Welcome to the blog, almost 24 hours on from Town’s less than inspiring 0-0 draw at home with fellow strugglers Middlesbrough. Today we’re going to discuss the three biggest talking points from the game - to do any more would feel insincere, as not an awful lot of interest happened on the pitch did it?
Read on to find out my thoughts on Tommy Elphick, the final result, and a few other bits and bobs along the way.
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Anyway, back to the blog :).
Elphick Failed The Test
Earlier in the week, I penned a piece about the things I’d like to see from the ‘Boro and Barnsley games, you can read it HERE. In the article, I stated that I wanted to see a thoroughly professional and concentrated performance from Tommy Elphick in both games.
For me, anymore lapses in concentration would show that Elphick isn’t the man to be partnering Schindler at centre-back and that we should look to either Kongolo or Stankovic in the long-term.
Last night, Elphick made the odd positional mistake, which is fine in my books - it happens to everyone. But what can’t really be overlooked is the two big mistakes that Elphick made which could, and perhaps should have cost us goals.
The misplaced pass that put his fellow defenders under pressure was frustrating, as it had barely been four days since he had made the exact same error. However, the big gaffe came when three of the defence pushed up for an offside and Elphick remained 5-10 yards behind them…
Britt Assombalonga would have scored from this mistake if it were not for the pace and tenacity of Jaden Brown on the cover. It was one of the many moments in the game when we were fortunate not to concede.
For any defender to make this mistake, at any level is almost unforgivable. The offside rule is pretty simple, and whilst getting the line wrong by a few yards is okay-ish, being almost 10 yards deeper than your teammates is ridiculous.
It’s not like Eplhick is young and green around the gills either, he’s more than experienced enough to not be making these mistakes. I’d like to see the Cowley’s take him out of the team until he can get to grips with concentrating for the full 90 minutes of a game.
We Played Poorly & Strangely, That Makes Me Happy
Let’s not beat around the bush, we played terribly last night and deserved absolutely nothing from the game. But we didn’t get beat and that makes me very, very happy. How many times have we played well and lost over the last 18 months?
It’s great to see a complete reverse of that, and whilst I wouldn’t want it to become the new norm, I’m happy with the character and determination it highlighted in the squad. As mentioned above, Tommy Elphick did his best to lose the game for us on two separate occasions.
Yet the players around him rallied, covered for his (and others) mistakes and fought their arses off to get something from the game. If this season is indeed to be a relegation battle, we will need plenty more battling performances from these players and now we know they’re more than capable of it.
I’m Blaming The Ref
You might think I’m about to get a little bit salty here about the challenge on Fraizer Campbell toward the end of the game in the box. Well I’m not, I don’t actually think it was a penalty and I would have been very disappointed if it had been given against us.
What I was more hacked off with was the lack of consistency from the officials throughout the game and their failure to control the match from the beginning. We all love to see a booming challenge on the halfway line, but sometimes the ref has to step up and put down a marker.
He has to let the players on the pitch know that bad challenges won’t be accepted, and Tony Harrington didn’t do that last night. He let far too much go in the early exchanges and before you knew it, the game had descended into a ridiculous scrap-fest of thunderous tackles, pull-backs and niggles.
Of course, it was part of ‘Boro’s gameplan to condense the pitch and not allow us to settle on the ball, but the referee didn’t help. As the match reached the latter stages, he did start to clamp down on a couple of tackles, but by then it was too late.
He also inexplicably gave Juninho Bacuna a yellow card when he raked his studs halfway down the shins of his opponent. That challenge perhaps serves as an example to Town fans as to why the Cowley’s have not yet trusted Bacuna to start a full 90 minutes.
It’s the second time this season that he has left his mark, so to speak, on an opposition player with his studs. That lack of discipline won’t do, and he needs to cut it out of his game if he is to become a regular starter in this team.
Away from those three main points, I was cautiously pleased with the performance of Ryan Schofield on his first league start for the club. He of course, made a wonder save to keep Town in the game which is to be commended.
If I were to raise a point of criticism it would be a failure to command his six-yard box from set-pieces, but I’m unsure just how much of that was down to him or the central defenders.
On the whole, I’m happy with the result last night if not the performance. If we can follow this up with a win against Barnsley at the weekend, I will be delighted. Until then, UTT.