It’s not often we leave Sincil Bank having been beaten, but are there some early warning signs after it happened twice in a week?
It was easy to be complacent about Tuesday’s result, a competition we’ve already won hardly seemed worth getting worked up over, especially when you look at the changes we made. However, that word complacent takes a whole new meaning on this evening after we were beaten by Crawley.
I’m going to jump straight into the game and look at a rather tepid and half-arsed first half. Is there a better way to describe it? Crawley were decent, nothing more, but we weren’t at the races. Ollie Palmer could have opened the scoring, but luckily he showed the sort of finishing ability I remember him having. It was an early warning and the reality is they didn’t have a better chance in the next 85 minutes.
Our central defensive pair looked solid, Shackell and Bostwick have to be the best there is at this level, but around them we just looked very flat. The full backs, both of them, looked to be exploited on occasion. Passes from midfield went astray and there was a huge gap around John Akinde. All over the park, bar the two centre half positions, we were sloppy.
In flashes, Harry and Bruno both showed their skills and both had efforts at goal in the first half which were perhaps a little wasteful. It was Harry first, doing the hard work but drilling a tame ball off target. Bruno screamed at him across the box, politely suggesting there was a better option. Within fifteen minutes it flipped the other way, Bruno had a good chance which he chose to take himself rather than share.
Even though we were poor I felt we had the best chances and they don’t come better than John Akinde’s just before the goal. I champion Akinde as one of the best strikers in this league, but he flashed an effort wide that it looked harder to miss than score. It wasn’t a howler, but it didn’t demonstrate the quality I believe he has. Against Exeter I felt John took a huge step forward, today he took a couple back.
There’s only one noise that should stop you playing and that is a whistle, not a wingers scream as he goes down.
Then there’s the goal, a classic case of not playing to the whistle. Was there a foul on Bruno in the build up? Maybe, but the fact is if you go down there’s no guarantee the referee will believe you. I didn’t see an infringement, that’s my opinion. I don’t think anything happened to him that Palmer and Bostwick hadn’t been doing to each other all game. However, he went down, a couple of our lads paused and it’s 1-0. I’m sorry to say, it was criminal to give that goal away. There’s only one noise that should stop you playing and that is a whistle, not a wingers exaggerated scream as he goes down.
I’m not saying Bruno dived by the way, nor that he was at fault. It was those around him who chose to argue and not follow play. It wasn’t the first time either, earlier in the half at the other end we had a cracking chance but Harry paused on the ball believing their defender had been fouled. His tame effort earned a corner but I think he felt that play was going to be called back. Danny talks about learning lessons, I’m sure there’s a big one there.
On the balance of play I thought we were worth a draw at half time. Crawley are a decent side but they’re nothing special. They did their homework though, they isolated Akinde, whether that was purposeful or a failing on our part I don’t know. However, it is worth remembering that we did have chances in the first half and could have been in the lead.
The second half looked to start well, but not in the conventional sense. We didn’t threaten the goal and our patterns of play didn’t come back, but Crawley just retreated in the second half. I still have a problem with our set pieces, aside from maybe one corner we don’t make the best of them. We had free kicks in decent positions too, but again made little of them. That ’round the corner’ set piece that we did with Matt Green last year has stopped working, this afternoon we tried it and just looked foolish.
Whilst we’re on the subject, you remember Matt Green right? Yeah, me to. Good striker. Anyway….