March 10, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
There we go, we’re nowhere near as bad as some people would lead us to believe. I thought I’d do something a little different for this write-up, so here goes.
The perfect counter-attacking goal – something we all like to see on the hallowed turf. A good pass from Michael Mancienne found Mendes who raced into the opposition half, ably supported by Young Ben and Lord Nelson. With the crowd urging Mendes to make the right decision this time, he crafted a well timed pass into the path of the advancing Young Ben, who in turn laid on a lovely pass across the face of the opposition goal for Lord Nelson to pretty much tap in. Oh, the ecstasy! We’ve been waiting a while for a goal like that!
Dorus is having a fine season and he certainly kept us in this game. We weren’t exactly overrun by the opposition, but they had 2 or 3 clear-cut opportunities that were denied by the ever-reliable Dutchman. We’ve always been pretty lucky with our goalkeepers. In recent years (and on their day) they’ve been pretty good – Paul Smith, Lee Camp, Karl Darlow; they’ve all been good performers in the Garibaldi. What we’ve seen from Dorus this season though, is a level of consistency that reinforces the foundations of our defensive unit. He’s bided his time and when he’s finally been given the chance of being the No.1, he’s grasped it with both hands. Along with David Vaughan, he’s been our best performing player this season.
What a defensive line-up we’ve got this season. Of course, Mr Dougie mixed it up by starting with Chris Cohen at left back rather than Bojan Jokic and his drive and energy was the catalyst for all that was right in this game. Eric faired well and got forward a bit more, which I always like to see and Matt Mills and Michael Mancienne are our best central defensive pairing. They command the defensive line and instil confidence in the rest of the team and their performance against Preston was no different.
I think sitting Gary Gardner in that deeper role doesn’t really suit his game. He’s not really performed to the level we saw last season – which is disappointing – but once Vaughan came on and he pushed forward you could see he felt more comfortable. Tesche has been a bit hit-and-miss lately and his lackadaisical style doesn’t really warm him to the fans. He made a few good tackles but overall his performance was average.
As for Ben and Mendes, well they’ll run all day. We saw some great interplay between Ben and Chris on the left, which was very encouraging and his general game is always first class. It was also great to see Mendes make the right decision during the counter-attack that led to the goal. He’s been guilty of making poor choices this season and proved so again later in the match when we had a couple of opportunities to put the game to bed, but overall he had a good game.
There’s no getting away from the fact we struggle to score goals. Whether that’s through poor choices in creating clear-cut chances or missing the target when it seems easier to score. The fact our defence is performing so well means we always have a chance if we get the odd goal, but killing a game off with another 1 or 2 goals is something that seems beyond our reach at the moment. That being said, Lord Nelson had a good game, took his chance well and contributed nicely to the overall team performance. I’m sure it was a first half Chris O’Grady would rather forget, but credit to him, he emerged for the second with renewed determination and performed a whole lot better.
Bojan Jokic replaced Chris Cohen on 72 minutes and slotted into the left back position. I have to say, I was a little puzzled as to why he kept drifting towards the centre of the defensive line, tightening up with Mancienne and encouraging Ben Osborn to get into the wider defensive area. It’s not as if Mancienne needed any help, he was comfortable all night. So, with that in mind, any more marauding down the left was non-existent, which was a shame. In fairness, I’d have rather seen Jokic replace Tesche, move to left back and have Chris Cohen take up that central midfield position, but there you go.
A minute later Jorge Grant replaced Lord Nelson, who looked like he’d tweaked his groin – hopefully it was just as a precaution. So Jorge sat behind O’Grady and had a nice 20-odd minutes on the pitch. He moved to the right side of midfield when David Vaughan replaced Mendes and once again didn’t disgrace himself. Another invaluable experience for the Academy graduate.
So on came Vaughan, Gardner moved to a more advanced role allowing Grant to move over to the right. I think Grant is better suited to a more central role, but needs must I suppose – it certainly suited Gardner who seems to prefer that position on the pitch. As for David, well he’s done exactly what is says on the tin this entire season and this little 10 minute stint was no different.
Saturday’s match at home to Sheffield Wednesday will be a sterner test, but if our defence performs as they usually do and if Lord Nelson is fit, we may just nick that one.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!