Vale v Rovers

Boz

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Iain Hume
It's not good news on the injury front ahead of this one. Jennings, Wallace and Koumas all highly unlikely to feature, which decimates our midfield. I've not heard of any last minute loans coming in either. Does this mean a lightweight central pairing of Power and Lowe, or playing Robinson in the centre with all the doubts about his match-fitness. Or are things dire enough to even consider moving Ash there?

I have a horrible feeling the assistant manager's 100% losing streak in away games will continue in the Potteries.
 

bigmart

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Ian Muir
With the injuries can only see an easy home win 3 1
 

Gray

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Ian Goodison... who else!
Think we'll scrape a 1-1, Lowe to get on the scoresheet for a change!
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
From John Mac's comments it sounds like the three midfield injuries are likely to be short term, so it was not worth going into the loan market. I would expect Max and Robbo will both start, but beyond that, I would not have a clue what formation we will play or how the rest of the side will line up.

Vale are in fairly poor form and don't have anything to play for, so even with the absentees I don't think the game is a foregone conclusion. This is definitely an away game we should target to take points from, although as has been noted above, we have looked far more convincing at PP than away from home under McMahon so far.
 

Ian

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Apart from Lowe, our best players are out. I think we'll struggle to get hold of the ball in midfield. Really must go for the win here though.
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
Another dull, uneventful game. Very disappointing that we did not get the point that our overall performance deserved, but you can't defend as we did on all three goals today and expect to take anything from a game. In the first three minutes of both halves we were sloppy, hesitant and lacking concentration at the back. For the rest of the match we put in a performance full of effort, energy and good football, which makes the outcome all the more disappointing.

The game was open and end to end, with both sides looking dangerous and creating chances: the 3-0 scoreline just after half time says everything about our defending and nothing about our overall display. I think McMahon got it wrong tactically in playing Koumas on the left hand side in a 4-4-2 in the first half. Koumas did not track back Myrie-Williams which left Ridehalgh two on one on a number of occasions, notably for the first goal. Equally, Jason was not able to get on the ball and influence the game. Fortunately, after half an hour Koumas was switched to the middle, with Brown moved to left midfield: Jason got into the game and we began to create chances, with Kirby, Lowe (three times) and Cassidy all close to equalising.

Vale were pretty direct, relying heavily on Williams' deliveries and their aerial presence up front and we failed to deal with balls into the box for the majority of the game. For our part, we had enough chances before our two goal salvo - one scored, the other created by Koumas - to have reduced the deficit but Lowey, in particular, was not as ruthless as he has been for he majority of the season. The players should obviously be credited with showing fantastic spirit to battle back from what looked a hopeless position.

It is difficult to criticise the overall display this afternoon, but as I said last week, we have to defend better. In the closing stages of the game Goody came on and played in a three-man central defence, and I think there is a strong case for him returning permanently to give us some stability at the back. So much of our play is good, but we give ourselves no chance if we have to score three even to take a point.

This leads me on to another concern, namely our tactics away from home at the moment. While it is admirable that we played 4-4-2 and had a go at Vale, we are at a sage in the season where every point is precious. Our away form has been decent this season and the majority of our results have come when we have played a five man midfield, kept things tight and nicked a point, or three. At the moment I think we are far too open away from home, and that is reflected in a record of played three lost three under McMahon: we have to pick up points from our remaining four away games if we are to survive.

Individually, Max did really well on his return to the side, both in midfield and as an emergency right back. Jake Kirby was really positive and showed good energy. Ash had a really solid game, but Arthurworrey struggled a bit in the second half. Wallace did not have his best game, but Koumas was excellent after moving to centre midfield. Cassidy worked as hard as ever, but looks really low on confidence around the eighteen yard box. John McMahon should be credited for some tactical imagination: I think we switched formation three times during the game, all of them sensible moves, and that probably would not have happened under Ronnie.

The two home games this week are obviously huge now and we surely require a minimum of four points.
 
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Boz

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A Vale acquaintance at the game felt that they should have been out of sight before we got back into it; missed a sitter and hit the post. There was also an incident late on involving Goodi where the home fans felt a card of some kind was called for. Ironically the same ref who sent him off v Orient.

A bit puzzled at the line-up when Holmes was injured in the warm-up. Think Ash at right-back and Goodi starting in central defence would have made more sense than putting a winger who used to play left-back there.
 
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Jason Koumas / John Morrissey
A Vale acquaintance at the game felt that they should have been out of sight before we got back into it; missed a sitter and hit the post. There was also an incident late on involving Goodi where the home fans felt a card of some kind was called for. Ironically the same ref who sent him off v Orient.

A bit puzzled at the line-up when Holmes was injured in the warm-up. Think Ash at right-back and Goodi starting in central defence would have made more sense than putting a winger who used to play left-back there.

We had numerous chances before they scored their second goal (including a disallowed effort from Lowe and an effective open goal missed by Lowe), so your mate is talking nonsense I am afraid: they had a number of chances, so did we (check the stats) and a draw would probably have been a fair scoreline, although we played the better football through midfield for the whole game.

Your acquaintance also neglected to mention the stonewall penalty we should have been given in the 80th minute when Kirby was hacked from behind in the box (sorry, missed it from my initial report).

The challenge from Goody on their keeper was a 50-50 which the keeper came off worse from.

Both Power and Brown actually did ok at right back, reasonable team selection in the circumstances.
 

bigmart

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We cannot keep a clean sheet and for me this is a huge worry. This is a massive week were we really need to pick up 4 points at least though I think its going down to the last game of the season for us to stay up or not.
 

Boz

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We had numerous chances before they scored their second goal (including a disallowed effort from Lowe and an effective open goal missed by Lowe), so your mate is talking nonsense I am afraid: they had a number of chances, so did we (check the stats) and a draw would probably have been a fair scoreline, although we played the better football through midfield for the whole game.

Your acquaintance also neglected to mention the stonewall penalty we should have been given in the 80th minute when Kirby was hacked from behind in the box (sorry, missed it from my initial report).

The challenge from Goody on their keeper was a 50-50 which the keeper came off worse from.

Both Power and Brown actually did ok at right back, reasonable team selection in the circumstances.

Fair enough. As you have highlighted in the past, match stats are notoriously unreliable, but suggest we had the majority of possession, while Vale were marginally ahead on goal attempts. On the penalty that wasn't, my contact had an Arsene Wenger moment and missed it. You mention Kirby and McMahon said Ridehalgh as the player fouled; I'm presuming the same incident. It sounded like a decent game despite the result. If I'd known that Wallace and Koumas would make Lazarus-like recoveries would have scraped the funds from somewhere to go.

The consensus elsewhere seems to be that Max did a better job at full-back than Junior.
 
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