Saturday 3 September 2011

Not calling the Shots

After three successive wins and some decent spells of football, I guess it was a bit much to ask for that run to continue.
And so it proved at the Recreation Ground, as we turned in a bit of curate's egg of a performance - it was just neither one thing or the other.
In the first half, we competed well with Aldershot, created a few half-chances, defended well and could have gone in ahead.
In the second, Aldershot were the better side, and Mark Yates made a curious substitution and after going a goal down, we never really looked like getting back into it.
After the game, Mark said a few players 'had not been at the races' - which is fair comment, and the frustration on the face of Alan Bennett when he came for his post-match interview was evident.
It was also testament to the attitude of this group of players. They care. They really are bothered about performances and results, something that could not be said about some of the players who have worn the shirt in recent times.
Most of that disappointment came from conceding a poor winner - a near post corner routine was our undoing, and had been out of character with the way we defended for the rest of the match.
There were few arguments with Mark's initial team selection, as he went back to the 11 which started against Crawley and put Jimmy Spencer on the bench, meaning the 5 lads who came in against Torquay on Tuesday made up the substitute options.
The first half started with Danny Andrew preventing a goal by blocking Michael Rankine's shot, and ended with him doing the same with a clearance from Peter Vincenti's header and then Danny Hylton's shot.
In between, he spent much of the time watching Jermaine McGlashan falling over spectacularly left right and centre trying to win free-kicks, and managing to do so a lot of the time from a very inconsistent referee.
Darryl Duffy had a decent chance early on, and we had a few promising situations around the Aldershot box but lacked the incisiveness of recent weeks, either through wayward shooting or poor decision making.
A few times, when we had the ball around their box, either the wrong pass was selected, or no pass at all, or the pass was over hit - it was just so frustrating in the final third.
We were on the back foot for most of the second half.
McGlashan hit the bar and Russ Penn sliced a shot wide in a golden opportunity, but that was about it for us going forward after the break.
Aldershot had most of the possession, but Scott Brown did not have any saves to make - most of the shots were from long range while Bennett and Steve Elliott defended well.
But in many ways it was similar to our performance at Gillingham on the opening day - not a great performance, and not terrible either, just average.
However, the problem is that in recent games, the bar has been raised so high, it becomes harder to take when the performance level drops a few notches.

Managers' views
Dean Holdsworth: "We don't want to rely on luck, and I know that they can be better than what we are. It was a nerve-wracking game today. It's the first time this season I've lost my rag with them, and we needed a bit of brilliance and we got it."
Mark Yates: "We've been clinical lately but there were too many boys not quite at the races today. It was a game where we should have seen it out to 0-0 and been happy to have taken the point away. But it was the first average performance in eight matches so I'm not going to beat the team up too much. I felt we should have got a few goals in the first half but we didn't really get going in the second half."

Player by player

Scott Brown: Another good display from Scott. His handling was very good indeed, especially one catch in the first half. Didn't have many saves to make.
Keith Lowe: Steady as usual from Keith. Came forward a few times, but delivery was a bit 'off'. Stuck to his task well against the tricky Danny Hylton.
Alan Bennett: I thought he was our best player. Won his headers and organised us well. 
Steve Elliott: Decent game, tricky afternoon against Michael Rankine and put his body on the line a few times.
Danny Andrew: Three goal saving clearances, and an eventful afternoon against the slippery Jermaine McGlashan.
Josh Low: Disappointing, given his recent displays. Never had much impact on the game but did clip the bar right at the death. I thought he should have come off.
Marlon Pack: Our best midfielder - but not saying much as the other three were below par. Fifth booking means a ban next Saturday.
Russ Penn: Off colour today. Usual commitment, but failed to keep possession, passing was poor and missed a golden chance.
Kaid Mohamed: Poor game from Kaid. Had a few runs but never had much of an impact, a la Josh Low. Not surprised he was taken off.
Jeff Goulding: Never really got into the game. Plenty of effort, but seemed very frustrated throughout.
Darryl Duffy: Usual work rate, and had a few half-chances but unable to supply the finish, especially one opening early on which was saved.
Jimmy Spencer (for Mohamed 58): A slightly surprising change as we went to 4-3-3 in an effort to grab a win, but it backfired. Spencer got a needless yellow card and had little to feed off.
Junior Smikle (for Duffy 78): Came on as we reverted to 4-4-2 after the goal, but never got going.
Luke Summerfield (for Penn, 81): Same as Junior really, Luke had little time to get going. Should get a start next week with Marlon suspended.

Positives: We competed well, especially in the first half, but defended well throughout, especially Danny Andrew and Alan Bennett.

Negatives: Conceding a goal from a corner, especially as we had defended well. The wide players were poor, consequently the service to the front two was not great throughout. We failed, after the first few minutes, to give Ross Worner in their goal much to worry about.

Summary: A tight game, and we came out on the wrong side of it, which is a shame. Work rate was as good as usual, but that narrow margin of not defending the set-piece cost us. Need to learn from it and get back to winning ways when Macclesfield visit next weekend.

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