Team: Ikeme, Hill, Gorkss, Connolly, Leigertwood, Buzsaky (Balanta), Quashie, Faurlin, Taarabt (Cook), Vine (German), Simpson.
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Ramage, Stewart, Ephraim, Balanta.
It was another shockingly poor performance on the pitch and another embarrassing defeat. In front of something around 8,000 paying fans (13,000 announced and 3,000 complimentary tickets given out to local schools but there was not, simply, that many in attendance), of which several pockets were singing songs against the Board and at Briatore in particular, throughout the match. However, there were some postitve songs in favour of Lakshmi Mittal to take over the club.
A largely uneventful and frustrating match although there were four disallowed goals (three of which seemed fair enough at first glance and the other, from Scunthorpe, was dubious) along with the visitors goal. Rangers were unable to string passes together, at least whilst going forward. Too many times we played the ball back to one of their centre backs when a ball forward was on if the player concerned had looked up. Not that the attacking four were much of a threat. Taarabt was his selfish self much of the time, although he did try to pass it more and was the only one guilty of trying to find the killer ball when it just wasn’t on. Buzsaky was still off-form and seemed to refuse to pass it to Taarabt on the basis that he wouldn’t pass it back. I barely noticed Simpson, but Vine showed the odd glimpse.
The first disallowed goal was the dubious one. Hooper ran through the gap between the two centre backs, collected the ball and charged towards goal and slotted it away only to see that the Assistant had his flag up. The next, again a Scunthorpe chance, was disallowed as it was originally dribbled out of play before being crossed in for Hooper to again finish it off. Soon after, Rangers had a goal disallowed which I believe was for some pushing in the area following a corner. Their goal came after a breakaway, and again Hooper was involved, this time he ran towards the right wing and crossed it for Thompson to slot in. After he’d had enough time to control it and size up where to put it (and probably to tie up his bootlaces, receive some treatment from the Physio, wave to his family and then have a drink).
The defending was woeful and severely lacking. I’m still not quite sure what happened to Gorkss and Connolly ? Immediately after, German and Cook were introduced (although this had been planned before the goal went in) for Taarabt and Vine. Thus we were still playing 4-4-2 when we should really of been looking to attack more. Five minutes later and Buzsaky came off for Balanta’s first appearance of the season (if I’m not mistaken ?) and he went to play right wing, when in my eyes, he should of gone straight up-front. If anything, Scunthorpe came closer to scoring in the last 10 minutes than we did but managed to waste an opportunity when breaking three on one !
“If we play like that in every game between now and the end of the season then we’ll be fine” said Mick Harford. I have two problems with that comment. Firstly, we’re in twelfth place at the moment and still closer to the play-offs than the relegation spots points-wise. Secondly, this can hardly breed much confidence in the players if the Manager is already looking over his shoulder (no matter what our form is at the moment). Thirdly, if we play like that until the end of the season we will be relegated (assuming there aren’t two or three teams that go into administration). Roll on Managerless Peterborough on Saturday !!!
Ikeme: 5 – First time that I’ve seen him and I’m not entirely sure why he’s been signed for the rest of the season ? Not a confidence filler and far too casual with the ball at his feet. A poor man’s Camp.
Leigertwood: 6 – Back at right back today and did fine.
Connolly: 6 – Better of the two centre backs, but lost his man for their goal.
Gorkss: 5 – Poor, very poor compared to recent home games.
Hill: 6 – Impressive. He reminds me of a shorter version of Delaney but will have to learn how to play with Taarabt in front of him.
Buzsaky: 5 – Quiet again. He has not been the same since ‘Headbuttgate’.
Faurlin 6 – He was as always, one of our best players.
Quashie: 6 – Better than I thought he’d be. He seems to be a quicker version of Mahon (of course I don’t remember him at all from when he was first here).
Taarabt: 4 – He did actually try to pass more than usual but nearly every one of them seemed to go astray or be some pinpoint ball taking out the entire defence. He still doesn’t look at all interested.
Vine: 5 – Showed glimpses of his pre-injury self, but he also gave away the ball too often.
Simpson: 5 – I don’t remember him doing very much ?
Harford: 5/6 – He’s still too slow with making substitutions and didn’t take enough risks with them. All of them were straight swaps, and not even late on did Balanta get put up front, rather than out on the right wing. It seems that he has caught the bug from Hart.
Referee: 5 (Hegley) – Not brilliant and conned a fair bit by players going down easily. Could of and should of, booked more players following a bit of a fracas.
Cookie did remarkably well in the circumstances when he came on. He actually pushed Buzsaky away when he called for a short corner. Their number 6 should of been sent off for violent conduct. There was briefly a singing and gyrating Hot Dog seller down one of the aisles in the Lower Loft. As soon as he was there he was gone. A rare moment of fun, I hope he wasn’t sacked ? Well done to Pat Harrison who received an award from the OSC at half time. Also during the interval, Gareth Ainsworth was invited onto the pitch to say goodbye. How many get the opportunity to do that ? He said that he always gave 110%, something that nobody could disagree with and that he wanted to carry on playing as long as possible. He also said that he will be back as a fan and to paraphrase him, “You never know, maybe as something else.” Thanks Gareth and good luck for the future. There were some fans dressed as clowns and there was a protest outside Reception after the game. There was a wide range of discontent which was mainly aimed at Flavio Briatore, but also at Gianni Paladini. Others were calling for Lakshmi Mittal to take control. Another day in the life !