Concentrate on the league …

65milesNot a very long post this time out … a point away at Bradford was all good for me despite the fact we hit the woodwork a couple of times and then had Patrick Bauer sent off at the death.

That alone pretty much has me peering out at Final Score from behind the settee, but we held on for the last few minutes and brought home a good point.

By the sounds of it we played a lot better than in the MK Dons cup match so I was quite glad to have taken the plunge after all and got a couple of tickets for the cup replay.

A relatively early leave for a night game had me picking up the brother in Chelmsford but a super run along the M25 and M1 had us parked in good time, definitely earlier than last time out’s seven seconds to spare.

Not many inside Stadium MK (not a great surprise there) and a pretty good first forty-five minutes with Adam Chicksen the stand-out for me although Joe Aribo came back from a disastrous moment to see us concede the opener to have a really good half.

Losing Lee Novak just before the break was a big kick in the teeth as we appeared to change the whole system, bringing on Morgan Fox with over a half to play and pushing Adam Chicksen further forward and taking away his influence as the ‘extra man’.

The repositioning of Johnnie Jackson so that the majority of the play was in front of him was an excellent decision, and he had one of his best games in a long time – especially having seen how out of it he was in the previous encounter.

Of course he then went off to be replaced by Roger Johnson – who isn’t a bad defender when the ball is coming at him – in fact he made two or three really good clearing headers in the first few minutes after coming on, but alas when having to deal with players running at him he does struggle.

What position does Brandon Hanlan actually play ?

He looked lost wide on the right and was way too slow when picked out beyond the far post midway through the first half and when switched to up front still couldn’t retain control of the ball or find a teammate. He’s still just a young lad though – I just hope he doesn’t get burnt out from excessive appearances like Karlan Ahearne-Grant !

As for Nicky Ajose, well I really don’t know where to start. I’m not usually one to criticise players (well, maybe sometimes) but honestly, his extra time performance (if that’s what you can call it) was almost an embarrassment.

Strikers miss chances. Everyone knows that, and I understand that completely but for me, it was the overall lack of anticipation, effort – I don’t know what !!

A super chance to win it in the last couple of minutes of the ninety saw him turn the last man but with the keeper to beat he seemed to just try and whack it in rather than slotting it past him like you’d expect a finisher to do. The chance gone and extra time looming.

We’d almost completely forgotten that there would be extra time if the game finished level and I thought best to text the wife to let her know. Unfortunately, by the time I’d finished typing it we’d conceded one and by the time she’d read the damn thing we’d conceded another.

Still time for a Charlton half chance or two, a cross from the left was spilt by the keeper but Ajose hadn’t taken the gamble and was too far away when the ball bounced free.

Personally I hope that Karl Robinson sorts his system quickly and that it doesn’t involve Ajose at all because he struts round the place giving all the body language of being the main man but just isn’t !!

I would also take the money for Ademola Lookman now, not worry about a loan back and try and spend it on a player or two that will fit into the team. I’ve probably typed this before, but he shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a dead ball situation again – his delivery from corners and free kicks are so poor.

He also seems to have to beat at least two players every time he has possession – the away support en masse called for him to stop buggering about with it and pass the thing – which he did before sulking around for the next ten minutes.

Yes, he is a great player – and could well be a star of the future but at the moment he seems just a little too big for his boots with the attention he’s getting as we approach the window maybe getting to him a bit.

Either sell him, or, and this might be a better option, drop him to the bench for a bit of a rest and use him as an impact sub.

Finally, as I’m only a short while from heading off for today’s game, you can see why Jordan Botaka only got five minutes under Russell Slade. Really can’t understand him at all. You come on with five minutes left, do a few tricks, beat a couple, create a chance here and there and get the crowd going but give you ninety minutes or so and you barely do any of the above.

Ahhh, depressing myself on a matchday … not a good start so will stop typing.

Here’s hoping that today might be the start of this expansive, goalscoring side that KR has been gushing about.

C’mon you Reds !!

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The Robinson Era begins ….


Two home matches since my last post, two draws, one last minute equaliser, one new manager and unfortunately probably less than one good half of football !

Sheffield Utd was pretty poor with us coming up against a good footballing side who showed us how to knock the ball around and confuse the opposition by sticking a player in-between the two lines of four.

Alas Johnnie Jackson looked lost in our midfield four against their five and generally we didn’t look on it at all.

Fortunately we defended well and United couldn’t break us down other than scoring a soft one thanks to a free kick routine that was as poorly defended by us as it was well-worked by them.

But we kept going, Jordan Botaka got slightly more than his customary five minutes and won a free kick that Adam Chicksen delivered superbly and there was the BFG to force it home in the dying seconds.

(When I say delivered superbly I do mean managed to get it over the first man – which we fail to do with free kicks, corners and crosses way too often)

And so, a point against all the odds and much more than we truly deserved.  Karl Robinson had of course already been given the job but would sit out of the Sheffield Utd match, taking control after the weekend, leading us in facing his old club MK Dons in today’s second round FA Cup tie.

A very positive press conference / first interview in the week I thought, saying good things and coming across well – if given a few quid in January and time (the most important thing of all) he might be able to do something.

Also in the week we got the first two episodes of ‘Getting The Know The Network’, a podcast giving us too many gory details of the Duchatelet regime and a couple of emails to Chris Powell from Roly !

To be fair to Mr Duchatelet, his second email was a bit of a revelation to me.

I never realised how easy slipping seamlessly from a 4-4-2 to a diamond formation and back again is.  The man clearly is a tactical genius.

On top of that, apparently, teams in Belgium will often practice competitively against their reserves or under 21s ?

This is an astonishing revelation. How on Earth Chris Powell, with 667 first team appearances, 5 caps for England and a camping blanket with an abundance of coaching badges sewn thereon managed to get us out of League One as Champions without this kind of knowledge I have no idea !

But joking aside …. really Roland ?  You thought that these might be useful emails to a bloke with that much experience ?

Ridiculous !

A little bit earlier I typed that the new manager might be able to do something with a few days coaching.  I think he needs just a little bit longer !

Today, for the first forty five minutes we put out some of the worst football I’ve seen this season.  I can only assume that Mr Robinson had been instilling a few pearls of wisdom at the training ground and we aren’t quite yet up to speed.

MK Dons played some quite neat football in that first period, with Ben Reeves especially causing problems out on their right, despite cutting in on his left foot every time.

Morgan Fox was once again isolated often with two coming at him without any support as Ademola Lookman continued his midfield wanderings but all around we just looked a bit confused.

Not a lot going at the front with Magennis and Ajose always too far apart – with one difference, Magennis looking like he had a clue !

Going in at half-time nil-nil was a positive for me, despite being poor we still hadn’t conceded and with forty-five still to play a chance to get our ball in the third round bag was up for grabs.

A little better in the second half with Ajose taking off his clearly very heavy gloves and actually running about a bit but still no goals for either side.

Mr Lookman had another bottom lip moment and stropped for a little bit but still looked probably the most likely and nearly nicked it for us near the end with a shot that went just wide.

Botaka didn’t do a great deal with a full run out but it was good to see Slightly Mad Jorge back in the side.  One assumes that KR (as he will be known from this point forward) was told that he wasn’t allowed to start Teixeira but took the first opportunity to get him back into the action as Konsa was removed early on following a clash of heads while defending a very dangerous cross into the Charlton box.

Mad Jorge was one of the few bright lights of a generally poor afternoon at the Valley, popping up in all kinds of attacking positions, despite supposedly playing at full back !

Dillon Phillips was excellent in goal again and in general we were pretty good at the back – but KD needs to sort us out going forward and soon.

Personally I think Ajose has had his time in the starting eleven and it’s time we gave someone else a chance.

Personally I’d play Chicksen wide left and Lookman up front with Magennis, or Lookman on the right and Novak alongside Magennis with Botaka going back to the bench.

I’m no expert so if there’s anyone out there with a bit of tactical nous they could email the new boss I’m sure he’ll take any and all suggestions on board !

Nobody in this league is that good so if we get at them I think we can do well.

Away to Bradford next weekend will be a tough one but they’re the type of side we have to get at early and try and impose ourselves upon.

For God’s sake, we beat Scunthorpe in round one and stuck five past Bristol Rovers less than a fortnight ago (ish).

I feel like I should mention the protests (or in today’s case, the lack of them).  For me, the ‘in game’ protests are no longer cutting it, today there were no ‘Roland Out’ chants, but then there wasn’t a lot of chanting or singing anything at all until the last ten minutes or so.

There doesn’t seem to be a queue of buyers (or one ?!) lining up to take over but putting the pressure on RD in Belgium will definitely keep the feelings of the majority at the forefront of his mind and should someone come along with bottomless pockets and a weird urge to lose money owning a football club then he might just possibly let us go.

I definitely think taking the protests to him will do a lot more good than lobbing a few rubber taxis on the pitch so good luck to the Belgium Twenty on their latest travels this weekend.

I’m not going to Bradford this week, a bit too far, or Milton Keynes for the replay, but back at the Valley for Peterborough Utd so might see you there !

In the meantime, c’mon you Reds !

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Everything but a pasty !

65milesEverything but a pasty !

Yep, that’s right, last night had indeed everything but a pasty and that was my brother’s fault for not getting them in at half-time !

Leaving Colchester at half two in the afternoon a pretty easy journey down the A12, M25 and M4 took us to the outskirts of Bristol and we were parked (Downend Road for future reference) by six o’clock and heading for somewhere to eat.

But first … what of last week’s goings-on ?

Well, following our ‘performance’ against Swindon on the telly Russell Slade gets the inevitable big push from Roland, although I do wonder how nuch of the reason behind that was a backlash from the ‘Roland Out’ Taxi visit to Belgium ?

Still Russell can sit on his settee with a pocket full of cash, knowing that he’s probably well out of it.

And so onto Port Vale at home with temporary gaffer Kevin Nugent in charge. Not a lot of positivity around the place when I arrived with the few I spoke to barely bothered about the result and not expecting much anyway, with Chris Solly unavailable and Ricky Holmes with the now diagnosed broken foot.

A nifty pound on Jason Pearce to score the opener almost came true as his header rebounded back off the crossbar but I was quite happy to lose it when Morgan Fox picked out Josh Magennis at the far stick to head back across the keeper and put us in front.

That brief spell quietened the twit somewhere behind me who had spent the previous half haour moaning how Foxy was stealing a living as a footballer and that he should know to sit right on the winger and mark him instead of doing exactly what he was doing and giving up the long ball but keeping the winger on the outside.

What made it even better was when Port Vale tried the same pass and Morgan, in the correct position, intercepted the pass, slotted in Nicky Ajose and celebrated as much as we did when Ajose tucked it past the keeper for our second.

Chappy behind didn’t say a lot after this funnily enough !!

Unfortunately twit a bit too the left then started up with such suggestions as Nugent is clueless playing Foley and not Solly (injured you berk) and various other blithering – fortunately he left relatively early.

I thought Kevin Foley played pretty well at full back. Obviously with Chris Solly being Chris Solly I think we’ve been a little bit spoiled over the last few years so with him now out for quite a while, Foley has a lot to live up to. Provided he defends well, and puts the same amount of effort in, that’ll do just fine for me.

So, pretty much a re-run of the first forty-five minutes up at Port Vale but this time we got a couple of goals and were pressing Vale all over the park.

The second half started a bit better than the last few with us once again pushing on and they had one real chance that came to nothing. Jordan Botaka came on with half an hour to play for Jacko but didn’t really affect the game much and Hanlan replaced the knackered Josh Magennis and nearly increased our lead but stopped when in on goal but possibly knew he was likely to be flagged offside.

A bit of a nail-biter in case we conceded, but we didn’t and stand-in gaffer Kevin Nugent had win number one under his belt.

So, who would we be getting as the new manager ? A variety, nare I say and abundance of possibilities including former players such as Lee Bowyer and Jorge Costa (definitely no and yes), Johnnie Jackson, Andy Hughes and so many more.

Of course the main name in the frame was Chris O’Loughlin, one time lackey of Roland and world travelled coach of some renown. (When I say ‘some’ I do mean ‘some’ but with a raised eyebrow and a quite significant smirk)

He ‘joined’ the coaching team – surely just a matter of time before that announcement comes our way.

But for the meantime Kevin Nugent remained in charge and we set out sights on the away trip to Bristol Rovers.

And so we’re back in Eastville. A wander round the ground and down the main road (Gloucester Road) searching primarily for somewhere with a toilet we passed by the very popular Bristol Fryer chippery and ended up at The Anchor.

Food suitably tucked away and back to the ground to claim our spot on the terracing. I haven’t stood properly at a football match for absolutely donkeys so it was actually something a little bit exciting.

Another good start and Ademola Lookman gets us going with a super (if deflected) finish, cutting back across and pinging it with his apparently weaker left peg past the keeper.

Bristol Rovers weren’t awful by any means with Dean Gaffney’s younger brother Rory being a bit of a nuisance up front but the back four were excellent and kept them at bay, with debutant Dillon Phillips making a couple of excellent blocks and one tremendous save (although that one wouldn’t have counted anyway).

We still needed a second and nabbed it just before the break with a really good move that ended with Adam Chicksen (who was getting better and better as the game went on) getting on the end of a cross from Lookman and knocking it back inside for a super touch from Josh Magennis to make it two.

Two up at half time ? Again ? What was going on ?

Bristol Rovers made a double change at half time but alas to no avail as we went three up within five minutes thanks to a (finally) good corner from Ademola Lookman and a powerful header from Patrick Bauer that Kelle Roos made a bish of and pushed into the bottom.

Another Bristol Rovers change brought on another striker but we just looked like we were now in control.

Obviously being a Charlton fan, three-nil up away from home is usually the time you cross your fingers and ‘take a point’, but a half chance for Charlton left a Rovers’ centre half in a crumpled heap, three subs already made and they were down to ten.

Fair play to them, they didn’t give up and kept passing the ball around but it always seemed to just be a matter of time before we got another one and a good pass from Morgan Fox met a well-timed run from Adam Chicksen and he beat Roos with a right-footed drive to make it four before slapping the badge.

Botaka and Hanlan on for Lookman and Chicksen, a couple of half chances messed up either by a poor final pass or a bad first touch but Nicky Ajose added to his tally with a neat strike from maybe thirty yards to pick out the bottom corner and make it five.

Having pretty much hugged the guy next to me when Bauer scored, me and he discussed the likelihood of a sixth and Paul, for that was (and indeed is) his name, was almost begging for it.

Another chance came and went before Ajose burst forward, Botaka and Hanlan were either side and both looked a shoe-in for number six and making Paul’s day perfect but instead he went for the glory moment and fired over the bar.

A bit of a taint on the night in the last minute or so when Dillon Phillips conceded a penalty as Rory Gaffney brought down a long ball deep inside our box but hey, we just won 5-1 away at Bristol Rovers !!

Other highlights, Sebby Lewis playing air guitar during the half time interval, the fact that Rovers’ supporters are called Gas Heads and indeed junior fans are Little Gas ‘eds, the chap behind us who spent most of the first half querying whether Dillon Phillips would get recalled to Norwich City because he was in fact Declan Rudd and the same fella who wanted Novak on with fifteen minutes to go to ‘put himself about’ !!

A decent journey back, in bed by 1.15am and now the wait for the new manager – expected very much to be Karl Robinson. To be honest, I’m not too bothered who is the manager as long as we play the same way we did Saturday and last night and the poor bugger is allowed to lose a game once in a while without getting his marching orders.

Home to Sheffield Utd on Saturday – a new batch of protests ahead which I hope that Robinson (or whoever) understands the reasons for and doesn’t get arsey with the fans cos that will do him no favours at all.

So, support the team, not the regime.

C’mon you Reds

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