Crawley Town v Rovers without Ron

bigmart

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I wouldn't change the keeper at this stage of the season. I have a horrible feeling it will go down to the Bradford game before our fate is decided
 
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Yes, scoreline sounded harsh: a thirty yard free kick and a goal in the dying minutes on the counter attack. It actually seemed that we had the better of the possession and the chances, so it will be interesting to read BBTC's report. Perhaps the absence of our three best players just caught up with this in the end.

A lot of pressure on Friday's game now and we have to get something at Gillingham.
 
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I wouldn't change the keeper at this stage of the season. I have a horrible feeling it will go down to the Bradford game before our fate is decided

I agree in both cases.

Incidentally, a great Rovers turnout tonight of 254.
 

Boz

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I agree unfortunately that it will go to the last game.

On the keeper question I'm less sure. Mooney played well in both games he was given a chance this season and on debut v Bournemouth last season. OFW doesn't seem to be eradicating the defects in his game and they're proving costly, but there is some understanding gained with playing with the defence regularly.
 
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OFW doesn't seem to be eradicating the defects in his game and they're proving costly, but there is some understanding gained with playing with the defence regularly.

Owain is still above average for a keeper at this level: all League One keepers have defects, but the majority don't have Fon Williams' shot-stopping ability. He has played well in recent weeks and has been outstanding in some games (eg. Colchester away). He may or may not have struggled a bit tonight, but goalkeeper is not a position where we should be making changes because of one below par display.

Mooney is still an unknown quantity as he had very little to do in the two games he started,
 

Boz

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OFW didn't have a good game v Shrewsbury either. Debatable whether he could have prevented their goal by coming off the line, but certainly he needlessly played us into difficulties with poor distribution. Undoubtedly a great shot-stopper, game-changing performance at home to Coventry, but should anyone be guaranteed a place in the starting line-up regardless of form?
Mooney is still an unknown quantity as he had very little to do in the two games he started,
Perhaps, but he kept a clean sheet v Bournemouth in the final game of last season and they kept him busy.
 
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OFW didn't have a good game v Shrewsbury either. Debatable whether he could have prevented their goal by coming off the line, but certainly he needlessly played us into difficulties with poor distribution. Undoubtedly a great shot-stopper, game-changing performance at home to Coventry, but should anyone be guaranteed a place in the starting line-up regardless of form?

By League One standards, I certainly would not regard his performance against Shrewsbury as 'poor', so we will just have to agree to disagree.

No player is guaranteed a place in the side but players of above average ability should play the majority of games unless they are in consistently poor form. I would put Fonners in the same bracket as Taylor, Jennings, Wallace, Koumas and Lowe in terms of ability, and there is nothing in his recent displays that I have seen that merits him being dropped.

Fon Williams is one of the best two or three keepers at this level, so for a relegation threatened side to drop him would be daft in my book (unless he is throwing the ball in his own net every game, which he is not).

Returning to tonight's game, John Mac seemed less than satisified with the performance. It also seems Lowe could be a doubt for Friday, which is not good news: it is a more pressing concern to get our top scorer back on the pitch than worry about the goalkeeper.
 

Brightonian

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I wouldn’t dwell on the OFW performance. It was a game that we really should have taken at least a point from. Crawley hardly created anything and we more than held our own for most of the match.

The first half until the Crawley goal was very comfortable, although we did not pose a lot of threat from our strikers with JLA less effective down the middle. Junior Brown had a couple of good moments and looked the most likely to make something happen although I thought he was better on the left before swapping with Jake Kirby who had a fairly ineffective game.

The team all worked very hard and whilst we missed some creativity in midfield Max Power had another good game and tried to get on the ball and find an opening and he was all over the pitch and gave a tireless performance. It was ironical that Max gave away a really soft free kick when tracking back to cover the defence after Steve Jennings had not got back to do his normally reliable anchor role. It was a good free kick well hit by Matt Tubbs but it must have been a fault with the line-up of the wall as there did not seem to be any bend or dip on the shot.

After half time we gave a good performance getting on top and sustaining a lot of pressure mostly down to sheer effort and endeavour. Jake Cassidy burst through with the keeper to beat from about 12 yards in a central position and seemed to have got onto the chance well and really should have scored: we were never going to get too many clear cut chances and if he had taken this I am sure we would have come away with at least a point. Jake got another chance soon after but had a heavy first touch taking the ball on too far and left himself to shoot at an acute angle which their keeper (Paul Jones who had a good game) held well at the near post. After twenty minutes or more on top when we had Crawley starting to panic but we just could not keep up the momentum and the second goal which was really a freak killed the game off.
Cole came on and tried hard chasing everything but didn’t get any opportunities.

For me MOM was the SWA who gave great support throughout and encouraged to the end and came in good numbers for a Tuesday night game at a distant venue. I thought Ash was very solid, put in a couple of tremendous surging runs and some excellent strong tackles. Goody was generally very capable after a couple of early slightly apprehensive moments on what was a quite bobbly pitch and really was as always brave, combative and highly effective. No shame in the defeat, the lads tried really hard but we needed a touch class and composure and sadly our game in hand has not produced the deserved point to add to our tally.
 
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This was a lacklustre performance from Rovers and John McMahon's comments are frank and fair. We were poor and Crawley were not much better. We lined up 4-5-1, with JLAA just behind Cassidy. After a tense start, we settled down and the game was becoming a boring stalemate with the ball hardly leaving the middle third of the pitch. Then Max stupidly and needlessly made a rash tackle 30 yards out but in a central position. Tubbs hit a magnificent free-kick into the top left corner, giving OFW no chance. The home side got a boost from the goal, but we survived until half-time. Whatever John Mac said during the interval worked, as we came out with more purpose and had a purple patch for about 15 minutes. This was when we had our two real chances. Both fell to Cassidy who shot too close to the keeper when through one on one and then was too slow to react to another great through ball and ended up with too narrow an angle to cause their keeper any problem. Eventually, Cole replaced Brown and Rowe came on for Kirby. Neither change made any difference. As we pressed for an equaliser, we became more exposed at the back. Edwards ran onto a through ball and beat OFW as he ran out. The last action of the game was a run by makeshift winger Rowe, who was chopped down in the area and then booked for simulation. It summed up an evening when nothing went right for us.

So what went wrong? I certainly would not blame the defence, who all played soundly except for the late goal. The formation was appropriate with five in midfield and two wingers to provide width and service to Cassidy. However, the midfield seemed to lack inventiveness and penetration. The final ball was poor, except for the two chances I mentioned earlier. We missed Koumas. Cassidy tries hard, but has lost his spark and would benefit from a couple of games on the bench. He is not good at playing upfront on his own as his touch is poor and he can't hold the ball up. We badly missed Lowe, who would surely have put away on or both of those chances. Finally, we lacked a bit of leadership tonight. Goodi had a great game as a defender, but he was an ineffective captain. We need Lowe or Wallace to lead the team out.

Apart from the match, I enjoyed my first visit to Crawley. It's a friendly club and parking is very easy. The SWA were magnificent tonight, vocal throughout and even applauded when the team came over at the end. No negativity, except when Brown was taken off.

I can't remember when I last saw Rovers win an away game. I always seem to miss it when we win in the south-east. But don't worry, won't be going to Gillingham on Friday, so we might have a chance!

PS I wrote this without seeing Brightonian's report.
 

Boz

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Thanks to Brightonian and BBTC for the informative summaries. A couple of things you might be able to comment on; how did JLAA perform in a more advanced role and did Rowe look more capable out wide than Kirby? I note BBTCs comments about the Rowe booking for diving late on, when maybe a penalty was deserved, which hadn't seen mentioned elsewhere. On the captaincy why not Ash, who is certainly more vocal than Goodi.

McMahon's post match remarks sadly aren't as informative. Why for example was Brown who sounded like one of our more threatening players the first to be subbed? Why does Cassidy keep getting 90 minutes time after time despite being hopelessly out of form?

It is not possible to feel confident about our prospects this morning. Lowe's prospects for Friday don't sound that great and although he hasn't been at his peak recently he's our best chance of getting a goal. It sounds like Koumas was missed last night, but he's been struggling with the injury and on the Shrewsbury showing might not have made much impact. Lose at Gillingham and we're deep in the mire.
 

Brightonian

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JLAA could not find any space and he is much more dangerous out wide left. We lacked a player who could hold and shield the ball and build up a move.

I feel for Jake Cassidy to be honest as he clearly has ability, will doubtless score goals again but his confidence is low and he would benefit by having a game or two out or coming on as sub. Junior Brown is a bit of a maverick player: I thought his first two games for us were very poor but you can see he has some ability, is unpredictable and he did have some good moments but he does get out of position and gives the ball away cheaply at times.

As for James Rowe he wasn't on long enough really to assess other than to say he does bring a lot of energy and drive but from where I was sitting I am not so sure it was a penalty. Agree that Ash might be a better captain and certainly when he has stood in before has done well and does communicate with passion.

This may be a crazy idea but with a threadbare squad I wonder why Danny Holmes who is a good solid reliable player does not have a part to play if we are as depleted on Friday. We are too lightweight with both Jake K and Junior in the starting eleven, although the latter could be a match winner. Wonder if Mathew Pennington could play the defensive midfield role as he is a good player with ability and some vision/time on the ball. Bring Danny into to right back and allow Jenno to get further forward. Any views?
 
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This may be a crazy idea but with a threadbare squad I wonder why Danny Holmes who is a good solid reliable player does not have a part to play if we are as depleted on Friday. We are too lightweight with both Jake K and Junior in the starting eleven, although the latter could be a match winner. Wonder if Mathew Pennington could play the defensive midfield role as he is a good player with ability and some vision/time on the ball. Bring Danny into to right back and allow Jenno to get further forward. Any views?

It's an interesting idea, I can see Pennington in the defensive midfield role now that you've suggested it, he is apparently actually a centre back so should be comfortable in the middle. However if you did do that I would leave Power in over Jennings as he's better going forward and Jennings doesn't seem to be fully fit at the moment. I can't really see many changes for Friday apart from Lowe and Koumas coming back in for Kirby and Brown.

I don't think passing the armband around like a hand grenade will do much good either (or make much difference), Taylor can lead without been captain if he wants to - he just needs to step up. Italy have won 4 world cups by giving the captaincy to whoever the oldest player is, it's a very English thing who the captain is and I doubt it influences results that much.

On the subject of OFW v Mooney. I think Mooney should be given a go as he seems to be much more commanding on crossess and set pieces. It's a personal preference, but I would rather have an imposing organiser, good kicker and keeper that comes off his line and weaker shot stopper than vice versa. If the defence is organised by a voice from behind and the crosses/set pieces are claimed, there should be fewer shots to deal with.

Unfortunately Moore's failure to give Mooney a go in cup matches means there isn't much chance of him getting a chance in this high pressure situation. I also suspect it makes OFW complacent as he doesn't really have any competition, as when the management have had a chance to give Mooney a game (when OFW was with Wales), they've rang up Chris Coleman and begged for OFW back.
 

Sparky

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Some harsh criticism I feel here for OFW. Yes he is not perfect by any means but for a league 1 club in a relegation battle, he is more than we could hope for and I think changing keeper at this stage of the season would be madness. Any keeper at our level will have deficiencies. The Crawley keeper Jones had some blunders recently but was praised for playing well last night. Over a 46 league game season, most keepers in league 1 will have dodgy moments - otherwise they would not be playing in L1 !

I dont agree either about putting Pennington in midfield. He is decent to a degree but I do not think his distribution is anything special. Although last night was disappointing, I dont think any major changes to the team are required unless players are injured and the previous 2 wins before that have helped.

I do agree though that Cassidy needs to be dropped or at the very least, taken off with Cole given a decent run out. If the agreement is that Cass has to start then that is a joke but we have to live with it. Surely it does not say he also must not be substituted ?!?

Slightly off topic but the end of the season will be interesting for Jake. Wolves won't want him but who will given his recent form ? To quote Kenny Jackett Wolves Mgr "I think out of those on loan, quite a high number will come back. But if they haven't done this time, it's unlikely they'll be involved next season and break their way back in.
"You can't say for definite, but it's fair to assume we've moved on. "They're contracted players so if there are deals right for the club, we'll consider it. If not, they'll be coming back."
 
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Some harsh criticism I feel here for OFW. Yes he is not perfect by any means but for a league 1 club in a relegation battle, he is more than we could hope for and I think changing keeper at this stage of the season would be madness. Any keeper at our level will have deficiencies. The Crawley keeper Jones had some blunders recently but was praised for playing well last night. Over a 46 league game season, most keepers in league 1 will have dodgy moments - otherwise they would not be playing in L1 !

I dont agree either about putting Pennington in midfield. He is decent to a degree but I do not think his distribution is anything special. Although last night was disappointing, I dont think any major changes to the team are required unless players are injured and the previous 2 wins before that have helped.

I agree with all of the above. Some of the comments on here smack of trying to create problems where they don't exist: Fonners' performances have been fine in the last couple of months and Jennings is probably the best defensive midfielder in the division, so aside from fitness issues, why on earth would we want to replace him ?

Thanks to Brightonian and BBTC for the reports. It is interesting that your views of the game were very different. From what I can tell, we simply missed the extra quality that Koumas and Lowe bring. I think that the fitness of those two in the final four games will determine our fate, not a failure to tinker in other areas.

I find Boz's comment that 'it is not possible to feel confident' slightly strange. Last night was our first defeat in four and we are still three points clear of the relegation zone, so our fate is very much in our own hands.
 

bigmart

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I fear we will get 1 point out of the next 3 games and will have to beat Bradford to survive which we will just about do, I would be made up to be proved wrong but that's my current fear.
 
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Thanks to Brightonian and BBTC for the reports. It is interesting that your views of the game were very different. From what I can tell, we simply missed the extra quality that Koumas and Lowe bring. I think that the fitness of those two in the final four games will determine our fate, not a failure to tinker in other areas.

I find Boz's comment that 'it is not possible to feel confident' slightly strange. Last night was our first defeat in four and we are still three points clear of the relegation zone, so our fate is very much in our own hands.
I'm a bit surprised you think my report was so different from Brightonian's. I was thinking how similar it was! Yes, missing Lowe and Koumas was probably the key and we can't afford to panic at this late stage. Jason is one of only two players of international quality and when you're second highest scorer has only three, you really miss a 20-goal man. Crawley were better only in the fact that they could finish, but neither side created many chances. We have had a bumpy ride all season and after a win, everyone is optimistic while after a defeat it's the end of the world. We still have a great chance of staying up. As I said before, every game now is winnable. We don't need many more points.
 

Boz

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A few further points following the interesting discussions above.

Firstly it was disappointing that McMahon, having brought Max Power in from the cold, chose to single him out for conceding the free-kick that led to the first Crawley goal. I don't think it's good to publicly criticise players in that way and the assistant manager could equally have said something about loanee Jake Cassidy fluffing another decent goal chance if he was that desperate to slate someone.

Crawley fans don't think OFW was at fault for the goals. However the point RTID makes about complacency resulting from his untouchable status is a valid one.

Jennings' performances in the last 2 home games have dipped, which I put down to carrying an injury. Pennington is a defender and if we were to look at moving anyone into central midfield, I'd nominate Ash Taylor who has done the job before, though that was not an unqualified success. I do not agree with the viewpoint that half fit experienced players will usually do a better job than fully fit less experienced ones. The two goalscorers in the Shrewsbury game were examples of the latter category. To some extent guile can compensate for fitness, but we shouldn't be throwing in the towel even if Lowe, Koumas and Jennings are incapable of mustering another game between them.

I find Boz's comment that 'it is not possible to feel confident' slightly strange. Last night was our first defeat in four and we are still three points clear of the relegation zone, so our fate is very much in our own hands.

You may feel confident, I don't. I look at the next 3 games we've got and can't see us getting more than a couple of points at best (still more optimistic than bigmart :)) It's also a factor that their win has taken Crawley out of relegation danger and they still have games against some of those in relegation danger so may ease up a little. There are also quite a few games left between teams around the bottom so someone's going to get points. That's why I don't agree with BBTC's assertion that "we don't need many more points." Because of our poor goal difference, I think 51 points will get us safety and that will probably require victory over Bradford in the final game.
 
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This is Tranmere we're talking about, of course it's going to go down to the last game! I'm dreaming of a 40 yard Goodison hitch kick to win it.
 

Gray

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This is a poor result, no two ways about it. If you look at our run in we needed to be picking up at least 4 points against Crawley and Gillingham. The games against Sheff Utd and Orient, are, on paper at least, much more difficult games and we really want to be safe come the last match against Bradford. The only positives I can see are that Orient may not have much to play for if they are out of contention for automatic and are assured a play-off place and who knows how Sheff Utd will react now they are out of the cup?

I was surprised that people were saying that the Crawley game was less important than other recent matches, in my view it was crucial to get something from this.

But this is football and Tranmere, we'll probably secure safety with a 4-0 drubbing of Orient.
 
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You may feel confident, I don't. I look at the next 3 games we've got and can't see us getting more than a couple of points at best (still more optimistic than bigmart :)) It's also a factor that their win has taken Crawley out of relegation danger and they still have games against some of those in relegation danger so may ease up a little. There are also quite a few games left between teams around the bottom so someone's going to get points. That's why I don't agree with BBTC's assertion that "we don't need many more points." Because of our poor goal difference, I think 51 points will get us safety and that will probably require victory over Bradford in the final game.

Tuesday's result was disappointing, but nobody expected us to get the back to back wins against Colchester and Shrewsbury which gave us a little breathing space. Realistically, it is unlikely that a struggling side like ourselves is going to win three in a row or go five unbeaten at this stage of the season, so defeat to Crawley was hardly unexpected.

I never thought we would be three points clear of the drop zone at this stage, so I am certainly no more pessimistic than I was a couple of weeks ago. It was always likely our fate would not be decided until the Bradford game. If you are not feeling at all confident now, you must have been suicidal after the Carlisle game.

Regarding Jennings, no he is not 100% fit but he is still putting in decent performances. The problem against Shrewsbury was that he was paired with Koumas, who could barely move for long periods of the game. Ideally we would be able to throw young replacements in for our most senior players, but the problem is we don't have a suitable replacement in the squad for Jenno, inexperienced or otherwise. Ash Taylor was generally poor in the defensive midfield role (in his use of the ball anyway) and there is no way we should be taking him out of the back four in our current situation.

I agree that 51 points guarantees safety, but we may get away with 50, as our goal difference is somehow better than three of the bottom four.
 
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