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Hanworth Villa 0 Hartley 0

Post by KOB - 04-09-2016, 09:07

My first chance to see the boys this season was this away game at Villa, never an easy place to get a result, and it was a good performance. As a Villa supporter next to me said as the game neared its end, on another day we could have had 3 or 4, and that was the only disappointment, that we didn't convert our time on the ball and good build-up play into goals. But credit the Villa defence for not making it easy - I don't recall one unchallenged or 'golden' opportunity that we missed; we slipped loose a few times in the build-ups (Dean had a really fine game, would have got my MOTM) but the hosts were always tight on Sam and Ross in the box.

Less credit to Villa for the goading of our players, trying to get a reaction, but top marks to the official. Rather as against Camberley, from what David wrote in his notes for the Gazette, the ref saw what was going on and did his best to stop it, and again it largely worked, but only after a few bookings were dished out to both sides. It amounts to what in my day would have been called 'ungentlemanly conduct' and just isn't in the spirit of the game. I'd no more want to see our players do it. I don't want to win by getting a player sent off so we can beat 10 men - what pride does a team take from winning like that?

Things to work on? Well, after my first 90 minutes watching the boys this season, I'd say we just need to sharpen up a little more. There was some very good build-up play, but the occasional short pass didn't come off; once or twice players weren't where team mates expected them to be; and our final ball wasn't always the best, which made it more difficult for Sam and Ross to get in behind them.

Also, distribution from the back - defence and keeper - was, well, 'industrial' at times. While I'm happy to see the ball simply booted or headed away from danger rather than a player pussy around with it, when a player has time to pick out a team mate then that's the best option. There were a few too many aimless clearances that ended up straight back with the opposition. We're better than that... or we were, no, we are.

I also noticed we sometimes lacked a player sitting in the hole 10-15 yards outside the penalty box on set pieces into the box. The ball found its way into that space on a few occasions from half clearances and there was nobody to take advantage.

Someone needs to explain to me Steve Laidler's role. I can already see he's a strong player - he played an exquisite diagonal ball to Dean as one example of what he can do - and he looks like a player well suited to dropping into a slightly deeper position to pick the ball up and then play passes from midfield, rather as Parfitt did last season. I wasn't conscious that he was doing that yesterday, or being the one stepping into the hole I mentioned earlier. To me it already looks the role made for Steve.... but hey, what do I know, I've only watched one game :)

I was pleased to see us moving the ball around and playing the passing game that we are well suited to - I don't want to see us going too much 'long ball', well, at least not until the muddier pitches force it as a Plan B. Overall, coming away with a point is only disappointing because of the way we dominated the game - Villa look a decent side, as usual, and will continue to take points from most teams, so it may feel more and more like it was a point gained than 2 dropped. And of course, we were lacking our 'goal machine', Noakesy. Looking forward to seeing how we fare against AFC Hayes on Tuesday night; another useful outfit who won't make it easy.
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