League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Paul Holmes
AFTER the previous weeks shambles at the Bescot, a solid performance was required by Town and that is more or less what we got.
As the team came out most assumed that it was a straight forward 4-4-2 with Ben Chapman, Simon Ford, Wayne Burnett and Chris Thompson coming in for Michael Boulding, Paul Raven, Stacy Coldicott and Michael Jeffrey respectively. After about 5 minutes of play and the cries of "Why's Butterfield playing in the middle", "Where's the wingers" and "What the f***s Gally doing in the middle", it was established that Town were playing 3-5-2 with Chapman and Nielson playing as wing-backs. Initially this was meet with groans, considering the disaster of the last time this was tried, the groans were deserved.
From the off Town really struggled to break down the brick wall in Preston's defence with Deepdale favourite Sean Gregan running the show for the Lillywhites. On numerous occasions he and Mark Rankine trotted forward deep into Towns half whilst the lightweight midfielder of Burnett, Willems and Butterfield backed off and off and off. Had it not been for Danny Coyne, town would have gone in at half time buried. Luckily Wales 'numero uno' was in fine form and kept Gregan and co. at bay. Full debutante Simon Ford had a shaky start after Paul Groves played him into trouble and the Ex- Addick panicked, fortunately the ball cleared away from danger. Town did manage to get ball up to the Thompson and Jevons on a few occasions and at times the linkup play was excellent but support from the middle 3 was lacking. The front two created Town's first ream chance when Jevons linked up with Burnett ( I think) to give Thompson a great chance to snatch the lead but the rookie fired wide when the goal was begging.
Thompson didn't seem to have any difficulties in adjusting to the first team action in Division 1 although on several occasions he got annoyed at the lack of support (better get used to it Chris). Ben Chapman was at times often exposed down the left, more often than not dealing with 2 players at once, I think that Menno was supposed to get out on the left and help out but he was dragged too far across the middle. The same was happening on the right with Nielson and Butterfield. At one point in the game a Preston player (Gregan again I think) had a shot which Coyne appeared to have covered before the shot took a wicked deflection of Simon Ford's heel, Coyne stood motionless whilst both fans held their breath whilst the ball spun past the post.
As the whistle went for half-time Lennie Lawrence must have been satisfied with the score line but surly some changes were needed.
After coming back without a pie due to the incredibly slow assistants behind the counter I was even more annoyed to see no changes in the team.
The 2nd half was a little better for Town (a lot actually) as we gave Preston a real run for their money.
I can't remember all that much until about 15 minutes in when Michael Boulding started to warm up, must be for Jevons I thought as the Scouser looked on the ropes. Just as Boulding was about to come on Chris Thompson went down after a collision with Anderson, Thompson went down in agony and the initial reactions were that he'd had his nose broken (luckily not the case). Despite it been a head(ish) injury the Ref allowed play to continue and Preston again almost scored but fired wide. Thompson was immediately taken off and Boulding replaced him. Within seconds Boulding had almost given Town the lead, Burnett played him through with a clever ball and Boulding raced onto the ball and rounded the keeper at pace, unfortunately his momentum made it hard for him to turn and the defence flung themselves on the goal-line before the keeper managed to make his way back and make and easy save from a poor shot. The keeper then rolled it out to his defender who decided that he didn't want to play anymore and stood watching whilst Phil Jevons sneaked in and poached the ball from him. Jevons was no one-on-one with the keeper who narrowed his angles very well forcing Jevons to attempt for the far corner, instead the ball went the wrong side of the post. By now the Town end was well and truly alive the chants of "Score in a minute" were in flow and the belief was that we would.
Still Preston ploughed forward and were a constant threat for Town who were fighting back with Boulding's pace causing most problems. At the back Simon Ford was looking like an old pro.
With 10 minutes to go Coldicott and Jeffrey replaced Burnett and Jevons. The appearance of Coldicott seemed to spark life into the midfield as they finally started to press the Preston midfield. Boulding had one more opportunity to seal the game after speeding past his man and moving towards goal like a bullet. Upon reaching the box he had the option of squaring to Jeffrey or shooting at a tight angle, he went for the later which went wide. Jeffrey took the role of Jevons in cursing Boulding for his greediness. Had Danny Butterfield done the same thing as Boulding he would have got slaughtered by the fans, instead this was meet with a "Ohhhh Unlucky, should have squared it though". I'm as guilty as anyone else of this, why is it that we do that??
As the game drew to a close Preston gained a free-kick on the edge of the box (can't remember what for but I remember thinking it wasn't a free-kick). Healy took it and floated it over the wall beautifully and was almost wheeling away in celebration only to see Danny Coyne cap off a great performance by tipping the ball over the bar.
Overall a decent enough performance, more positives than negatives.
Ford and Thompson taking to the game like a duck to water
New formation suiting most
Midfield overrun far too often
Queue for half-time pies.
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