Now I have made a very conscious decision that this season I will attempt to keep my match reports as short and to the point as humanly possible keeping wherever possible to reporting what I see on the pitch, BUT, I have to start this report with a MASSIVE MOAN. As it was decided that the anticipated attendance for tonights game would not require all parts of the ground to be opened my new home in the Atyeo was not available therefore I decided after reviewing the seats available on Citys website I decided to give myself a “little treat” and go and sit up high in the Williams alongside “The Prawn Sandwich Brigade.” So I hope that you can understand my surprise if not disappointment if not disgust when I found for my ten pounds I was seated on nothing better than a piece of hardboard slid into the old seat fitting!!!!! It is a very long time since I ventured up into the “Gods” of the Williams as normally I prefer to be nearer to the action, but, when you consider that at a fair estimate the average player playing in a red and black shirt for BCFC is on an average of £8K per week, I really think that the supporters should be treated a little better than having to be expected to sit on pieces of hardboard!!!! Especially when within literally touching distance of where I was sitting there are rows of super deluxe padded seats, which incidentally, those of my fellow fans who had booked the seats either side of myself, within five minutes of the kick off had quickly swapped their already sore backsides for. Unfortunately I have already booked the same seat for next weeks Carling Cup game at home to Gillingham and I think that I will try and get a cushion in with me!!!!
I thought it a tad strange when I was “frisked” by a Security Guard on entering the ground, especially as this was such a “high profile” game with all the potential ingredients for massive trouble – NOT. Perhaps they were looking to see if I had brought my “Black & Decker” Work Mate and my Bosch Jig Saw under my Adidas jacket.
There is so much that the club does for the fans and hard working employees such as David Lloyd and Adam Baker have to be congratulated for their ongoing efforts, but, there are still some areas whereby the phrase “Could do better” could clearly apply? Im just glad I have decided to get my new season ticket in the Atyeo where the seats appear to be fine, NOT, paying extra for sharing a Prawn Sandwich and a numb backside.
Now since we played at home to Ajax of Amsterdam on the 16th July, 2009 the quality of our home pre season games has been a little less than awe inspiring and thus the trend continues with tonights offering? A visit from “new” Premiership team Southampton. The same Southampton that actually suffered the indignity of losing both home and away last season in the Championship to BCFC and thus earning the title of one of only two teams who we actually managed to beat home and away last season. The other being Millwall. So its just a matter of half a dozen months since we last played the Saints so as the saying goes “Familiarity breeds contempt.” So on a scale of one to ten my eagerness and excitement levels prior to this game is struggling to leave “First base.” Seems the same applies to Saints fans – On trawling through various Southampton FC related forums this morning I failed to find ONE mention of tonights game???
For the life of me I really cannot see the point or more importantly the attraction of playing teams that we have recently been playing in a much more “competitive” arena in friendlies? Where is the attraction and really what purpose does it serve? “If” we are going to persist going forward every pre season with playing teams who in the previous season have managed to gain promotion (Last season Blackpool, this season Southampton) then I think it would almost be better to play the game “behind closed doors.” On my long experience of pre season friendlies (My memory actually goes back to the late 1960’s when we regularly used to entertain First division teams such as West Ham, Booby Moore, Geoff Hurst, etc. and even Chelsea with the likes of Peter Osgood) it is very rare that you feel that you have had “value for money” and me just thinks tonight will be another such evening?
With no “obvious” new signings to draw those City fans who just might have given up a night in front of their TV’s and the ongoing saga that’s known as The Olympics, then I think I may be in the presence of not much more than 3,000 others at a very quiet Ashton this evening. Del Boy has stated “That he plans to play his strongest team from the start” so there ‘might’ be some clues as to his thinking for the game away at Florest but apart from that there really is very little to get excited about?
It was clear that the crowd was never going to exceed 3,000 (Despite the over keen stewarding) and when the Saints came out for their warm up, they brought with them their “Aerobics mats” and “Human bands” and proceeded to give a fifteen minute Aerobics exhibition out on the pitch. Must admit the thought did go through my mind I just wonder what the reaction might have been “if” the likes of Gerry Gow or Norman Hunter had been requested to go out on the pitch and “ponce” around on mats with large elastic bands round their knees??? I think I can guess?
“If” I was still running the Glenn Schmidt Golden Moment Award then this would have certainly been a contender for the Seasons award!!!
City started with a change in goal. Deano replacing Heaton. It was also clear from the start that Del Boy had plumped for his much preferred 4-3-3 when we are attacking and 4-5-1 when we are defending with John Stead left all alone up front. Really for the first half an hour it was a case of “Can we have our ball back” as the Saints totally dominated possession and with Stead up front being supported by Skusy!!! of all people the ball was rarely out of our half of the pitch. Southampton who paraded a near first choice team were knocking the ball about at will and Gerken made a few good saves to keep us from going behind. From my vantage point up in the Gods with both cheeks of my arse steadily going “Comfortably Numb” I could clearly see that Del Boy and Tony Doc were getting extremely frustrated with our wingers Adomah and Bolasie who presumably were not playing to “pre match plan.” After half an hour Del Boy had clearly seen enough and changed to a more attacking 4-4-2 with Albert being sent to partner Stead and lo and behold with our first shot of the game John Stead curled a beautiful left foot shot around Davies’s diving hand and City were one up, much against the run of play it must be said. After that we had chances to increase our lead before half time but the score stayed the same at 45 minutes with my bum now bereft of any feeling.
The second half began with City keeping the same starting 11 but Saints made a triple substitution, with one of the players coming on being the impressive Jack Cork, who had just returned from his place as an unused player in the GB Olympic squad. As is now the norm in these types of games the play in the second half was constantly stopped by both managers making substitutions. For City Mark Wilson replaced Cunningham, Hairband (Awful) replaced Bolasie, Taylor for Stead, Edwards for the (Impressive) Jody Morris and Anderson for Adomah. Notably Pitman never left the bench all night – Wonder if his bum was as numb as mine and wonder “if” we can read anything into it???? Southampton continued to try and play “pretty” football and there were times when it appeared that they wanted to walk the ball in the net? As for ourselves Stead led the line well and twice Hairband had reasonable chances to test Kelvin Davies but both times he failed to even get a shot on target? Morris looks the commanding, no nonsense midfield “general” that we really have not had since Paul Hartley decided to go back to Scotland. Albert made several mazy runs but sadly the final ball appears to be wanting. In between the sticks Dean Gerken did enough to look like he will be first choice for the start of the season, several times being in the right place for the ball to hit him rather than making a good save but a “lucky” keeper is generally a good keeper.
With City looking like they were going to hang on to a single goal victory the fourth official (Unusually for a friendly) held up his board with two minutes added time on. Right on cue, Pearson (Not for the first time tonight it must be noted) lost the ball needlessly in midfield and after a deep, long cross was headed back across our area by ex Gas Lambert up popped our other old mate Billy Sharp to snatch a very unexpected draw for the Saints.
It must be said even with somebody who wears “red glasses” like me a draw on the night was a fair result especially if the amount of ball possession was taken into account, but, when you get to within sixty seconds of beating a “premiership” team it’s a tad disappointing. Then again we didn’t lose and whilst we look forward to an opening game trip to Florest the Saints have the Champions Man City at the Etihad to contemplate? Think that they just “might” have a harder 90 minutes than we gave them!!!
The Glen Schmidt Man Of The Match Award
Gerken – 7 – Certainly rode his luck at times, but, did nothing wrong and deserves to keep his place.
Foster – 6 – Still worries me defensively, but, one forward run in the first half was worth the admission fee alone
Cunningham – 6 – Not as noticeable as on Saturday and seemed to have less opportunity to go forward
Fontaine – 6 – Without Fonts we really would not have a central defence? Wonder if Nigel Atkins is still interested?
Nyatanga – 5 – Sorry he never looks confident on the ball and will be a worry if he starts the season as first choice?
Skuse – 6.5 – For the first 30 mins he appeared to be supporting Stead up front? Memo to Del Boy, Skusy is NOT attack
Morris – 7.5 – Keeps everything simple. Seems to know where other players are and not afraid to put his foot in
Bolasie – 5 – Second “quiet” game in two home matches. Never really posed any threat to Saints full backs.
Pearson – 3.5 – Really starting to worry about? Totally inconsistent and at times I can see why Derby got shot of cheap!
Adomah – 7 – At times in second half took showboating to higher level? Beats people for fun but there must be a final ball
Stead – 7 – As always ran his whatsits off. Took his goal with left foot with class but he really has to have support.
Wilson (For Cunningham) – 6 – Certainly worth a contract. Looks assured and probably better than we already have at RB?
Hairband (For Bolasie) – 3 – What more can I say? I don’t rate him and there are lots like me???
Taylor (For Stead) – 6 – Tried hard but John Stead he is not? Championship standard? Jury certainly out.
Anderson (For Adomah) – 6 – Same as Cunningham. One nicely flighted free kick but nothing else springs to mind
Edwards (For Morris) – 5 – Slightly surprised to see after his much publicised Drink Drive issues earlier this month? Better full back than midfield?
The “James Linnington referee watch” (JLRM) mark.
Brendan Malone – 7 – Handled the game sensibly and appeared to have a good rapport with the players, despite adding on two minutes additional time which ultimately cost us the win!!!
One final footnote or should I say BUM note (Bum note, get it????) pre publishing of this report I emailed Dave Lloyd at the club the first few paragraphs detailing my “thoughts” on the quality of seat that I endured last night? VERY MUCH CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE, I almost immediately received the following response:-
Because of the size of the terracing on which they sit, it wasn’t possible to replace those wooden seats with plastic ones when we did the rest of the stand a few years ago. Quite simply, new seats wouldn’t fit. The sooner we move to a new stadium the better for all concerned.
If you’d like to switch seats for the Gillingham game, just give Supporter Services a call on 0117 963 0600 (option 1) and they’ll sort you out.
A massive Ashton roar for DL. Truly a very much “unsung” hero behind the scenes and a totally decent chap also BCFC through and through with a CV that is mightily impressive. Just wonder what he’s like with a Black & Decker!!!!!
Best Regards to all across the pond,
Speak soon and COYR