Match reports for the last 24 league games have been relatively straightforward to write. They have usually been put together slightly hungover, with super Sunday on the box and in the knowledge that eventually we win or draw. Today, it’s a little more problematic. I am having to write about a comprehensive defeat, with the international break resulting in ‘escape to the country’ rumbling on in the background. I am bang out of my comfort zone.
We entertained a Polytechnic side on a well attended old members day at the club. It was perfect football weather and the Racecourse pitch was nothing short of superb. We had beaten the oppo in the cup last year with a really good performance, but having come down from Div 1 they were always going to be handy. They also had a very nice kit, so all credit to them,
We lined up 4-2-3-1, a couple of absentees but overall a really strong squad. The aim was to press higher and see what pressure we could bring early on. I think having watched ‘Being Liverpool’ I might start copying Brendan Rodgers and being a bit more cryptic with my pre-match comments though…Ok?
The oppo started the game by far the better side, our passing was pretty woeful and we were being pulled around all over the pitch when they were in possession. We couldn’t really get the ball for the first 20 and inevitably went behind. A poor clearance by yours truly was charged down, allowing a tidy cross and finish. Their number 6 who Dan Jones had done such a tidy job on last season was having the freedom of the Racecourse, always dangerous against someone with ‘good feet for a big man’. Poly doubled their lead shortly after, their left winger cutting in a long way infield before putting a tidy effort in off the post. Decent goal, pretty lacklustre defending. I actually don’t think we had a shot to speak of in the first half.
We knew we needed to compete better after the break and to be fair, we had a go. Kieran had a good second half down the left, a couple of lovely bits of skill and his usual good delivery. We did fashion a couple of chances but we never really tested the keeper. We gave it what we had and were left unsurprisingly open in the last 10. They capped the win with a lovely curled effort and a pretty dubious penalty.
Absolutely no complaints from our side. A hammering by a far superior side on the day. Poly were a really well organised outfit and something we should aspire to. They kept it simple, pressed brilliantly, were fit (ooh-err) and really comfortable in possession. It is not a nice feeling to lose but it could be a bit of a weight off our shoulders now. The fact is, we will be playing teams of this quality most weeks. I hope the game was something of a wake up call. We need to give ourselves the best possible chance because we can’t just roll teams over on ability alone this season. Therefore….
– Do not be late. The oppo had arrived from South London for a 1.30 kick off in full before we even had 6 players there. It has been a common theme this season and it is pretty disrespectful to people who bother to get there on time. Our preparations have been rushed and we have been starting slowly as a result. This really can’t keep happening if we are serious about this season.
– Make the effort to get to training. You could see how that extra bit of organisation and sharpness benefited the oppo. However, training aside…..
– Do your own fitness work. We are not fit enough. Take responsibility to do some cardio in the week. Lee Carlin has bought some leggings and a slazenger jumper to go jogging. He looks fantastic and will play better as a result. Also, if it needed saying, avoid the smash on a Friday.
– Let’s try and play football. We haven’t got the players to be a long ball team. Be braver in possession and encourage others to do the same. If we are going to get beat, let’s do it trying to pass!
This defeat has been on the cards, so it’s a good kick up the backside. There is no need to push the panic button or lose any confidence. We just need to step it up a level and do the simple things better on and off the pitch. Pressure free opportunity to do this in the cup on Saturday.
MOM : K. O’Leary. More twists and turns than an episode of Scooby-Doo (2 tops)
AP : Pennycook, Carlin, Patterson, Egan (Munero), Thrale, Osei-Bonsu, Nicholau (McVeigh), O’Leary, Kelly, Brown, Adjekwei.