Friday, 14 August 2009

Next... Hartlepool away

Another team that I know very little about, save for the fact that Jeff Stelling, the presenter on Sky Sports Gillette Soccer Saturday, is a fan.

That ends my knowledge with this football club that I, with no disrespect, don't want to play ever again after this season. I suspect that I am going to come across many teams before May that fall into that category, but with a capacity less than our North Stand (including the corners) and being 264 miles away (courtesy of the AA website) I think it is a ground we should only have to visit once in my lifetime.

Rightly or wrongly I am still under the impression that we should beat just about every team in this division both home and away. The defeat on Tuesday night required extra time and we did start without eight of our recognised first team, and the other two of the outfield players were playing out of position.

It is no shame to fail to beat a team from just one division below when you have ten changes from your first team. Had Andy Gray scored the penalty or if he, McLeod or Burton, had scored one of the other chances they had it could have been different. I am not one to accept that players will be 'tired' 'early into the season' as the season starts at the same time for all the teams and if necessary the pre-season training and schedule of friendlies can (and should) be extended. However, the players are all human, and they are allowed bad days as long as they pick themselves up for the next game.

Thus I expect (not necessarily demand) that we will win tomorrow. I believe that we still have a midfield that should be able to compete with anything outside of the Premier League, and despite his two performances this season I still think Andy Gray has a good shout to be the top scorer in the third division this season.

Assuming the injuries all clear up sufficiently I would expect Parkinson to start with the same eleven as he did last Saturday. I would anticipate, also, that he will make changes in the second half as the players that have had knocks will need some more rest before we play Orient on Tuesday. As he started with a 4-4-2 on Tuesday I am going to assume that Parkinson still thinks this is a credible option moving forward so I wouldn't be surprised to see us end up with that formation.

All I would say is that if the change from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 causes us to lose control of the midfield again this tactic may well have to be reexamined.

I am going to go for a 2-0 away win. I think that away from home we will be slightly less cavalier, and I'm not sure that Wycombe's second goal was not the result of our substitute forwards pushing forward to get that goal that would have given us a more comfortable lead and made the game safe, as well as helping their own chances of starting the next game or getting that move away they they might want.

In truth a point would be a decent return from this game, all be it that if we have any real aspirations of automatic promotion we really need to be beating most of the teams that will finish in the bottom half of this division both home and away. Based on the fact that we are likely to strengthen key areas and we still have new players gelling into he side, I think we can expect to see us become more difficult to beat as the time goes on, and if we can avoid defeat we will have something to build on at Brisbone Road - a game that I am going to.

Same eleven, less cavalier, 2-0 win.

Up the Addicks!

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