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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"Have you ever thought it might be you?"

Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, this time by our bête noirs from Bootham Crescent.  Yet again, once we had failed to build on our early lead, the writing was on the wall, and as sure as night follows day we imploded into defeat.

What more is there to say? I can’t keep trotting out the same stuff. Brabin has been on borrowed time now for ages – there is no turning point in sight with him in charge. The players huff and puff, but there is no character or fight and they limp tamely into submission each week.

The Luton fans continue to come in great numbers. I’m just amazed, as the performances and results subside the Hatters continue to come in numbers like lambs to the slaughter. Our faith in the team and club is superb, and despite having every excuse not to come – the match being on a Friday night, on the telly, in a recession, after poor results, still the fans come in droves. The team doesn’t deserve us. And tonight the atmosphere the singing and the encouragement was superb, at least whilst we were doing our best to attack and win. We are trying to do our bit.

On the pitch – after Andre Gray’s excellent opener, springing onto a knock on turning a half chance into a goal we started in a positive way, on the front foot, playing with vigour and pace. But after about 20 minutes the entropy began.  The determination started to dissolve, the players forgot how they had been playing and we started to let York back in, after having initially given them nothing, or rather, allowed them nothing. Inexplicably with about 15 mins to go in the first half, we ceded the initiative by reverting to Brab’s favourite 4-5-1, with Crow on the wing (no pun intended). We stayed at 4-5-1 for the 2nd half and our fate was sealed.

We knew we needed to get 2 or 3 up, because Brabin’s half time talk is usually enough to turn a performance around in the oppositions favour. And as sure as eggs is eggs with us having allowed York back into the game, they  equalised, when Howells was harshly adjudged to have fouled the ginger penalty-chipper Walker on the left hand edge of the box. The ensuring free kick found its way to McLaughlin on the edge of the box in acres of room , not closed down by a midfielder and he fired in the equaliser. Do you know, whilst I was surprised in the manner they equalised, I’m sad to say that I was certain that they would.

And with York being York, they were hungry enough to finish us off Meredith tucked home at a corner from a Tyler save.

I could mention the strange decision to play McAllister on the left – as it happens, bless him, he won nearly every ball there – so strange to see a Luton striker do that, but it was a bit weird having a 6’2” striker out on the wing. I’d love to see him alongside Gray in a front two. Think of the chaos they could cause.  A big centre forward alongside a smaller fast nippy striker – think of that as a concept.  I do believe it may have been tried before somewhere….

So there you go – there’s much to discuss – but there is nothing more to add to what has gone before.

We know that things are in crisis, so do the board. The manager sails happily on sticking to his line about genuinely believing we can get into the play offs and get promotion, without any empirical evidence to support his case. I’ve said it before, he is like Comical Ali – roundly insisting that Iraq will win the war, whilst the American tanks advance in the background. He’s like Alistair Campbell, who lives in a little bubble where he is right and the rest of the world is wrong. Right now, I think that Gary might be the only person in the place who actually believes what he is saying. The title of this post echoes those words Alan Shearer said to Glen Hoddle. I just wish one or two of the team would say it to the manager. Yes, many of their actions on the pitch make them appear to be clueless and spineless, but surely they’ve lost complete faith in him too. Well either they have got blind faith, or at some point the penny will drop and they will realise that, nice bloke though he is, he will not lead them into the promised land, however nice that would be.

You could say it wasn’t the manager who failed to close McLaughlin down for their first (tue) – but you could also argue that it wasn’t McAllister who stood on the wing of his own accord, it wasn’t the players who decided to adopt 4-5-1 mid way through the first half. Whilst their performance casts doubt on their support for the manager, you’ve got to also wonder what they must make of the constant changes to the team & squad, the constant tinkering with tactics and formation and the problem of forcing to players to play out of position. Yes, it is the players who underperform on the pitch, but are we really making the most of what we have got at the club? I now we have a much weaker squad than in the last two seasons, but some would say it is strong enough to be in the top 5 by the end of March.

I don’t know – it’s hard to take. I can but hope that one day, perhaps next season we will have a tactically astute man at the helm of the club, sure of his best starting XI and formation and inspiring enough to ensure that his players work hard, play football the right way and now how to score goals and win matches.

Not too much to hope for is it? You never know….

 

 

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One point in nine…

…is not good enough. I’m beginning to lose the faith. I’m still going to games, but my belief is dwindling. The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak.

We were out-thought and outplayed for the second game running. Cambridge who came with little ambition were the better side. We weren’t without chances or intent. But Cambridge knew how we were going to play and did a job on us, tactically. It was eminently reminiscent of the Stevenage defeat on the corresponding Tuesday exactly two years ago, but without the blatant cheating.

As an aside, strangely, our record two years ago was P12 W6 D3 L3 F17 A12 Pts 21 – now it is P12 W5 D5 L2 F19 A12 Pts 20. To think poor Mick lost his job – puts it in context doesn’t it? But big Mick was playing uninspiring football and was being tactically outdone when he had a superior team (rings a bell!). To be fair his team had recently battled bravely to win by one goal when down to ten men (sound familiar?). Though he had just lost 3-0 away from home a week before (This is getting spooky. I’d better move on).

Fair play to Cambridge, they weren’t a dirty team, didn’t come to cheat, didn’t stay down, didn’t break up the play, and time wasted no more than we would in their situation. Fair play to their fans who brought more I suspect that all of the other teams visiting this year so far put together. Whilst we had more room in the first half, and created some half decent chances, starting very brightly, in the second half they closed us down completely with all but one man (and usually him too) behind the ball and the only place to go was long, ranging balls into space on the wings, which invariably either were too long, or resulted in the play going backwards because there was little or no space to play the ball into.

I was surprised by the starting XI – it struck me that Brabin was trying to play his favoured XI rather than the best XI in the formation he wanted to play in.

If a team is struggling with a bit of confidence, and you have lost your creative player in the middle of midfield (eg Alex Lawless aka ‘the plasterers friend’) then is the best tactic to play two similar players in midfield eg Keano and Hand? A sparkle of Watkins or Kissock would have undoubtedly have been better in my opinion, with Keane at RB and James Dance missing out initially, or even Dance on the wing AMS on the left and Willmott missing out. Or even Willmott and Dance on the wings and Big Hips Danny Crow missing out with AMS in the middle. The possibilities were endless – but when you need creativity and goals to keep Kissock on the bench until 13 minutes to go strikes me as a little strange.

Of our players tonight, I thought that Kovacs had the best game. He looked solid and confident, whilst Antwi certainly wobbled at times, mostly when passing out from defence- his defensive work, other than an obvious error in the first half was sound.

The ref this evening was a pleasant change from the clowns we have seen at the Kenny thus far this year. Unusually for a non-league ref, he didn’t want to be the centre of attention and bizarrely thought that we had come to watch the footie and not him. He won’t be long for this division I can tell you. He did make one howler when Keano was impeded/clobbered and awarded the decision to the Cambridge player, but none of us are perfect.

There was a rather peculiar couple of incidents in the first half – firstly I think AMS went down under a challenge in their box at the far end. Suddenly a yellow bibbed member of staff dashed from the sidelines to attend to him, but it wasn’t the physio, but a steward. Peculiar as it had nothing to do with the steward, and he was on the pitch in any case. And by the time he got there AMS was back up again. Seconds later Stuart Fleetwood decided to launch himself over the hoardings behind to goal and into the crowd; presumably to garner a similar level of attention from the luminously clad official.

One of the players in the heart of the Cambridge defence sported a red headband, and looked like a crap Dennis Lillee. He wasn’t the tallest of centre halves, but didn’t need to be as he only had Fleetwood and Crow to keep an eye on. Fortunately, Tyler, as ever, chose to throw more than he kicked, but he did put in his usual one-a-game ‘enclosure exocet’ to keep those brave souls at the front of the main stand on their toes. He did make one fantastic save from Shaw in the first half tipping it over with his left hand, whilst diving full stretch to his right.

Their keeper our old friend Naisbitt should have been put under more pressure. I can’t recall him having to make a proper save after the opening quarter of an hour. However had he been put under more pressure I suspect he might have given us something. Whilst his confidence grew during the game, in the first half his decision making, kicking and positioning were all over the shop. Whilst we could have played another 90 minutes and still not got a goal, if we had been ruthless in the first half of the first half it would have been game over.

I think it would sum up the previous week well if you think of the Lincoln, Bath and York results as being the good, the bad and the ugly. I thought tonight’s game was going to pop us back onto the rails. We needed to win, and win well to restore our confidence. But it wasn’t to be. We now have to look to the Barrow game to restore our faith. I think I feel like a young bride who has caught her hubby playing away. The faith has been broken. It’s going to take more than a win against Barrow for me to forget about the last three results. It is always going to be in the back of my mind until sufficient time passes, and results significantly improve before the current trend becomes a temporary blip. In my mind LTFC are currently on probation and I am taking it one game at a time. My tired old heart is nearly spent. There’s only so much unconditional love I can give.

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Open Thread: Worst Ever Luton Players

Righty ho – having done the best and the most influential loanees, time for the ‘line up of shame’.

Now – I’m sure all players who pull on the Luton shirt give it their all, ahem, but here’s your chance to list the ones you felt didn’t quite cut the mustard.

My starter for ten…Richard Jackson, Alan Goodall, Robbie Winters. There’s plenty more where that came from.

Any others???

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This is becoming a habit

Another game, still no goals, I’m becoming a bit despondent. I don’t know what has happened these past two games but suddenly all the creativity has gone and our play has become depressingly poor.

Today we drew 0-0 away to the bottom club’s youth team who were reduced to 10 men for just over half the game. We had no shots on target from what I recall and it was largely drab and dire. A bit like Chester itself.

Where has the fast short passing game gone? It’s like the legacy of Nielsen and Watson has finally worn off and now we are playing Money’s way with Money’s tactics and some of his players too. I’m not impressed.

To the team: our back four remained the same, and whilst not really being troubled by the kids, looked a bit unnerved when they were occasionally called into action. Perhaps they were all snoozing?

In midfield Porno started on the left, in place of the suspended Gnapka, Newton went back to the right, Keet’ Keane was skipper and Nico was replaced by Asa Hall who looked as if he had just been shown a picture of Richard Money with his arm around his girlfriend taken at the Xmas party.

Up front MBH started for the first time alongside Tommy Craddock. Gallen and Nico weren’t even on the bench which would suggest they were having a rest ahead of Tuesday’s FA cup replay. MBH is cup tied I guess, so perhaps it makes sense to let Gallen have a breather.

After this performance I’m now neither confident nor looking forward to the replay on Tuesday or the FA Trophy game next Saturday. It could be that this time next week I will be summing up the fourth game in a row without a goal, and a winless streak of six games. I do hope not. I can’t even say that he’s got the team wrong because today’s starting XI can’t be far off the first choice. I don’t know what’s up with ’em. I do know they have got to sort it out quickly or we will be out of two cups and struggling to keep up with the play off teams.

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