I've had hardly any internet connection for a week so I'm out of touch with S.A.F.C. news and after the last three games I needed a break anyway. By the look on Parky's face after last Saturday's match he knew his days were numbered and it's clear he's not getting the best out of the squad. He's not even getting the okay out of most of them. It seems ages since the M.K. Dons game but maybe I'm just trying to distance myself from it though we've done well against Donny away in recent encounters so I reckon we'll get something out of this afternoon's match. If anyone had any doubts about how inept Graham and Grigg were as strikers, recent games must surely have made it clear that they're never going to do it for us. No doubt they'll go off to another side and start banging them in but it's not going to happen with us. Many people slagged Wyke off and he's come good(ish) but despite the early hopes and recommendations from Millwall fans about O'Neill he looks like he's going to be yet another failure. I hope Diamond and McFadzean will play a major part in proceedings today as they've got some oomph, a quality that's been sadly lacking but I'm not counting on Parky thinking the same way. As I said, I've had bugger all footy news this week but all will be revealed when I emerge from my Corona Cave in a few hours and link up with my Sunderland bubble to watch the game. Match prediction: 1-1.
When I saw the team news, Matthews was still in goal, McFadzean was still out injured unfortunately and both Grigg and Graham were on the bench where they were accompanied by Diamond. I discovered that Doncaster had not in fact ever beaten us in a league game so I hoped they wouldn't break their duck. I also hadn't realised that we could use five subs from today.
The first thing that struck me was how hideous Doncaster's red hooped shirts were and then I was dismayed that in our first foray forward we did what we do far too much i.e. we started to pass backwards, right backwards followed by a big boot up again to nobody. Doncaster won the first corner in the fourth minute but we were looking tidy at the back. We didn't threaten at all in the first fifteen minutes and our attacks consisted mainly of hopeful punts upfield with very little in the way of fast passing movements. We don't do much quickly these days. Around the twentieth minute we finally started to play a bit culminating in a very nifty turn by Leadbitter that fed Maguire who produced our first shot on target. Lumley in goal held it comfortably but it warmed the cockles anyway. A minute or so later Hume was guilty of fluffing a great chance when he failed to connect with the ball. We had a good penalty shout in the twenty-ninth minute when Gooch went down in the box but referee Busby wasn't having it. We soon won our first two corners and things had brightened considerably. We were very much in control and kept at them, winning two more corners. I wish Wyke would attack the ball more rather than waiting for it to land on his head. We won a free-kick right on the left edge of their box but Lumley plucked it out of the air easily. With five miutes to go Wyke had a decent low shot on target and if we kept this up, we might just nick one before the break. We proceeded to do just that. It looked like Gooch was going to waste the chance but instead he did exactly what my mate had just shouted i.e. “Give it to someone who can have a shot!” and Leadbitter lammed a beautiful shot from just outside the box into the top left corner; surely a Goal of the Month contender. In the bubble we were well happy as we went in one-up.
As we kicked off again I wondered how many subs we'd use and when. In the unlikely event that all ten subs came on, that would make for a lot of stoppage-time. We started again much like we''d started the first-half and after Doncaster had had a couple of good attempts we really needed to perk up again. We'd made no changes by the midway point and then there was a very hard tackle on Gooch that resulted in only a yellow-card. Time was ticking away fast but that 1-0 lead was looking tenuous. It was going end to end with neither side looking particularly threatening as we entered the last quarter of an hour and we still hadn't made any changes. You'd have thought that the abundance of possible subs would have stimulated some activity. Anyway, with eight minutes left Embleton replaced Maguire in a straight swap and very soon he had a decent long-distance shot that went wide. Five minutes to go and things were looking ominously good. There were three minutes of stoppage-time and that suited me even though we continued to look pretty tight at the back. Next thing Power came on for Gooch but in the very last minute Doncaster equalised. Halliday got into the box down the right and when he put the ball in, Okenabirhie knocked it home from very close range when we failed to get it clear. It soon ended 1-1.
An away point is all well and good, but this really feels like a defeat and we should have used more subs to pep the side up and keep the ball up the other end.