Saturday, 26 February 2011

Notts County 1 v Charlton Athletic 0

Well we were a tad unfortunate not to get at least a draw in this poor quality League One match. The pitch didn't help but they had to play on it too. I said last week that the Exeter defeat was a watershed this season in terms of saying goodbye to any thoughts of automatic promotion and the result last night has underlined that. 

It was another ambitious formation with three strikers being deployed although we played closer to a 4-4-2 than the very obvious 4-3-3 against Exeter. I won't run through the game as you probably saw it for yourself but we lacked any cohesion when going forward. Critically there was no support from central midfield. I called for the return of Thierry Racon and, frankly, he made no improvement on McCormack. Surely we will sign a loanee to play in this vital position before much longer?

Missing penalties is unacceptable for a striker of Bradley Wright-Phillips' ambitions and his second-half strike was very poor and went with an indifferent performance from him where he lashed wildly at everything. Nathan Eccleston showed more composure but was given very little time and his best contribution was well saved by the County keeper who came out very quickly to block. 

I thought Wagstaff brought pace and urgency when he came on, something Kyle Reid didn't. The problem was that neither managed a cross that I can recall. Racon was all over the place and I am really tired of his pleas for fouls every time he goes to ground. It's a hangover from Phil Parkinson's days when we had divers all over the pitch and Chris Powell needs to get to grips with it. It was also an unnecessary foul from Racon that lead to the ridiculous goal which skidded in off a backside and a shin. 

The back four had a solid enough showing after the mess that was Exeter City and I think Jenkinson deserves praise for another good performance. He was a regular outlet for the back four yesterday and gets forward with urgency. He doesn't look like he is capable of playing a straight pass but his angled delivery is unorthodox and he does try to find players coming into the box.

The third successive defeat and we will now play two home games under a pressure we could do without out. In terms of the season, it really is now just about finishing in the play-off places and getting another roll of the dice. If you look at the table, sixth is probably the aim with our games in hand on MK Dons but we know we have a sticky patch of matches approaching and momentum is not with us right now.

In the scheme of things, it is probably too much to expect Chris Powell to revive a flagging promotion push in his first lone managerial job when he inherits a squad of players who themselves were hastily thrown together with little or no budget. He needs at least six months in which to shape the side and get them playing his brand of football. Even then, it will be a tall order to expect promotion.  If we were fortunate enough to scrape up through the play-offs, you would have to be concerned with the quality of our squad in terms of competing next season. After years of being a yo-yo club from the Premier League, I certainly don't want to watch it in the Championship. When we go up next, I want us to have a side that can compete in the Championship and that restores us to our correct level in the national game with aspirations for once-again punching above our weight.

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