Two points thrown away in reality check for City

southend

Southend United 2

Cresswell 80, Tomlin 90+1

Bradford City 2

Wells 28, Prosser OG 64

Saturday 15 December, 2012

By Mark Danylczuk

In a week of wild emotions for City fans, the jubilation of ‘that’ win against Arsenal turned to despair as City threw away two points in an entertaining encounter against fellow promotion candidates Southend. It was back to the bread and butter of the League Two promotion push, but Phil Parkinson must be scratching his head after a comfortable 2-0 nil lead with 10 minutes to go turned into a 2-2 draw which could even have been lost.

City remained unchanged from the Arsenal game in mid-week, with Will Atkinson and Nakhi Wells overcoming knocks to keep in the starting line-up. One could have forecasted a number of changes with the Brentford FA Cup game coming up on Tuesday, but Parkinson opted to stick with his strongest line-up in order to continue the push towards the automatic promotion places.

The game started brightly as both teams came out attacking with purpose – Southend with similar aspirations to continue their promotion push too. City had a couple of chances within the first few minutes – Hanson heading over from a James Meredith cross in the fifth minute; followed by a Hanson knock-down from a Jones cross a couple of minutes later, but no City player being able to capitalise. From this same attack, Southend counter-attacked up the other end of the pitch with some slick passing which ended with Matt Duke saving Timlin’s shot inside the area with his legs.

City were working the channels well with Wells and Atkinson full of running and providing support to the midfield, and took the lead in the 28th minute with Wells latching on to a pass from Meredith and hitting the ball home after an initial block from the Southend keeper. Cue jubilation from the City fans as the week just kept getting better.

This goal however, spurred on the Southend pressure which continued to half time, with the home side in search of an equaliser. Centre forwards Assombalonga and Tomlin, who have scored 21 goals between them so far this season, were proving a handful for the City defence and it was Assombalonga who nearly scored in the 33rd minute with a near post header just wide from Clohessy’s cross.

Southend were attacking effectively down the right hand side, with the pair of right-back Clohessy and right midfielder Hurst combining well, and they almost got their equaliser in the last chance of the half with Tomlin latching onto a long ball from the back but just missing with an attempted chip over Duke.

The Southend barrage continued in the first 15 minutes of the second half, with both Hurst and Prosser drilling shots just off target to the right of Duke’s post.  City needed some fresh legs to take some pressure of the defence and the first sub in the 60th minute was to bring on Forsyth for Thompson who seemed to be suffering with fatigue from the mammoth game on Tuesday.

Somewhat against the run of play, it was City who nicked another with Atkinson picking the ball up on the right hand side, cutting in on his left and playing a ball to the far post. The ball looked to be going safely into the keeper’s hands, but a sliced clearance from Southend’s Prosser took the ball past Smith in the net and sent the City fans into raptures.

City’s second substitution was to bring on Zavon Hines for Wells on the 70th minute, who had an immediate impact in terrorising the defence with some mazy runs, drifting in from the right. It was almost 3-0 in the 80th minute with Atkinson having a left foot curling shot inside the box well saved by the Southend keeper, after an initial Hines shot was blocked.

Southend seemed to be tiring and that seemed to be that. The City fans were in very good voice and enjoying some good-humoured banter with the Southend fans, anticipating a perfect end to a week of one Cup victory, one Cup re-instatement and one League victory. Just hold out for the final 10 minutes…

But a poor piece of defending in the 80th minute let Southend into the game with Cresswell putting away a free header from a Hurst corner. The belief was suddenly back within the Southend camp, and it was backs to the wall for City to preserve a precious lead and hang onto a vital victory for the promotion push. All the work was undone with further lack of concentration; City not dealing with a long ball forward from the keeper, Tomlin latching on and steering the ball past Duke in the first minute of injury time.

City still had further chances to win the game but could not capitalise on any set piece opportunities with the usually reliable Jones, who crossed extremely poorly throughout the game. Bizarrely, even in the last minute with a chance to win the game, City still were leaving three at the back when it seemed right to push on for the winner rather than hang on for a point.

After three short minutes of injury time, that was that and within a quick 10 minute spell, the points had been lost. The Brentford FA Cup game on one hand can’t come soon enough for the City players to erase this game from their minds, but it’s also another game for the stretched squad to manage with no respite.

The magic of Tuesday to the despair of today – the unpredictability of City’s journey so far suggest it’s going to be rollercoaster of a season with more highs and lows. So get strapped in for the ride!

City: Duke, Darby, Meredith, McHugh, Mc Ardle, Thompson (Forsyth 59), Atkinson, Jones, Doyle (Ravenhill 81), Hanson, Wells (Hines 71)

Not used: McLaughlin, Good, Turgott, Connell



Categories: Match Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. The opening paragraphs accurately sum up today’s game. 2 points lost.

    It’s very difficult to be negative this week but I really feel today’s result may, and I hope I’m wrong, polarise our season. We cannot do it all. Results after the cup games show this.

    We must get promoted. We have the manager. The players. The team spirit. The finance. So let’s get out of this dammed bottom tier.

    Sorry if this is deemed negative, but I think people will know what I’m saying. I, like you, wouldn’t give up a two legged semi final tie, BUT, if we miss out on the play offs or indeed automatic promotion by 2 points then I hope we aren’t looking back at a result like this one today.

  2. I was there yesterday and thought we looked very much the better side at times in the game – certainly playing most of the football. Southend to be fair did peg us back after we scored in the 1st half, and for spells in the 2nd half, but they went very direct and physical after Corr was introduced and by then we were tiring visibly. Still a very good point in my view.
    Separately does anuyone know where I can get 2 copies of Jason’s book in paperback? Amazon and WHSmith have “out of stock” messages. Will make a great prezzie.
    One further thought – Tom Eaves may be available, as his loan at Bristool Rovers runs out and Mcgee has just been sacked. He was brilliant against us down at Bristol and at 6 foot 3 would be a very useful additional attacking option.

    • Ken – thanks for your comment.

      On the book front, I’m trying to get hold of the publishers as I am receiving a lot of queries like this. I am told if you go to a Waterstones or WH Smith store and order it they will sort it out for you.

      I really like Tom Eaves too. he would be a great signing. However, one issue would be how this would impact on Hanson’s frame of mind and confidence. He has performed very well for me this season. Would signing a player to compete with him or take his place give out the right message?

      Jason

      • Jason thanks – I will try Waterstones tomorrow (hoping to get hold of copies for xmas).
        I had exactly the same thought before I posted, re big James, and I am a fan too – he has worked his socks off for the team especially this season. But Eaves would be an upgrade in my opinion and if we are to strengthen further as folks seem to want, Parkie will have some of these man-management dilemmas I feel – in this position and others. So far Parkie has done well to develop and maintain a good team spirit and think he is capable of continuing that – especially if we continue to win football matches. Nothing wrong with healthy competition for places either.However Eaves would not come to warm the bench as he will be guaranteed game time by a host of other clubs I’m sure – so for that reason alone, we may not throw our hand in on him.

      • Hi Jason, I think it would send out the same message as it does to all the first team players. If you dont perform, get tired or are carrying a knock there is somebody waiting to step in. I really worry that if James is out for any length of time we still dont have the answer on how to replace him, or how to play in such a way that will maintain the same level of results. James is a pivotal player, but a like for like replacement is crucial in my opinion. Unless of course Nahki, Alan and Tommo can start to provide an effective partnership that not only provides goals but blends into the way Parkie wants to play in a productive way. Paul Benson would be the obvious choice but I suppose that would be unlikely unless he can be persuaded to come North on a 6 month loan deal.

      • Hi Paul

        I think it’s a little more complicated than that. In the striking department, if Parkinson looks to sign someone to compete with Hanson does he go for a better player or someone inferior to Hanson? That might sound strange, but stay with me. If we go for the former option than this player will reasonably assume he is going to start every week and so suddenley Hanson is dropped when he has done nothing to warrant it. Go for the latter and you’re talking about finding a player who would be happy to join a club and be on the bench for them. It’s not exactly a great endorsement of their character.

        So realistically Parkinson would look for someone to compete with Hanson who is equal if not slightly better, but that means Hanson is suddenley in and out the side. Going back to the original point I made, how would Hanson react to this? Would he be unsettled and start to lose confidence. We know only too well that Hanson is a confidence player. And what if the player signed to compete with Hanson doesn’t produce? We might unsettle Hanson for no great benefit. The comparison can be made with two years ago when Jason Price was signed by Peter Taylor.

        I think that Parkinson will have a clear idea of Hanson’s mental strength, and will hopefully act or not act in the right way. A risk of injury is of course a concern, but it might be more a case of Parkinson identifying someone who could come in on loan at short notice, in the event of a Hanson injury, rather than act now for an eventuality that might never happen.

      • Yes good points indeed Jason. I just think we are at a point now where any squad strengthening will undoubtedly create the potential to unsettle an existing member of the squad who is already performing really well. I struggle to think of any area or position where we need better competition for places other than the big man role upfront. If James doesnt play who do we have that can perform that role as effectively? Its a wonderful problem to have which is why I think we would be better spending the funds on new contracts for the likes of Doyle, Davies and McHugh to name but a few. That being said I take on board your comments and it just looks like we shall have to wait and see and as always trust Mr Parkinson.

      • The team should always be more important than any individual. We can not hope to gain promotion with only one regular scorer. To be tall and put oneself about is not enough. Tom Eaves, yes please.

  3. An excellent point gained for me….disappointing to lose two late goals but at the end of the season this may well be a very important point gained. Very impressed with McArdle and McHugh..the latter being only nineteen, how mature for one so young. To have played so many games yet still go down to Southend and gain a point shows alot of character, I thought it was a massive ask for BCFC to go again after they gave the lot against Arsenal, in fact i was expecting BCFC to do very well to get even a point..to have been so close to getting all three after such an immense effort in midweek augers well for the rest of the season.

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