Danny said it himself, he feels complacency all around the club. I felt it too, pre match and even a little in the stands.
It isn’t the first time I’ve felt it against Crawley either, it reared its head during our 0-0 draw last season. But were we really complacent against the Red Devils?
It is hard to put a finger on what went wrong this weekend. In the past, when we’ve lost big games it hasn’t been as difficult. Against Crewe we looked ragged but Neal Eardley was missing, we were stuffed 4-1. That result kicked us into life and we pressed on for a play off spot.
Against Bury we were poor, but the midfield pairing were overrun and we lacked width. The tweaks brought a 2-1 win, but was that the early warning sign for the Crawley defeat? The eleven that started had despatched Exeter with ease the week before.
There’s no need for anyone to be losing their heads after one result, this was no Crewe defeat. We lost the game, yes. We were below par, yes. Danny has said that it will take a while to find method and I think we saw in the 2016/17 season what happens when we do. Let’s not forget his teams always get better, so if this is the base starting point I’m happy with progress.
Last season it wasn’t as obvious due to unexpected player departures, so the method didn’t really come to the fore until after Christmas, by which time we were down to the bare bones. Braintree at home in autumn 2016 marked the first time we saw a DC team on method and for the rest of the season, we reaped the rewards. In 2018/19, we’ve not hit it yet.
We could easily have won the game on Saturday, if Akinde buries his chance it’s 1-0 and I think the Crawley resistance crumbles. Aside from two early Palmer chances, the header and the ridiculous first minute dive, I didn’t think they offered too much going forward. I did like Camara, the gangly forward had an effort tipped over, by on the whole we contained them,
Andrade and Anderson had chances before Akinde in a first half which was described as poor, but in which I thought we weren’t as bad as everyone is making out. Their goal was a harsh deflection, not taking anything away from them but on another day it goes anywhere but the back of the net.
Whilst it wasn’t complacency that did for us, I do think there was an element of sloppiness. When Andrade went down from the challenge before their goal, everything stopped. Why? I didn’t hear a whistle, did you? Without wanting to single anyone out, we had a glorious chance in the first half where their defender went down and everyone stopped thinking the ref would give a foul. He didn’t and Harry Anderson’s subsequent shot was deflected behind for a corner, but there was a languid feel to the effort, as if Harry expected a whistle.
It was the intensity that dropped, but I think the players knew what was needed to win the game. It’s easy to blame the atmosphere, but we beat Forest Green away in front of about 250 of our fans, we beat Oldham in front of fewer than were there against Crawley. Those players should, and usually do, perform whoever is watching. No, the atmosphere was no more to blame than complacent players.
Last season, if the energy levels dropped, Alex Woodyard was there to ensure they remained high. Against Crewe we were terrible, granted, but that didn’t stop us working. The fans responded because they saw endeavour, even if we were 4-1 down at home. This week things were different, we went 1-0 down but the energy levels didn’t change straight away. Only when we flashed a couple of shots at goal did things improve and even then, we weren’t really at it.
The industry in the centre of the park wasn’t there, something that should have come from O’Connor and Freck. One of those can be a little more laid back in their approach, but of the two midfielders one has to be chasing everything and be composed enough to move the ball forward, not just sideways.
One thing that did get the atmosphere going in the wrong manner was suicidal balls back to the keeper and we’ve seen a few this season. Luke was guilty of a couple of mistakes of that nature against Northampton should have cost us the result. On the opening day the passes should have been firmer, but on Saturday one or two should not have gone back at all. We nearly gifted Palmer his little moment on one occasion.
Teams are smarting up to us. We saw it on Saturday, our little free kick around the corner failed, twice. Teams are getting under our skin and the players attempts to fool referees, which doesn’t happen all the time I might add, are not being rewarded. Andrade stayed down wanting a free kick which didn’t come, why didn’t it come? It looked to be a foul, but I noticed Morais and Palmer in the referees ear all the time.
Did the influence of Ollie Palmer lead to the referee being told to watch out for certain things that he otherwise might not have? Do some of our flair players think that them being targeted for tough tackles might be rewarded?
Whatever the issue was, I don’t expect to see it again for a while. All teams have off days, all teams need a little wake up call and I’m hoping we’ve had ours and we’re still top of the league. I hate the saying ‘we go again’, but we do. It’s over the hills to Macclesfield this weekend in a game that we must not show any complacency. Mind you, Danny was pissed off on Saturday that was clear. If we can hear it, it means the mask slipped slightly and that can only mean one thing for the players; a right good going over. They deserved it too. In the past I have been critical of our tactics at times, certainly I felt we set up wrong against Bury, but the set up was much the same as the week before. On Saturday, Danny’s players let him down.
I’d like to bet they won’t do that again in a hurry.