Report by Ian Lay
The title sums it up completely. Our defence went walkies. I cannot
remember the last time we were taken apart so easily as on Saturday.
Things started badly, and got worse. The fact that we only went in 3-0 down
at half time was a blessing. It could easily have been six or seven. Wigan took
full advantage of our obvious uneasiness with the conditions and gave us a
lesson in fast, direct and exciting attacking football. We were continually
trying to scramble the ball away from good accurate crosses into our penalty
area. But, unlike earlier in the season, we just don't seem capable of
clearing our lines. The first goal came from such a scramble. The ball
wasn't cleared properly and the ball came loose for a Wigan player to blast
home from about seven yards.
The first goal was messy, but the second was very well taken. A ball played
into a Wigan player on the edge of the box, with his back to the goal. He
was allowed time to control it, flick the ball up, turn and shoot past a
very annoyed Chamberlain. The guy had so much time (even though he had Page
on his back and several defenders around him) it was unreal. All our
players seemed to stand there and say "Go on, mate, show us your ball skills".
And he duly obliged.
Their third came just as we were trying to get back into the game. A cross
from the right which eluded everyone and the Wigan player was unmarked at
the back of the six yard area to blast home. By then I was too annoyed to
I seriously considered leaving at half time. I was that fed up. But, being
the eternal optimist and remembering what happened against Bolton, I didn't
give up hope. I knew if we got an early goal then we stood a chance of
getting something out the game.
Changes were made at half time. Millen, who had played truly awfully in the
first half, went off and Foley came one. And he made an instant impact.
Within about five minutes of the restart we pulled a goal back. A cross from
the left from Kennedy was only half cleared, and Foley sent a spectacular
overhead/bicycle kick shot into the top corner.
And then for the next fifteen or twenty minutes it was all Watford. Johno had a long
range effort (which was going in) blocked and from the follow up Foley hit
a shot goal bound only to be deflected over the bar. Palmer also had a shot
deflected over the bar from about eight yards out. In addition Foley hit two
curling shots from the right hand side of the box just wide.
Then Wigan began to get a bit more into the game possession-wise and we
struggled to create further chances. Just when it looked like we were not
going to get a second, we did. Similar in fashion to Wigan's first, there
was a scramble in the box and a shot hit the post and bounced out. Hyde was
first to react and poked the ball home. Cue wild celebrations and hope that
a miracle might still be possible.
And with time running out, and into injury time it looked like we were going
to get it. Johno set Kennedy free on the left, he cut inside to the edge of
the box and sent a low shot in. Their keeper could only palm the ball out
to Noel-Williams who slotted the ball home. Cue very wild celebrations.
But it wasn't to be. The linesmen had his flag up for offside. I can only
imagine it was Gifton. But even then I don't see how as there appeared to
be a defender near to the goal line.
So from absolute misery, to incredible joy, back to misery
again.... Sounds like a normal working week doesn't it. Work, go home,
work, go home....etc.
To the players.
Alec couldn't do anything about the goals. Early on it was so wet that any
keeper would have had trouble handling the ball, but he did his best and
pulled off some useful saves as well.
Millen, Page and Mooney were truly awful in the first half and didn't have
much chance to redeem themselves in the second as Wigan didn't get much of a
look in. Only Mooney came out of the game with any credit, basically
because he continued to battle and did fairly well going forward.
Bazeley was very quiet and definitely at fault for the third goal when he
failed to pick the Wigan player at the back post. Looked better in the
second half (but then they all did).
Robinson was subbed early on. I think mainly because he got booked after
about ten minutes. Then he made two further dodgy tackles on the wet
surface, and GT obviously thought that he was going to get himself sent off
if he stayed on. Hazan came on for Robinson and had a good game. He gets
better with each game. Still misplacing passes (doesn't everyone) but you
can see the skill and he can cross a ball very well.
Hyde had an in and out game. Certainly when the sun came out he played
better. It seems that what they said about him at Cambridge is true. Maybe
we could play all our games in Spain, that would solve the problem.
Palmer also did okay. A little slow, but looks more comfortable at the back
at the moment than Millen does.
Johno had an excellent game despite what was happening around him. He was
also my man of the match. He sprayed the ball to both wings in the second
half to keep our momentum going. And also did a very good job of breaking
down the Wigan counter attacks and help us keep the pressure on. Like the
others he had a poorer first half, but it wasn't as poor as most.
Lee won most things in the air but kept heading the ball to the oppo. I
don't necessarily believe this thing about having someone playing along side
him that can read him. How can you read someone who doesn't know half the
time where he is heading the ball?
Kennedy was the only other player (with Johno) who had a good game. He
struggled with lack of service in the first half when playing up front with
Lee, but in the second half he pushed further wide to the left and looked
more dangerous. His crossing was good and caused lots of problems.
Foley came on a half time and did everything that could be expected of him.
He looked more alert than Lee and looked more likely to score than Lee. He
did score one, could have had another couple with a bit more luck and had
his best performance for the Horns. Him up front and Kennedy wide were the
differences that enabled us to get back in the game coupled with
Noel-Williams coming on later for Lee.
So what lessons have we learned? Well, for one I think that the wing-back
system doesn't work very well away from home. A traditional 4-4-2 would be
much better. But, more importantly, attack is the best form of defence.
We shouldn't be giving sides any time to settle. We should be going at them
as if we are starting the game 3-0 down and there is nothing to lose. This
is the way GT used to get his sides to play, let's hope he can get them to
do it again.
All said and done, though, it was a good afternoon's entertainment. All the
goals were down our end, but we did get soaked like at Bristol Rovers
earlier in the season. Just this time we didn't get the result to make up
for being soggy.