PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Hyde Shambles Home))

In two words, unacceptable rubbish. Even in a pre pre-season friendly against a side with something to play for. Out passed, outbattled and it would be been a travesty of justice had we got anything from that hideous second half performance. Odious aimless hoof balls to Wall, who isn’t great in the air. Pitiful stuff. No Football played by us in that half. Credit where it’s due Hyde played some neat counter attacking football. Milligan, the Fleetwood midfielder, a class apart, with his movement, vision and ability to pick a pass. , but this is a side who arrived on the crest of a slump after six consecutive defeats.

We are all going to have to suffer an awful lot of mind numbing dross before it improves. It’s going to be absolutely horrific to watch. Lack of confidence is one thing and as are lots of changes whilst John Still assesses the squad (too many unmotivated players on far too long contracts), iffy performances will occur. However no heart, effort or professional/personal pride is a disgraceful. I know, another summer of wholesale changes isn’t the answer, but the current team aren’t collectively good enough. What is the answer? Very little pattern or teamwork. The FA Cup run was the worst thing that could have happened, as it gave some of the players’ delusions of adequacy. We really have sunk this low to deservedly lose to a team at home, who only had a few more fans than players. The rest must have had an appointment with Dr Shipman.

Apart from Howells, Wall and Henry, no one else really put in an acceptable shift. Half-hearted at best, professional misconduct at worst. Two changes from the Hereford game, Mendy and Rendell made way for Wall and O’Donnell. Still 4-4-2. O’Donnell joined Smith in a Bermuda triangle midfield. How many more games we will have before someone notices, in most games we are a man short in midfield and we have no forward thrust from that area of the pitch?

Hyde are a small side, their football belies their league position, but playing in this League on dreadful pitches against outweight, physical teams is a hard task. Their midfield three of Tomsett, Milligan and Brown, were more comfortable on the ball, had far more hunger and desire. Blinkhorn, another one of our former loanee Blinkhorn held the ball up well, allowing Almond and Hogan touse their pace to exploit the gaps. Nice to see a team play some football and show a positive attitude for a change. On a budget which is about a can of Coke and a packet of Crisps. They looked a decent outfit at their place in August. Shame the season, couldn’t have finished after that game. Top of the table, never to return.

As for us, McNulty and Goodman look shaky at the back, after a promising start against Nuneaton, although that maybe because Nuneaton don’t have anything going forward (which they don’t). Taylor currently is a disaster. In midfield, once Lawless retired hurt, only Howells showed anything like eth necessary determination. Wall tried hard, but his limitations in a bad tea are exposed and apart from a lovely reverse pass for Howells’ leveller, Gray did little.

Hyde started well. In Melchester Rovers’ shirts. We played more like Roy Cropper than Roy Race. Tomsett’s change of feet beat Henry but a lousy forward pass defeated Blinkhorn. But too often, we relied upon Tyler’s increasing inaccurate kicking to start our attacks. Please someone tell him to throw it out! To a colleague not out of play.

Hogan and Blinkhorn combined, which Goodman helped out for a throw in. From which, Brizell struck a powerful drive on the rise, which Tyler stopped. The game was very scrappy with no flow.

A good piece of chest control put in a lovely slide rule pass for Gray to get down the right channel beating Dennis, who diverted it behind. We looked to hit channels, not looking for forward running players but aimless knocks down that area of the field.

Wall was knocked to the deck by Ashworth, who was a bit of a donkey. McNulty took the free kick, Gray found space, but his first touch, saw the ball through to goalkeeper Carnell.

Too often we gave them too many time on the ball, which Hyde used that well, too slow to cut the supply to Griffin raiding forward from left back and Brown, Milligan, who moved the ball around intelligently on the floor.

Howells’s elephant charge down the right, made good ground before cutting inside, on his swinger, which meant as a shot, worked out as a decent delivery, Wall heading into Carnell’s arms. Wall, who at least made a good fist of the first half, robbed Dennis, made ground down the right, all it needed was a simple square pass to Gray but found Ashworth instead.

Milligan’s pass stroked to the right, Hogan’s burst of speed left Taylor and Howells for dead, pass into Blinkhorn, slipped but had enough on the ball to find Almond who helped the ball into the top corner.

Our response was for Taylor to locate the Noble Solicitors advertising sign behind the Oak Road goal. A hump up field by Tyler, wasn’t dealt with by Ashworth, the loose ball fell to Gray, who lashed the ball wide with Carnell rooted to the spot.

Gray outmuscled Ashworth down the left, with options better placed in the middle (Howells the obvious one); he smacked the wide across goal, from a more difficult angle. Taylor’s prod forward aimed for Henry was deflected by Griffin for Wall to smash a drive against Dennis, the defender’s touch taking all the pace of the strike. Goodman was adjudged to have fouled Blinkhorn Brown’s touched free kick for Mulligan to send a stinging shot at Tyler.

Our best move from Lawless turning and beating two Hyde players with ease, opened the play out to Taylor, Howells on the overlap, centred and Wall could only nudge the ball wide, with plenty of the goal to aim, scuffed it wide.

Lawless injured himself in the move and was replaced by Walker, who started on the right. We equalised soon after, excellent reverse pass by Gray, good vision by Howells, seeing Carnell position himself for a cross, from the left, spotting the keeper in no man’s land, and cheekily drove the ball inside him to net in the far post.

A dreadful kick by Tyler found Milligan, forward pass to Almond drifting infield, off balance before shooting wide.

Walker’s centre towards Howells, no direction on the header with Brizell pressing him, then as Gray, played wall down the right, looked for the return pass but could only locate Carnell.

Another fairly undignified first half performance, seen us play far worse recently, so hopeful of pushing on to get a win. What followed in the second half was terrible. Never tried to pass it, just hit and hope(less). Never at the races, apart from a few catches from crosses Carnell and his centre halves were unduly troubled. When Hyde got on the ball, they passed it well enough and looked a danger on the break.

Fine passing move, between Brown, Almond, Milligan and Hogan, wasting the cross, hung up easy for Tyler. The referee was picky and didn’t allow the game to flow, would have been better advised sorting out Carnell’s blatant time wasting antics. The winners of the second half were boredom and losing the will to live. How many balls ended up in the John Dreyer net, I lost count at five.

Wall, fair to say, knows how to win a free kick in the style of Suarez and Bale. Won a decision against Tomsett, Howells wastefully floated the ball into the night’s sky and into the gloves of Carnell. From a quick punt out Almond was away on the break, neither Goodman nor McNulty pressed him and allowed him to get a strike at goal, which wasn’t far wide.

Gray was subbed, since he has signed the new contract, his game has suffered. Still would have kept him on. In his place came Martin. So walker went upfront, Howells on the right. So we had little coming from the right, neither of the front players could hold the play up, actually walker just run around in every direction bar the correct one.

Blinkhorn’s control, turn and pass down the left to Almond was very good, luckily henry got back and forced Almond into a poor touch, so Hyde wasted a good position. Griffin’s pass into midfield Tomsett picked out Almond, electing to go on his right side, curled the ball wide of Tyler’s upright.

A decent hard centre by Taylor was neatly gathered by Carnell, then a poor tackle by Taylor cost us the game. Hogan’s low centre, poor touch by Taylor, trying to make amends tripped Blinkhorn. Dead cert penalty. Milligan was never going to miss dispatching the ball to Tyler’s right, as he elected to dive the other side. LRT replaced Taylor, but the damage was done.

Little response from the team. Just went through the motions, thinking about the Beach. It says an awful lot about the current crop, that they don’t want to time to impress the manager. Trouble is most of them are under contract, so it’s going to be expensive to shift some of them, who don’t fancy it.

Wall fell over under minimal contract from Brizell. Reasonable free kick by Martin, Wall did his best to dive full length but ended up falling on top of the ball. O’Donnell, who although did well on Saturday, isn’t a central midfielder as a pairing, stroked a fierce drive, which cannoned off Dennis and behind. Martin’s poorly taken corner, allowed to go through to McNulty, stabbing over. Henry’s free kick down the right flank, Howells swept the cross in, Wall (who is far better with his chest than his head), nudged the ball down, but Ashworth denied him the angle at the expense of a corner.

Four minutes of injury time were signalled, four minutes too many. Apart from Martin doing well to scoop a cross in from an unlikely angle which Howells couldn’t get a touch of any note to. That was that.

John Still had a point of keeping the team in that awful huddle for a long time after the final whistle, which is done for show and nothing else. Hyde trooped off, to a well-deserved round of applause. Hopefully some of the reserve players will take their opportunity to shine at Peterborough on Wednesday. Hope he has a look at some of the younger players, I can’t stomach much more of certain players doing little to earn their pay.

Mark Tyler 5 , Ronnie Henry 6.25 , Steve McNulty 5.75 , Jake Goodman 6 , Greg Taylor 3( Lathenial Rowe-Turner), Alex Lawless 6.75 ( Dan Walker 5.5) , Jonathan Smith 4.25 , J.J. O’Donnell 4.75, Jake Howells 7.25 , Andre Gray 6.25 ( Dave Martin 6) , Alex Wall 7
Subs not used – Matt Robinson and Dean Brill.
Hyde – Carnell, Brizell, Ashworth, Dennis, Griffin, Tomsett, Milligan(Sedgewick), Brown,Hogan,(MCartan) Blinkhorn, Almond.

*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 Australian cricketers being placed on the naughty step for failing to go their homework. Askling a bit much for any Australian to think, write or read. Even for a simple question, how to get a better International Cricket team? Duh…the answer is obvious import lots of Serf Erficans. Simples.

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Mansfield H)

Someone mused at the end of another ninety minutes of pitiful dross, still waiting for a game of Football to break out “Well that’s the season finished then”. Cheers for that, Mr Nostradamus. Wasn’t aware it had actually started. Only joking, as we still need a couple more wins to stay up. Although Workington away on a Tuesday in November holds a morbid fascination. We could start new local rivalries with Brackley, Oxford City and Bishop’s Stortford.

A good game if you don’t like football. The vast majority of the match, the ball spent in the air. On the rare occasions the ball was on the deck, it was kicked randomly in various directions, not usally the correct one and chase after it. Sadly, that’s what we have been reduced to. Terrible to watch, leaderless and clueless. Good luck to whoever gets the job, it will take a long, long time to sort out the problems we have , unless it’s Westley then hope some puts a bomb under him. That would be Karma for Farnborough. At least if we do miss out on the play offs( and we will need a Kidderminster esq run to reach them), it gives time to have some proper preparation for the new season. Not blunder on along on a wing and a prayer, signing coachloads of permanently injured Herbalife salesmen or other players on a whim of a decent game against us. We aren’t absolutely terrible,but we will be soon, unless something is done to stop the rot.

Current problems we have, that I spy with my amateur eye – A board, doing their best, but require some random Pinky and Perky to help them pick a good manager (I will happily give them a shortlist, if their football knowledge is so poor), the former manager who gives it legs, when the going gets tough and gets agents to recommend players to him. A coaching staff that makes players worse – look at poor old Jake Howells is a shadow of the player he could be. Shoved around from pillar to post, how can any player possibly develop that way? The players themselves, who don’t have a semblance of confidence left are lacking guidance and a shape to our play, who are an empty shell of the players they should be. Only a few weeks ago, they deservedly beat Wolves and Norwich.

Smith and Gray showed the fight, some of their play was ragged, but they didn’t stop working. Only Lawless had some composure on the ball, but as it spend most of its time in the air, he didn’t see it at much, as we needed him. The only other player who looked OK in possession was Baldy Murray, formerly of this parish, who took time out for his busy duties of refereeing to play a game of football as well, get the Mansfield midfield ticking over.

Another day, loads more unnecessary changes. What was wrong with the back four at Macclesfield? They dropped too deep, but it was an improvement generally. So that’s gets thrown out of the window, to accommodate a player who hasn’t played for weeks and removes the best centre half at the club to left back. Oh brilliant. How many different combinations have we had at centre half so far? Well, apart from far too many. LRT had a stinker, roasted on numerous occasions by Briscoe, and his heading, it slide off right, left and centre of his noggin, but seldom in the correct place. He may as well have put Happy Harry‘s head, it won’t have made his performance much worse.

Fleetwood who almost single handled rescued the carnage of the second half at Macclesfield, left to rot on the bench. Mistakes in selections and on the field haven’t been picked up on. Rendell for example is a decent link up player but he isn’t a target man, calm finisher, but heading the ball is an obvious weakness, yet Tyler tried to find him every time with a long punt against two good headers of the ball in Dempsey and Jones. How many times do these idiots have to watch Rendell before they realise how to get the best of him? It’s staggering, it really is. Am presuming Shaw and O’Donnell were unavailable to make the sixteen.

The major problem today apart from the bleeding obvious of once again needless goals being shipped , whilst McNulty and Thomas, who is a long way off match fitness, headed enough away, with LRT at the back, we have three players who can’t pass the ball at the back, so it gets cleared anywhere and keeps coming back.

After a first half which was dross, apart from Rendell’s goal, which was a bit lucky, Smith’s shot hit Gray and deflected kindly for Rendell to net. We were dire, to be honest. All hoof no thought. Fancy trying to out hoof Mansfield, at their own game? Mansfield quicker and sharper to the loose ball always looked the more threatening. Second half; we started well after changing the formation to 4-3-3, got back into the game, with a well taken goal by Gray, after a lovely pass by Rendell. The good work ruined by the introduction of Howells, who looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights currently replacing Neilson, who had just started getting into the game. He wasn’t involved in the first half, but it’s a waste signing him, if you aren’t going to get him into the game. If we are going down the route of playing alehouse football, at least get pub style players in.

So, the team was Tyler – Henry, McNulty, Thomas, and LRT – Neilson, Lawless, Smith, Martin – Rendell- Gray. On the bench Ainge (popping up for Kovacs) Howells, Fleetwood, Mendy and Brill.

Mansfield. Where to begin? So much to dislike, so little time to do so. A whingey, charmless collection, who complain and surround the referee for every decision. Like Roy Keane in his pomp. Just as well, Murray did most of the arbitration otherwise they would have been in a right state.. Rather like the town itself, me dook. Managed by a cock, oh sorry I mean Cox. A chairman who confirms you may have money, but you can’t buy class, taste and dignity. Well organised, reaping the rewards of fielding the rewards of a settled ream and give the buggers their due; they are on a blinding run. They won the game mainly as they made fewer mistakes. Simple as. The truth of the matter is they are nothing special, but in a league where abject mediocrity is King, you don’t need to be anything else to reach the top five. Oh. Green is a decent target man, Daniel had too much for Henry with his pace. Clements is a tidy passer of the ball and Briscoe on his day given time can be dangerous with his direct style and moan.

On a bitter day, our crowd quiet probably in disbelief the amount of time the ball spent being hacked into orbit. Thomas struggled on his debut, he moans well at officials, but unfair to judge him on this game. Decent in the air, but deadly slow. McNulty and Thomas wouldn’t work as a combination. Got to be LRT and one other. Neither player has yet to develop an understanding, unsurprisingly. The sooner LRT is pushed back and away from left back there the better.

Thomas fouled Green, down their right; Tyler plucked the ball from Jennings’ free kick. Tomas almost had a debut goal to savour, penalised for a minimal nudge on Jones, nodding in Henry’s long free kick. Mansfield have plenty of pace in attack, a neat back heel by Green allowed Stevenson to get to the by-line, but Thomas cleared the ball behind. From Jennings’ inswinger , won by Dempster but the referee spotted another minor infringement.

At last, the ball landed at Rendell’s feet, playing inside for Gray to drag a shot wide. The match was very scrappy, littered with free kicks. Tedious fare. Few out and out chances, both Tyler and Marriott handling were competent, as you would expect from two of the better keepers in the League. Any flow of the game was ruined by Mansfield’s time out tactics, both Murray and Beevors were treated for injuries to knee and shoulder respectively, plagues have come and gone quicker than it took for treatment to take place on the field. Neither were head injuries.

Another long punt from Thomas, flicked on by Rendell, Gray seized onto the ball, taking advantage of a slip by Jones, but his touch heavy and Murray could help it behind. At the third time for asking, Lawless’ corner was eventually helped into the box by Smith, just a whisker away from Rendell.

Clements clever reverse pass into Beevors, found Stevenson, whose movement was good all afternoon, taking advantage of the sleeping Martin and lino, being offside, his low strike, safety stopped by Tyler.

Daniel, strong and powerful on the left, managed to sneak between hennery and Neilson to fire a centre, well claimed by Tyler. A long cross field pass by Beevors, knocked down by Green, to Daniel, Thomas stuck his foot out, which Daniel tripped over. He went down easily, but Thomas was lucky not to concede a penalty.

That reprieve lasted only a matter of moments, Rendell facing his own goal, played the ball back straight to Green, found Briscoe on the right, his return pass back into the middle, cut out by McNulty, but such was his first touch, Daniel nicked it off him and was tripped. Green stepped up, scuffed his penalty well enough to defeat Tyler diving to his right.

At least Rendell made up for his error, calmly finishing, from close range, Smith’s shot which luckily got deflected into his path by Gray. We had a better spell before conceding again. Martin, putting a cross with pace and power, well caught by Marriott, then showed good spirit to hassle Murray, before Smith won the ball, but the referee gave a free kick. Tyler at last threw the ball out, sent Gray down the line, but Beevors covered.

Mansfield’s second goal was well constructed and finished, would help if we didn’t ball watch. Jones’ ball forward into green’s chest, Stevenson picked our Daniel down the left channel, with a sweep of the left foot; it ended up in the net.

Second half was better, but it was far too frenetic and hectic, passes going over the place, some being played blind. With three centrally, at least we gave Mansfield more problems and were more competitive. Neilson switched inside, with Martin on the left, Gray the right, Rendell in the middle. We weren’t really in control, as it was very open in the second half, but at least we forced them back and Jones and Dempster had to do some proper defending.

Briscoe wasted a good chance, hitting wide from a Jennings’ set piece. . Rendell’s neat pass sent Gray away, beating Jennings with ease and a lovely finish, clean, composed strike into the far corner.

McNulty blocked Stevenson’s attempt from Green’s through flick. Henry become the first in the book, tripping Daniel, taking one for the team. Lawless’ corner found Thomas wrestling off Jones, but unable to direct the header.

Fleetwood replaced martin, a mere fifty five minutes too late. Shortly followed by Howells for Neilson, and thereafter our improvement ceased quickly. Very sad, but Howells looked like a little boy lost, almost scared to go near the ball. A really needless change. Dempster tugged Rendell, on the edge of the box, Howells, on a decent angle for a left footer, cleared the crossbar with consummate ease. Rendell seeing more of the ball on the deck in this half, squared for Gray to shot wildly wid

Another thing, which we need to improve, is pick up players better at throw ins. We set up too slowly. From a Jennings throw, Daniel turned past Lawless and Gray, but could help the ball behind, after having down the hard work. A long ball forward by LRT, a knock down by Thomas, the ball sat up for Howells to strike, but he dithered and the opportunity was gone.

Fleetwood lost out to Beevors, getting the ball to the lively sub Hutchison, finding Clements to slam a snap shot wide. Hutchison eased past Howells into Green, a dink to the near post, defeated Daniel at the near post. Gray and Smith linked up nicely, and swung the ball in to the back stick, Rendell managed to beat Jones, and flick the ball goal wards, blocked by Marriott , the rebound eventually ended up at henry, firing in and Fleetwood failing to get enough on the ball to trouble the keeper.

With about ten minutes left, we were looking the most likely. A hopeful pass by Gray, worked out nicely, hitting the back of Dempster, Rendell stretching but unable to poke the ball in, in fact the ball went further away from goal after he touched in. Gray on the right worked space and a pass for Smith, in a decent central position to set himself but only manage only to curl the ball into Marriott.

The winning goal late on, summed up our defending this season. McNulty, the last man ( why? He has the movement of a weeble.) could have headed the ball anywhere but could only prod the ball out to the onrushing, newly arrived Meikle, finding Clements on the left, a powerful shot across goal, superb relax save by Tyler but only as far as Meikle who gleefully smashed the ball into the empty net. McNulty apart from costly two goals, had a reasonable game. But his lack of mobility is always going to let him down at some point, not reacting quick enough to recover.

Onto the joys of Braintree ( not that there any except for the Black Notley golf club) , the former pride of the Essex senior League. Dodgy pitch, cold night, the omens aren’t good. Three away games on the road in succession, is about the last thing we need ( unless you are fortunate enough not to away games ) Thanks for everyone concerned for making our club a complete mess.

Needs someone to come in with a calm head, the problems are self evident . No need for a complete clear out in the playing staff, we have obvious limitations, but with someone who can judge a player and organise, it’s not a problem. The whole coaching staff needs to go, between now and pre-season training. The last two games whilst they have been in charge, have been more than enough to confirm how witless they truly are and unable to correct past mistakes which have surfaced over and over and over again. If it needed confirming. Which it does not.

Mark Tyler 7.25 , Ronnie Henry 6 , Steve McNulty 5, Wayne Thomas 4.75, Lathenial Rowe-Turner 3, Scott Neilson 5.75 ( Jake Howells 3.5), Alex Lawless 7.25 , Jonathan Smith 7, Dave Martin 5.5 ( Stuart Fleetwood 6) , Scott Rendell 6.25, Andre Gray 7.5

*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 Queen eats Horse headline. So was surprised and disappointed, to discover it was about her eating horse meat at Ascot rather than eating Camilla Parker-Bowles. Which would have made a far more interesting story.

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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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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Dartford Home)

With Newport beaten on Friday and Wrexham being turned over by Hereford (what a week for them), it was set up for us nicely. Set up for us to shoot ourselves in the foot..again. It’s happening too often to just be one of those days. More like one of those seasons. Paul Buckle isn’t getting the best out of the players available. Nowhere near. After a good performance at Hereford, there was no light at the end of the tunnel against Dartford.

If you concede soft, set piece goals and the manager buggers around with the team selection trying to be too clever , you get what you deserve. No excuses today. Just not good enough, miles below the standard we need to be. Well played Dartford, as good a team in this League ( damning with faint praise), Ive seen, bar Grimsby. But for their lack of numbers, they would be good enough to mount a Title challenge. They play like a team do the basics well ( that is all you need this Season), we have decent but wildly hit and miss individuals. How the likes of Noble, Hayes and Bradbrook are part time players is beyond my little brain unless they have well paid proper jobs. We gifted them goals, but it was a classic away performance by them. Deserved their unheard of, at Kenilworth Road for an away team, a standing ovation.

Buckle’s selection defied logic. He fiddles around more with the starting team than Jimmy Savile in a dressing room full of underage girls. If anyone really thinks Brill is a better keeper than Tyler ( if 100%) in a League game, they need sectioning. LRT one of our better performers at Hereford axed. Personally thought our midfield trio were excellent at Hereford. So why change it? Not for O’Donnell, full of endeavour and carries the ball forward well . But unless he is on the left wing, he’s not worth his place. Best will in the world, he is a boy trying to do a man’s job. Jake Howells isn’t a left back. Correction, he is a dire left back, as Hayes ran rings around him proved ( if anyone was in any doubt) . With Lawless at right back, against counter attack teams, it’s a risky choice playing two midfielders there.

Whilst the strikers for wingers formation works well on the road. Buckle, the 25 trillion coaching staff and the players need to come up with something better with at home. Personally I would prefer to play three centre halves and wingbacks. However if Buckle is going to persist with this system at home, our movement off the ball needs to improve massively, but also play an attacking midfielder, just off Rendell or Shaw. The lone front man is isolated, so even when Rendell won the ball, no one is running on to collect it or arriving from deep when crosses come in. Apart from the fact, we don’t get enough men in the box, so our crosses look worse than they are. Although there seems to be a magnet on top of the Oak Road roof, as a lot of balls are disappearing over there.

You can point to stats of possession, corners ( mostly daintly floated up easy for Bettinelli at the near post) shots, whatever you fancy. The most telling stat is we have lost six games by the middle of November, which is grossly unacceptable for Luton Town in this League. It’s only due to the fact that the standard in the League is universally rancid, we aren’t that far off top. It was a poor techincial performance, Dartford closed us down well , but too many unopposed passes went astray to light blue shirts, first touches awful. Appreciate players at this level are slow in thought and action, but that was very bad today, until we improved slightly, but too little too late.

Including a late flurry, we had about three efforts on target, whilst Dartford defended well, not once did you feel they were hanging on by edge of their fingertips.

If it wakes up Buckle up to his senses and goes for a different approach at home, then today maybe a blessing in disguise. Don’t hold your breath, boys and girls.

Two changes from the unfortunate Hereford defeat- Lawless and O’Donnell in place of Kovacs (one mistake and gets dumped) and LRT (at best a disgusting decision). Brill in goal, back four of Lawless, Henry, Ainge and Howells. Three centrally Smith (best performer by far, got around the field well, but there is a touch of the headless Chickens about me), Mendy (dire, got closed down, lost interest in the game thereafter. Disappointing as on his day, he has the vision to open up defences), O’Donnell. Rendell, in splendid isolation up front (apart from being groped by Bonner and Arber), with Gray and Fleetwood out wide.

Dartford, very tidy passing team. Simple approach, Bradbrook sweeping up in front of their defence, Noble’s quick feet and movement, afforded so many space, the two wingers Harris and Hayes, ran amok on the break. The main difference, they always have options on the ball and closed us down quickly. We didn’t and our movement was static. They were cheered on by a noisy, large travelling support ( aww. How sweet. Must be a blessing to escape the bed sit for a day?)

Hayes ran inside Howells, centred diagonally across to Harris, powering in a smart header, but had run offside. They passed it well and settled better. But Smith apart no-one else was rattling in tackles. Smith gave away a free kick, bringing down Noble. Noble arose, and sent in a drifting free kick, our defence stood and watched, Bradbrook ran across Brill, and the ball went into to the far post. Hardly worth noting, Brill was stuck on his line. So once again, we are playing catch up football.

Bettinelli took hours to take goal kicks. The referee rotating both arms really is very effective form of discipline. They were generally quicker and sharper to the ball. Plenty of possession, but little goal threat, hopeless final ball (why does Fleetwood take corners? Out of interest), once again plenty of possession, huff and puff, but Bettinelli only had to pull off one smart save to deny Gray.

From Champion’s long ball, Noble, did wonderfully well to take down the ball in his first touch, beat Ainge, but at least he recovered to deflect the ball over.

Rendell’s fine 50/50 tackle on Rose, gave O’Donnell a rather optimistic chance to shoot straight at Bonner, yards out of the box. O’Donnell played a nice forward pass, Gray showed good movement, and his first touch seemed to take the ball beyond Bonner, as Bonner slide in took Gray first the ball second, but nothing doing. Fleetwood enduring another frustrated afternoon fouled plenty of times by Burns on the left, but no further punishment. Whilst Fleetwood was about to take the free kick, Mendy shoved to the deck by Bonner in a box, and booked. Why isn’t that a penalty? Rendell’s low pass found Gray sprinting beyond Rose, his low drive blocked by Bettinelli’s legs; the rebound hit Gray in the psyhog and went towards the goal only for Burns to hack away. Lawless had a quiet game on his return, sent in a fine cross, Burns miskicked, but Fleetwood back on his heels couldn’t control the ball. Lawless played another cross in which fell to Mendy, Champion got a block on the ball, which O’Donnell scooped wide.

Most of many corners were held up for Bettinelli to push his way through the crowd, like someone shopping at Christmas Eve, to fist away. One he made an awful mess of the ball on a plate to Ainge, who fluffed the chance Dartford clearing their lines again.

Whereas some of our play was patient against Nuneaton and Hereford, more often than not, brill hoofed the ball downfield, with Rendell alone had little help. Hayes robbed Mendy, to break clear, Ainge standing up well to get a foot on the shot, it span for Harris to control with his arm, before Henry whacked it away.

Howells’ pass gave O’Donnell some space to run in to, but going infield on his right peg, meant his effort was more like a back pass. Their second goal was terrible goal to concede. A long straight free kick by Arber, headed on by Bradbrook, with no-one in an orange shirt moving Bonner tapped from close range. Dismal, shambolic defending. It could have been three before the break. Hayes eased past Howells, deliver a cross which Lawless climbed above Harris to win.

Half time brought no changes. The team came out early, which is done for effect nothing else. We did started better, Fleetwood unlucky, running onto his own header, drove with purpose into the box, , a fierce low drive, which eluded Smith by an inch or two. Dartford could have sealed the game on the break; Hayes passed Howells, his cross missed by Erskine.

Lawless was involved a lot more, looked to try and get the ball diagonally into the box, which not a bad idea, as we had little joy beating Bonner and Arber in the air. Better passing between Lawless and Gray, set up Smith to shoot tamely at Arber, Then Gray turned into space again only finding Arber. Gray looks a shadow of himself at the moment. Twice today, he refused to run after passes which he could have comfortably kept it play. His confidence is very low, keeps on snatching at the ball. He needs some help from our five million members of our coaching staff. If they can’t see he needs encouragement, they are blind.

Howells had the ball in the onion bag, following a superb low pass by lawless, but he was offside. His defending was scratchy, all over Harris to concede a free kick, which Noble located the scoreboard. A poor square pass y lawless played in Noble, beating Smith, but a heavy touch cost him, with Erskine screaming for the ball.

Dartford used the width very well. Handy having wingers on the flanks. Bradbrook’s pass into Erksine’s feet, neat turn, Hayes got to the edge of the box, before smashing his drive onto the roof. They have been watching us.

Mendy gifted Noble the ball, on the break out to Harris, low centre saw Ainge made a vital clearance. Walker came on for Mendy. We went 4-2-4, so at least gave Rendell some much needed support. Walker galloped down the flank and compared to some of his team mates, did OK. Smith, joining Mendy in the book, for a frustrated lunge on Rose, after Fleetwood needlessly gave away the ball. Arber elbowed Fleetwood, but this time the referee didn’t see the point in showing him yellow.

Smith and Fleetwood involved in a decent give and go the ball struck Arber and span behind.

Harris got on the ball bypassing Lawless and play a clever reverse pass, hitting the ball wide of Brill’s upright. Noble again involved, with Rose overlapping belted the ball against Lawless’ arm. Decent run by Walker, ending up hitting Bonner. Rendell nodded down Lawless’ centre, which Walker curled over.

Whilst it was far too late, we started getting more men in the box. Rendell picked out Gray, Bonner could only touch the ball back in Gray’s path, but he could only loop it over. It fell nicely for him. He wasted a better chance, Rendell winning a header from Lawless’ deep centre; leaning back he scythed it wide. Howells and Walker played a one two, Walker put an excellent cross in, again lack for Luton shirts, so Bettinelli managed to hold the ball comfortably.

A hoof forward by Brill, Rendell flicked it on, for Gray to finish badly as it sailed over. Gray was unlucky, a brilliant save by Bettinelli changing direction, to push his header away to his left, with his weight on the other foot. To be fair, we kept going and plugged away. The home form and performances are a great concern, no good moaning about teams who park the bus; you have to be quicker and more innovative to break them down.

Our current plan A at home is concede early then panic. We did create a few more opportunities late on, but Buckle needs to be braver, get more men forward to support the target man. Waste of time unless mistakes are cut out.

Tuesday night at Nuneaton will be as terrible as it sounds. Win, lose or draw. Mind you, the path looks open to Round 3, so doubtless we will muck it up. I long for the days we are plucky underdogs. Being favourities most of the time, is very uncomfortable. You can’t beat an evening out at an open ground in a Winter. The way we defended set pieces, gives me concern for Sunday’s game at Mansfield, against the giants of the underclasses. Cheers Notts Police, knew the lousy gits would come up with something. Never realised Mansfield and Nottingham Forest have NEVER EVER EVER played a home game on the same day before. Any old excuse. 1pm on a Sunday in Mansfield Im sure it will be as abject as it sounds. Any time spent in Mansfield is inhumane.

Dean Brill 5, Alex Lawless 6.75 Ronnie Henry 6.5 , Simon Ainge 6.25 , Jake Howells 4.5 , Arnaud Mendy 4.25( Dan Walker 6.5) , Jonathan Smith 7.5 , J.J. O’Donnell 5.5, Andre Gray 6, Scott Rendell 6.5 , Stuart Fleetwood 6.25.
Subs not used – Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Janos Kovacs, Adam Watkins, . Booked – Mendy, Smith, Fleetwood.
Dartford – Bettinelli, Burns, Bonner, Arber, Rose, Green , Hayes(Collier) , Champion , Bradbrook, Harris(Rogers),Noble. Booked – Bonner, Rose, Rogers

*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 all this parlarva regarding Nadine Dorres going on I’m a Nonentity on the Telly box. She would be good at the Bush Tucker Trial; she looks like she must have swallowed worst things in her time than gobbling down a Koala’s anus and a pint of blended Witchety Grub.

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Cockney thugs Home)

Blimey. Where to begin? An eventful night, as ever in the airport derby, under the lights at Kenilworth Road. Even by the Conference standards, an utterly incompetent referee and oh for a bit of luck. This experiment of having “Care in the Community” types refereeing football matches isn’t working. Fleetwood sent off for two bookings. The first, streaking clear of Bailey-Dennis, built like Canary Wharf, Fleetwood’s shirt was clearly being tugged for a prolonged period in the box. Penalty all day long. Referee awards a free kick to Braintree. Why would you foul anyone when you are in front of them? It was like Usain Bolt running past a pensioner carrying their weekly shop up a steep hill. Fleetwood didn’t try and cheat like a Suarez, Bale or Young and throw himself to the deck. He didn’t dive, so why book him, even if the ref missed the shirt pull.

Then having being fouled in the central third of the pitch, Fleetwood went in for a 50/50 tackle with Mulley; his feet raised and did slide in. However the referee had blown up (not literally, more’s the pity. Where’s a shoe bomber when you really need one?) , prior to that and awarded a free kick to Luton and books Fleetwood again. The second booking, yes that was fair enough although odd to win a free kick and then get penalised , but the first was a joke. h The referee was shocking generally. Bailey-Dennis committed at least half a dozen fouls, not booked. Essam rashly went to ground to upend Mullen, not booked. Unfortunately the referees may know the rules (possibly) but they don’t know the game. Still, the powers that be will do absolutely nothing about it. Still, the referee wouldn’t be have to buy a pint in The Bull next time he takes his guard dog into Braintree town centre. Although why West Ham or Ipswich fans would buy him a pint, is anyone guess?

However, as bad as the referee was and whilst we showed great character to come back again from once more gifting our opponents an easy lead . Even a Centipede would be legless, if it shot themselves in the foot as often as we do. Three soft goals given away, admittedly it was a sublime strike from Holman for the first goal, he is the best young talent we have faced in this League for a long time. Great first touch, excellent awareness.

Although Fleetwood was our brightest spark before his sending off, we looked better with ten men, played some very good stuff at times, particularly either side of the half time break. Plenty of crosses came in, but Braintree defended with resolution, we didn’t really have the rub of the green.

When Walker came on and made an instant impact scoring with a cool finish into Naisbitt’s far corner to bring the scores level. Foolishly thought, we would go on and win the game. As Walker and Gray looking threatening every time we got the ball wide.

However Paine’s bobbly header crept over the line from Sparkes’ corner, it gave the Essex side a boost and inflicted a kick into the dangly bits, which we never recovered. From that point on, Braintree looked the more likely to increase their lead on the counter attack, through the pace of Mulley, control of Holman and the physical nature of Marks.

The real worry is against a side with pace and a touch of guile, we really look dire at the back. Whatever combination, Buckle tries, the situation remains the same. Yes, we defended better against Lincoln, but they didn’t have much attacking threat, bar Taylor.

One change from the Lincoln game. Shaw in for the injured Rendell. Other than that, same formation, same positions. Alex Lacey on the bench for the first time this season, Beckwith and Kovacs have really slipped down the pecking order. Even the always injured Garry Richards (who, he?) is more likely to get a game than those two.

Braintree, the self-styled “pub team from Essex” arrived on a winless streak of seven games. To be honest, they still have the same physical nature of last year, but look to play more football, probably playing on a surface which isn’t like a cobbled street helps. Well organised, two banks of four, look to play on the break. For a side with their meagre resources, they have some good attackers, too good for us anyway. Mulley given time to run at Howells, Holman held the ball up well, it will be a miracle if they keep hold of him for long. Slow at the back, Naisbitt is almost Mayebi-esq standard at time wasting.

It all started quite well. Very quick start, Bailey-Dennis made three excellent blocks to prevent us taking the lead, the best after some good interchange play between the two Jakes, Howells and Robinson, Bailey-Dennis got his toe in front of Shaw. Howells’ corner swung in towards the far post, Shaw unselfishly fed Robinson to drive wide of the post.

Once again, the opposition score with their first sight of goal. Gray penalised for a foul on Habbergham, on the half way line. Bailey-Dennis launched it into our box, some ball watching ensued, Mulley rose highest to nod the ball down to Holman, turning past the statuesque Essam before slamming the ball past Tyler. Class finish, but when you can’t win the first ball at a set piece, nor react, you are struggling.

Going forward we looked OK, Shaw winning a fair amount aerially against Bailey-Dennis. However he run out of puff as the game went on. His movement was fluid as a Septic tank and made a poor decision to try and chest down the ball rather than head in front of goal, allowing Paine to clear.

Lawless was bright and sharp against a combative pair of Symons and Davis. O’Donnell, had a slow start, but improved as the game wore on. We flung in enough crosses in, the bar by a mile from Gray, Ainge’s poke found Gray, brilliant piece of skill, a back heel beat Habergham, torn past the left back and sent in a cross, which eluded Fleetwood by inches.

It took Naisbitt a whole three (3) minutes to time waste. Referees enjoy turning a blind eye to this, but too often the ball was at his feet before one of our players closed him down to picking it up. Soon after came the Fleetwood penalty shout…no shout about it, a stone wall decision.

Quinton tested Tyler with a straight forward strike, after a free kick wasn’t clear. Both centre halves, outstanding on Saturday, struggled. Essam, who is often a bad starter, really had a dire game, he’s young , but his rashness of diving in, needs to be curbed quickly. He has promise, but like the rest of our team, is capable of throwing in a real stinker in.

Fleetwood appeared to handball, controlling a throw in. Ambled through Habergham and Paine, who stopped, his pass was stabbed by Robinson at Shaw who could only force the ball off target.

A fine pass by Davis found Mulley beating Howells, his cross stabbed away by Ainge. Then came the sending off of Fleetwood, leaving us with ten men for over an hour. Although O’Donnell took advantage of a poor pass by O’Connor, his fizzling drive flew over.

Before we could re-organise things properly- going 4-3-2, with Robinson tucking in more centrally, with Gray joining Shaw up front. Unfortunately before we could settle down, Braintree doubled the lead. Terrible goal to concede, Henry ball watching, Habergham’s pass over the top, good movement by Marks and tidy finish, but one long ball beats the whole defence? Basic, basic errors. After an improvement in the last couple of games, henry was poor this evening. One Marvin-esq run apart, too slow on the ball and doesn’t look like a man who played two leagues higher last season.

Credit to the team, for showing some fight, upping the effort and playing some good stuff. Lovely one two between Howells and Gray down the left, Gray’s strike brought a sprawling save by Naisbitt, and then Quinton dived to block Howells’ attempt.

Braintree defended deep, with two slow centre backs, but always looked a danger on the break, Holman into Marks, beating Essam, Marks sent in a cross to no-one.

We got a vital breakthrough before half time. Ainge free and heading home Howells right wing corner. Mulley reached the ball quicker than O’Donnell, went forward, cynically hacked to the deck by Essam. In a game of generally poor free kicks, Quinton could only fire into the wall.

Gray racing through to Lawless’ outstanding pass, knocked the pass to Shaw, who had to lift the ball over the keeper, but Bailey-Dennis snaked a leg on it, the ball to deflect it over. A neat reverse pass by Robinson, sent Gray down the right, he smashed his cross/shot towards the neat pass, but Naisbitt flying through the air like an overweight Spider-man turned it over ( why can’t Farman play against us every week). The resulting corner, summed up our luck, Robinson’s flag kick, powerfully headed against the post by Essam, then the rebound drilled wide by Ainge.

Davis shrugging O’Donnell effortlessly off the ball gave Mullen the ball, Ainge got the wrong side of marks, but his touch took him towards the by-line and a loopy cross brought no danger.

It was a shame half time came when it did, we were playing with rhythm and tempo and Braintree were being stretched.

The opening period of the second half was more even. Lawless doing well to reach the by-line, great cross which Shaw couldn’t keep his header down. Our defending was shambolic (even allowing for being a man light and chasing the game), long ball by David found O’Connor, and his centre just had too much pace on for Holman, who looked like getting in front of Ainge. Gray sped past Paine; a thumping low drive was blocked by Naisbitt.

We had good spells of pressure and possession, but the final ball wasn’t quite good enough. Howells and Robinson combined to send a pass too hard for Shaw, likewise Henry after a forward run (wonders will never cease). A double change brought the arrival Kasim and Walker for Robinson (who did alright, but if we are going to play 4-4-2 get a left footer down the left flank, O’Donnell with either Howells or LRT behind him would be a better bet) and Essam (who looked the novice he is. Shame for him, as he was excellent up at Lincoln). Kasim on his day is a tidy passer and Walker’s pace gave O’Connor, relatively untroubled at right back, something to think about. Lawless went to right back, Henry in at centre half . A mighty hoof by Ainge, almost coming down with Snow on it, Lawless nodded the ball down to walker, side stepping Habergham, before calmly finishing into the far corner, he could have hardly placed it better.

We did have a few chances to get our noses in front; Braintree threw away a two goal lead on Saturday, and were looking nervy. Shaw’s intelligent knock down was excellent if anyone had bothered to move from Howells’ corner. Gray, rampaging past Habergham, played through by Walker, was unlucky to be denied by Naisbitt’s fine low save into the side netting. Walker being fid by Howells low pass, cut past O’Connor and the back of Paine’s heel stopped his progress.

Holman and Davis opened up our defence for Marks with all the time in the world, on the edge of the area, but could only fire low straight at Tyler. Mulley and Holman played a fast one two, which Henry blocked, although judging by the players and Kenilworth Road End’s reaction, he didn’t get the final touch. Braintree’s sub Sparkes, providing the visitors with a bright spark, curling corner to the far post, Paine’s header, was hardly like an exocet missile but trickled in.

It was a real pain, a sickening blow, but again poor, poor marking and Tyler, unless unsighted, should have done better. Braintree’s confidence rose and ours took a fatal knock. We kept plodding on, but really looked a threat afterward, if anyone was going to score again was the punters from the small town in Bocking.

It was a just of nearly, but not enough. Sparkes’ presence meant Lawless couldn’t get forward as much, as previously from full back. Sparkes with a nimble change of feet defeated Lawless before firing over.

Howells’ inswinging free kick, after a Braintree player was booked (Habergham after 70 minutes) found Ainge, his flick too heavy for Shaw to get on the end on. Fine pass by Kasim inside the full back to Gray, equally superb cross for Shaw, crying out to head it, but Shaw, still confidence an issue, chested it down, and allowed Paine the time to block it. Gray was excellent didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, with white shirts surrounding him, a cheeky back heel, just again too hard for Howells to reach.

Walker passed to Kasim, in turn flicked it square to Shaw, falling over Bailey-Dennis’ out stretched leg, the referee brought it. O’Donnell opted for power hitting Habergham on the wall. No idea why O’Donnell is on free kicks, rarely does he have a shot on target. He knocked a fine pass into Lawless’ path, making progress forward but his effort sailed wide of the far post.

Kasim’s poor square pass, played in Mullen passing to Holman who rushed and blasted the ball over. Tyler had a rush of blood, rushing out and missing Sparkes’ free kick, which fortunately also missed Holman and Marks. Despite five minutes of injury time, we didn’t threat the Iron goal. And aren’t they just?

Bizarre game, we played far better football than at Lincoln, creating more opportunities, but lost the game. The defending is a massive concern and until that is sorted, we aren’t going to make much progress forward. Can’t keep giving teams two goal head starts and keep coming back. Going forward we looked very good at times. No consolation, but we will play far worse than that and win.

Mark Tyler 5, Ronnie Henry 4.5 ,Connor Essam 4 ( Yaser Kasim 6) , Simon Ainge 5.5, Jake Howells 6.5 , Andre Gray 8, J.J. O’Donnell 6.5 , Alex Lawless 8 , Jake Robinson 6.25 ( Dan Walker 7.25) Jon Shaw 6.25 , Stuart Fleetwood 6.75.
Sent off- Fleetwood Subs not used – Lathenial Rowe-Turner, Alex Lacey and Dean Brill.
Braintree – Naisbitt, O’Connor, Bailey-Dennis, Paine, Habergham, Mulley, Symons(Sparkes), Davis, Quinton, Marks, Holman( Shepppard) Booked – Habergham
*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 Governement directive ” Bash a burgler”. Most MP’s are too busy bashing their own Bishop to notice what happens in the real world.

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Southport H)

Not even the return of the Ghanaian sensation back on his old stomping ground could stop Southport sinking to their traditional defeat. They must be sick of coming to Kenilworth Road, conceding fourteen goals on their last three visits. (But probably not as sick as I am of going there, the unattractive drag across from the M58, the lack of green lights in Ormskirk and the climate of the North Pole to name but three. Being a moaning old tart, I could carry on…but won’t).

A real mish-mash of a performance. Good in parts, horrific in others. From Barton to Barcelona, would be stretching it somewhat, but the first half was miserable fare. No rhythm, pattern or attempt to play football on our snooker table of a surface. We couldn’t make our supremacy count, despite an early lovely strike from Fleetwood (nice of Stevie Wonder to keep his flag down), as Gray chased down’s O’Donnell’s hoof.

Southport enjoy the work of the up and under themselves, towards the beanpole of Ledsham, whose backing in caused a few problems for Ainge and Essam, and with Whalley’s pace caused huge problems for Howells. Feel desperate sorry for Jake; he has had more position changes than the Karma Sutra. The sooner he plays under a manager, who will select him in one position for more than a couple of games, the better and his career will develop far quicker. They fought back into the game, through a series of set pieces, which we coped with better than was the case at Tamworth in the week. Defending higher than the six yard box was a start; both centre halves won their fair share of headers. Tyler came off his line far more but looked shaky, either caught in no man’s land or punching when a simple catch was on. Southport equalised just before the break, it was coming. Howells’ given the ball away needlessly to Parry, who was allowed to run forward and pass the ball into the far corner. We had two shots on target in the half, Fleetwood’s goal and Lawless showing exceptional technique with a volley.

Once again, Buckle proved adept at changing the team, even we under-perform (which happens far too much, currently). No triple change, but moving O’Donnell over to the left wing, give us that dirty word, WIDTH and it worked a treat. We pressed the better far better, didn’t give Poku or Moogan time on the ball and they collapsed in a heap. O’Donnell put some cracking deliveries in and took advantage of playing against Parry, a centre back at right back. Gray on the other side torn into Lee, his crossing was somewhat erratic, a couple of pearling centres followed by a few over hit, none more so than his effort to hit the bus way. But he’s no winger. Backed up by Lawless and Kasim who kept it simple, ticking over.

Played some good, patience football, on the deck and ended up running out comfortable winners. The problems are still there, a couple of wins won’t disguise that, but it’s vital to make the most of this easier run of fixtures, before the tricky trips to Forest Green, Hereford, Mansfield and Newport thereafter. We could probably have won by a greater margin , which won’t have reflected our display and Fleetwood was in Mr greedy mode, it’s good he has tunnel vision for the goal, but at times, he should laid off into colleagues in better positions. But, after being left out, he looked in determined mood. Above all, he needs to play no wider than the lines of the penalty box.

With Ledsham having to play deeper in midfield, our centre halves looked more comfortable. Ainge won plenty of the balls in the air. He’s a no-nonsense player, strong, reads the game well, tries to organise. Not the best with the ball at his feet. Good start, but he will have harder tests against better opposition than a poor Southport side. He looks and has a similar style to Ivanovic of Chelsea. Not the only look alike on view, nice of the club to invite Kissock back as mascot for the match between his parent and former clubs.

Another day, another cull in the defence, but still Teflon Ronnie remains (to be fair, he was reasonable enough). Beckwith, predictably and LRT (very harshly) omitted. Shaw also left out, he isn’t right at the moment, but if he played in a team which O’Donnell providing the ammunition from wide areas, he would thrive.

So, Tyler in goal. Back four of Henry, Essam, Ainge and Howells. Midfield which started as a diamond, Kasim in front of the back four , Lawless and O’Donnell, with Rendell in the hole behind a narrow front two of Gray and Fleetwood. That didn’t last long, as we went 4-3-3 soon after.

Southport themselves, played a 4-5-1/4-3-3. Whaley is a stand out player, nimble footed pacey winger, to be honest wouldn’t be the worst type of player for us; he has always shone in games against us. Long ball, plenty of hoofs towards Almond and Ledsham, thanks to McMillian the keeper’s monster kicking. Combative in midfield, no more, no less. Bit cumbersome at the back, coped well against our long ball filth, but struggling, when we played to feet with tempo in the second half. Their low mid-table position is about right, no chance of repeating their bold bid for a play off place of last season. As for Godfrey, he was pretty average, won a few tackles, lost a few, lucky not to get booked and his passing was patchy. Not a blessed day for him Legoooooooooooooooo. Terribly advised, why turn down a contract at Luton to go to Mansfield?

Long ball madness broke out straight away, O’Donnell’s hook forward, Gray looked offside, beating parry with pace with ease, came back and intelligently rather than going for goal, passed square and Fleetwood curled a fine shot which sailed into the top corner.

That goal didn’t settle us down, Rendell struggling having to play the target man role, with Lynch beating him in the air. No point playing Rendell unless the ball is into his feet, when he can bring others into the game. The referee produced a cynical block on Pouk, leaving O’Donnell in space after Lawless passed the ball to him, the strike low and well held by McMillian.

Our kick and chase approach, not only awful to watch but ineffective, helped the Merseysiders back in the match. Whalley beating Howells with his direct running style, played square to Ledsham, Essam made a vital block. Essam again did OK. You can see why Gillingham loaned him out, reasonable in the air, he senses trouble but now and again makes a really bad error. Given time, he has potential.

Almond on the left was allowed a yard by Henry, but he stopped the danger at source. The tempo of the game wasn’t help by a lengthy injury to the lino and subsequent drinks interval.

Ledsham shoved Lawless to the deck, found Whalley, always their out ball, and got the better of Howells, dangerous cross and Essam facing his own goal, sliced over. Whalley’s whipped cross, Tyler wandered out, the ball dropped to Almond, a looping header sailed just over the bar.

Gray’s run across their defence was deemed offside, as Kasim passed the ball forward, in turn being found by Henry. Kasim struggled to make an impact in that half, he was puffing hard by the end, and he needs to work on his fitness.

Poku attempted to mount O’Donnell (appreciate they are good friends, but there is a time and place for that?). Lawless quickly took the free kick short to Howells but his drive drifted wide.

Southport had a decent spell, even against limited opposition, could we get any control on the game, only Gray looked capable of creating something.

Almond getting the better of Henry, his strike sliced wide and a clumsy late tackle by Essam ( as the old joke goes, he got there as quick as he could) and booked for his troubles Rendell bravely headed away the free kick on the left touchline in front of Grand. Rendell proved a good shield from set pieces. Lawless joined Essam into the book, leaving his foot in on Lever, made to look worse by Lever’s high jump. Then Lever picked himself up without treatment was sent to the touchline.

The goal came from a nervous poke to Howells straight to Parry, with no one attempted to challenge the man in possession, moved forward and produced a calm finish.

Kasim’s forward pass was half cut out by Lever, the ball fell to Lawless, a very clean strike was claimed by the stopping McMillian.

The second half needed a vast improvement, and credit to the team they produced, the tempo raised, Fleetwood’s movement caused the Southport’s back four problems, we were more aggressive in winning the ball back, combined with O’Donnell who had Parry on toast produced the improvement required.

Southport had a couple of opportunities; Almond’s pass only produced a feeble shot, easily saved by Tyler. Essam easily skinned down the left by the newly arrived Tames, Whalley just failed to get a touch, in front of Howells.

A well worked free kick saw us back in front. Poku fouling Howells, just inside our half. Ainge played the ball down to the Fleetwood, good control and vision to flick the ball to O’Donnell, great delivery and movement from Rendell poking in towards the far post.

Confidence came back. Kasim and Lawless got on the ball (after having neck ache in the first half performance) we rarely looked back. Both have the handy knack of playing the ball to a team-mate in space. It looked like we had an extra man, as the player in possession often had options. Far better.

Moogan’s sloopy pass was cut out by Fleetwood, one thing on his mind, going for good, moving past Moogan attempting to make up for his error, the strike smacked against Grand’s back.

Howells was getting forward as well, he and O’Donnell linked up nicely, neat play saw him beat Grand, as his attempted pass into Fleetwood was stopped only as Parry chopped down Fleetwood, with the refer in a good position, a penalty was awarded. Surprised to see Rendell take the kick. He had a stuttering run up, and waited for McMillian to move, before side footing the ball to the keeper’s right.

Kasim’s pass inside the full back lever to Gray, ran inside and pushed the ball over to O’Donnell, playing a teasing pass into Rendell, a fine point blank save from McMillian denied him his hat trick.

Lawless played Ainge in trouble but a strong tackle won the ball from Almond. Henry dealt with Almond’s cross from the right, which Ledsham was slow to react to. Fleetwood took advantage of a Lynch header which lacked any power, raced into the box, whilst McMillian came out smartly and saved with his foot, you would have lumped on Fleetwood scoring from there. With Southport having to throw bodies forward, we played well on the break with gaps opening up.

A good advantage played when Moogan had a hack at Lawless, Howells and Fleetwood combined, Lawless started and ended the move dinking wide. Moogan booked and withdrawn afterwards. Moogan took it well, I must say, his training top and shirt thrown to the floor, then sat there arms folded. Not just professional footballers who act like Prima donnas then.

Lynch produced a superb flying header to deny Rendell following another outstanding centre by O’Donnell. Weird decision by the linesman, flagged for offside, Ainge intercepted the ball, and then lost it, flag down, allowing Southport a chance, Tames’ pass, was hit wide by Whalley. What exactly is the advantage, twenty yards from your own goal?

With the result in the bag, the players were desperate for Rendell to get his hat-trick, but a fine scissor kick pass on the deck by Rendell beat Poku, the ball to Fleetwood was saved by the keeper. Kasim, looking very tired was replaced by LRT, he played his part with a couple of decent defensive blocks, and Fleetwood also went off for Shaw.

A fine cross field ball played by Howells, found Gray, a brilliant take with a high pass, but wasted it blazing his cross over. Rendell missed his final opportunity, curling woefully in the missed ranks of empty seats in the Oak Road end. He like most of the players looked far better when we passed the football. Southport’s final opportunity came from a lovely pass by Whalley, into Tames; he brought the ball down well and had the vision to chip Tyler, just off the line, but was inches more the bar.

As Sven Goren Eriksson, used to say first half not so good, second half good. Well done Paul Buckle for sorting out the mess at half time. But who the hell told the team to hoof it in the first half? They need a good old fashioned J in C style shoeing. The two loanees did well enough, without much practice. As long as Essam stays, it’s good with having no Tuesday game, they have a full week’s training to build an understanding. Obvious to say, we need a settled back four.

Mark Tyler 6, Ronnie Henry 6.75 ,Connor Essam 7, Simon Ainge 7.5 , Jake Howells 6.25 , Yaser Kasim 6.75( Lathaniel Rowe-Turner), J.J. O’Donnell 9 , Alex Lawless 7.25 , Scott Rendell 7.75( Jake Robinson) , Andre Gray 7, Stuart Fleetwood 7 (Jon Shaw).
Booked – Essam, Lawless. Subs not used – Dan Walker and Dean Brill.
Southport – McMillian, Parry, Lynch, Smith ( Tames), Grand, Poku, Moogan (Willis), Lever, Whalley, Ledsham, Almond ( Benjamin). Booked – Lynch.
*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 receiving an email from the ticketing department at the F.A. entitled England vs San Marino, the match you must not miss. With tickets at £40 a pop. Do they want a cheeky wager on that?

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