Monday, 24 November 2008

D-Day at Doncaster

Another game, another post match sinking feeling fuelled by frustration and utter dejection. It was like the last four games never happened and tame, toothless Forest returned with a bang and failed to put 10-man Norwich away.

To be fair to the Canaries they did well with a man down for so long in the game but you get the feeling that we really let them off the hook. For some reason the second half was characterised by long hopeless lumps up towards Tyson - who desperately tried to use his pace to trouble their back line.

Norwich were not just a 10 man team in the second half but they had also been forced to move ex red Clingan into centre back. The fact that we didn't properly try to exploit this weakness was another in a string of failings.

The game was seen as a massive opportunity to pull closer to one of the pack of teams above, even before the sending off of Gary Doherty. Now suddenly, after a half decent run of late the fact we couldn't convert draws into wins has come back to haunt us and we're back rooted to the bottom of the table.

Last season's visit to the Keepmoat was in a way a turning point. Defeat there left virtually all of the faithful (yours truly included) resigned to missing out on automatic promotion but sparked a reaction in the players that helped bring about the triumphant run-in to the season.

Can we really afford to lose there again to cause the players to start picking up the points we need? It may be further from the end of the season but this game seems every bit as important as last year's League One promotion clash - the impact of going four points adrift at the bottom and potentially nine points from safety is unthinkable.

I never thought i'd be clamouring for Ian Breckin's return but that's exactly one of the things I think has to happen if we are to emerge victorious in Yorkshire tomorrow.

Breckin is simple but effective and does not make the type of lacklustre errors that Wilson made to gift Croft a crossing opportunity for Norwich's first goal. Although not the best captain we've had, 'Breckinbauer' is also a better leader of the team than Wilson.

Central midfield is also somewhere we could do with a leader right now but the lack of talent there is slightly worrying. Perch battles on manfully but really needs a partner and whilst Thornhill looks to have great potential we need something a bit more in times of need - something which we don't really appear to have on the books. Cohen has been excellent recently, but only because he's been moved to a wider position and looks to be over-awed when asked to control a game from the centre.

Up front we are crying out for Earnie to return. A striker that will pounce on a half chance is just what we need. We fashioned enough openings to win the game on Saturday but were not clinical enough to put them away. None of them were perhaps what you would call gilt-edged but you can't rely on 'gimme' openings at this level and have to put away a fair few half-chances.

Unfortunately it appears that Earnie will not be available for the Doncaster encounter. However, it must be said that Tyson's pace is perhaps more effective away from home on the break and we should still cause them difficulties. Doncaster are a team that had been playing well and not winning like ourselves but recently have picked up a couple of decent results. They're a stylish footballing side and are likely to dominate possession so counter attacking play with Anderson, Tyson etc could be crucial to success.

However it happens though CC must pull something out of the bag here. The Derby criticism amnesty he enjoyed, followed by praise for some decent performances and results was wiped away with a pathetic second half against Norwich. The mood of the supporters, and indeed the players, could get colder than the weather with a defeat in Doncaster...........

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