Sunday, 15 February 2015

Belated Thoughts On A Victory

There was a need yesterday to get away quickly to make it back, allow Suzanne three minutes to get changed, and get out again to catch a train into deepest, darkest Sussex for a mate's birthday bash. So no time for any match report from me. In any event, what is there to say after a win? Perhaps just the comparisons with Tuesday: better shape and player selection (helped by availability); better attitude (helped by not being behind at any stage and having taken the lead having something tangible to fight for); lower quality opposition (at least on the day Brentford were rather flat for a team in the top group); and perhaps most important a reminder that we have enough quality to compete in this league if all involved are deployed in their best positions and they are up for it.

Given that the team was - with the exception of Ben Haim getting the nod to partner Johnson instead of Bikey-Amougou and Bulot retained on the flank (rather than sort of in the hole) rather than Harriott coming in - the one that I would have gone with, I can hardly carp about the line-up. I don't claim much in the way of insight, some of the selection issues spoke for themselves: if Henderson was fit he had to come back in, if Johnson was ready for a start he had to play; and if Vetokele and Watt had not both started there would have been a case for doubting Luzon's sanity. But it was also key that Jackson and Cousins were paired in central midfield and Buyens dropped/rested. They helped to set the tone for the performance.

Taking the three units in turn, the defence was decent but I wouldn't go so far as to say sound, largely due (I think) to teething problems. Henderson's return clearly made a difference; he didn't have to make a serious save until we were 2-0 up but he was calm and assured and dealt effectively with high balls, lending confidence to those in front of him. Johnson did have a good game, as did Ben Haim, but a problem I thought might arise did, namely that on occasions both of them were looking to organise those around them, for example setting the line. That caused some confusion; there needs to be one clear leader. In the first half there was an awful moment when two (maybe three) defenders thought the other was going to clear and they were allowed back in. They score a silly goal then and the game might have been different. And just a special mention for Fox; being called on after only 20 minutes or so as Wiggins had to go off might have been more disruptive for us had he not done his job well.

The midfield four (which admittedly only lasted the first half) was effective and largely won the battles. Jackson's presence complemented Cousins' efforts, Bulot showed enough to suggest that his miserable first half against Norwich can be put to one side (and chipped in with the final goal of course, when it seemed that Brentford decided it wasn't worth chasing him as there was no difference between losing by two or three), while Berg Gudmundsson continued to impress and, while well set up, found a beautiful finish to open the scoring. What to make of Buyens in the second half? He has the ability to pick out a telling pass going forward when there's a bit of space and showed that a few times; against that he started poorly and at the end of the game seemed happy to just get back to the dressing room. I don't know if it's a confidence or an attitude/Luzon thing, but either way he can have no complaints about having been dropped and if he can find a way back to the performance level of early in the season still has a vital role to play (obviously, with Jackson at least doubtful for the immediate future it's a choice between him and LePoint to partner Cousins).

The stars of the show were undoubtedly the front two. They worked tirelessly, showed an ability to play together (most obviously in the fashion that Watt set up Igor for the second), and basically had the beating of their defence, which helped to keep them on the back foot. Not often we've been able to say that this season. Last year it was a case of keeping Vetokele wrapped in cotton wool either side of games, now we need both of them to stay fit and available.

The standard raised, seems a question of ensuring it isn't allowed to slip back again, especially as and when we fall behind in a game. Just no excuses if it does, irrespective of the eventual outcome of a match.

Just as a win doesn't mean suddenly we're safe and all is well, neither does it mean that the Trust's gathering on Wednesday evening loses any significance. I'll be there, not with the expectation of some definitive plan of action emerging capable of influencing the actions and 'strategy' of our owner but with the hope that a demonstration of the Trust's ability to provide a forum for constructive criticism just might incline the owner/board to consider that true engagement with fans groups can have a positive and mutually-beneficial effect. It is up to us and the Trust to demonstrate the first, then over to the owner/board for a positive reaction. We can only lead the horse to water. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not a big fan of RD's style? or lack of it at all.
But I must admit it's been a very long time since CAFC had two strikers who looked the biz. Much too long.
And this pair are worth a fair few bob. One more of a different ilk and quality and who knows.
Until then, this partnership and B Gud will do me fine. COYR.