Wednesday, 1 February 2012

"Don't shoot! Don't shoot!"

An average, at best, game that had all the ingredients that we can expect from now until the end of the season. We had most of the possession, we created a number of half chances - none of which is was a crime not to convert. Mostly, however, we looked unable to break the deadlock from start to finish.

If you consider that the Skipper managed two cracking free kicks and Green managed to force the Keeper to palm the ball into his own to account for the total goals we've scored in the last three games, it is clear that we are not carrying the goal threat that makes us favourites to score three or more goals.

Clearly this hasn't mattered as we have been keeping clean sheets and 'snatching' a goal from an unlikely source (by that I mean not from a striker). Sooner or later a 1-0 win is going to turn into a 1-1 or a 0-1 defeat. This is not a problem if you have strikers that can score (and we do) as there is every possibility that the 1-0 win will turn into a 2-0 win and then the whole situation changes.

Anyway, we started last night with out a forward that had the pace to stretch the defence. On another day this wouldn't have been a problem., We know how good Yann is, and we, also, know how many goals Clarke has scored in this division this season, so there was no reason to worry that BWP wasn't playing. Well, there was a small part of me that worried that we were finalising a deal to sell him, but with the benefit of hindsight (and the closure of the window) it made sense to rest him as he is not 100% fit in the knee department and two games in a week (well, three in 8 days) might have been a bit much for him.

The game panned out in the way that I feared. We couldn't get the early goal that would have changed the play completely, and totally against the run of play Bury scored. The goal came from a difficult angle, but what was most significant about it was that in the run up to the final pass we were just a foot (or a fraction of a second) short of making the tackle about half a dozen times. If any of those tackles had been closer it might have ended up with a different game and result, but once we'd conceded it was going to be ten men against the ball with serious amounts of time wasting - and that's exactly what it was.

With MK Dons and Sheffield Wednesday drawing it was probably a decent nights work, but it was an opportunity to increase our lead further, and we didn't, but we did beat the two teams we really needed to, and we have MK Dons at home in a couple of weeks, and that is a much more important game. Also we managed to gain a point (I say gain as our goal came very late and on that basis we came close to losing - both on the night and our unbeaten home record too).

Anyway as the game was coming to a close, Stephens had a shot from distance and he missed to the left of the goal and hit, and ripped, the advertising hoarding. The goal is not a big target from that range, and with so many bodies in the way the potential for a deflection or block makes it most unlikely that one will score from that far out.

Then in injury time we had an attack and we looked like we were going to overpower them at the back. Morrison had come up from the back and Haynes was providing the pace that we'd been missing all game. Then the ball was cleared and fell to Stephens, something like 40 yards out. There was a minute or two of injury time left, the box was crowded with our players - players that can score and Stephens just had to chip (or pass) the ball into the box. He looked like he's gearing up for a shot - just minutes after he missed the target from closer in.

"Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" I shouted - or screamed if I'm perfectly honest.

He did, and he scored! There are few better ways to score an equalising goal than a long shot in injury time, even if it is after one demands not to shoot.

It is likely that BWP will be back for Rochdale, and in any event we only needed score early last night and I'm confident that the game would have been completely different. I'm not, at all, concerned about not winning every game, and it has looked, recently, like we are going to struggle against those sides that come to defend more than those that come to win. MK Dons, for that very reason, should prove to be a more open game - and hopefully a win.

We still look like Champions - coming back from a goal down in injury time when we have not played well is also a plus point.

On a separate note my Son says he enjoyed the game and wants to go again. He did spend a little while on the iPad, but he chose a new hat from the club shop which he wore all night, and he did join in with some of the songs, as well as singing them on the way home. He was tired though, not that this was a huge surprise. I'm not sure it was ever our intention for him to come to many evening games on school nights, but one was ok. I don't want to 'push' football onto him as I fear it might scare him off, but so far so good.

Up the Addicks!

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