Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Pixelated pressing and passing: the Mighty vs Southport


They can almost walk here...

At last.

Southport is a weird place. I'm perennially surprised that if you go down the gold coast to Lytham and look across the sand, there it is. It's really close as the crow (seagull) flies but as you have to go through Preston to get there, it feels like another world to me.

Whilst the experience was slightly hamstrung by a) not being there and b) the stream in the first half in particular being a bit like watching through the eyes of a man who had forgotten his glasses who was sitting on top of a pneumatic drill and had sunk 6 pre match pints, it would be churlish, uncharitable and miserable to dwell on that.

However we're viewing it, it's the Pleasureland vs Pleasurebeach derby. And it was a pleasure. 

I'm not going to give a load of details on this match. It's just not possible on a stream that caused my lad to note "dad, you can't even tell where the ball is!" and head off to do something else.

And yet... I come away from the game with real optimism for any number of reasons.

We played like we knew what we were trying to do. We didn't execute everything perfectly but in the first half the passing and movement was exquisite (by recent standards) and it was notable how fluid the formation was. Players dropped deep and others moved forward. At one point Howe and MacDonald swapped flanks spontaneously.

We played it around very well and Cameron Antwi stood out in midfield with some lovely bursts from deep. The enigma that is Joe Nuttall looked tidy up front without ever really threatening and I think the half ended with no clearer understanding of the question 'how does Gary Madine fit in to a side playing the way we want to play?' He and Nuttall linked well enough (the latter offering more in my view) but without seeming like a threat.

Outside of a lovely goal from distance by Grant Ward, my overall impression was of a well coached side, moving for each other, communicating and totally dominant without really carving Southport open much. It was notable how far the full backs pushed on and how the instinct of ever player seemed to be to start another attack from the moment we won possession.

At half time the team changed entirely and the camera improved somewhat. In this portion, the build up play wasn't as aesthetically pleasing but the flipside of the coin was the cutting edge offered by Yates and Anderson in particular.

From a distance and at low resolution Anderson looks like Feeney but with a direct eye for goal. Yates ran hard and looked to be the direct, hungry striker who can play football we really need.

I was also impressed with Nathan Shaw who looks classier than his slightly ungainly gait makes you think he's going to be and his purposeful approach and movement added problems for Southport.

Goals came via a tap in from Kaikai (who was busy and looked fit at last) a neat finish from Anderson and a penalty from Yates which came as a result of the best bit of football all day when one of Feeney or Anderson (I think the latter) played a lovely ball from the edge of the D that changed the direction of play completely, Kaikai raced onto it and was bundled down. Yates smacked home the penalty with no fuss. No panenkas here.

It's only Southport. I mean them no disrespect, but they're not having a grand time at the moment and they offered very little beyond some stout resistance and the odd breakaway.

It's therefore worth remarking on the energy shown by our forwards as they chased down their defense and harried, harried, harried right till the final whistle.

This was clearly an entire squad out to impress, playing the way the manager wanted them to. There was genuine bite in the tackles and when a pass went astray or a dribble ended in a dead end, the midfield were on to the yellow shirts quickly.

We built from the back and whilst I will never quite understand why you'd take a goal kick one yard to the man stood next to you, it was evident that the majority of the squad had drunk the Critchley Kool-aid.

It might have been a game we would have won with almost any manager or squad we've ever had, but the dominance, the hunger and the desire to impress showed. It was notable that Antwi and Shaw (to a lesser degree) impressed and all of that speaks of a squad who believe in what the manager has to tell them and believe they have a chance.

The opponents were nothing to fear, but none the less, this was clearly a continuation of the fearless football we saw in the second half against Tranmere.

More than anything, it was Tangerine.

Enjoyed it. Excited. 

UTMP.

(I never ask for donations for this blog but if you enjoy this or anything else, it would make me very happy if you dropped a few pence in the virtual collection bucket of Southport FC who are a grand old ex league club with no Simon Sadler to make it all alright) 


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