19/03/11 15:00 Category: Championship
It’s easy to look at the score-line and think this was a close game and we might have been unlucky. In reality, the score greatly flattered us and we should have been well-beaten before a late revival brought a consolation. Amazingly, despite this terrible run of form, we still remain in the play-off places as none of our rivals can put together a consistent set of results.
The players just weren’t up for the challenge and looked a poor relation to the home side. We could not cope with the movement and pace of their frontline as we conceded some very poor goals. At the other end, we did create some chances but anything other than a defeat would have been an unexpected return. The starting line-up looked about the best we could put together, with the possible exception of McGugan for Majewski, on this occasion the defeat is down to the players and not the tactics or selection.
Despite having five men in midfield we were badly second best in this area as the home side dominated. We seemed happy to sit back and let Swansea pass around and through us. On the rare occasions we bothered to put pressure on the home side, we forced errors and caused them problems. When in possession, it was only a matter of time before careless passing gifted them the ball and we found ourselves in trouble again.
For the first, Morgan carried the ball downfield and got caught out. Sinclair carried the ball past a number of players before finding the bottom corner. Shortly after, Tyson didn’t track the on-rushing pull back and despite a number of players on the line, they doubled the lead.
Boyd had a few chances at the other end in our rare attacks. Anderson hit a volley at him that on another day might have caused problems. Boyd forced another effort narrowly wide and then hit a long range effort that was saved. He saw a reward for his efforts in injury time when Tyson pulled the ball back from the left and his turn and shot was too powerful for their keeper.
Having unexpectedly found ourselves back in the game, you would have expected a reaction at the start of the second half. Typically, it was a repeat performance with Swansea pressing for most of the half and Forest only turning up for the closing stages.
They found their two goal lead after a run down the left again went unchallenged; Camp couldn’t hold the shot and left an easy tap in. Even more poor defending against good movement off the ball.
McGoldrick missed a couple of easy chances following quality set pieces from Cohen down the right hand side. Both times he was unmarked six yards out but could only tamely find their keeper with poor efforts. Typically unclinical finishes from someone who just doesn’t look like finding the goals we desperately need.
We started to make a game of in the closing stages when we finally started pressing the ball properly and pushing the home side backwards. McCleary beat a man down the left hand side and pulled the ball back for Anderson to score with a neat finish. Unbelievably we almost stole a point, Anderson met a curling right wing cross, beat the keeper but hit the post and the chance was gone. We were lucky to still be in the game at that stage and a point would have been a miracle.
Very few players came out of the game with any credit. Morgan produced some timely blocks to restrict the damage. Cohen was far from perfect but put everything into the game and produced some quality set pieces which others wasted. MOTM Boyd looked a decent addition with intelligent movement and a well taken first goal for the club. Unfortunately he tired in the closing stages and we lost the physical presence to lead the front line.
McKenna had a very poor afternoon, having no influence on proceedings and providing no cover in front of the defence. With five in midfield, he should be shielding the back four but time and again they ran from deep and left our captain too far downfield, exposed and struggling to get back. He wasn’t alone though. Majewski doesn’t have any impact on games at the moment and struggles to finish a half never mind a full game. Anderson barely features in games and seems to wander aimlessly around the pitch. Similar story with Tyson as both wingers produced very little service of any quality. Throughout the midfield, the passing was woeful with very few options for those unlucky to find themselves in possession.
McCleary continues to provide moments of quality during his brief cameos but probably isn’t consistent enough for a starting place. McGugan’s influence is badly missed and he should be playing in the middle and not stuck out on the left hand side. The return of Moussi can’t come quickly enough but it’s unrealistic to expect him to recover his impressive run of form immediately.
05/03/11 15:00 Category: Championship
Whilst it’s disappointing to lose the unbeaten home record, it’s been on the cards for a while now as a number of important players are running on empty/struggling for form. A number of teams had come close to beating us and it’s credit to our players that we’ve been able to preserve it for so long. There’s so many memorable results to look back on and it’s speaks volumes of the team spirit.
The only shame is that it fell to a side packing the defence and showing no interest in giving us a game. Hull took advantage of a lucky deflection and their only real shot on goal to win. To Fryatt’s credit it was a smart finish into the bottom corner but he was never going to reach the original pass and Gunter should have closed him down much better.
We did have a few chances but never really looked like scoring against a packed defence. They produced a number of decent blocks whilst we lacked a clinical edge in front of goal. Majewski had a powerful effort tipped over, Anderson’s shot was deflected over by Earnshaw, Earnshaw’s free kick was deflected just over and Gunter’s shot from McCleary’s pull back was blocked. These tended to be isolated attacks and we never pressurised them with for any time or with any conviction.
As usual, the defence was solid enough, to be fair Hull never really threatened though and it was good to get Konchesky just in time to replace the injured Lynch. We haven’t really looked like conceding many goals all season and the back 5 is the least of our worries (injuries permitting).
The main concern is our inability to score enough goals. We’ve tended to win games by a narrow margin and have relied upon set pieces and McGugan in particular. Without these sources, the squad doesn’t seem to have enough creativity to generate enough chances on a regular basis. Over the past couple of seasons, our midfield performances tend to dictate our results and this was certainly an off-day.
MOTM Cohen was the one bright spark in an otherwise disappointing set of performances. At times he was on a one-man mission to single-handedly turn the game in our favour. Despite being the obvious candidate to stay back hold the midfield together, in the absence of McKenna, he took responsibility to drive forward, attack space and make something happen.
The likes of Majewski and Anderson have shown very little in terms of contributing this season and their poor form shows no sign of ending. McGugan’s ability got our season going and has carried us in a number of games. At the moment he’s struggling for form and there’s very little from those around him to help us out. Being stuck on the left wing isn’t helping as he needs to be getting more involved to find some form.
Majewski had a couple of decent efforts on goal but those clever through-balls which became his trademark last season have disappeared. Anderson didn’t seem to have a recognised position and wandered around for his time on the pitch. We badly needed width to stretch their defence but he spent most of the time in-field and getting in the way of others. McCleary looked a decent option running at pace but there’s question marks over his ability to produce decent performances when starting games.
Further forward, Earnshaw missed a relatively straight-forward chance following an early mis-placed header, side-footed another well wide and fell over the ball with another promising break. We’re still waiting for him to find form in front of goal this season, we badly need the Earnie of last season to re-appear for the closing stages. Tudgay won plenty in the air, was involved in some neat build-ups but never looked like scoring. However, they still remain the best options available bearing in mind the poor scoring returns from Adebola, McGoldrick and Tyson and the inexperience of Rodney.