MOTM Joe Garner
22/12/08 09:00 Category: Championship
Pretty even first half during which both team’s struggled to establish themselves but after half time, Forest raised their game and looked worthy winners. The desire amongst our players was obvious and we just wanted the three points more than they did. We’ve seen some pretty poor teams in recent weeks but Southampton look in real trouble.
Their one chance of the afternoon beat Camp from outside the area but bounced to safety off the post. Apart from that, the defence looked sturdy aided by the performances of Cohen and Morgan and Camp was very rarely involved.
At the other end, Earnshaw harassed their defence down the left for Anderson with only the keeper to beat. From close range, he managed to find an out-stretched foot and the chance was gone. The opening goal was unexpected but came at the perfect time. With half-time approaching, Cohen’s free kick from wide on the left found Morgan rising highest to score.
We always looked the most likely to score in the second half with Cohen and Thornhill looking dominant in midfield. However, you can never take anything for granted as far as our defence is concened.
The game remained in doubt until a quarter of an hour to go, Moloney’s interception and adventurous run with the ball set up Garner 35 yards out. Ignoring the more obvious options in through balls for Earnshaw or Moloney, Garner looked up and lobbed their keeper for an outstanding finish.
McCleary should have finished Southampton off in the closing stages after being released by McGugan. The first touch was heavy, the ball was never really under control and the chance was lost.
The passion and commitment within the side was obvious at the final whistle. Despite being dropped from the side and only playing five minutes, Chambers was first to the travelling fans and celebrating as if he’d won the game on his own.
Moloney continues to impress with every outgoing and his attacking intent provided the inspiration for Garner’s classy finish. Never looked out of place and made every effort to bring the ball at every opportunity. The side looks much better as a result. Just seems to lack that strength to see him complete the full ninety minutes.
Wilson and Morgan looked uncomfortable during the early stages when it looked like we might be set for another one of those afternoons. However, Morgan soon regained that level of performance that he has been producing over recent weeks. Completely dominate against the Saints front line and contributed at the other end with a well-taken header.
We looked much better in midfield with Cohen restored to a central position alongside Thornhill and genuine wingers available either side of them. Cohen’s ability to break up the opposition attacks and drive forward is sadly lacking when he’s stuck out on the wing. Thornhill looked stronger and up for a scrap in midfield but too often got caught in possession in dangerous areas.
McGugan’s late cameo showed the quality that we’ve often lacked in his absence and his return will provide a much greater threat going forward in the coming weeks. Hopefully this win has shown that Perch does not have to be an automatic selection in midfield, especially as McGugan’s return for Thornhill would be a more beneficial change.
Anderson looked very lively throughout but still can’t believe that miss from close range with only their keeper to beat. Davies on the other side just doesn’t do enough for me and isn’t positive enough. A couple of times he found himself on the left side of the area in a dangerous position but delayed too long and the chance was wasted. Despite the late miss, McCleary would still be my choice down the left. Even with his short appearance, I think he looked more likely to create something.
Earnshaw looked sharper than his past couple of appearances and it was noticeable that there weren’t too many occasions when aimless balls were lumped in his direction. Without Perch giving the ball away most of the time, we kept possession long enough to bring him into the game. Hopefully, with McGugan back in contention we’ll have someone to provide some decent service for him.
MOTM Garner has displayed the fighting spirit in recent weeks that we’ll need to get out of trouble and today was no exception. The obvious headlines will focus on the outstanding finish but throughout the game he defended from the front and never let the home side settle.
25/10/08 15:00 Category: Championship
A depressing ninety minutes that summed up our miserable start to life in the Championship. Despite playing well for spells during the game, it’s points and not performances that will get us moving up the table.
We had so many good chances I still can't believe that we didn't score. The fact we played pretty well at times and still lost just makes it even worse. Some of the chances looked easier to score but we just don't have that conviction in front of goal. We had more chances but Cardiff should really have made the most of the few chances that came their way. Bothroyd in particular missed a couple that looked easier to score.
We played well for the first half hour and then at the start of the second half but McGugan's rash challenge and the penalty knocked us side-ways. We then struggled to regain any momentum for the remainder of the game until Earnshaw’s arrival provoked a couple of late chances.
MOTM Garner was the highlight of the afternoon, despite only playing for an hour. He showed a very good attitude to the game, providing the fight that has often been missing this season. On first impressions, he was much smaller and slightly built than I was expecting, however, as much as Purse etc tried to knock him out of the game he got back up and came back for more. Despite his lack of stature, he plays off the last defender and competes for every ball. First touch looked pretty decent to me and able to bring others into the game. Very encouraging signs and something for the rest of the squad to learn from.
McGugan started well and was involved in most of our early good moves. He spent most of the time almost playing up front around Garner causing their defence quite a few problems. Following his rash challenge for the penalty, he disappeared and ended the game hobbling around. Other positives include the continued decent form of McCleary plus the defence looked pretty good, apart from Wilson who looks unrecognisable from the comfortable centre back of last season. Please take the captancy off him and let him get back to defending properly without the extra responsibility.
Despite the good spells, something has to change to spark our season into life. The teams we play in this league aren't that much better than ourselves, they just look street-wise compared to our naive new boys unable to establish ourselves in this league. The points gap to safety seems to increase with each passing game.
With regard to the manager’s position, it doesn’t change anything. We badly needed points from these two home games and failed. The forthcoming games look much harder.