The Fat Ladyís Humming!
Posted by chris_saxon on January 21 2009 12:35:23

Despite a disappointing night at Glanford Park and having a mountain to climb if we are to reach Wembley, all is not lost, the Fat Ladyís humming but sheís still to burst into song!

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We have to believe that we can still turn things around and reach that Final. We might as well give it a go, surely the fans, that turned out in massive numbers last night deserve that much.†

All that pre match optimism was simply swept away in as poor a second half performance as I can recall in such an important game.

Another freezing cold winterís evening, this cold snap just keeps going on and on, failed to deter a travelling support that had a right to expect much more from their team.†

I suppose we all had something of a reality check, we were beaten by a team many places above us in the league ladder. First half, we did ok without seriously suggesting we would trouble the scoreboard. We had a lot of possession and it seemed that we had a string of corners but I cannot recall a single occasion when we might have taken the lead.

Defensively we were ok in that reasonably even first half and a quite brilliant save from Warrington just before the break might have turned the game but I always worried about their superior movement, passing and pace.
Hooper, a free signing from Southend, was better then anything in our ranks and their midfield dominated.

Second half, they simply stepped up another gear, we either didn't or lacked the ability and once they'd scored the match as a contest was over. Indeed, the tie could have been well and truly put to bed had the home side taken some of their numerous chances in front of goal.††

Both goals were poor from our point of view. I was sat in the home end with my next-door neighbour, a Scunny season ticket holder, and I had a good view of them. We had several opportunities to prevent the opener but failed and Woolford somehow was allowed to stroke the ball past Andy Warrington.

I wonder if our talisman keeper was unsighted, as surely on another day he would have saved a rather weak effort.
Unfortunately, a second soon followed as the floodgates threatened to open. This time stand in defender Pearce headed home from a cross, which our defence failed miserably to prevent.

Routine defending this, at least in my book, but on an off night such as this the defender was left unmarked to score. Blame might be levelled at anyone in our defence for that goal, but the damage had been done.
After that, the home side stormed forward and only some desperate last-ditch tackles and some inept shooting kept the score at 2-0.

Chances at the other end were few and far between and even at 2-0 manager Mark Robins seemed reluctant to change things around.
Overall we lacked any cutting edge up front and I would question Mark Robins' claim that we went there to win the game. Playing Broughton up front as a sole striker hardly backed up this claim. Broughton is a target man but not the type who is able to play as a lone striker.

If fellow striker Rueben Reid had a specific role to play, neither he nor anyone of the 2,500 fans massed behind that goal seemed aware of it. He was poor and was rightly criticised but the service from midfield was woeful.†

There lies our main problem, the midfield, Hudson started well but was generally well off the pace. Cummins was anonymous all evening and new man Taylor didnít look fit and hardly impressed.

In defence, Nicholas with his big throws didn't seem to know where he should be playing and is a luxury we cannot afford and Green couldn't venture forward as he does in league 2. Fenton struggled with the pace of the Scunny front men. Joseph might have been a better option.

On the plus side, Tonge and Sharps did ok and Andy Warrington made two or three crucial saves although he was at fault with the opening goal.

When we did finally replace Reid with Burchill and Taylor with Harrison it was too little too late and the game was lost.†

Ironically had Sharps converted a golden opportunity in time added on, we might well have been talking of turning things around in a few weeks time at the Don Valley but at 2-0 the tie is all but over.†

Time and again we've proved to be too good for anyone in that bottom half of league 2, time and again we've proved totally wanting against anyone from that top half. Against a side much higher than that we were simply second best. A quick decisive Scunny side were simply better than us but not great by any means.

We need to strengthen the midfield and find a striker who can score goals if we are to be any sort of force again. Having said that and in the meantime, we won't go down.†

Whilst I cannot see us scoring twice against them at DVS, stranger things have happened and with a big partisan crowd it could really be a night to remember and turn Mark R and his flagging charges into folk heroes.

For now, itís back to the important business of trying to survive this difficult season. An improving Grimsby side are our next opponents, unless we improve, we must prepare for another defeat in Lincolnshire and a nervy final third of the season.

Keep smiling winters on its way out and the summer beckons; itís the only thing I could think of to cheer you all up.

Chris S