Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

I gave in : the Mighty vs Leeds u21


There are few more pointless things than tonight's game. With a backdrop of bleating complaints from Jurgen, Ole, Jose and co about how it's really terrible that big rich football clubs have to play in the big rich competitions that make them big and rich, I find it astonishing that they choose to also enter the EFL Trophy, a competition designed solely to give the clubs who aren't big and rich a shot at pretending they are by getting to Wembley. Couldn't they solve their terrible injury crisis they never stop crying about by playing some of their expensively assembled reserve players they've nabbed of everyone else in the real games? Why do they have to have so many players that they need to play our first team if they can't bring themselves to play them themselves ever? 

I feel that strongly about this that I wasn't going to even give this match the time of day. But lets face it. What else is there to do? I could go for a wet walk in the dark. A black, bleak, miserable walk through a dank, dismal lockdown UK, a place that feels like living in the dying years of some Soviet satellite state but without the benefit of fancy murals and a culture of communal eating. All the greyness, authoritarianism and blind adherence to an outdated ideology but none of the moonshine vodka and trabants. 

What else am I going to do? Sit and think about my shit job and how I should be grateful for it even though it's been slowly killing me for years? Think about all the things I can't do to cheer myself up? Try and remember what my relatives look like? Watch some shit telly that's probably got Sue fucking Perkins in it? 

Fuck it. It's 6.55 and the Mighty are playing. Who needs principles anyway?

Three things sway me - the fact that Antwi is getting a start, it's another chance to see the rarest of sights: a game for Jordan Thorniley and most excitingly of all, the youngest and newest of Pool's pros, Rob Apter has a berth on the bench. Look at that Premier League. We're playing our own youngster. We've not had to enter a team in the FA Vase to do so. 

After 2 minutes I'm wondering what I've done as iFollow goes into meltdown. I'm trapped in a permanently recurring loop of half of one of Chissy's syllables. I spent a few minutes wondering whether I actually want to live in anymore if my life is reduced to this, staring at a frozen screen where a still image of a game I'm not convinced I want to watch is soundtracked by a malfunctioning robot Chizzy forever repeating the first 'o' sound of 'on the island' or 'on his bike'. Is this it? Is this how it ends? Can my sanity survive this battering? Will it ever stop?  

The answer is fortunately yes as iFollow rights itself in time to show Lubala get past two men without really needing to do anything. He just sort of scuffs it past ineffective challenges but then, if his skill in finding space is underwhelming, the outside of the foot ball he delivers is outstanding. The incoming Kemp meets it perfectly and tucks it away from about 10 yards out. 

The second goal comes from a Kemp corner, met by Thorniley at the near post, a flick header that cannons off a defender and ends up in the far corner of the net. It's a shame that the very peripheral Thorniley likely won't get credited cos I feel like it would cheer him up and there's a sort of hangdog solidity about his manner that I've warmed to when I've glimpsed him in the shadows. 

Other things that happen include

Sims does some perfectly good kicking and some really dicey kicking but doesn't have to do any goal keeping... Gabriel leaps into a completely random late challenge and gets booked for clattering one of their players for no reason I can fathom... Dan Kemp is really good, energy and quick, clever passing and Bez Lubala is having the best game he's had in a Pool shirt by far... Yates has an effort well saved. 

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We're winning, it's all fairly comfortable and someone has brought Brett a twirl and that has made him sound so delighted, I go into a reverie about how I love Brett precisely because the simple things in life seem to please him. I decide he'd be a good person to have in your corner in a Zombie apocalypse, as he'd find pleasure in tiny moments. You'd be looting a shop, devoid of supplies and find only rancid cod liver oil and rice full of weevils but Brett would come out grinning with a car air freshener and say 'ere, I love 'ow these smell, like sunshine, this one, lovely, I'll 'ang it in the stronghold, it'll make all the difference' and you'd just have to smile and the end times would seems just that bit more human. If Brett's happy, I'm happy.

Pool have controlled the game apart from a brief spell where no one seems capable of clearing the ball more than 4 yards and seem intent on passing it to each other in dodgy positions. 

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Lubala and Robson both seem to have space to shoot in the same run, one taking over from the other but both being forced out of it.  Lubala and Husband combine well to give Grant Ward a chance at the far post, but he volleys it well over. Pool put together 20 passes that ends with Lubala spinning and playing a slide rule pass to Kemp who shoots low into the keeper's knees. Seconds later shirtless Jerry lays it off, Bez wriggles past his man, shapes to shoot and curls it just past the top corner. Who is this 'Bez Lubala?' fella. When did we sign him? I vaguely remember some other lad who looked a bit dicey, but this can't be that one... 

Leeds play a delicious crossfield pass that sees Jimmy Husband gets sucked the wrong side of his man, it's pinged right across the box. Pool respond with a lovely sweeping move, one side to the other and it ends with Yates just not able to bundle it home. 

Thorniley gets all tangled up in clearing the ball, trying to turn past two Leeds kids for no apparent reason and only succeeding in falling over. Sims makes a great point blank save to save Thorniley from even more shame than he must feel having to live his football career hidden in a cupboard marked 'not for use' and only allowed out for games like this. You can almost hear Critch saying to Colin Calderwood 'You see? - that's why I don't use him' and my heart breaks a bit for the lad as he looks like he could be a decent centre half with confidence. 

Lubala stops dead, waits and waits then slips a pass to Yates that he can't quite make into a shooting chance. He then plays a ball to die for for Dan Kemp who is ruled offside, but the quality of the ball makes it worth commenting on.  

Keshi comes on for Bez who has been like a new player. Howe replace Gabriel. I really like watching Howe play, there's something raw and honest about the way he gallops down the touchline. Gabriel has been good again, he looks a real player, a proper talented footballer.  

Not a lot happens for a bit, Howe whips a nice ball to the near post that Yates is half a yard behind. Pool have another little spell of passing it to a man in danger followed by a spell of not shooting when it seems easier to do so than pass. 

Antwi dives at a loose ball and cleans out a Leeds kid. It's a second yellow without question, which is a shame as Antwi has done really well, keeping it simple, generally timing his tackles to perfection and looking the mature figure he looked in pre season. 

Robson picks up from Keshi on the edge of the box, he goes sides ways, shapes to shoot and (we know what's coming here, he'll shift it sideways to Grant Ward, who will do the same and then pass it to Keshi who will do the same, until eventually it'll end up back with Turton who will loft it out of play)... he only goes and curls an absolute beauty past the keeper, beating him at his far post. It's perfect, the way he falls away after hitting it and the spinning ball is cushioned by the side netting. Great goal. 

Rob Apter is coming on! He's little with a great mop of hair and his first touch is tidy, a bit of control and a neat pass. His second, he take a touch then accelerates and runs 10 yards aggressively, cuts inside and looks for Keshi. His third is a little flick on to himself, that pops up and he does brilliantly to wrestle with his man and make a sliding challenge to knock it away. He runs well and finds space, and a few times it looks like a pass might be on for him but it doesn't quite materialise. It's great seeing debuts. I remember Brett's where he just ran about like a madhead and I decided there and then I liked him. Maybe in 25 years time someone will be bringing Rob Apter a chocolate bar as he commentates after a long and fulfilling career as a Pool legend... 

Keshi belts one just over the top at some point whilst I'm concentrating on Apter and then the whistle blows. 

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Am I glad I watched it? Yeah, I suppose I am. Do I feel a deep sense of shame for rewarding the evil Premier League academy side with my attention. Maybe a bit, but I missed 4+ years of games for other reasons so I'm not going to chuck myself in the sea over this one. 

The best thing was Bez, a total revelation - hands up - who knew he could pass like that? Seeing him look integrated and purposeful and getting in the middle, instead of just standing on the touchline and mostly losing it or getting tackled was really, really encouraging, especially for a squad that has only two actual strikers in it. 

Robson's goal was a stunner and worth the tenner on its own but it was also great to see as it might encourage him to have a go a bit more. Suddenly with Dougall, William and Robson all fit and Virtue to return (as well as Ward who was perfectly fine tonight), midfield looks quite handy. That means Keshi might need to compete to play a bit higher up and Bez has staked a claim there as well. Perhaps we could cope if one of the Goal Machine or shirtless Jerry gets a knock...

Just whatever you do Neil, don't go mad and drop Sullay cos Bez played well once. Please. 

It wasn't much of a game really, we played some kids, we won easily enough, but like the Eastbourne game, we won comfortably enough to be justified in going away with a bit of confidence even if it was a bit of a no win match. 

Bring on Peterborough. 

utmp

 

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