I’m going to start in the unlikeliest of places this morning, because I want to talk about Carlisle United first of all.
There is going to be some mild ranting later on, it turns out a night’s sleep doesn’t help one bit with the anger, but I don’t want that to seem like an excuse, nor a slur on the opponents last night.
I thought Carlisle turned in a professional performance, one that saw them play a striker at centre half and pair him with a defender that made Matt Rhead look like he was malnourished. However, Gerrard and Bennett kept our threat at bay significantly better than a player I’ve billed as comparable to Sean Raggett and the indomitable Michael Bostwick kept them out.
Not only that, but Carlisle broke quickly, always looked a threat and managed to completely unsettle us and disrupt the rhythm and continuity of our play. Perhaps, had we not given away two goals, we might have been more assured, especially as Andrade had his full back on toast for most of the first half.
I thought their fans deserve a mention for coming all this way on a Tuesday night and I sincerely wish them all the best in all their fixtures from now until May, bar our trip to Brunton Park. I have no issue whatsoever with them. Not one bit.
I especially rated the boy Nadeson up front, lively and energetic and I thought Neil Hair had a tremendous game for them denying two stonewall penalties. Mind you, given everything else we got wrong there’s no guarantee we’d have scored them and Hair did deny them one too. They say these things even themselves out over a season and at last count I reckon we’re owed three penalties and two red cards. Here’s hoping we get Seb ‘Homer’ Stockbridge at the Bank sometime soon.
That’s got Carlisle out of the way, now we’ll move on to the goals we conceded shall we. The first one was a mistake by Matt Rhead, granted, but when a striker loses a ball there should be a defence behind him capable of at least trying to intervene, should there not? To watch him run between our two centre backs, neither of them cutting the ball out nor alert to his run, will give me nightmares for ages.
Then their second goal, a simple hoof up field which bounced once and should have been dealt with. Back when I played (badly) for Wragby Under 13s I remembered my Dad telling the defenders a simple mantra that has always stuck with me: if in doubt, kick it out.
I don’t know if Wharton was to blame or if Josh has to shoulder some of the criticism but I do know one thing; as they’re watching that back in training tomorrow there is going to be red faces and a lot of apologising. Danny has already apologised to the supporters for the quality of defending, not just one the goals but all night. We never got to grips with their attack, they looked threatening whenever they came forward and the one positive to take from the game is we didn’t lose.
We did score goals of our own of course, one a great effort by Michael O’Connor who won our Man of the Match. The other has been described by Sky Sports as an intended cross, maybe it was but it brought a howler out of the Carlisle keeper. I felt he had a few in him if we’d challenged him enough, but we didn’t.
Lets move on to the other big bit of news shall we, the post-match rant by Danny about the state of the pitch and specifically, the fact we had no water on it. I’ve never heard Danny quite that angry before but similarly, I’ve never heard him quite as upset at a referee as I heard on Saturday evening. I get the sense Danny is beginning to get frustrated and I also believe had Rob asked the question of the referee, Danny would have refused to answer because there was no point at all.
Anyway, the water. I don’t understand plumbing but I have never heard of their being no water in a stadium. Did that mean the toilets won’t flush and the showers won’t work? Or do we just draw the water from the pitch from somewhere else? If I want to water my garden I go to the hose pipe, turn on the tap and ‘boom’ I’m in. Water. Is that not how it works?
I was genuinely shocked at that post-match interview, as were a lot of people. I know Danny Cowley as well as you do and he’s not a man to look for excuses, nor to apportion blame when there isn’t any, so it leads me to believe someone at the club has messed up, big time. I was also very surprised at Tom Pett then coming out and contradicting his manager, saying it was the same for both teams and they needed to deal with it better. I would pay to be a fly on the wall in tomorrow’s video session. Danny, if you’re reading this, please can I get an invite?
Anyway, we’ve got no water, abysmal defending and a decent opposition side, so under usual circumstances we’d lose the game. we didn’t, there’s a blessing and we’re still top, albeit by just three points now. MK Dons are coming good, but had a referee not handed them a lifeline we’d still be four points clear. Still, I’ll steer clear of that subject. For now.
Next page – Performance, players and Neil Hair