Fan’s View 2021/22 – No.15 – Shrewsbury at home

Article by Paul Beasley Wednesday, October 20th, 2021  

FAN’S VIEW 21/22 – NO.15

OXFORD UNITED 2 SHREWSBURY TOWN 0

Think I’ll start with a no shit Sherlock statement – A win is a win.

Then follow up with having none of the “winning when not playing well is the sign of a good team” way of thinking.

And finishing with if we play like that against better teams the outcome ain’t going to be a pleasant one.

Except of course I’m not finished I’m going to drone on a lot as is my way.

We started off playing a bit of decent football without really threatening the Shrewsbury goal but putting that into the context of early on, long way to go, best to get a foothold and then go on and win the game from there I was quite content. Throw in our recent “one nil and you f***ed it up” performances and this was fine.

But not fine for long at all. The speed with which we were moving the ball prompted me to shout to a mate sat in a row in front that the boys in yellow were playing at a slower pace than our walking football team. Most of it really was that pedestrian.

No one was showing for the ball and there was a general lack of movement. Lethargy was winning out. The entertainment value was zilch and to make matter worse the fecking drum being banged by one of the couple of hundred Salopians who had ventured to Oxfordshire was extremely irritating. I doubt it would have fitted but I wished that the owner of this percussion instrument had to walk in a funny way back to his transport home.

Although our lads were totally unconvincing all those around me were sure we had got ourselves a first half goal as from our viewing angle no way could we work out how Matty Taylor’s shot after a full swivel failed to find the back of the net. Replays show it slid off the number four on the back of Ethan Ebanks-Landel’s shirt. That a corner was given at the time was the clue.

In the second period we were much improved which may well have come about after a Zoom rollicking. We moved the ball quicker and yellow shirts were finding gaps in which to receive possession.

We still, however, nowhere near resembled a top L1 side. I thought that Shrewsbury were a really poor team, as bad as I’ve seen this season, yet it took a 46th minute fluke to give us the lead and it wasn’t until the 87th minute that we sealed the deal.

Jack Stevens did not have a shot to save with none of the Salopians’ ten efforts on goal being on target. Apart from a couple that went just wide their finishing mostly fell into the woeful category. Defensively too I didn’t think they looked very assured and were more likely to produce a misplaced hacked clearance than exude calmness and control in dealing with our attacking efforts.

Changes had been made and in came Alex Gorrin and Mark Sykes – and rightly so in my opinion, but that didn’t turn us into a fully functional whole with all parts in tune with all other parts. The balance of the side somehow still didn’t look right and players that had previously been some of our best no longer looked it.

I thought I’d go down that route I rarely travel and make comment on each individual outfield player particularly as I can’t award the team as a whole very high marks.

Sam Long – much improved going forward especially in the second half when it was very evident both full-backs had been instructed to get further up the field. Still didn’t look back to his best defensively.

Steve Seddon – see above re getting into the opponents half. Had looked very dodgy in the first half.

Elliot Moore – I was impressed with him. A MOTM contender. He won just about everything he challenged for in the air and was looking like I want a tall centre-half to look. Just as I was extolling him for this Tim from the seat in front added, “But he’s slow though”. True but how many fast tall CBs are there in L1?

Jordan Thorniley – was another improver and a couple of headers he won had me thinking is that Moore? However a CB his size will very often struggle when the ball is above head height and to win duels every sinew has to be strained. A taller fella will do it with greater ease.

Gorrin – saw more of the ball in the first few minutes than some players see in the whole game. He’d battled for the ball twice in the first seconds and had not been beaten. For me that was a missing ingredient that had returned. Also he showed for the ball constantly and passed it around simply and effectively. Okay, he made a mistake or two but another MOTM contender.

With AG back that may have had an impact on the roles the other two midfielders were being asked to play.

Celebrating our second. Pic, Simon Jaggs

Cameron Brannagan – played further forward than he often does and comes across as less comfortable in that position. He’s better looking to take possession much deeper and then spraying passes about, simple ones and more challenging ones with greater risk and reward too. But with Gorrin where he was and Herbie Kane on the pitch too there is a different dynamic. Although not having his best of games, very much fair play to him for keeping going and getting our second goal to banish the nerves. Having received the ball, from a cleared James Henry corner, just outside the penalty area with no one other than the referee within 18 yards of him he moved it onto his right foot and returned it low through the gathered crowd of players from both sides. A likely unsighted Marko Marosi got nowhere near it. Finishing isn’t CB’s strongest point so this was quite pleasing and the more players that can contribute in this department the better. He’d headed wide earlier when a true finisher would likely have done the job. That came after a really creative Oxford move. He also put one effort hopelessly over. Sort that side of his game out and he’d probably kick on a bit from the level he is now at. If he doesn’t that will probably be where he stays. He’ll be 26 next birthday in about six months.

Kane – There were still glimpses of what he can bring to the party and that’s quality in abundance but this was the worst game he has had for us. The Shrews had done their homework and were on to him quickly. Before this game it was almost unheard of for him to lose the ball and be beaten in the battle for the ball. Not so here. Quite early on a pass was played to him and instead of stepping to the ball he waited and a man in pink and black hoops stepped forward and won it. That set a bit of a tone.

Sykes – MOTM and I would not waste much time trying to disagree. Energy, confidence and a lot more ability on the ball than when he first arrived. Yes his goal was lucky but the way he played I don’t think anyone can begrudge him it. For me though it was his defensive cover that sticks in the mind. He would just as likely pop up back defending by our own corner flag as appearing in his attacking role.

Gavin Whyte – I really am disappointed with him at the moment. I heard comment that “he’s just taking the money.”  I wouldn’t go that far but unless improvement is noticeable, with the players we’ve got on the bench, that’s where he’ll soon probably be.

Taylor – to me he looks sharp at the moment and now regularly looks a fraction away from adding to his goal tally be it a marginal off-side or half inch away from making contact. There is though so much more to his game than just finishing.  When he appears out wide or deeper in midfield the default thinking is wtf is he doing there we need him in the box to score goals. That would be over-looking how he can help link up play and find space between the lines. Also this gives the opposition much to think about. Who marks him when he’s gone walkabouts? And when he reappears back in the box is there then less chance that he’ll have a defender with him?

Subs – Henry definitely brings something to the team although I don’t think I’m the only one to conclude that it isn’t pace. Nathan Holland only had a quarter of an hour so unfair to judge but I thought he did okay. Dan Agyei definitely didn’t have enough minutes for any pre-formed judgements to be altered.

On reflection having written these last few paragraphs I have concluded that the whole is less than the sum of the parts. So surely if the jigsaw is put together properly, assuming the pieces are all there, we could be doing better on a more consistent basis.

That said we’re eighth and taking account that some teams have played two more games than others, seventh best on a points per games played basis. So it could be a lot worse.

Perhaps I am expecting too much. Or perhaps not, having got very accustomed to this division and over the previous two seasons having made the play-offs.

AWAY FROM THE FIELD OF PLAY

COVID – Our manager has Covid. Cases are once again increasing at quite a rate. The presence of antibodies created by the jabbing and catching the coronavirus are now known to decline over time, so much so the need for a booster jab has been recognised. The spread in schools is high. Kids don’t go down with it like the more elderly and the asymptomatic amongst them will be spreaders. The “I’m all right, I’ve been double jabbed” no longer can be said with as much confidence as in the past and that was far from 100% anyway. Mask wearing seems to have gone out of the window.

What I’m getting round to here is that I think the chances of football being greatly affected once more has increased again. More chance now of games being called off. Karl caught it from somewhere and listening to the guy speak he sounded very risk averse. What would have happened if he’d passed it on to the majority of the first team squad?

Medical professionals in this country have issued an urgent plea to the British government to re-impose Covid restrictions. Not that this government always listens to sound advice but I don’t think further restrictions, whatever they may be, are out of the question. But please, please let’s not sleepwalk into a situation where we can’t again attend a football match which our team is playing, however well or badly.

ROOF – lots of leaks in the South Stand on Tuesday night as the rain poured down. These were by the Directors box and some of the premium seats. Quite embarrassing. This brings one on to the usual thoughts which follow. What on earth are OUFC paying a fortune to Firoz Kassam for? If (basic) maintenance of the stadium wasn’t included in the contract then whoever signed off on behalf of our beloved football club wants putting in stocks outside the Quadrangle or more appropriately somewhere inside the ground under a constant drip. And if it is included in the contract why is it not being enforced? Yes, we know where this leads. One road it does lead down, or more to the point force one to peer down, is the one which holds OUFC’s future when the current lease runs out. Which brings me nicely on to ….

THE TAKEOVER – We still wait. We’ve waited and waited. We’re not in crisis as some clubs have been where a takeover, by the right sorts and not wrong ‘uns, have been crucial to their survival. We’re patient but it would be nice to know what’s planned for us. We know it is with the EFL and have been told that there are no new people involved. The Minchery Farm clock is ticking. Will it be rewound?

MICKEY LEWIS – What can I say? Well nothing really. If it hadn’t been for the call of walking football in Barnsley I would have been there and did feel there in spirit. I’ve read the programme and one of the old players mentioned is Nigel Jemson. He wasn’t at the Kassam either though. He was also at Barnsley playing alongside Gary Birtles for Nottingham Forest in a younger age group than me. For the record, like us, his team didn’t make the semi-final stage either. There are so many links in football. It brings so many people together and that is evidently what Mickey did. A sad sad loss but clearly a man who helped so many people enjoy their lives. He will never be forgotten in these parts

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 at 5:21 pm and appears under News Items. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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