthews for a looped header.

Henry was in the book for upending Jermyn. Whilst it was a foul, it was his first offence and Jermyn got up as soon as the yellow card was brandished. LRT overlapped well from JJ’s pass, he thrashed the ball with power, it picked out Lawless, but such was the pace whilst he got his head to it, couldn’t keep it down.

Beckwith lofted a ball over the top, Gray scampered down the left flank, entering the box, he did really well keeping his composure waiting for the right angle to appear, Dorchester stood and watched, Gray netted with a tidy finish.

Kovacs’ ball forward, helped on by Rendell, The giant Pugh nudged Gray and it ran through to the keeper. O’Donnell was getting the better of Walker, space opened up and he smashed the ball just wide of Matthews inches wide of far post.

Howells and O’Donnell combined the ball arrived at Gray, getting there in front of Pugh, but Matthews smothered the ball. Gray again went twice close. LRT’s centre found Rendell to flick off a defender and begin. From which Lawless, collecting possession from a half cleared corner, his attempted cross hit the top of the bar.

At half time, Malsom replaced Garcia, and not surprisingly had to take a more positive approach. We never really got going. Not much danger of them getting back into the game. Nicholls dragged wide set up by Watson. Once again, we tried to hit Rendell in the air. Which is stupid, another lesson not learnt. It was scrappy stuff, neither team on top. Gleeson latching on Pugh’s knock down, which struck LRT. Clough’s flicked header from Malsom’s in swinging corner, Kovacs watched Gleeson in space head wide. A simple opportunity in front of goal.

Martin’s reverse pass gave Watson a chance, but his shot was weak. But we were struggling against set pieces. We switch off, don’t appear to anticipate danger. A long free kick played forward by Martin, Clough got a clear run on Beckwith to head across goal.

We were playing on the break; Gray’s movement gave us an outlet. Tyler’s goal kick, reached Lawless getting goal side of Martin, firing wide, when he should have done a load lot better. A clever pass down the channel by Smith, gave Gray a chance to rattle against the post, with Matthews’ faint touch, touched the ball onto the post. Beckwith again won a header from Lawless corner, which was straight at Matthews. Jermyn smashed over from a weak Smith clearance.

Beckwith suffered an injury which he was stretched off, looked an innocuous incident. Whilst hope the injury isn’t serious, no need to hurry back Dean, old boy. Lacey replaced him. He struggled to get into pace of the game, however without regular reserve games or a loan spell, he won’t improve. By the end we won his fair share of headers.

Neat interchange between Henry and Howells, the low pass found Lawless, whilst he pinged his shot with pace, Matthews, basically waved the ball through into the net. At last a two goal lead with twenty minutes to go, plenty of time make a mess of it.

Gosling’s corner from the right, not properly hit, Nicholls back heeled the ball to Pugh who finished clinically.

As we weren’t passing the ball well, too often panicking under pressure, Dorchester do hunt the ball in packs. Walker and Gosling combined down the right, the cross came in to Thompson the Pompey loanee, to head low and Tyler stuck out a crucial right mit to prevent the equaliser. Nicholls’ lob, was flicked behind him by Lacey, leaving Watson sprinting clear down their left, Watson’s flick was palmed away to his left by Tyler. . Malsom and Thompson again were repelled by Tyler. The referee missed an assault by Pugh on Howells, already booked, for the break away for Malsom’s chance. The space we leave open in the box is incredible.

Gosling taking full advantage of the exposed LRT. Why it took Buckle so long to take O’Donnell off, fine with the ball, but no help to LRT. Needed Mendy on and Howells could have played in front of LRT.

As it was Fleetwood replaced Gray, who had been a livewire afternoon. A sharp cross by Henry was nutted out by Clough to Howells, who miskicked the ball wide. Gosling cut inside to hit the side netting after Watson played him a square pass. Smith was then booked for winning a tackle on Clough. A neat turn by Lawless and shot hit Pugh and went behind. Six minutes were added on, which became more after a nasty clash of heads between Pugh and Rendell. We tried to waste time by playing the ball in the corner.

Although Dorchester were denied again by Tyler at the death, but a fantastic relax save by Tyler, Thompson allowed to control yet another centre by Gosling, but he got down low to his right. Lawless picked the pocket of Martin, sold short by a Matthews throw, his pass to Fleetwood was half blocked by Matthews.

Job done, just about. Mainly thanks to Dorchester’s negative tactics and the fact they only started playing at 2-0. At least we showed character to see off the Dorchester siege. Still, given the recent results, it’s a win and we can get back to the League programme. Oh silly me, we have this lot again on Tuesday night. At least they have re-arranged Newport quickly. It’s only going to take another bad Winter and we are going to be horribly behind in our League programme, with the Macclesfield away game now off. However every team in the Conference needs to voice their concern about the way the F.A. Trophy is prioritised over the League games. Mid-week competition, no replays, no extra time, if it’s a draw then penalties. If the F.A. don’t like it, refuse to play in it.

Mark Tyler 9, Ronnie Henry 7, Janos Kovacs 6.5 , Dean Beckwith 6 ( Alex Lacey 6) , Lathenial Rowe-Turner 5.5, Alex Lawless 7.5, Jonathan Smith 7.25, Jake Howells 5 , J.J. O’Donnell 6.25 ( Arnaud Mendy), Scott Rendell 6.25, Andre Gray 7.5( Stuart Fleetwood)

Subs not used – Jon Shaw, Adam Watkins, James Dance, Dean Brill. Booked – Henry, Smith

Dorchester – Matthews, Walker, Pugh, Clough, Martin, Gosling, Nicholls, Gleeson,Jermyn ( Thompson), Garcia ( Malsom) , Watson, ( Thompson) . Booked – Pugh
*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 in surprise that no one has mentioned the MK v AFC Wimbledon game this weekend ;o) . Personally think it’s disgusting the way the spineless F.A. allowed the relocation of that club. It’s shocking they allowed AFC Wimbledon to move in on Kingstonians’ patch!

 

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"Gary, I’d like to risk the chance of going out in this competition by fielding an even weaker team than I usually do.”

 

Another cup game in the ‘cold’run of football Kenilworth Road (see what I did there?)  Alex Lawless and Andre Gray provided the Luton goals, but it wouldn’t be a Luton game without conceding from a corner, and we duly obliged. Though this time it was a shot from the centre half rather than a header which brought the Magpies back into the game.

First of all many thanks to those of you who posted your thoughts after Dartford game – I think there was certainly a common theme amongst the contributors, I’m grateful to you all for taking the time to comment.

I’d also like to thank the Brains Trust at the club who saw fit to open only one of the food bars at the Kenny End and then to only staff it with four (often three) people thus creating a line of people longer than a Zimabwean bread queue. I originally queued up just to be surrounded by a warm blanket of people, but I persevered for 20 minutes and returned with yet another Bovril.

It was largely all Luton until such time as Dorchester got their goal, and after that it was largely Dorchester. You expect as much in the cup – but if it wasn’t for some great saves from Mark Tyler and a couple of clearances off the line it wouldn’t have been a home win I’m typing about.

The first goal, in the first half came from a lovely chipped through ball by Dean Beckwith (remember him?) for Gray to accelerate on to he dribbled around a couple of defenders, seemingly taking it too far before hammering home.

Pleased to see 4-4-2 as the default setting now, with a big man and quick man along side. JJ O’Donnell looks better as a winger than Howells, and Howells, looks better in the middle than O’Donnell. Howells, played some nice through balls, but is exposed time and time again by his lack of pace. Lawless was on the right wing and it was a lovely interplay between him Ronnie Henry and Howells to set Alex through for the second goal. It was fitting that Lawless and Gray got the goals today, for they were our best two outfield players, with Kovacs’ head coming a near third. The man of the match, was without a doubt Mark Tyler for keeping us in the competition.

The first half is a bit of a blur I must admit. Having been in the ground on my own for what seemed like hours, I managed to intoxicate myself with a number of Fosters to numb the pain and Bovrils to attempt to warm me up after the ice-cold lager. The cold air soon sobered me up though, as did the reality of wondering what I was doing sitting outside on a freezing cold December afternoon watching a tier 5 team labour against a tier 6 team in the second round of a trophy we have no chance of winning, but there you go – the madness of the football fan.

With the win in the bag we are in the draw for the third round again for the first time since the corresponding December in 2009. On that day we were drawn away to Southampton, who were then on the beginning of their ascendance to the Premiership. We put up a good fight on the day, losing to a free kick that shouldn’t have been and could have equalised if Adam Newton had slotted home from a yard out. That miss shattered Newton’s confidence, and he was never the same again. A young lad called Watkins came on a sub that day – I wonder what happened to him? Prior to that  our last third round opponents were Liverpool Fc. Remember outsinging the kop? I’d say ‘happy days’, but the very existence of our club was in doubt at that point.

I’m a bit frightened about the draw. I see three outcomes: Either we are drawn against Watford which would be fantastic. We get a boring draw against Burton or Crawley. Or we get a team in the top two divisions. That frightens me. If our defending is poor enough to ship three goals at home to the likes of Braintree, what the hell will a decent club do against us? Yes, we’d dream of a Man U, an Arsenal or Spurs (or Liverpool yet again) and it’d be on the telly of course, but I suspect even United’s youth team would maul us like that lion and all those dwarves. We’ve got one or two reasonable players, but we need to have a look in the mirror and man up: we’re pretty rubbish nowadays.  If we were even half decent we would already be six points clear. I’m phlegmatic about it now. If playing on a sustainable budget means we are there or thereabouts at the top of non-league then so be it. It shouldn’t be, because so many others do so much more with so much less. I would have liked to think that we could at least eventually haul ourselves to League One, but it ain’t going to be a quick process guys – we’re here for the long game. We’re paying the price for our continued existence.

Anyway, the 3rd round draw is for tomorrow, and presumably the draw is after the Milton Keynes  vs Wimbledon game. Now that’s a funny fixture. I can’t imagine the players getting worked up about it in the slightest and probably the only ones bothered about it would be the die-hard Wimbledon fans, most of whom will probably be boycotting it. I can’t see how the plastic ‘fans’ there to cheer on Milton Keynes will have anything other than respect for AFC . Certainly no antipathy. They will probably be sitting there wondering what all the fuss is about. AFC Wimbledon have the self respect that no MK fan can ever have, but again, there would be no AFC Wimbledon if the original club hadn’t moved to Bucks. A strange set of feelings. I can see how AFC fans would have absolutely no time for the non-club, and it will be amusing to see if there is some fake hatred from the MK supporters.

On Tuesday we host Dorchester yet again, with ‘Concentrate’ Ainge presumably replacing Beckwith who was stretchered off today. In the post match interview it was fascinating to hear Buckle say that he’d have to consult with Gary Sweet before deciding whether to put a weakened team out. Honest statement, but strange state of affairs.  Imagine the conversation – “Gary I’d like to risk the chance of going out in this competition by fielding an even weaker team than I usually do.” I’ve love for us to do that. I’d love to see Messrs Woolley, Lacey et al giving Dorchester the hiding the 1st XI didn’t.

Speaking of youngsters, wasn’t it great to see Jay DaSilva playing so well for England u16 vs Scotland the other night? Easy to see how he was so readily snapped up by the European Champions, I thought he looked an outstanding prospect. Good news for England, financial good news for Luton I suspect.

It’s ten o’clock now and I’ve just about warmed up. Did I mention that it was cold by the way?

 

 

 

 

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