“It’s a well-worn Yellow Army debate that we need another striker this season and Saturday did nothing to discourage it”
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Rain, rain go away come again another day… After the woeful loss on Saturday, Tuesday night would have been a nice chance to quickly turn the corner and get this promotion train back on the tracks. Instead, all we were left to debate was the rights and wrongs of another postponement, and the frustrated mutterings of Chelmsford fans who have now adopted TUFC as their sworn enemy no.1. Well it made for a lively evening of social media in the end, if nothing else!
Much debate centres on whether United should have pushed harder to get the game postponed a lot earlier in the day, thus preventing the Clarets players and fans from travelling. From what I understand a number of suitable officials were contacted, but could (or would) not make the trip. Even if they had completed a pitch inspection at lunchtime, it would have surely passed! Should a referee (or suitable official) have the power to postpone a match due to predicted weather conditions? That’s an almost impossible question and surely depends on each situation and the certainty/severity of the weather…PASS.
I totally sympathise with the Clarets supporters who made the trip and found their only reward was free food and drink in Boots and Laces. That is hard-earned money and time spent, and I’m sure our supporters would be similarly aggrieved if the tables were turned. What I don’t quite get is the suggestions that this postponement suited United and that we were happy to throw in the towel (pardon the pun). We have no fear of playing Chelmsford City…why would we! This was a big match, with another crowd of over 2k due to turn up at Plainmoor – not that I would expect them to understand those sort of numbers. More TUFC beef in the NLS! I had initially thought the league might lack proper banter with other teams – nothing of the sort! All I would ask is for TUFC to just be more open and communicative on these occasions, but I’ve been requesting that forever.
The Chelmsford game became bigger due to last Saturday’s agonising loss to Weston-super-Mare. I’m still gutted about that. It should have been a nailed on home win and after doing the hard work and finally getting the equaliser, the long run and finish from Gethyn Hill was a sucker punch on a miserable afternoon. Poor finishing cost us in the second half, the likes of Asa and CLE leaning back and placing shots over the bar from decent range – whilst Reidy and Janneh had off days in the box. In the end just too many below-par performances in a poor game bogged down by testing weather, painful time-wasting (their goalkeeper not getting booked was an Agatha Christie-type mystery) and ineptly passive refereeing. Now is not the time for these United displays to become common-place as the run-in continues, even if Gerring’s Woking boys are struggling with their own inconsistency these days (they face Chippenham at home on Saturday).
I am concerned about this defence at the moment, especially considering the next game is away to a dangerous (and unpredictable) Billericay Town team. I think we all hoped the return of Big Jean Niate to the line-up alongside Kyle, would stiffen that rearguard and increase Shaun Mac’s clean sheet tally. On Saturday the two CBs looked anything but solid, whilst Davis and Wynter also struggled to win their own battles out wide. Indeed Liam switched off a couple of times in the 1st half, which is not like him. Getting back that defensive solidity should be a priority for Gary this week, along with sorting out the mentality of the whole squad. Time to toughen up and come out of the dressing room throwing the first punches this Saturday (not literally).
Otherwise it just felt like a game when the side needed freshening up, but there wasn’t the necessary options to do it. It’s a well-worn debate that we need another striker this season (I get tweeted repeatedly about a ‘target man/plan b/physical presence’ after every poor performance) and Saturday did nothing to discourage this. Ruairi is a striker but is only ever utilised out wide, whilst young Olaf is just too young this season – 2019-20 could be his impact time. That leaves new signing Vincent, who looks like a link man keen to play behind the strikers, which would mean an unlikely change in formation and Ryan Dickson, a man almost completely ignored by Gary – well unless he’s getting booked for berating the referee anyway! Ryan must be wondering where his next game will come from, frustrating times for a guy who played 36 games in League Two only last season.
Is there room in the budget for GJ to add to the squad, is he happy with his lot or just not convinced any decent options are available? Budget-wise with the Plainmoor crowds higher than they have been in years and the squad relatively small, there must be room in the kitty and our owner must surely understand the need to speculate to accumulate…or not! Who knows what Clarke is thinking these days, with the stadium plans remaining distant rather than reality? I do totally trust in Gary’s managerial instincts (it’s served him pretty well over the years!) though and his confidence in this squad, but one or two new additions could be the tipping point in winning the league or facing the unpredictability of the play-offs.
Onwards we go to Essex and Glenn Tamplin’s Ricay boys. Another real test of our mettle and this one could be a cracker! Is it the biggest game of our season so far? Yes I’d say so and the noises from the skipper this week in the HE, have been about trusting in the squad and keep attacking. We have to remain very positive for sure, for all our recent difficulties I’d still back the front three of Reidy, Saikou and Kalala to find the net against anyone. What these guys need is better supply from their team-mates. In recent weeks the distribution from the likes of Asa, CLE and Andrews has been poor, not helped by the heavy pitches of course, but all three should do better. Gary may decide to reinstate the tireless Ruairi back into the line-up, with Jake dropping out. It could improve the balance and thrust of the team, though we’d miss the magic that Andrews occasionally provides. Apart from that continuity reigns over formation and selection..which is not such a bad thing I guess after recent seasons of constant team sheet tinkering.
We have an opposition Q&A lined up this week with @TheBlueBeatRoom (a Chelmsford Q&A was on again, off again much like the actual fixture!) so watch out for their answers. TT’s Jones brothers Sam and Jonny (they’re not actually related but I like the sound of it!) will be covering the 90+ minutes for us from the New Lodge. TT’s profile has been rising recently with increased views from the welcoming United forums and positive feedback, including more requests to do match verdicts for the site. The match verdicts are basically our flagship article and the most popular thing we do. Always honest and with no agenda or bias involved, I love the way each contributor tackles the job of describing a game of football…I know, I need to get out more!
FINAL WORD – Is there anyone from the Yellow Army who isn’t going to Woking on 6th April?! The home team have already released a statement about home tickets, so we await further info on our allocation – it’s unlikely to be enough! The demand may mean a one per season-ticket holder scenario, it really is the match nobody wants to miss. Meanwhile the Netflix documentary ‘Losers’ is out now (like you didn’t know) and is well worth a view. It includes a lovely contribution from not only the dog, but also HE stalwart Dave Thomas and other 80s United luminaries! Check it out now for a reminder of the wonderfully weird world of TUFC (I hope we don’t need a similarly ridiculous moment this season to help it end in glory!).