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Crewe 1 U's 0 - Durham's View
Monday, 19th Feb 2018 20:59 by Durham Exile

I have deliberately waited until after the weekend to pen some thoughts on Saturday’s debacle at Crewe, because I have yet to fully calm down after witnessing such an insipid display from the U’s.

The day had started well, we were staying locally in Telford and so the journey was a brief one to the ground. The Car Park is very good and costs only £3.50 for up to 12 hours!

I was at the Ground in good time, bought my programme and match ticket and then decided on a pre-match Hollands meat and potato pie and a tea. The pastry was firm, but the plastic fork did a reasonable job of slicing through it and the filling was quite good with decent quantities of meat, potato and a light gravy.

I am delaying mentioning the game because the anger sharks are beginning to swim in my head!

The faithful were present in good vocal numbers, 200 in a crowd of 3,548. Now I was able to watch the warm up in full and in no way could anyone have foreseen the disaster that was to unfold over the next 90 minutes or so.

Sam Walker was in relaxed mood and high fived one of the ball boys as he left the field to prepare for the game. The players were purposeful, and all seemed well. Dave Artell the Crewe manager, resplendent in a suit, strode across the pitch speaking to his players. The sun was low in the sky and it seemed that winning the toss was fairly important.

Crewe of course won the toss and the U’s were then attacking the Blue Bell Family Stand end with the sun at their backs. Almost immediately however the clouds intervened, and the sun largely disappeared until half time. The weather remained a balmy 10 degrees Celsius!

JM had lined up thus:

Walker

Eastman Prosser Kent

Jackson Comley Stevenson Wright

Senior Mandron Ogedi-Uzokwe

Subs:
Lapslie Shodipo Inniss Gilmartin Dickenson Murray Mandeville

I was disappointed that Wright was playing instead of Dickenson but delighted to see Junior playing from the start.

Sammie Szmodics was neither on the bench, nor travelling with the squad and Kurtis Guthrie is recovering from his ankle injury sustained at Carlisle. Szmodics has scored 13 goals for the U’s this season but has failed to start in the last four games and we now learn that he has been suffering from a bad back. This of course is the reason why no one was prepared to offer hard cash for him during the January transfer window. Injury has plagued Szmodics for much of his short career and sadly will perhaps the ultimate say in whether he can play at Championship level or above.

Now the referee Mr Salisbury was inept at best, but this in no way excuses the U’s from their appalling showing at Gresty Road.

The U’s started brightly enough, outplaying their opponents, who seemed nervous and frequently lost the ball to the Essex side which allowed plenty of decent approach play and three decent half chances at Garratt’s goal. Drey Wright, Frankie Kent and Mika Mandron all peppered the goal without real malice.

Now Jordan Bowery has always been a bit of a thug (allegedly IMHO) and when he barged Frankie Kent into the area between the boundary fence and the concrete, the faithful were rightly incensed. The useless referee took no action despite giving him a talking to.

Unfortunately, in the first half, Junior never got a kick and looked ill at ease alongside Mandron. Drey Wright was supposed to be playing on the left wing but frequently could be found 15 yards in from the touchline and playing much deeper. He seems to have lost a yard of pace and is reluctant to take opponents on. With Olamide Shodipo on the bench now and fully fit after his hamstring injury and Brennan Dickenson back, Wright should be dropped.

Ryan Jackson by contrast would give Usain Bolt a run for his money and is raring to go down the right wing and push the ball past defenders but he has no end product. His long throws are reasonably effective, but it is a weapon that most defences anticipate and head clear.

Crewe were workmanlike and packed the defence at every opportunity and the U’s seemed devoid of creativity. Most disappointingly Courtney Senior, who should have been on the half way line at every opportunity when Crewe had the ball and were attacking or taking a corner, hung back 15 yards, which allowed the two Crewe defenders to move up a d support their beleaguered team mates.

Half time arrived, and my 4-1 prediction to the Super U’s was looking pretty unlikely.
The faithful remained in good spirits and we all anticipated that the U’s would step it up second half.

The fact that all the substitutes had trained during the interval didn’t bode well for Brennan Dickenson making an early entrance.

Worse still the advantage of winning the toss became evident when the sun re-emerged even brighter and lower in the sky and right of course into Walker’s eyes. Now although he had more towels and water bottles behind the goal and tied to the netting no one had thought to supply him with a peaked cap. Aidan Davison always wore a cap in such circumstances.

Brennan Dickenson should have been brought on at half time for the weary Wright. This is where JM lacks ability. Crewe were not confident, and Jackson had proved the worth of running at them.

Brandon Comley then gave away a dangerous looking free kick, just outside the penalty area and more or less dead centre after 60 minutes. The ball was struck with venom and the wall did its job, but the ball ballooned into the air and when it looped down over the wall Shaun Miller was first to react and had the easy job of scoring from close range past Walker.

At 1-0 down after 60 minutes JM had delayed Dickenson’s arrival until the crowd had become restless and only then brought Dickenson two minutes later on 62 minutes for the pacy Senior.

Dickenson was immediately given a welcome to Gresty Road with a fulsome challenge which left him in a heap on the touchline.

We were then chasing a game against a shocking team and played into their hands. Crewe fought like tigers to protect what they had. We simply had no answer.

JM brought Mandeville on for Junior after 65 minutes. Now I’ve seen Liam Mandeville play twice now and he fails to impress. He seems reluctant to run with the ball, doesn’t want to take anyone on and fails to shoot for goal.

In greater desperation JM removed Ben Stevenson and replaced him with Sean Murray after 70 minutes. JM is quite happy to make substitutions but often delays too long and often takes off the wrong player.

How can Drey Wright be allowed to play 90 minutes when he has been largely ineffectual throughout. Why not give Olamide Shodipo the chance to run at the tiring Crewe defence for the last 25 minutes.

I am a fan of the tough tackling Murray, but he doesn’t look fit at the moment and added nothing to the midfield. Equally Tom Eastman playing as a right winger is a waste of his obvious talents which are far more defensive minded. Colchester could have replaced Eastman with a more attacking player because Crewe carried no threat and Prosser and Kent easily dealt with any forward ambitions that they mustered.

Although Colchester had more shots (14 to 10) than Crewe and 5 on target to only 2. Crewe scored the all-important goal and Garratt didn’t have a save to make second half. That is the saddest indictment of this Colchester team.

There was genuine anger at the end of the game from many of the faithful and definitely from me. A thoroughly ineffective performance and the faithful had been let down. Very few players could genuinely hold their heads up and say that they had put in a shift on Saturday. Only captain Luke Prosser, Frankie Kent and Mika Mandron stood out for me and Mandron only managed one shot but his link up play was very strong. He must develop his end game however.

A 10th defeat of the season leaves the U’s still in 10th place but still only three points off a top seven spot. It is the fixtures though which are running out fast for the U’s. We face the prospect of having to secure at least 24 points from only 12 matches. Probably 8 more victories (or equivalent) required which is going to be a stern test to say the least.

The vital 12 games with predictions for W, L, D - 7 WINS, 3 DRAWS, 2 DEFEATS:

Barnet H - WIN
Morecambe A - WIN
Mansfield A - DRAW
Yeovil H - WIN
Stevenage A - WIN
Luton H - DEFEAT
Forest Green A - WIN
Accrington H - DRAW
Notts Co H - DRAW
Lincoln A - DEFEAT
Swindon H - WIN
Exeter A – WIN

I suspect that even the most ardent supporter might consider this to be a step too far. One thing is certain, even if the Poorman Road side part company with the horrendous McCarthy, I cannot see them rushing to sign JM up.

Now of course my unwelcome record continues. Just as well that I don’t have a season ticket! 5 more games planned for the rest of the season, dare I go to any of them!!!

The final insult of the day was delivered as I drove back to Telford to pick Mrs Durham up ready to drive home to the North of England.

The country lanes around Cheshire and Shropshire are good places to see murmurations of Starlings and sure enough thousands of birds passed over the car as I drove and delivered a greater payload of guano onto my car than I could have imagined in my wildest nightmare.

This delayed our departure back up the M6 while I cleaned the offending matter from the paintwork and glass. Isn't this supposed to lucky!!!!

Bottom side Barnet buzz into Town on Saturday, anything less than three points and it is all over for another season.

Time for the players to stand up and be counted, not forgetting JM.

Up the U’s

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