Saints V Carlisle The Verdict
Sunday, 13th Feb 2011 11:53
Another game where it was more about 3 points than the performance.
To be blunt this was a disjointed performance by a team that doesnt seem to know who will be in it from week to week or the formation.
There were several changes to the side at Peterborough but strangely the two main miscreants from that game were still in situ, perhaps even stranger though was the fact that Ryan Dickson wasnt on the bench, meaning that we had little defensive cover on that side should we be exposed again.
I will say though that in the first half Dan Harding was clearly determined to put the previous week behind him and got forward well on many occasions, it would be no exageration to say he was our best player, although that would not be saying much when looking at the others, but I have to say that he played as well as i have seen him play this season, however and its a big however he was involved in a little bit of a defensive mix up first half when he seemed to call for the ball only to not clear it, nit picking ? maybe but its little errors that cost us games.
Some will again say I cannot say anything good about Harding without a dig, but I watched his game carefully and what he did with the ball when he got it, he was the best of a bad bunch, but he can only play with whats against him and it was not his fault that the good balls he did get into the box had no one on the end of them, he really deserved for some of his play to produce more.
As for the rest of the match, Saints spent too much time passing the ball and not enough time running at their opponents, Chamberlain showed what could be done when he ran at his man who was forced to foull him,, but for me we didnt attack our opponents enough, and they were content to sit back and watch us pass the ball in the area just inside their half, we seemed to try to draw them out, but they didnt take the bait.
The ten men rarely threated the Saints goal and when they did it was more of our own making, a hopeful punt down the field saw Fonte get no help from his keeper and instead of regaining possession of the ball, it saw Carlisle get a corner, simiarly Harding gave away possession reminicent of Ryan Dickson against United and in just about the same position and to cover for the error, Saints conceded a free kick enabling Carlisle to get men forward and the ball into the box.
At the end of the day though it was a fairly comfortable win, but in truth it should have been against a side who have the second lowest away goals total in the division and who were down to ten men, but the downside is we did not look like a team who were firing on all cylinders, too many players are being switched around and dont seem to be able to quite work out where they are paying week in week out.
Perhaps Nigel Adkins for the first time in his managerial career has the luxury of choice, whatever it is he is tinkering too much and not putting out either a settled side or one that has the confidence born of knowing exactly what they need to do each week, this is due to the continuity of the team being constantly changed, by this some players seem to be in and out at a moments notice, whilst others seem to retain their place whatever their performance, there sometimes seems to be no logic to selections and substitutions.
Take N'Guessan for example, on his debut at Exeter he did well, but was taken off just as he had started to beat his man and indeed his last kick was to cross for the equaliser, then at Peterborough no sign of him even off the bench, a week later and he starts the game, the sign of a manager who is unsure of his team is when players are in and out of a team like this, the best sides are those with the consistency of a regular side and where the fringe players can see that if they play well they get their chance.
We now face two away games in quick succession, neither will be easy and with several sides starting to find form behind us and the three in front showing no signs yet of cracking, we have to win both of these, such is the tightly packed top 10.
Our goal still has to be to keep averaging two points a game,if we do that then we will be there or thereabouts when it comes to automatic promotion, but such is the thin line, anything much less and even a play off spot might just be snatched from our grasp.
Over our last three games we have gained seven points so we are getting back on track, over the past six its eleven points, so slightly under the required target averaging 1.83, this illustrates the tightrope we are walking on.
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