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  1. 10 likes
    JS did a radio interview where he said he hadn't a clue what the answer was to putting a brake on a long-running series of defeats ... strangely enough it would have been at about this time of the season as well. NJ's post-match interview from last night reminded me so much of that and I must confess that it greatly concerns me if he so mystified about how to change things around. Please consider that your preferred diamond formation neither suits this division nor this squad. TBH, I doubt any of the current squad will have been brought up using that system. Given the consistently poor performances of some players, please consider alternatives. Players who have let NJ down in the past are still being rolled out rather than being sidelined. Knowing that their performances in training could get them onto the teamsheet, maybe they're too knackered from training to be effective in a real match. As for alternative midfielders, the argument I have read about why D'Ath isn't playing relates to his fitness - if that truly is the case, why did he start at Crewe only 2-3 weeks after signing but has never being in contention for a starting berth since then? Bizarre. Seeing that every other avenue seems to have been explored regarding our inefficient/invisible midfield, why has Zane Banton never been given a chance? Even if the experiment failed, would that really be much worse than some of the no-shows by Cook and Lee? Mobility - why do all other teams have greater mobility in general but in breakaway attacks in particular? NJ professes that we press the opposition high and fast - sorry, Nathan, but that doesn't wash with me! We may have one or two players who go through the motions of chasing the ball in the opposition half but our midfield is utterly woeful at applying pressure at the right points and the right time - IMO, this is, again, down to their starting positions in the bloody diamond and it leaves them with too much ground to cover to pressurise the ball properly. The claim that our squad will be in a better position (fitness-wise) at the business end of the season sounds very much along the same claim by JS that his teams all start slowly and that training was tailored to ensure a fitness frenzy from March onwards ... sound familiar? I mentioned elsewhere that NJ stated at Meet the Manager they deliberately recruited smaller (height-wise) squad because of the way he wanted to play. How that decision has come back to bite him in the gluteus maximus! Not able to defend opposition's set pieces and not able to score from our own set pieces. Coaching academy/development players vs FL players: there cannot be a comparison and the fact that Andy Awford didn't want the main gig at Pompey or KR shows there are two different approaches to coaching. As a scout told me, NJ came from a development background and, I believe, Paul Hart's association with NJ was forged at Charlton's academy. Given this is NJ's first full season, advice from more experienced heads should be a massive help but if Hart's last experiences have only similarly covered youngsters/development players then is he really in a position to give as much assistance as it now seems NJ may need? The one thing I do find very strange (and disappointing) about this season is that the team's performances at the end of last season were a lot more gutsy and yet the squad he had to work with included JS players that have since been shown the door. Begs the question whether some of this season's signings are actually better - if they are better then it possibly means that the way they are deployed is questionable.
  2. 9 likes
    Well, our Nathan certainly has some work to do if we are to get anywhere near the playoff places; yesterday's first half performance was just shocking and probably the worst I have sat through since that dreadful effort at Bristol last season. However, down as we may be, let's not surrender just yet; we still have 21 points to play for. As usual, I have produced some match notes on: http://whittlerhatter.weebly.com
  3. 9 likes
    I've not posted for a considerable time now, and to be fair have not read much at all about what the rest of you guys have been saying. That is not to say my Love for the Hatters has waned, I do still keep in touch with a number of true fans and have managed a couple of away games recently. I have studied at length the run ins of all the teams I regard as contenders for promotion places, and I have to say if I had a choice, ours is the most favourable in my view. Some clubs are fighting for their very existence which obviously raises the stakes a little in particular games. There are no easy ones from here on in, but the pressure applies to all our rivals for an automatic top 3 spot. I'm writing nothing off at the moment (except top spot) as I think realistically it is out of our reach. We have had a pretty impressive record this season against the better clubs, but not impressed as well as we would have liked against one or two of the lesser clubs. I would suggest now that Nathan Jones has got a far better grip on our situation and understands the level of where we are far more than he did when he arrived. I'm delighted his passion has not changed one jot. I think we are fast approaching the point where our players actually believe that we are going to achieve our goal for this season, without the trauma of having to go to Wembley again. In my view, it's like I said in the title. ..... IN OUR OWN HANDS....
  4. 9 likes
    For the second successive match, my take on the game mirrored NJ's post-match interview: we were the better team on the day and tried harder to win it (rather than not lose it) but somehow manage to find ourselves being severely punished for one of the very few errors that we made. No team can be error-free at this level but, and this may be me donning my orange-tinted glasses, we don't seem to be capable of inflicting the same degree of punishment upon the opposition when they mess up or get in a similar tangles. It's starting to look, once again, like we are going to be the 'nearly' team: the one that cannot quite grasp what is needed to, initially, get into an automatic promotion spot and, secondly, remain there. We had this 'nearly' tag for the first few seasons in the Conference and still seem to be suffering from the symptoms now. Despite not having been beaten very often this season, we just cannot consistently string good together performances and good results together. Winning three or four on the spin at this stage of the season could easily turn into six or seven as some teams will have little to fight for. FWIW, my reckoning for the 'nearly' tag is due to the the lack of a battle-hardened/experienced L2 midfielder and the lack of a vocal captain, although, in theory, this could be just one player. Please don't take that as a slight against Cuthbert's on-field performances as his form and consistency this season should win him Player of the Season (even if Danny Hylton will probably get it for his goals and diplomacy.) However, Cuthbert is a bit like George Pilkington in that he is captain by deed and it is no coincidence in my mind that our successful season in the Conference showed that the captain's role includes being an organiser, a motivator and a driver to get the best out of those around him ... and a nagger of the officials, of course! Lacking a character like that, whether it be a McNulty type voice from the defence or a Nichols type midfielder has, IMO, cost us dearly in some of the most forgettable matches I've seen this season where our midfield were all but invisible (Exeter A, Cheltenham A, Crawley A, Notts County A). That noted, NJ has a much stronger midfield* available since those dour encounters, especially since he brought Pelly and Smudger in from the shadows and signed Gambin. Those three changes transformed a very weak and bland midfield into one that chases, has strength, has ball-carriers and has a decent pace about them ... but I truly hope NJ is careful not to tinker too much just to fit one or two others into the set-up: Rae and Sheehan concern me a tad because they have been selected in the past, irrespective of form and, in the case of Sheehan, irrespective of fitness (after an injury). Forcing Rae into a holding role in midfield is okay as long as he only has to break down an opposition's attack and doesn't then have to pick a pass to start one of our own! But Rae's inclusion there means Pelly shifts to the flanks of the diamond and isn't as effective in my book. Smudger also then has to cover the flanks of the diamond but he ends up playing far too narrow as he naturally drifts towards his more usual central position - consequently, he leaves the FBs too exposed, as happened to SOD at Doncaster. Rae in midfield probably means that Gambin will be perched on the bench - rather than being a game-changer from there I'd much rather he changed a game from the start. Forcing Sheehan into the defence would probably mean (unfair) bench time for Senior and Sheehan has, unfortunately, made a couple of costly errors whilst playing LB earlier this season ... but everyone knows he is the best deliverer of a long ball from our own half or a dead ball. * Despite or because of McGeehan's enforced absence? You decide!
  5. 8 likes
    My thoughts on Ollie Lee (I was there yesterday, having been away in Scotland and missed the Stevenage game - fortunately) are: he came on and proceeded promptly to surrender possession, watched while Exeter players passed the ball around him, bellowed and gesticulated at team -mates to mark or tackle someone while he did neither, and generally contributed little to the cause. How does he achieve selection (especially when NJ indicated that he wasn't part of his plans for the future). The clue may be in Hart's pronouncement that Lee is the best footballer at the club - presumably Hart has a say in team selection. But if it's Lee's sterling work in training which impresses NJ then both Gray and D'Ath must be terrible at Ely Way if they can't even get into the 18. Banton was spotted on the bench, a rare sighting - I thought he was out on loan somewhere. But the other Ollie (Palmer) was a revelation in his cameo near the end. Surely this guy deserves more than 10 or 15 minutes on the pitch. But I say again, these draws are killing our ambitions and to be honest, are we really good enough to go up a division? My most memorable moment all afternoon? A red kite drifted lazily over the Oak road end, a magnificent bird.
  6. 8 likes
    We're in need of an extra dose of something in order to maintain and then realise our playoff placing. My visit today to the excellent Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford gave me some ideas of how we could further improve the intimidatory side of our game. Hylton needs a new mask, perhaps several. I'm sure all of these are consistent with latest On Pitch Mask Criteria (OPMC). There are plenty to choose from, and most will help to restore his scoring powers as the enemy flee, equally confused and terrified. A more covert device, the Indian Axe, could easily be worn under the shirt, then swiftly removed to (gently) hack a passing opponent. Suspicious officials as per Mr Kettle could be told they are merely religious symbols which conform wholly to On Pitch Religious Symbol Criteria (OPRSC). Messrs Jones and Hart would deliver this explanation with such passion and resolve that even the most officious official would be satisfied. In the unfortunate event of an opponent losing a limb, Nathan would innocently trot out the old 'these things even themselves out over the season', ensuring no further action by the authorities. Any other suggestions of how we might gain the advantage in the coming weeks? I think the red eyed one is very Danny These discreet charms are FIFA compliant and can fully concealed
  7. 8 likes
    Before the Crawley game i am ashamed to say it was a number of years since i last attended a game. I had long forgotten what is was actually like to attend a live game the atmosphere was fantastic, you could not only hear but you feel the noise of the crowd when we scored. You just don't get that feeling watching a live game on TV. Now i have experienced it again i am going to try to attend at least one more this season, and with a bit of luck a few more next season.
  8. 8 likes
    A really enjoyable day out in the West Country which must surely be a happy hunting ground for us with wins at Plymouth, Yeovil & Exeter (FACup) and a league draw at Exeter. It was also great to catch up with a good number of 262ers including the Weymouth branch in the form of Stevo and half of the Florida mob in IKJP: super day topped by some very kind results elsewhere. As a team, we played well against a fairly poor Yeovil outfit but these are the type of games you have to win if you are to get out of L2. For me, the outstanding players were Hylton, Vassell, Pelly, Sheehan & Cuthbert. I have produced some match notes on: http://whittlerhatter.weebly.com
  9. 7 likes
    Bit harsh on Macey there, Mick! Macey is a work in progress and has shown huge improvements since he arrived, although quite what that says about Arsenal's coaching or NJ's judgement (although to be fair he was painted into a dark corner by B&HA's very late recall of Walton) is another matter. Bearing in mind that we know for certain the only other GK we have access to from now until the end of the season is Stuart Moore, I know who I would prefer! Unless they both mysteriously contract synchronised food poisoning , then re-signing Walton is a no-no. Being dumped into important L2 matches from development games must come as something of a shock to Macey's system - yes, it's sink or swim but the level of competitiveness and the importance of results would be relatively new to the lad. Warnock railed Warren Joyce after he was sacked by Wigan last week stating that there is a vast difference between academy football and that in the FL. In fact that topic came up in a conversation I had with a freelance scout before the Exeter game that NJ was in the same position at B&HA as Joyce was at Old Trafford and he made it very clear that it isn't at all easy to make such a transition - older players cannot be re-moulded into something they're not and the pressure of being able to develop and/or nurture one or two youngsters so that they (may) get to first team level in the future is completely different to the need to gain results and points week-in, week-out. Bearing in mind the gulfs in class, physicality, expectation and pressure, Macey is on a hiding to nothing if and when he makes mistakes ... and they will happen. SOD - yup, he did put in a couple of decent crosses but two from umpteen opportunities simply isn't good enough IMO. NJ mentioned about our poor ability to convert crosses into chances in his post-match interview. Even if we haven't got the height to compete for every single cross, if they are that good then there's always a chance of picking up second balls (although this does rely on Cook being alert ... hmmm!) but we never see those chances as the crosses are usually cleared with ease (either hitting the first defender or clearing the penalty area). Compare those to some of the curling, tempting crosses that Exeter slung into our box in the second half and you can see how easy it is for opposition defenders to repel our attacks and quickly break away. Was it the fluorescent shirts that made SOD find their players so frequently with his throw-ins? Mind you, that's when he managed a legal throw-in! Yesterday's comedy gold moment was his foul throw - talk about relieving the pressure on their defence. Cook - Mick thought he was abysmal: if he HAD been abysmal then it would have been a bloody improvement upon his actual 'performance'. It's not as though he or anyone else can claim it was just a bad day at the office - the half decent performances are the oddities. I'm actually staring to feel embarrassed for the guy now as it's patently clear that he won't get heavily involved in any midfield dogfights, has little or no pace and is continually on the periphery of the action - so much so that it seems he makes himself unavailable for 'out' balls from the back or from fellow midfielders. Sorry, but the word "passenger" springs to mind. More irritating still, IMO, is that there is sweet FA chance of him not being selected despite his poor form for the rest of the season. One thing about NJ's comment regarding Exeter making more of their bye-line crosses - they had four, five or six players regularly storming into our penalty area when the crosser was about to play the ball. Our midfield barely reach the opposition penalty area during a breakaway, let alone storm into it, so there is far less chance for the crosser to find one of his own team-mates - possibly why our forwards have become greedier over the last couple of months. Without a midfield to play the ball around/through, our GK and CB's have started hitting long-balls but, unless Palmer starts, it becomes predictable and a meat-and-drink fest for the opposition's CBs. If we do not change this before any PO matches (if, of course, we get there!) then we could be embarrassed as, with the possible exception of Carlisle (who are plumetting out of the PO places anyway), I cannot think of any midfield from the top eight or nine who we would compete with for physicality, pace and fitness ATM. Pelly is the only one who can claim to equal most of the opposition midfielders but, other than him, none of the others 'like a tackle'.
  10. 7 likes
    Well, its four months since we had our double outing to Exeter in November to play a side languishing at the base of league two. The two games were themselves very forgettable affairs but at least my football education was supplemented by Paul Hart informing us in a post-match interview, who the most skilful player at the club was. Since that time Exeter have gone on a magnificent run on their shoestring resources and climbed the table to sit in the play-off places: quite some achievement for such a financially strapped outfit and well done to them. So once again we found ourselves up against playoff contenders. In fact, the last six games have been Doncaster, Plymouth, Yeovil, Stevenage, Carlisle and Exeter. Yes, we managed to comfortably thump Yeovil but from the other five games against top 7 clubs we only managed four points; ok, granted we only lost one of that series but it’s hardly promotion form. A reasonable but not exceptional game from two playoff candidates neither of which to my mind look capable of standing up to the likes of highly motivated hungry Stevenage in the playoffs should either of these two sides take part in that competition. I just wish I knew how Darren Sarll manages to lift a bunch of mediocre players to such levels; I am just a little envious I guess. I have produced some match notes on: http://whittlerhatter.weebly.com
  11. 7 likes
    Well what a mixture under Nathan: AWAY: Good away form and a working formation: away from the Kenny the diamond works. I honestly don’t have any complaints about our away from since Nathan has been in charge and the likes of a centre back in Rea as holding is a decent option in away games. HOME: Unimpressive home form for promotion contenders with the formation countered so often by opposition managers: Isolated full backs struggle in Nathan’s diamond and the two most likely ones were either on the bench yesterday or as in Senior’s case up in the main stand. Is a centre-half really what we need at the base of the diamond in midfield? NJ has struggled with this holding role all season. So often in midfield at home, we struggle to win the loose ball & all credit to Stevenage yesterday who were so often first to the ball and tactically countered the likes of Hylton. The goalkeeping strategy with the on loan Walton & the “not ready” King was at best very risky. The way the situation unfolded with Brighton recalling Walton was cruel in terms of timing at the end of the window but a risk Nathan & Hart must surely have considered. So the very good away from under NJ continues whilst he struggles to come to terms with the home form against organised determined L2 sides. How do I rate Nathan; well work in progress I would say and yes, he needs time and unless a bigger club comes in for him we should give him that time. However, given the resources at his disposal compared to the likes of Stevenage, Carlisle, Exeter & Wycombe, it is a touch frustrating. We often use the description of Nathan as a learning manager, a manager in his first full season: I accept all of that but just wish he would learn a touch faster especially for games at the Kenny. As for yesterday’s game: well done Stevenage, you wanted it more than us and fought for every ball: good luck to them.
  12. 7 likes
    For me there's nothing like live football (I'm sure similar applies to other sports) although obviously some games are more exciting than others. After the Oxford game I was shaking with the tension, excitement, joy, disappointment, adrenaline all mixed together as I walked away from the stadium. Loved being there despite the outcome. 🙁🙁😁😁😖
  13. 7 likes
    Cap Doffed to 2020. With the possibility of League 1 football next season £340 (if ordered before Apr 1st) for an adult, represents excellent value. Works out at just £14.79 per game. Even cheaper! if one chooses Oak Road at £240 (before Apr 1st) - an astonishing £10.44 per game. The new Oak Road price for Under 22 year olds (before Apr 1st) at a mere £100! represents unbelievable value at only £4.35 per game. Not one person can accuse our wonderful board of not listening or taking care of our supporters. COYH
  14. 7 likes
    If he scores a goal for them, do 262 get a mention?
  15. 7 likes
    I understand Nathan’s reason for saving Cuthbert for the L2 promotion push but as I have said many times before we can have a decent CB pairing with Cuthbert and one other from Sheehan, Rea, Mullins and maybe Musonda. However, without Cuthbert and the likes of Sheehan and Mullins as centre backs, we look really very weak in the air. In league games, I would be happy enough with Cuthbert and preferably either Rea or Sheehan alongside and at least with Rea that would move him to his best position. Currently, Rea looks like a CB temporarily drafted into a holding role and to my mind, it’s not working as well as it might at the moment; he has had some early season good games in that position but his passing does let him down. Hopefully, Cuthbert will start on Saturday at Yeovil but who in holding midfield; I would bench Rea and go for Pelly. I am fairly happy with our efforts last night against a very decent Oxford side that are probably a year or two ahead of us on their development curve; so not really that unhappy, we will get there. I did feel for Jake Gray last night as he looked very rusty in our young side. Vassell is starting to look a decent striker now and as his confidence grows he will only get better in my opinion. It was interesting to hear the sponsors gave Macey the MOM and to be fair he did have a very good game, catching crosses apart, and I thought he kept us in the game with several good saves whilst the CB and Rea struggled in the air. I honestly can’t see Macey being up to premier league standard and I would not be at all surprised if he becomes a Luton player next season; I would be happy enough with that especially if his game can be brought on in order that he may use his height advantage to collect crosses into the area. Good luck to Oxford and now it’s off to Yeovil on Saturday where I hope to see us bounce back.
  16. 7 likes
    One of my personal highlights this season has been attending some of these matches and watching the kids play in some of the early fixtures. They have been awesome and as we've seen some have come on leaps and bounds since. I boycotted the WBA match on principle, but I've attended all the other home matches and thoroughly enjoyed them all, so yes I'll be there with Ironman Junior, and I'm really looking forward to it. As Gary Sweet says, we've done the protest and paid the fines now's the time to turn up and get behind the boys. We've made our point in spades, what's the point of continuing to boycott - personally I don't see the point. And dare I say it but the Brighton (H) semi-final match in the JPT in 2009 was one of the most memorable matches at KR in the past 10 years or so, with a cracking penalty-shoot out win and a brilliant completely impromptu pitch invasion at the end, a superb evening. See you at the bar.
  17. 7 likes
    Some excellent points Proud. I thought Nathan's approach and subs were good but it just didn't pay off, and all that is missing from our 'talented' squad (to quote Wimbo) is possibly, as you argue, someone who can gel the side and make it more resilient. (I too suffered from being present at those games and confess to just checking if Lee played in all of them. He played in the first three, but he didn't appear until the 74th minute at Meadow Lane so we can't blame our on non existent midfield solely on him. There were also 10 other players on the pitch - McGeehan played in all of those games.) Few would argue that everything midfield has changed for the better. I think Sheehan has regained form and fitness so I would pair him with the excellent Cuthbert and choose Justin and Senior on either side. My 'diamond' midfield would have Pelly at the base, Smith on the right, Gambin left and Cook at the top, with Hilton and Vassell starting at the front. I would see that as our strongest starting 11 so barring injury, that is the Luton side. Rea would drop to the bench, on the basis that Pelly does the forwards as well as backwards stuff. We have a lot more options than most rivals in terms of in-game changes, especially now we have Palmer as well as Marriott as an alternative front two. I'm suggesting that sticking with what I see as our strongest side, for the rest of the season, may mean the absent 'grit' comes out of the security and familiarity of a consistent selection?
  18. 6 likes
    Awfull first half big improvement second. I had to move twice because on both occasions had people doing a moaning running commentary behind me , first two moaning about how s-it Macey was and then how crap Pele was! And booing a team at halftime who have spent the season in the top six! On the bright side had a rather pleasant pre match drink at the "Home only"pub the Bricklayers near the station. And then on the shuttle bus had a conversation with a Colchester fan (a lady in her 70's) she told me how she hated their new stadium, and how they could possibly call it 'The Community Stadium' when it was nowhere near the community! Lets hope that if Power Court falls through we don't build a stadium like theirs out near a motorway junction! On our second half display I feel we were a tad unlucky not to get a draw, oh well Blackpool next, another form side to contend with. COYH!
  19. 6 likes
    Sorry Liz, but this thing about needing time to gell is something of an urban myth to me. http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/list-of-every-league-two-transfer-in-2016-17-summer-transfer-window-our-updating-list/story-29541075-detail/story.html This article it shows that Doncaster, Plymouth, Portsmouth and nearly all of those other PO contenders recruited more players last summer than we did. Those teams currently in the automatic promotion places may not have made the very best of starts to the season but it didn't take them too long to start to string some performances and results together whilst we stuttered and spluttered until, well, now! Our best 'steak' being a mere two successive league wins confirms that. Is it because the other managers and their respective coaches are more experienced and know how to get the best out of their players? Is it that they know the best formation(s) for this particular league? Is it because the players are better motivated? I spoke to a yellow belly fan the other day who, through his employers sponsoring games at KR, has seen us four times this season and he joyously said he cannot believe how little effort our midfield players "want it" (his quote) - I couldn't really disagree with that. The most disappointing thing about the motivation aspect is that just when we needed the most effort from the players to push for an automatic promotion place, it seems that many of them have appeared to be far less determined than the opposition at the very start of the matches. The Stevenage game being the prime example where they were far more determined to win tackles, aerial battles, track back and play for each other ... yet, bizarrely, we could and should have scored at least one goal from the number of decent chances created despite, generally, losing midfield. The speed of their start caught us cold and that shouldn't happen when we are at home and where the stakes were so high. Am I expecting too much? Maybe, but why shouldn't I hope our professional players (who, we are told, have been recruited with a view to playing in L1) are as good, as motivated, as fit and as organised as those from other 4th tier clubs with genuine aspirations of climbing the FL ladder? COYHFFS!
  20. 6 likes
    At Meet the Manager NJ was at pains to stress that this summer wouldn't see a sea-change in the squad as happened last summer, even if we are plying our trade in L1. Furthermore, he also said that we were a small (height-wise) squad and that was a deliberate/conscious decision because of the types of players he wanted. I, for one, sincerely hope that he re-calibrates his squad requirements now that he has had a full season in which to see the strengths and weaknesses. We may have two CBs progressing from the academy but, despite being technically gifted, neither could really be classified physically as 'monsters' and, if we remain in L2, just having Cuthbert to clear aerial attacks isn't enough, especially if we have a GK who doesn't look overly confident with crosses. But our main shortfall is in midfield where there are too many clones (some may pronounce that "clowns") and not enough variation. Having a shipload of no. 10 players hasn't done us or NJ any favours IMO. The usual request for an experienced general who can lift a team when required can be repeated until the sun burns out but I'm not convinced we will see such a signing ... if such a player actually exists for us at L2 or, hopefully, L1 level. I do wish NJ would trial 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 from the start of a match to see if it is more suitable for players in the 4th tier - I haven't spoken to anyone who really believes the diamond (or narrow diamond) formation works in our favour. With all the best will in the land, if the players aren't mobile enough fit enough, clever enough or motivated enough to play it then why persist? Our home results and performances (in the main) have been little short of shocking with most other teams looking better organised and better equipped to cope with the requirements of L2 - our technically better players cannot show that they are technically better!
  21. 6 likes
    Some of us have short memories. Walton made mistakes when he first joined us and improved as the season went on. Give Macey a chance, chaps.
  22. 6 likes
    Bitterly disappointed yesterday, I'm still not convinced by Macey, one good first half save (isn't that's his job) then for the rest of the game he wasn't really troubled and therefore wasn't given the opportunity to show how average he really is. Jack at LB, was solid, got forward and put in some well timed tackles, SOD, well he wasn't as bad (yesterday) as a lot would have you believe, in fact in the first half he put two excellent crosses into the box, one in particular which JM got on the end of and their keeper made a great finger tip save. I thought Pelly was our best player, how he didn't get the sponsors mom was strange as the chosen one (Sheehan) along with Rea to me, just went through the motions yesterday (neither good nor bad) . Nothing was happening for Gambin, and as bad as Smudger was yesterday I thought Cook was abysmal, the defining moment being when he was put clear and what should have been a simple cross into the box somehow didn't hit the floor until someone in the David Preece stand caught the ball and threw it back. Marriott didn't do himself any favours and could well find himself benched again on Tuesday night, Hylton tried, took his goal well (I'd love to see his disallowed goal again - it looked ok to me). All in all, it was a thoroughly disappointing afternoons entertainment - and then I went home and England added more salt to my already open wounds.
  23. 6 likes
    I'll answer that with a firm no. LTFC will possibly one day be capable of competing in the top half of the Championship. That would be ok for me, I would see a fair proportion of wins and competitive draws. I have no desire to go through a relegation season in the top tier. However when the 'Sky' falls in and all the mercenaries clear off to their respective fans rip-off locations and we 'get our football back' (put that in for 28) that would probably change my mind. Why, this attitude? Simple, my only football interest is the team I started supporting in 1952.
  24. 5 likes
    that was the week that was . . . it's over let it go Played reasonably well, created more chances than the opposition and finished up with 2 points out of 9 and we are still in with a shout. Doesn't anybody but Doncaster want promotion? It's all getting a bit tense now and you can sense it in the crowd. Think it takes the edge off the enjoyment and with at least 50 percent favouring pessimism, then criticism of players is very audible. We were in some respects fortunate today, Exeter played football and had no monsters up front to terrorise our defence. And talking of defence, Macey is beginning to look the part, his handling has improved and he has torn up the roots that initially anchored him to the goal line. Obviously still a project in progress, but encouraging , all the same. The two full backs, well the one on the left was just about adequate, the one on the right, did what was expected, poor crossing, near fatal defensive blunders but to be fair, I've seen him play worse. Incidentally I voted for his goal as 'goal of the season' in the Trust's Members poll! As mentioned the centre backs were fortunate with who opposed them. What can you say about Cook, well what can you say? Gambin showed flair but any sign of an end result was lacking. Incidentally Lee came on with 10 minutes to go, why? it baffled me. For me Pelly was MoM by a country mile, Hylton showed again why he is 'Player of the Season', no need to count the votes. Marriott was justifiably annoyed when he was substituted. Palmer showed more than enough to justify a start. Vassell was quiet with no service and finally Smudger was not as effective as we expect and was outpaced on occasions. Newport midweek, Surely even with the injuries we currently are carrying, 3 points are a certainty, if only.
  25. 5 likes
    Here's an interesting article about how boring & anonymous Watford FC have become this season. http://www.football365.com/news/does-anybody-know-anything-about-watford Just a thought - whilst surely most of us would of course exchange our league position for theirs in a heartbeat, it does make you wonder.. At least we are entertained this season by a promotion battle and unpredictable results (not to mention starting line-ups!). Would we want to be a boring, noncompetitive team whose only aim is to not get relegated? It's one of the things that makes me hesitate when ever i'm asked if i want to see the Hatters in the Prem one day.
  26. 5 likes
    Grasmere @ Carlisle had been booked,cancelled after Stevenage. This evening NJ is playing the 3 of the death watch!
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    Yep defo the Rat Race, as shatter says one of the quirkiest bars you will ever find. Here's a few pics
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    Little to add to the above, great win against poor opposition but there have been many times when we haven't taken full advantage of that scenario. i made a comment on shoutbox about Macey's apparent uncertainty in the box and that does worry me a little bit as I think shrewder opponents will target that in the coming weeks. He was on the end of a couple of mouthfuls from Cuthbert on more than one occasion. but - his catching, outside the box, distribution and shot stopping (exemplary against Oxford) were all great so hopefully he will be working on all things goaline in the coming week. He also celebrated win with friends/family at end of game and looked v pleased with himself so hope he continues to improve. Theres no doubting the quality and talent of our team now, provided we apply ourselves and NJ isn't tempted to mess around with things- yes, Shadylane, leave Pelly where he is at his best. glad I've booked up for Carlisle now - come on you Hatters, a place in league one is now within reach!
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    Whatever you may think of the structure of this competition, it has given us by far the most entertaining football this season and has highlighted just how good (or bad you could argue!) some of our players can be when the overburdening pressure of accumulating league points is removed from their shoulders. If football matches were like that every week then the grounds would fill up - maybe the FA should put double-yellow lines all around the penalty boxes so that nobody can park the bloody bus in league games. Oxford were better than us in a lot in most aspects of the game, even if it was a small percentile here and a bit more there. If we can approach anything like that in a season or two I'll be very satisfied. The two most striking aspects of their game for me was their ball control and fabulous movement both with and without the ball. Last night's younger players will have seen first hand what the next level up is really like and it's highly doubtful that any of them have faced teams thus far who are that quick (in thought and mph), incisive, organised, confident and play a system that enabled them to pressurise the ball all over the pitch. Sorry to repeat my comments from another thread but I think NJ's diamond system with the particular personnel selected last night was wrong and it possibly allowed Oxford to look a bit better than they really are. That may sound like sour grapes but it wasn't intended (really!) However we dress it up, though, they were better than us but the diamond formation probably afforded them more space than I'd bet they enjoy in L1 most weeks - more space in which to make clever runs and passes. Plus they were clinical when the chances arose. Oxford's first touch all over the park invariably had the ball under control and that fact alone allowed their players to make immediate forward runs that put our defence under immense pressure and had them back-pedalling. I also liked the way that Oxford always had others willing to support the moves and our young FBs looked surprised by pace of the first attack, let alone then having to cover their supporting player(s). Right or wrong formation/personnel, our team was fantastic on the night and the fact that they had to step up a gear or two to compete properly with Oxford showed me that they can learn quickly and adapt. It also showed that we can play at a much higher tempo for longer periods than we have displayed in many of our league games - which does make the slow tempo seen in many matches this season all the more frustrating! Okay, the opposition would set up differently and try to stifle/slow the game but it's up to us to do something about that and ramp up the tempo for our benefit. IMO, the Oxford defeat will stand our players in good stead for the rest of this season now they know they can play like that even allowing for Cuthbert's absence and the triple dilemma of Sheehan, Rae and Cook. As my mates asked me today, in straight fights for starting berths: would you opt Rae or Pelly at the base of the diamond? Would you want Cook or Gambin at the top of the diamond? Would you want Sheehan or Senior at LB? Lastly, very well done to Macey. His improvement since his first appearance is incredible IMO. Yes, he still flapped and slapped at some crosses but not half as badly as he (and Moore for that matter) did in their earlier appearances. However you look at it, 20-21 years old is very young for a GK. FWIW, I think that level of improvement in such a short period of time augurs well for the rest of the season ... big kudos to Kevin Deardon for that. Just need to find a way to cope with Yeovil's 6'9" and 6'4" strikeforce - don't give away silly free kicks would be a start
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    First of all, apologies to everyone but the result last night was clearly my fault. I dis ask you all if I should go or whether, as it was to be my first Checky Cup game, would I be a jinx. The consensus was ...go; I must have been a jinx! Secondly, as to the match itself, Macey was deserved MOM which in itself says something as we let in 3 goals. Oxford looked the better side, not least because they closed down our players at every opportunity; sometimes 3 on 1; none of this zonal diamond for them! They were a hard working and physically hard side and both Grey and Cook looked, at best, lightweight and at worst, poor, with misplaced passes and some passing back. The starting line up was poor, too. Pele looked so much more effective after Senior came off enabling him to move to defensive midfield. Having said all that the plus points were the team worked hard, especially in the second half. In fact they worked really, really, hard and in the second half Justin began to look as good as we know he is. I think being dropped knocked his confidence. The match was good entertainment, just the wrong result for us. The downside is a Southampton scout was sitting in Green Woman's seat; the third time he's watched Luton recently. Was he watching Justin? or Hylton? He didn't say!
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    For the neutral watching on Sky I thought it was an excellent game of football that would have enhanced our reputation as an entertaining side. For a Luton fan it was nervy edge of your seat stuff. Nathan got the team selection right I thought; we needed that little bit more agility in our box, and guile around theirs. Sadly I don't think Gray did himself any favours with the number or errors he made, and he seemed quite a bit off the pace, but there was no lack of effort. A bit disappointed with Pelly to be honest; for a big man I felt he should have imposed himself much more and won more of the 50/50's. Right from the start Oxford were clearly a better side than us, with more drive and purpose to their play; it's a standard we have to aim for. Second half we stepped up a gear, but even then, when Oxford got the ball they seemed to ping the ball around with more tempo and fluidity than us. Gutted to not be going to Wembley again, but if brutally honest, I think the result was fair, and good luck to Oxford in the final. Just typical that Marvin got the winner though. He never scored goals like that when he played for us.
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    and the man of he match is . . . well actually it was the fans, only approximately 5,000 odd home supporters made more noise and gave greater support than a full house, If only league games produced that kind of atmosphere. Although, I didn't have my usual seat and was unfortunate to be in the immediate vicinity of a couple of retards who would probably enjoy either Bull Fighting or Ancient Rome and the gladiators better than Cup football, make of that what you will. I think Nathan made a major error in resting Captain Cuthbert and Smudger. Their replacements of Mullins and Gray were sadly not in the same class and we looked weaker than usual at set pieces. The big positive at the back, Macey, a cracking goalkeeping display and will have done his growing confidence no end of good. Of the rest, Hylton and Vassell were immense, Pelly in the first ten minutes looked world class, but overall had an in and out sort of game, brilliance with an equal amount of errors. Cook to my mind wore his invisibility cloak, JJ and Senior were adequate. A very entertaining game which was on the verge of a penalty shootout, shame. Sadly no Wembley, but play like that on Saturday and it is hard to imagine Yeovil holding out for a hammering.
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    1. The demands of the diamond formation at this level has, IMO, been the greatest issue with regard to our poorer results. NJ didn't have midfield players at his disposal with sufficient experience of his preferred system, only had players with bang average pace and certainly didn't seem to select any 'robust' players who possessed the necessary physicality to compete with some of the ogres that L2 throws up. Pelly was always there but wasn't selected until his cup performances warranted a recall and he has shown us exactly what we missed in too many matches earlier in the season. However, as noted above by another contributor, even now he is being played as a diamond flank player rather than the base of the diamond where I believe to him to be at his most influential. 2. Only having one truly dominant CB for this division ... and he wasn't even in NJ's A-team plans at the start of the season! Mullins, Rae and Sheehan can play to their very best but I feel there is more possibility of a mistake from those than Cuthbert. Sheehan's rush of blood and subsequent red card vs Crewe; Mullins' poor judgement vs Wycombe. I'd prefer two old-fashioned CBs (in the mould of Cuthbert) as most opposition teams seem to have multiple 6'3+" players. It didn't help our attempts to find an early season fluidity with the number of injuries we suffered and it took a while to get anything like a settled back four. Even then, Sheehan was shoe-horned in when not fully match fit and it cost us at least one goal at KR. 3. Up and at 'em starts! Someone else mentioned our poor starting tempo and I have to agree that, in the main, we started far too conservatively in too many matches ... especially at home. Not pressing high enough up the pitch, not pressing quickly enough nor pressing with real conviction. All of which allows the opposition time on the ball to look up and select the best passes. Our continual sideways passing without any real purpose (other than depriving the opposition of the ball) simply donated time for the opposition get two banks of players behind the ball in an organised manner (Colchester H being the most painful to watch). However, credit to NJ for resolving many of the midfield issues now that we have pace in Gambin (if he gets on the pitch!) and Smudger; physicality and strength in Pelly; willingness to tackle in Pelly and Smudger (plus Gambin doesn't look like a bottler in a tackle); high pressing courtesy of Smudger. Just a shame that it took so bloody long to rectify the midfield shortcomings.
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    Good pre match yesterday! I think the Lansdowne should sub let Power Court as an overflow car park! All reports pretty accurate as usual. If we hadn't given away our lead in the last two games things would look very different.
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    didn't he also say something like, team for the job, battlers etc and leaves Smith on the bench, strange
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    I'm bemused by this constant slating of Macey! He did nothing wrong yesterday or on Tuesday. Yes, he's bit dodgy in the air for such a tall bloke - but so was Walton. I actually prefer him to Walton, his ball distribution is certainly better - tin hat on!
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    I thought it was an OK performance; I can't think of anyone who had a particularly bad game, and to me we looked the more likely side to score. I suspect Carlisle's main aim was to stop the rot and not concede - their fans definitely celebrated at the end as if it was. That said, we seem to have regressed into lacking a cutting edge; Vassell seems to me to have plateau-ed a bit in the last couple of games (or maybe the opposition have woken up to his danger and are paying him more attention) and the Hylton-Vassell combo's not causing the havoc that it was. I think Vassell's excellent form helped to mask how much we were missing McGeehan, and that's now becoming more evident. The fullbacks were getting forward well last night and Gambin was buzzing about in the centre, and a ball to meet one of McGeehan's trademark late arrivals in the box might just have got us the goal we needed.
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    It's tough being a modern Hatter. We are FAR too inconsistent to win automatic promotion IMO. Every time Luton get a sniff of a vital game - we blow it! Last week I watched us play brilliantly and slaughter a team at Yeovil ( a team that had lost ONE game in their previous ten, then went away and won 1-3 on Saturday) we then lose at home in a terribly poor fashion (admittedly to a side who are bang in form). I love Nathan Jones's passion - BUT his liking for constantly changing the side is baffling to say the least & bothers me. We won 0-4 away from home - WHY CHANGE A WINNING TEAM? Onwards and upwards, I shall not be repeating Carlisle midweek tomorrow (I was one of the 235 Hatters who did attend midweek in April last year). I'll be watching the beam back in the Eric Morecambe and am confident that we can beat a side, who have not won a single game since they sold their top scorer. I'm also confident we will beat Exeter - I WASN'T confident we would beat the Chavs! To sum up LTFC right now I believe we will beat both Carlisle and Exeter and then go to Newport (I'm attending that) and lose. THAT is the inconsistency I mean. Play Offs at best I'm afraid.
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    Bernard, thanks for starting the thread. I never listen to post-match phone ins as I live away from the area but also because they tend to be a tabloid type race to the bottom phenomena. Although like everyone I've got access to NJs post match comments, I don't listen to those either - that could be my loss. I did mention his midweek comments in match day offering just because I caught sight of an email from LTSC quoting some of his remarks. So I feel I base my judgements on what I see at the game, for what that's worth. If you're still awake, alive and interested after that tedious intro, I think: - he's a very significant improvement on the previous incumbent. I like the coaching pedigree, his time at a successful prob soon to be Premiership outfit and his obvious passion, almost zeal. He is intelligent and capable, but he is by definition inexperienced. - the football we have played since his arrival has also been an improvement - in trying to make his own mark, he has perhaps stuck with ideas and strategies even when it is self evident to others that they are fruitless. 2 examples of this include his persistence with Olly, and his extreme reluctance to field the same team twice, even when all the players are fit. So in essence, he's stubborn/ inflexible? Or he can't resist fiddling, because he's always seeking improvements and alternatives. So I'm happy to give him another full season after this, as I think by then, he will be a better manager. However, I'm less impressed with the support and advice he currently receives from his assistant - completely with Wimbo on this one. The whole point of the combination of 'the vastly experienced' Hart and manager novice Jones is surely for the former to shower the latter with his defensive wisdom. One would assume this would have started with the signing of a permanent, experienced keeper during the summer. So either this advice wasn't given or it was ignored - a loanee can recalled at any time, and recalled he was. Does Hart challenge Nathan to see that defenders in league 2 are beefy, tall and nasty. Shouldn't we have one? Surely it was his role to remind Nathan about Stevenage's physical attributes, and the manner in which they would approach the game? So either he's poorly advised or he doesn't listen - or both. I shall watch closely over the summer to see what changes are made, whether or not we are promoted.
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    This game was lost before the season started . . . How do you work that out? Easy, disposing of Wilkinson and signing a loan keeper when there was a chance of losing him in January. If we fail to get automatic, or God forbid, playoffs, blame it on panic signings. Logic says that you can't put a raw keeper who has played nothing but 'friendlies' up against hairy arsed League 2 monsters. And Wilkinson, did what Wilkinson often did for us. He gives dominance in both areas. A decision, probably most, regret and we probably suspected would bite us. The game itself, Ok ish in parts and probably did enough to win it. That's what a keeper, on the top of his game can do for you. First half, Stevenage were worth their lead, Second half, enough Luton chances to have taken the points. Performances: Macey, he's a serious worry on crosses and without a tall centre back then it aint going to get better. SOD, he's also a worry, think I've said that before. Cook, the new Lea, give up Nathan, try something else. Pelly good and bad, guess frustrating is the word today. I'll stop there, there were positives but the negatives overrule today. Too late for signings now. Nathan has a good squad lacking in a couple of vital areas and everybody knows what they are and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it. We are weak on set pieces, at both ends, our corners are a futile exercise, why not play an occasional short one? Height height height needed!
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    So after Nathan's MOM award, his stirring address to the supporters club on the back of a 4nil away win, and most significantly, the door ajar for an auto promotion place, we gathered in anticipation. But maybe because of whom we were playing, or maybe because of our talent for quite doing it when it really matters, it went wrong within a minute. And it continued to go wrong for the next 89. Second to the ball, backing off, giving space and always chasing a stronger more organised side. Yes, there were some decent chances in the second half - shouldn't Palmer have scored? But it was inevitable that instead, they would score again - and they did. Why did we show Wilkinson the door, we all thought? Why can't we do it when if really matters we thought? Why am I going to Catlisle I thought? But we will all be back next week, and who knows, by then 'it' may be back on. It was International Women's Day on Thursday so maybe that's why I caught glimpses of black bras beneath our shirts? Whether they were there or not, it was definitely a black bra game today.
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    He can't. No self respecting cyclist would share their locking stand with someone whose middle name is 'Fosters' Now if that changed to Adnams, it would be a different matter...
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    Euphoric as we all undoubtedly feel after that excellent away victory, may I just add a slight cautionary note. We've been on the brink before this season and for whatever reason we haven't taken full advantage. Thinking of next Saturday (when alas I'll be north of the border) an in-form Stevenage with a number of ex-Hatters with a point to prove will present far more problems than Yeovil did. I believe that NJ has now got his best XI sorted out, together with the likely game-changers. Long may this continue. Up the Hatters!
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    What a fantastic day and performance! I see Luton beat a team in Green & White hoops 0-4 away from home - check. Rangers win 6-0 to reach a 63rd and 2nd successive Scots Cup Semi Final - check Our three nearest rivals Carlisle, Portsmouth & Exeter for an automatic promotion 3rd place spot ALL lose Thank you Plymouth, Hartlepool and Crewe - check W**ford concede 4 at home and lose - check The Bletchley Stealers lost - check All I need to make it an UTOPIA weekend is for St Boo to knock out C**tic today in the Scots Cup - I'd like to write check, but that maybe is asking for a wee bit too much COYH now lets make sure we beat them Chavenage lot!
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    Admittedly against poor sides, but Pelly is tried at the base of the diamond and we win 4-0. Then after a few games in the 'two' Pelly goes back to the base and we win 4-0 again. Stick with it Jonesy.
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    Some sad Adair Wednesday statto facts. Looking forward to attending my 1,763rd Hatters game tonight - my 1,146th at the Kenny. This will be the 29th time I've seen us play Oxford since a pre season friendly in 1968, when we beat the U's 3-0 in front of 6,659! Sad to think it might only be a similar gate for tonight's Semi Final. Not a bad record of: P 28 Won 15 Drew 7 and Lost 6. The breakdown for those 28 clashes I've seen are: At Oxford's Manor Ground/Kassam: P 11 Won 5 Drew 4 and lost only 2. - at Kenilworth Road: P 17 Won 10 Drew 3 Lost 4. Adair Travel has 2 coaches on stand by, all ready to book tomorrow - I PRAY - for Wembley on Apr 2nd. COYRRMFH
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    I fully agree. However whilst all contributors seem united in the view that Pelly should be at the base of the diamond, pushing the midfield forward to "press" the opposition, NJ still picks Rea in the position. He plays far too deep and leaves far much to space for the opposition to operate in. Not his fault as he is a CH. I will not credit NJ until he finally starts on a regular basis with Pelly, Smudger, Cook & Gambin, especially in home matches. I just hope it is not too late. It is most concerning that NJ takes so long to realise the obvious, half a season of Lee immediately spring to mind.
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    I think its taken Nathan too long to get midfield even half right and early season especially we were crying out for a seasoned campaigner /captain in midfield which still hasnt really been addressed. Most of us think Pelly's best position is base of the diamond and he is still not playing there. Our home form is very average to say the least personally I dont think we go for teams early on like we should do, we look a good team when we do this. It reminded me when talking about John o'Rourke in the other thread how we used to come out and go for the jugular before teams get their parked bus organised (I know we did this saturday then relaxed thats when a captain should drive the team on.Love Cuthbert really playing well but perhaps not the captain our young team need. I think the right 'old head' in midfield would do a lot of Pelly's, McGeehan's, Justin's. Gambin's thinking for them he'd be yelling at them. Having written all that twaddle it is league 2
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    As usual, I've given time to reflect on yesterday. Lansdowne good as always and result probably fair due to our respective positions and Plymouth's very effective defence. We showed some good ball control on the ground which makes me wonder why we keep playing the ball into the air and not simply keep it on the ground and run at the opposition. We looked more effective when Marriott came on; largely because of the re-arrangement which saw Pele back in the central, defensive midfield position. I'm looking forward to the Oxford game --just hope public transport it back!