Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rovers Return

An energetic and lively performance by the Addicks was only good enough for a point last night. We have already played considerably worse this season and picked up wins.

Bristol Rovers were spirited and occasionally dangerous on the break, but by the time Paul Benson deservedly notched us level, the away side were almost defending in Blackheath so deep had we pushed them back.

Lee Martin was the outstanding player on show, although Therry Racon produced the type of performance that fans have been raving about in recent weeks, but I’d yet to see with my own eyes.

We surely would have earned our sixth win in a row if our crossing had been better than abysmal, the likes of Scott Wagstaff, Simon Francis and Martin regularly either failing to beat the first man or hitting uncontrolled crosses far too deep to be threatening.

The problem is not helped by the fact that the full-backs are seemingly instructed never to support the wide midfielders in the final third.

Even an overlapping full-back whose support isn’t used at least takes a defender away, and provides room for a better crossing position.

Jose Semedo limped off with an injury that the medical staff seemed to think could be resolved via some rigorous rubbing of his backside.

Even the most ardent fans of the Portuguese midfielder must acknowledge that his style often prevents us playing flowing football nearly as often as the opposition, and we noticeably improved in this regard when Alan McCormack entered the fray in his place.

Indeed I guess my biggest disappointment with Phil Parkinson’s side is how lacking in class our style remains, even though we do execute his unsophisticated approach rather well.

Everything is done at 100mph with the emphasis on moving forward as early as possible, winning the ‘second ball’ and then driving on again.

I can’t help thinking we’d be a better side if we were a little more patient at times. Better to provide just a handful of outstanding crosses with defenders out of position than a dozen hit more in hope than expectation.

However the draw extends our unbeaten run, whilst Brighton’s draw with Southampton was the ideal result from our standpoint too.

The attendance was predictably disappointing. The unnecessary self-imposed constraint which the club included in its season ticket pricing (dictating the minimum total cost of 23 comparable matchday tickets) is coming home to roost. I’ll write more about this in due course.

Here are my match ratings:

Elliot 6 – had little to do, and was probably unsighted for the goal

Francis 5 – untroubled defensively but guilty of conceding possession on several occasions
Fry 6 – typically enthusiastic; unclear why Parky concludes that Jackson offers more attacking impetus from full-back when an attacking substitution is required

Doherty 6 – was limping by the end, but still looked reasonably comfortable

Fortune 7 – was rarely noticed which is a good sign for a defender; won most headers

Jackson 5 – unimaginably slow but comfortable on the ball; we looked livelier when Reid moved into his midfield role

Wagstaff 6 – had plenty of first half possession but output was poor

Racon 8 – always involved in our better passages of play, and a terrific run for the equaliser

Semedo 6 – as noted above, his robust approach is not without a hidden cost

Martin 8 – full of energy despite an early kick to the head; just needs to do more with the excellent possession he carves out for himself

Benson 6 – forced to compete for too many unintelligent balls which he is not designed for; poachers goal highlighted his importance though
McCormack 8 – noticeably lifted the team when he came on; several important interventions in both boxes

Sodje 8 – a real handful and unlucky with a diving header; forced Rovers to defend ten yards deeper creating space for others

Reid 6 – a bag of tricks but always forced to take on two defenders due to Jackson’s inability to support; a fortunate assist for the goal


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At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Valley Ant said...

Always enjoy your posts and appreciate your insight.
Therefore, I would appreciate your take on the virtues of Akpo.
To me he is a big lump who puts himself about but that is about it. I thought the header you mentioned was poor and he also had a great chance to cut across the defender but made a complete mess of it.
I am probably being unkind and will appreciate someone else's view on this.

At 1:24 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I think fundamentally Akpo is a dreadful footballer, but he offers something different when the incumbent strikers are not having much joy.

He does his best work facing goal - Abbott is much handier with his back to goal by comparison.

His header was pretty unlucky if you watch the video on the BBC Sport website - couldn't really have done much more.


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