Question of the WeekShould Artell be sacked
|The New Normal
i-Follow or Unfollow?
By: Andrew Doherty
I FINALLY took the plunge. I spent ten quid on a match pass for today's important game against Stevenage. I've never been one for watching live football on TV other than FA Cup Finals in the 1970s and Town in the Conference when I couldn't go. It's good to go.
I like the weather, the people, the comments, the things that people are doing in the crowd and on and off the ball.
It's not like there's been much incentive to watch Town either. Some players are known, while others are just names, and judging by the results and comments on the Forum, not very good ones at that. Our previous manager made less and less sense, and it's a relief to have one now who is not about soundbites but organisation and football. I think it's too much to expect miracles from our five recent signings, which all appear to be a step in the right direction. All the players need to step up to the plate.
Town's team today was: McKeown - Hendrie, Pollock, Mayanese, Waterfall, Habergham - Matete, Rose, El Mizhouni - Hanson, Jackson
The blustery, muddy and slippery weather conditions were always going to play a part. Players struggled with the surface, especially on the Findus stand side. Town chose to attack the Pontoon end with the wind behind for the first half. Town were at sea in the initial stages and took 10 minutes to get going. Stevenage had an early chance after a mistake by Pollock, and Norris slipped clear of Waterfall on 20 minutes only to be adjudged offside. But although Rose and Hendrie were guilty with alarming frequency of poor passes, there was plenty of endeavour. Habergham fought hard on the treacherous left side, Jackson up front put himself about, but in particular Matete was outstanding and controlled play in midfield. Matete also had two good attempts in short succession after 30 minutes, first bursting through and forcing a good save from a low shot, and then in a similar move firing just wide. Town were now well on top, with the midfield looking to set up attacks and won a corner on 40 minutes. The ball came out, Rose failed to control and Stevenage for once were in the Town half. The ball fell to Mayanese who failed to clear, succeeding only in placing the ball in the path of List, who against the run of play shot under McKeown. At half time it was Town 0, Stevenage 1. Town played well for most of the half but there always seemed to be a lack of connection with Jackson and Hanson up front. It was good to see plenty of effort. Matete provided the quality, and was the star in midfield Rose worked hard but the state of the surface prevented El Mizhouni from creating anything on the left. The real hammer blow was the goal.
The second half started with a good opportunity for Stevenage, as Town allowed Read to drift clear on the right and cross onto the far post. Loss of concentration was always a concern. In spite of Town having the greater need, Stevenage took the initiative. A rare mistake by Matete led to Aitchison supplying List, but McKeown was alert and came out to smother the shot. A Waterfall foul led to another opportunity for Stevenage. Town had lost the shape and purpose that they had in the first half. Hendrie worked hard on the right but continued to make mistakes with poor passing. Payne replaced Jackson on 63 minutes to provide energy and impetus to a Town performance which lacked in quality. Payne showed his striker's instinct a few minutes later following a header from Hanson but was offside. McKeown was booked on 72 minutes for handling outside the area following a dangerous back header from Waterfall. Stevens's flick from the resultant free-kick shaved the bar. Town looked fragile in all areas. Not only were Stevenage playing better but tactically they were superior, appointing a player to mark Town's star player Matete and snub the threat. A slip from Mayanese on 77 minutes went unpunished. Preston and Spokes came on to replace Mayanese and Habergham. Although Stevenage had a good chance on 82 minutes when Newton slipped Hendrie but just failed to connect from a cross 6 yards out, Town's substitutions led to a fightback. Hendrie put in a decent cross, and Preston won a free-kick high up on the left but Town lumbered and stuttered. Spokes had an opportunity but blazed a shot from inside the box over and into the Osmond Stand. For minutes were added on with Town persevering and attempting to apply pressure. On 92 minutes Rose at last showed his worth, winning a midfield one to one and supplying Matete whose slotted pass to Payne was inch-perfect. Payne composed himself and slid the ball underneath Cumming. Town 1, Stevenage 1. With seconds left, Stevenage kicked off. Wildin received the ball deep in Stevenage's half, punting it upfield without great intent. Pollock was nowhere to be seen. Waterfall was stranded as the ball bounced. McKeown saw the danger and raced out but Stevens got to the ball first, chipping the ball over Town's keeper to win the game with the last kick of the game. So we threw it away. Final score: Town 1, Stevenage 2.
This defeat wasn't just about defensive errors and loss of concentration, although that needs to be addressed urgently. Town had no shape or quality and seemed to lack composure for most of the second half after a first half in which there were signs that our midfield and wing-backs could impose themselves on the game and cause damage. But until Matete's pass to Payne for the equaliser, there didn't seem to be any connection with Town's strikers who worked hard without posing any threat. We have to be thankful that we have a player of quality in Matete, and Payne's introduction suggested we have a striker who knows how to spot and take opportunities. So do I i-follow or unfollow in future? I guess I shall follow, and I actually enjoyed watching the game, even though the agony and frustration levels haven't diminished. Unfortunately relegation and the Conference beckon, and with it a different media package.
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