My god… How we’ve threw that away is laughable. It’s absolutely criminal to switch off and give the home side – who were down to ten men for 71 minutes – an absolute gift of a point! It sums us up, no other team in this league would of gave that advantage away, and now we’ve been dragged in to the bottom four as all the teams around us picked up results.
The first half was a fairly competent performance as we matched the home side all over the park, which lead to a bit of a stalemate to be honest. Sheffield United had a few early chances and Michael Doyle looked like he had fire in his belly as he latched on to a few hopeful crosses, Jamie Jones put in a good first half display and looked confident again… I want us to hold on to the on-loan stopper if I’m honest, we need a consistent ‘keeper and he’s been impressive.
We had a few decent chances as well through the Skipper Jim O’Brien who struck just over from range, and Samuel went close also, but the real turning point in the tie came about on 19 minutes as frontman Jose Baxter received a red card for a ferocious two-footed lunge on Adam Barton. From this moment onwards we looked fairly comfortable as our passing allowed us to open up the United back line and create chances, and on 33 minutes we made the breakthrough. As Sheffield United tried to attack they were left one man short at the back, and after Jamie Jones collected the ball in his hands he played a superb long kick in to Dominic Samuel’s path, allowing the loanee striker to outmuscle his opponent and slot home brilliantly… All good so far.
After having a few more efforts in the first 45, we couldn’t find a second goal and went in 1-0 up.
It got even better early in the second half, as only 2 minutes after the players emerged from the tunnel, we doubled our advantage. An Aaron Phillips cross was diverted goal wards by Dominic Samuel and the initial save rebounded back in to the forwards feet and he volleyed in to the top corner to make it 2-0!
We continued to look promising after this as we held possession well and restricted the home side to any real chances. All seems well at this point doesn’t it? Well, I wish the referee ended the game there…
With little time left to play, City were cruising and would see out the game with ten men surely? Well, that’s what we all thought… 78 minutes gone and the home side pull one back, a great block on the line prior to it left us fans in the away end thinking ‘phew’, but the ball fell to the edge of the area and a lapse of concentration allowed former Sky Blue, Michael Doyle, to wrap the ball around in to the far corner. And just 2 minutes later it was 2-2, a strike from the edge of the box deflected in to the bottom corner past the helpless Jones.
It was a nervy final few minutes but we managed to hold on and get a point. It’s a point I would of possibly taken going in to the fixture, but after being 2-0 up with a man advantage with the clock ticking down, it’s criminal to give that up… No matter who you are. Most teams would of held on to that lead with a man disadvantage, we couldn’t do it with an advantage. There’s no doubt we were a lot better than the last few games for 78 minutes, and there’s plenty of positives to take, but i just can’t believe we’ve came away with a point only.
I thought defensively we looked solid up until their first, with Chris Stokes making a good impression on his debut and Aaron Martin playing arguably his best game for the club. The midfield looked ok too, but at times it was weak in the challenge as the home side ran through the centre unchallenged a few times. Dominic Samuel had his best game for us so far, not only because he scored goals, his overall game was very good. I felt Tudgay went missing in large parts as did Williams, but George Thomas was impressive when he came on, we should keep an eye on him.
It’s just hard to sit back and reflect on that so quickly as disappointment is all I can feel again, I’m sitting here on the coach back and the atmosphere isn’t too jolly at all… Although it’s not as bad a journey as Oldham, that was like a morgue. I just hope we manage to salvage at least a point next week at home to MK Dons (I say that with hope, not expectation), a team who have scored 66 goals and are flying in the division.
I really do fear for our position in this league, but let’s back the lads and get out of this mess together! We’ve got to pull out of this, it’s do or die. As I’ve stated before, if we go down I really believe we would go bust, kaput… We couldn’t afford to play at the Ricoh in the fourth tier, so let’s hope it doesn’t happen! We’ve got 15 league games to play and every single one of them is a cup final now, we’ve got to go in to each game fighting and come out with heads held high, and most importantly, points! We’ll fight till the game is won…
Jamie Jones 7.5 – felt the ‘keeper had a very good game again, he couldn’t really do anything about the goals and looked solid for the large part.
Chris Stokes 8 – a very impressive debut for the man many thought would be low calibre. Made some superb challenges and looked at home at this level, handled the pressure well.
Aaron Martin 8.5 – easily his best game in a Sky Blue Shirt as he made some crucial challenges and won the vast majority of loose balls.
Matthew Pennington 7 – looked better at Centre Back after a stinker against Preston, made an awesome challenge in the box to deny a chance.
Aaron Phillips 7 – had a decent game too as he thwarted a few United attacks down the left.
Jim O’Brien 7 – wasn’t too effective in the game but again worked himself in to the ground and fought for every ball.
Adam Barton 7 – kept the ball well again and didn’t really do much wrong, just was too negative at times.
John Fleck 8 – much better game from the Scotsman as he pulled the strings in midfield, made a few strong challenges too which is much needed
Dominic Samuel 8.5 – the frontman had his best game so far as he linked up well and looked very confident. Took his goals well too.
Marcus Tudgay 6 – worked hard in periods but faded out of the game a lot, didn’t really do much.
Luke Williams 6 – despite looking like a great signing, he looked fairly poor again and had no bearing on the game.
Jack Finch 6 – hard to comment as it was only a brief period of time but he wasn’t really noticeable.
Ryan Haynes 6 – again, didn’t really do much.
George Thomas 7.5 – looked very impressive again with some superb footwork and ball retention, got to keep an eye on him!