Chris Wade – @TufcChris
Following the weekend’s defeat to Halifax, Chris Wade discusses the talking points.
Defending from the Front
Whilst the lack of goals and leadership up front has been the most obvious miss since Danny Wright’s injury, our inability to hold the ball up front without him is increasingly becoming a problem and was again last night. All good teams defend from the front and we did incredibly well at pressing high and squeezing the opposition in the first fifteen games. Teams couldn’t get out to attack us or steal the ball back as Wright could hold the ball up, win a header or a cheap free kick. Now, there is none of this. Whilst our centre forward options are young and inexperienced, they are not holding the ball or winning anything and are generally too flimsy. All three Halifax goals came from transitions where we had given the ball up cheaply or been out muscled. Can Umerah and Street do it? If not, the time has come where we need to try another option with Wright still weeks away from fitness.
Our passing was again absolutely awful against Halifax (as was reiterated every time my phone went off from my increasingly irate father on this). The way that we play relies on clean, crisp, sharp passing, fizzing quickly in and out of feet. Remembering the games I attended at Plainmoor in December (remember those?), I couldn’t believe the quality and speed of the passing live. This was again replaced by slow, inaccurate sloppy passing last night. Since the Yeovil game, home games have not gone well mainly due to our inability to pass to each other. This then in turn transcends to long balls, and the diagonal ball that worked so well earlier in the season is now easy to telegraph and defend. We have to get back to accurate passing and moving opposition around so that we can get through teams, preferably with CLE back in the hole.
When is a blip a slump?
This is a question that I find myself musing on today. Whilst it was never realistic to expect us to keep up our wins to games ratio from the start of the season, there are now some worrying trends and patterns to our performances and results. 1 win in 7, no wins in 4 at home (with 2 goals from open play) and a lack of creativity in our play. Even after falling behind late last night, we weren’t battering Halifax to get back into it. We seemed to accept it and trudge off. I’m not going to go on about injuries, although this is clearly hurting us. We have what we have. The structure to the team wasn’t right last night, resulting in Halifax being able to get at us too easily. CLE on the right didn’t work and nullified one of our best attacking players. This muddled thinking is indicative of where we are at present.
The Goalkeeping Situation
This is a general comment rather than specifically about Shaun MacDonald, although I do feel there are question marks about him for all three goals last night. This is genuinely my only gripe since GJ took over. The goalkeeping situation has never been dealt with. We have two competent goalkeepers who do a job. But they have a mistake in them, and this is evidenced by the constant chopping and changing. I never bought the ‘they are both good keepers I can’t choose’ line last season. He doesn’t know. Again, this season, they are both in and out. Starts with Covolan, who misses a game injured and then it is MacDonald, who then has a bad game and is replaced by Covolan, who then gets injured again and it’s MacDonald again. The reality for a team chasing a title is they are not good enough and this has never been addressed and continues to hurt us.
Ben is Back
One of the positives from last night was the return of Ben Wynter. We have missed him for so many reasons. He is good on the ball, good going forward and most importantly is good defensively. We have also had to cover his absence with other players, taking them away from the job they are doing. Sherring out of a good centre back partnership with Cameron, and also Randell out of midfield. Needs must but it hasn’t helped our general play and team set up. Now that Wynter is back, hopefully he can stay fit and get a good run of games in to help the balance of the team settle down again. And who knows, Woking away is coming up twice in the next couple of months?
COYY – Chris