January 8, 2016 at 1:08 am #12363
I’ve decided to spruce up the web-site a wee bit (even with our new logo – any comments?). Another new feature is the single thread forum, so you can jump on and have your say, ask a question or just read what is being said. As I always say the forum is only as strong as what you make of it, so I would urge you to contribute and regularly to keep it all worthwhile. BTW, if you want to check something in the old forum it is now archived and the link is below… Okay let’s hear from you …
Looking for the old forum? You can view the read-only archived version here.
January 20, 2019 at 10:01 pm #14194
Windlesham and I met with friends before the game at Kingsmeadow, and predictions of defeat abounded – indeed there was one 1-4 scoreline which was spot on. I was the only voice of optimism going for a 0-0 – such are the highs of our positivity these days! But my optimism was terribly misplaced, and we were put to the sword by a very good Barnsley team, the best footballing side I’ve seen at KM all season. It was a well deserved win.
Wally’s 4-2-3-1 formation with Nightingale and Oshilaja sitting front of the back four worked well in the first half. Will in particular looked very comfortable in the role, playing with high energy and aggression, closing down the opposition to great effect. In the first half this formation worked well for us, but the Barnsley manager clearly clocked our control of midfield by substituting on a midfielder for their goalscorer number nine – and that turned the tide in Barnsley’s favour, allowing them to get a grip on midfield which they used to their advantage in the second half.
Clearly the talking point of the game, and probably turning point of the game, was Jervis’s horrendous miss from two yards in front of an open goal just before half time. It was right in front of me in the JG stand, and I still cannot fathom how on earth he missed it. It was on a par with his dreadful miss from pretty well the same spot in front of goal down at Plymouth back in October, another horror miss which I witnessed for myself. It has sealed his fate as the boo boy, a role he’d already pretty well made his own before Barnsley when he outraged the Dons faithful by giving them the hands to ear treatment after scoring in a previous game. I wonder how he would have felt if the whole crowd had given him the ear treatment back after yesterday’s suicidal miss. Because suicidal it was. If that effort had gone in, we would have gone in at half time at 2-1 and with a big psychological boost to give us something to fight for and defend in the second half. It was a crunch moment and you could feel heads and hearts drop on and off the pitch when his side footed effort whistled past the post on the other side of the goal to where he was. The biggest mistake I made this season was spending a sizeable chunk of my dosh sponsoring Jervis’ shirt. A complete waste of money!
The other continuing negative remains Tennai Watson, who game by game is proving beyond doubt that he is not a very good right back. It’s our real weak spot in the back line, and it was exposed time and time again yesterday.
The positives? Well Will Nightingale as I said was impressive, and his 25 yard screamer just before half time was worthy of winning any best goal contest – if only their keeper hadn’t pulled off a top drawer save to somehow tip it over. It looked for all the world to be heading in to the top corner. A class strike. If only others would have a go from the same distance.
Young Paul Kalambayi is also another major positive. He looks assured, big, strong, and intelligent on the ball. Every game he grows taller and taller in confidence and ability, and will be a real asset for our promotion push from League Two next season (more on that in a moment!).
We got another glimpse of the impressively lightning quick Dylan Connolly, who terrorised the Barnsley left back with mesmerisingly fast runs at the back line – delivering decent crosses to boot after those runs. Again, another real asset as we look to rebuild this summer.
The one other real positive which we probably won’t benefit from next season is Aaron Ramsdale. I lost count of the number of brilliant saves he made yesterday, absolutely top class; on top of which he’s vocal, commands his box, and in the mould of George Long is a great motivator and solid presence between the sticks. He looked genuinely gutted at the final whistle, a player who clearly puts his heart and soul in to every match.
My overall take-out from the Barnsley game is that barring a miracle we’re getting relegated. The optimists can believe we’ll do it, but realistically the haul of points we now need is looking more and more unattainable. Not only do we have to win well over half of our remaining games, but we need to rely on four other teams to plummet as well. And there is just no sign of that at all with those struggling alongside us yet again picking up points to open the gap wider. Oxford and Plymouth won, but more annoyingly Walsall and Wycombe also won – and they were two sides who seemed to be heading towards some sort of freefall but have staved off that downward spiral. Rochdale and Scunthorpe also picked up a valuable point.
Anything other than a win against Fleetwood on Tuesday night and we can pretty well surrender to the reality of relegation. Yes, yes, there’s still a lot to play for and all that. But come on, it would require a miracle of us going on a Manchester United style seven game winning streak combined with four other teams going on a long streak of defeats to give us any chance of avoiding the drop. And right now, that just seems fantasy land. I’ll still be there willing us on, home and away, but deep down it feels like a losing battle. Oh how wonderful it would be to be proved wrong!January 15, 2019 at 6:44 am #14193
Agree with you, Singapore, we are going down unless we recruit at least two quality players in the next two weeks.
We need a striker, undoubtedly, but even more than goals IMO, we have to exert some control in midfield and stop sides like Coventry strolling to within shooting distance without our midfield getting close to making a tackle. Our midfield is the worst in the division. A Dannie Bulman type figure is desperately needed to enable us to break up play.
The forthcoming two home games are vital, we must get at least one win from those two games. Barnsley is going to be tough, as many commentators rate them as the best team in the division – I’d take draw without any doubt. Fleetwood will be out for revenge for the cup, but under lights and with the crowd fully behind the team, we must be capable of picking up three points.
The season is at a vital stage, both on the pitch and off it…January 14, 2019 at 6:44 am #14192
A point gained or two points dropped? Sitting in the Ricoh Arena watching the game, it felt at the final whistle that it was a bit of both. You could argue it was a point gained because Coventry were relentless in their pressure, which we withstood pretty well (in big part thanks to Coventry’s woeful finishing), and at the end when they hit the bar in the 94th minute, the collective sigh of relief made it feel like a point gained. At the same time, when you’re one nil up and hit the bar after thirteen minutes, surrendering the lead made it also feel like two points dropped – not least because they would be so valuable for the daunting attempt at survival we face.
Impressions of the WAG team? Clearly, our lack of a striker is our biggest concern. Pinnock was the sole striker, as he was at Charlton, and he just doesn’t have the back to goal control and turns to be an effective sole striker. We missed Appiah who had come in to some decent form in the last few games, with some great goals to boot, and we really could have done with him at the Ricoh. It was good to see Pigott on for the final twenty minutes, but his rustiness was there for all to see when he was put through on goal and completely lost track of where the ball was! We need him back asap at his goal scoring best.
Jervis scored and had another decent bullet shot well saved, but apart from that he did nothing. He just seems such a lightweight. He’ll lose his place in no time to the new boy I’m sure. Dylan Connolly was electric fast, lightning quick runs up the wing, taking on defenders – he was a joy to watch for the brief 20 minutes he was on and certainly looks a promising acquisition.
Other positives: Kalambayi looking very strong, big and settled in the centre of defence. I’ve seen him quite a few times over the past couple of years in U-18 games and it’s really great to see him make the step up to the first team and look a natural there. Good too to see Deji back in the centre of defence and looking close to his best form from last season. He slotted in easily at left back when we shifted to 4-4-2 in the final twenty minutes, with Nightingale slipping back in to central defence next to Kalambayi – a really pleasing Academy central partnership which gives us great hope for the future. Will had a great game, my man of the match for his energy and tough tackling across the pitch when he played the covering defender in the 4-1-4-1 opening formation.
Less pleasing and certainly in the negatives column is Tennai Watson. I lost count of the number of times he gave the ball away, lost the ball, and generally just looked very poor – as he did at Charlton when his two mistakes cost us two goals against us. I really can’t see the point of playing him to make so many mistakes when his learning from those mistakes will only benefit Reading and not us. Why not play Sibbick, who if making mistakes will at least learn from them to our benefit in the longer term? Garratt too had an iffy game, but hopefully he’ll improve with more game time – he did’t look as poor as Watson for sure.
Finally, I was very impressed with our new keeper. He had a solid game, commanded the box, made some great saves, and has a great long kick (if only we had a Hanson at the other end of the field we would be milking the route one game again!). And boy oh boy, it’s spooky how like Seb Brown he looks!
All in all, judging by the game I saw in Coventry, we’re going to struggle to survive. Yes we look so much better than we did six weeks ago; confidence has clearly returned and for that Wally and Glyn must take much of the credit. Clearly they have done something to instil some belief and passion into a squad which had previously looked woefully thin on both. But confidence alone won’t keep us up. We still lack quality. We simply don’t look very good and haven’t done so since September. We’re ok, but nothing more. And while teams around us are picking up wins and three points, we’re going to have to pull a few white rabbits out of the hat if we’re going to be playing League One football next season. I just hope we can produce that magic in the games to come….January 12, 2019 at 9:37 pm #14191
It has been an up and down week for the club.
The cup draw was a good one, although perhaps some of us were a little blase as we have played them already this season (and Chicharito has shown us how “professional” Premier League clubs can be by getting McDonald sent off with a horrendous dive). The subsequent confirmation of TV coverage was a relief and guarantees us another £144k from the cup run (over £500k from prize money and TV appearances so far).
However, the week ended on a sour note as we were effectively ‘gazzumped’ by Rotherham and Charlton for the second half of Ben Purrington’s season long loan. It can only be money talking here, and Charlton must have offered to pay considerably more of Purrington’s wage than we were. IMO Purrington was only ever a functional full back – a rich man’s Callum Kennedy, who did the basics OK without showing any flare, or any potential to play above League 1. However, he had tied down the LB place and made it one area of reliability in a season of turmoil. Whether Tyler Garrett is up to the task we will have to wait and see, but the vindictive side of me is hoping for Mr Purrington to quickly suffer a non-serious, though season ending injury…
And so to today and a tough trip to the Ricoh Arena to face a Coventry side who in my opinion have over-performed this season to date. We are 5 points from safety in a relegation battle that looks like turning into a real dog fight, with the basement teams all hitting some form (Oxford aside, tee hee). We are still in danger of being cast adrift at the bottom and so it is important to return with something today.
Coventry play a passing game, so it is important not to let them gain any momentum or belief. We need to be organised and strong at the back and take any chances that fall to us.
We need at least a point, but I am hoping for three…
COYD!!January 8, 2019 at 9:20 pm #14190
Bit of a bizarre feeling to be optimistic when the Dons are bottom of League One. But the change in management has certainly seemed to help in recent weeks. Not only has there been a decent return in terms of points, but also the bonus of reaching the 4th round of the Cup. West Ham at home might not be the money spinner we hoped for, but at least it is an interesting prospect.
Wally Downes is giving the young players a go and it seems to be paying off. A new keeper is an interesting move and hopefully settles what has been a problem position for us since George Long left. Would happily take 7 points from the next four League games to keep us in a decent position to stay up. Fingers crossed we get the Cup game televised to make some more money. And beat them as well!January 7, 2019 at 9:27 pm #14189
Agree wholeheartedly, Rob, the smiles are starting to return to the faces of the supporters.
Wally and Glyn seem to have simplified the information being passed to the players and freed them up to play to their strengths. Towards the end of the Ardley era there seemed to be a certain amount of ‘paralysis by analysis’ and this has been removed. The players have been invigorated and are giving 100% (Trotter excepted, of course), something that certainly wasn’t the case a month ago.
The new keeper looks promising at first sight and a cup victory in his first game will give him confidence. The tactical switch, to play Will in front of a centre back pairing of Kalambayi and Thomas (before his injury) looks to have been inspired – it frees up Will to be aggressive, knowing that he has cover behind, but it also eases Kalambayi into the starting XI with Will covering in front. Whether this will continue when we have two strikers available will be interesting to see, but what it demonstrates is innovative thinking by the coaching staff, again something that was missing from the last days of Neal Ardley.
FA Cup draw tonight and my wish is firmly for a televised game. My one priority this season is to stay in League 1 and IMO the best way of doing this is to generate extra income within the transfer window. Others may wish for easy ties to progress to the 5th or 6th round, but for me that simply causes a fixture build up at a time when we can ill afford to be cut adrift at the bottom.
At home to Arsenal or Man United will do me fine, followed later in the week by a solid, energetic and hard tackling centre midfield loan signing.
That’s not asking much is it..?
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