Saturday, 24 September 2011

Frustration... or not good enough?

Apparently, man had not landed on the Moon the last time we beat Hereford in a competitive game at Whaddon Road.
That was 2-1 in the Southern League Cup, in January 1969. On the evidence of today's game, we won't beat them until man had landed on Mars.
Frustrating doesn't even begin to sum up the main emotion after that game, where we had most of the territory, most of shots, most of the corners - most of everything in fact, except the most important statistic.
Goals.
I don't need to look at the message boards to deduce what most CTFC fans thought of the performance.
They will think it was rubbish, poor, bad or whatever - but that was to be expected.
Most of that will be because Hereford are second from bottom, and were beaten at home 6-1 last weekend, as the majority of fans seemed to expect us to just turn up, roll Hereford over 3-0 or 4-0, and retire to the bar to get drunk in wild celebration.
That was never going to be the case.
Hereford's pride would not let that happen, and they put in a resolute performance, and frustrated us at every opportunity.
I thought Stam and Green at the back played well, and Barkhuizen on the right wing was a threat.
After the game, Mark Yates told me we had 24 shots on goal. How many of them tested David Cornell in the Hereford goal? The answer is not enough, and there was the problem.
I can only remember the shot from Marlon Pack 10 minutes into the second half, directly making Cornell make a save.
We only really dominated the game for about 10 minutes before half-time, and 15 after the break. The rest was scrappy stuff.
We had the scramble which was cleared off the line early on, the sitter missed by Josh Low, Steve Elliott's miscued volley just before half-time, and that was about it for what I would call 'clear-cut' chances.
We had a number of other chances which were shot wide, shot over or blocked, and had a number of other openings which were wasted by passes either under-hit, over-hit or poorly directed.
Basically a lack of quality in the final third, from wide areas or from the front two - who I can't remember having a shot on goal.
I am not convinced the Jimmy Spencer-Darryl Duffy pairing works - yes, the service was poor, but they both rely on that service to be effective, while when Jeff Goulding is more likely to drop off and try to make something happen himself.
In reality, after Josh Low's quite unbelievable miss, I never thought we were going to score if we stayed out there all night, and my abiding worry was that they would nick one.
We have seen it all too often - the team who are under the cosh for most of the game goes up the other end and either scrambles one in, or pings one from 30 yards in injury time.
The fact that didn't happen is a small blessing to take.
The simple reason we did not win that game is because we were not clinical enough.
We made too may poor decisions, especially in wide areas, were wasteful in good positions, and tried far too often to walk the ball into the net.
It has been a problem in several games that we have been reluctant to have a shot when the opening is there, and looked for that one more pass which then sees the move invariably break down.
That was my frustration from the game.


Managers' view
 Mark Yates: 
"Sometimes it just doesn't go for you, we had a couple kicked off the line, a couple of bad decisions when we've been in good positions and Josh (Low) missed a chance that I've never seen him miss in my life. It was a disappointing scoreline but the performance was excellent. We were the team that was going to win it but we didn't make the keeper work enough.  We had 24 goal opportunities so we've got keep working at being more clinical rather than being ruthless and just getting the shot away."

Player by player
Jack Butland: Didn't have many saves to make, but had a lot of work to do with his feet and catching crosses and through-balls, and was very secure with all of it.
Keith Lowe: Better performance defensively than last week, and gave us width going forward but joined in the malaise of poor crossing.
Danny Andrew: Tough time against Tom Barkhuizen, who beat him a few times for pace, sometimes too easily. Delivered our only decent cross in the 90 minutes, but no one was there to convert it.
Alan Bennett: Solid at the back, and organised the back four well. Dealt well with the height and strength of Delroy Facey.
Steve Elliott: Also did well at the back. Missed a good chance with a volley and was a threat from corners but unable to get his header on target.
Josh Low: Unbelievable miss, and wasted several good positions with poor decisions, crosses and passes.
Marlon Pack: Good display in midfield, and came close to scoring with a shot which forced a good save. Tried to take game by scruff of the neck a few times but couldn't find key passes.
Russ Penn: Lots of energy and commitment as ever. Made a few great runs and breaks, had a few shots but radar slightly off.
Kaid Mohamed: Few more flashes than last week, but frustrating again. Never beat his full-back, wasted some great crossing chances and showed reluctance to shoot or track back to help Danny.
Jimmy Spencer: Worked hard, ran the channels as usual, but lacked service and shooting was wayward.
Darryl Duffy: Also worked hard and ran the channels, but goal threat was sporadic.

Substitutes:
Jeff Goulding (for Duffy 60): Left out as he hadn't trained all week sue to a slight groin injury. Struggled to get into the game as we huffed and puffed for the last half-hour of the game.
Junior Smikle (for Spencer 81): Didn't get into the game during his now-usual substitutes' appearance.

Positives
We avoided defeat against Hereford at home in the Football League for the first time, and managed to keep a clean sheet after the defensive calamities last weekend. It was a positive that we created so many openings, but that's about it.

Negatives
We failed to take any of the chances we created, and wasted far too many promising positions. I am not convinced by the Spencer-Duffy partnership, and feel Kaid Mohamed is a bit lucky to still be in the starting line-up.

Summary
We should have won the game. It is down to our own shortcomings in the final third that we did not. On another day, we will take one or two of those chances and will take the points. There will be teeth-gnashing among fans who expected a straight forward win (how the hell didn't we beat a team who lost 6-1 last weekend etc etc etc). Remember - we lost 4-1 ourselves. Fans need to learn football does not work like that. In a game between local rivals, form and tables go out of the window, and it was not rocket science to expect a different Hereford to turn up this week. We were at home, and made most of the running, but they deserve some credit for their resolute display and for keeping us at bay.