Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Luck, Wimps and Bad Refs Match Reports

Bristol City 0
Sheffield United 1
Attendance 13,220

By all accounts this was one of the most boring non events in recent memory. Many believed that we were about to be thumped as kick off approached, Bristol may be at the wrong end of the table but were unbeaten in five. In regards to highlights to report it is difficult because genuinely they were non existent. A tame free kick from Shorey was caught easily by George Long in the first half, at the other end an equally
weak free kick, all be it lower and marginally more dangerous, was easily grasped by the Bristol goalkeeper. Shorey made mugs of our defence with quick feet but could only find row z with a long shot. An all to familiar theme is our defensive weakness and on this day we were lucky that in front of goal Bristol were as awful as we are, our defenders dropped to the floor like children throwing a tantrum when they couldn't make a tackle, they were left looking foolish and amateur all to often. In the second half Bristol City were left furious as appeals for handball in the box were ignored by the referee after a scramble. Then came a flash of luck, something we are not used to this season, McMahons weak cross to the front post went straight to flint in the Bristol defence, unfortunately for Flint his sliced clearance went straight into the back of his own net, Flint is now tied with Marlon King, Ryan Flynn and Jose Baxter as fourth leading scorer. A foul on George Long lead to the visitors having an equaliser ruled out. As the full time whistle sounds we have to realise that is a valuable three points, and no one can argue we need them, but again we showed we were not good enough. Bristol fans dubbed us the worst team to play them that season, and despite them being just as poor it is hard to argue with them. A lucky three points. 

Sheffield United 1
Walsall 1
Attendance 14,796

A match that left me furious, not just because the draw felt like a loss, not just because of the lack of fight, determination or attacking ambition, but also because of the ludicrous statement by Nigel Clough this was a well earned and well battled point! BATTLED!! A statement that I believe is beyond delusion. 
The match itself did not start too badly, The Blades had a corner flicked into the back of the Walsall net only for it to be cleared off the line by a Walsall defender. After this the Blades nearly repeated the mistake that cost us last time out at The Lane, having a weak back pass fall to a Walsall forward.  Luckily for us George Long was quick off his line and pushed away the attempted chip keeping the game goalless. The game became slow and stagnant from this point, neither team looking likely to score. The Blades were second to nearly every ball, we showed no strength or fight when making challenges, it looked like men against boys for a long duration. The Blades found a way forward and Aidy White progressed into the Walsall box only to be brought down by Lalkovic for what most of the world would class as a stonewall penalty, a clumsy sliding challenge from behind. The only person in the ground who did not think it was a penalty appeared to be
referee Chris Sarginson who claimed Lalkovic won the ball, to add insult to injury he then gave a goal kick, contradicting his theory that the ball was won. This gave United a brief spark of inspiration and we began to pile forward, but the same old problems showed themselves, our strikers trying to walk the ball into the net rather than take glorious shooting opportunities. Wasted chances and an inability to pick put players in dangerous positions led to the game simmering back down on the field. Off the pitch Nigel Clough along with the fans were still outraged by the Referees decision and he was booed ferociously even ten minuets later. Just before the half time whistle a cross came into the box towards Miller who was being marked by two Walsall players, the ball fell behind Miller and James Chambers brought up his hand and struck the ball. The referee awarded the penalty on this occasion. Walsall fans have since argued that this was not a penalty and the player couldn't help the ball striking his hand, going further also claiming that the only reason it was awarded was to appease the fans who had been booing him since his first mistake. This is untrue, the referee gets this spot on, the players arm is in a high and unnatural position and is a blatant handball. Chris Porter Stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way seconds before the half time whistle, Half Time and the Blades lead one nil.
The second half could not have gotten off to a worse start, poor defending from the full backs led to a cross being whipped into a waiting Craig Westcarr whose powerhouse header tore into the Blades goal, one all and again the back four too easily exposed, especially with the absence of Harry Maguire. The rest of the second half was a non event, a few penalty shouts from the home crowd, but in reality non of them had any substance, Chris Porter just fell over a few times. The crowd got more and more frustrated as time passed, not passing the ball forward or even looking like trying to attack. The anger reached fever pitch when Miller was replaced by Baxter leaving only Porter as the sole striker, not the shape of a team looking to push on for the win. It was as though the decision was made to hold on for a point against a distinctly below average Walsall side. Again the players failed to see players in attacking positions and made lots of lofted balls forward which resulted in us loosing possession far to often. Taylor replaced Porter and looked full of energy and attempted to drive the team forwards, but when the ball is constantly being passed backwards and George Long hits the ball straight down the field to there defenders there is not a lot he can deliver. The only real chance came as Taylor's clever flicked header bobbled towards the bottom corner, it was wide but the real let down was the lack of pace by McMahon who was following it in, a simple outstretched leg could have bobbled the ball into the back of the net, but McMahon couldn't show the fight to even stick out a leg, instead watching the ball bobble in front of him and out for a goal kick. Two of the worse corners I have ever seen as a Blade ended the game and the players showed again that we are bad enough to be contenders for relegation this season, an unhappy Lane crowd left disgruntled and shocked at the lack of guts shown by their team.

"It was a hard-earned point against a very good Walsall side"
-Delusional post game comments from The Gaffer

Jonathan Gascoigne

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