I’m going to have to jump straight into the topic on everyone’s lips aren’t I? The red card for Ellis Chapman.
I made my feelings very clear in last night’s blog and in the main I stand by those comments in general. Yesterday’s official was terrible, he typified the lack of consistency and the arrogance being shown by a percentage of lower league referees at the moment. His decisions were clumsy, incorrect and at times baffling. It wasn’t just against us either, he denied our visitors what looked to be a clear-cut penalty in what looked like an attempt to ‘even things up’.
As it transpires, the popular opinion is he need not have bothered because Ellis Chapman’s red card seems to be the right decision.
I’ll stand by my initial thought that it isn’t a sending off, just. I can’t see any way at all it will be rescinded, there’s evidence aplenty that it was a studs up challenge. Still photographs have highlighted it as a so-called horror tackle, the slow motion replay suggests so too.
Both can easily make something happening in real-time look far worse than it is. For me, their lad slides in under Ellis’ foot as the youngster goes to block the ball. In doing so it appears as though Ellis is coming down with his studs on Gary Deegan. The point to understand is very few players appealed for it and in terms of force, Deegan got up almost immediately. If there had been intent or if the real-time incident had any significant force behind it, then there could have been an injury.
Sadly, for that reason alone, an appeal will not be successful. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he made the decision quickly, without consultation and I still do not believe it is a red card. I respect everyone else’s right to an opinion, I hope that you afford me the same. My final comment is that the Cambridge bench told Danny they’ll help with an appeal, so all the still photographs in the world haven’t convinced them it was a malicious or dangerous challenge. When making your assessment, remember the challenge Matt Rhead made on Dean Henderson, a challenge that looked far worse in slow motion than in real-time. Also, remember the precedent last weekend where Lee Frecklington was taken out, injured and there wasn’t even a free kick coming our way.
If these things even themselves out, I feel sorry for Carlisle on Tuesday.
I’ll park the decision and the fall out for now. I was so incensed yesterday I genuinely intended to write about the game up until the 21st minute and leave it there. Of course, the cold light of day has calmed me somewhat and there’s so much to analyse I’d be taking the easy way out in doing so.
We’re under a bit of an injury crisis at the minute, aren’t we? No O’Connor, Frecklington or Shackell. Some suggested Akinde was carrying a knock too, hence Matt Rhead starting. I’m not sure that was the case, I think Rhead impressed against Port Vale and retained his place on that basis. Still, to have the three players missing that we do cannot be easy to accommodate. At least last weekend we had Freck, but to have to start with Ellis and Tom Pett wasn’t ideal. No disrespect intended to either by that, but it heaped pressure on the two from the off.
Not that it mattered as we tore into Cambridge early doors. The first ten minutes suggested a scintillating game of football. They looked ropey at the back, edgy and nervous, and our goal came from the usual persistence of Bruno Andrade and then a smart header by Rhead. To see the big man with the armband on and scoring stings a bit, it means I have to give more money to charity!! Seriously though, it was a quality cross and goal. I blamed their keeper for being out of position a little, but it was a good finish nonetheless.
Not long after my Dad leant forward and said ‘I can’t believe this lot behind me, saying already we need a second goal. They’re never happy’. Within thirty seconds Cambridge were level, proving that for once, the moaning buggers were spot on. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t a good goal to concede, their lad seemed to have plenty of time and my own assessment is we weren’t screening the back four in the manner we usually do. If Michael O’Connor is on the pitch, they don’t score that. I’m not directly having a go at the players who were on the field, but a dedicated defensive midfielder stops the shot coming in or forces a pass rather than a pop.
It reminded me a lot of the Swindon goal last season when we drew 2-2. Olly Banks (I think) hit it after we left their lad with time thirty odd yards from goal. On that occasion the shot was parried by Farms for a tap in, but the Cambridge lad left Josh with no chance at all.
It looked like game on then, but the 21st minute happened and the complexion of the game changed. If you go down to ten on 70 minutes then there’s a whole different approach, but we didn’t. We had too much football left to play at that point and it meant Danny made changes, changes that haven’t been well received by a large portion of the commenters on social media.
Firstly James Wilson came on in the centre of defence with Bozzy pushing into midfield and Harry Anderson sacrificed. It was harsh on Harry, but if you’re down to ten against a team with pace in attack like Cambridge, you can’t keep your wide players on and leave holes in the middle of the park. We had looked a threat and with that change our chances of winning the match diminished. I don’t think we threw in the towel, but at that stage the first intention was not to get beat. A point is better than none and if we average two points per game between now and May we’ll win the league. That is fact and you average two points a game by being sensible with changes when you have to be.
That brings us to John Akinde. As soon as we made the first change, the second was inevitable. It doesn’t matter than Matt Rhead was playing well, it wasn’t about performance, it was about set up. John Akinde was always going to come on, pure and simple. Why? Because he can carry the ball at his feet, chase balls down and generally offer more mobility than Rheady. Did he do that? Yes and no.
Next up – post sending off and of course, John Akinde