Sunday 5th November 2006
By Vince Wray
T his was, by far, our worst performance of the season to date; however we managed to grind out a 1-0 victory.
I don’t have an explanation for the performance, just one of those days when things don’t click. It was a poor surface that didn’t encourage our normal passing game but that’s no excuse. We were marginally better in the 2nd half but only just and I got the feeling complacency was creeping in and a far too casual attitude when out on the pitch. We made hardly any meaningful tackles and were not winning our share of 50/50 challenges. A performance like this brings you back down to earth and time to rethink things. However, I firmly believe that if you play poorly and win, then you must have something going for you, that’s the silver lining out of the match! Also, on reflection, we defended stubbornly in the closing stages when under intense pressure. There is far better to come from this team and it must reach a higher level of consistency. There were only a few isolated performances that were acceptable and they weren’t fantastic.
The game started fairly brightly, Stevens just shooting wide early on. Laurant had a goal disallowed for offside but once again it seemed a dubious decision by the linesman. Sporting displayed a greater appetite and showed more purpose in attack and we really struggled to match them on some occasions. Bossley picked up an early injury and was replaced by Black. Neither keeper had a great deal to do, Milner performed confidently in goal and did the necessary when called on. Stevens and Wray provided some decent corners in the 1st half but there was a lack of conviction from us to attack the ball. Their defence looked fragile but we didn’t exploit it. 0-0 at half-time.
Stevens was struggling with a chest complaint and had to leave play early in the 2nd half being replaced by Barnett. Shortly afterwards Holmes entered the fray coming on for Hunt. With about 15 minutes to go suddenly things opened up and Holmes was clean through on goal and coolly slotted it past the keeper.
From that moment onwards we really had to battle and we stood firm and defended quite well.
The referee played added time of over 10 minutes, only he knows why! Sporting scored but it was disallowed for offside and Milner made two brilliant stops low down to keep them at bay.
A victory and a clean sheet, they’re the positives, but we’ll have to play better than this to win matches in the future.