Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

At least it wasn't 0-7: The Mighty vs Stoke


Winter is here. Sort of. Autumn is a funny idea for a season. I don't really understand it. It's kind of in between summer and winter and lasts about three weeks. It's a grand night though. If there was a textbook for the weather, this would bethe definition under the heading "the ideal weather for playing a football match at night, round about bonfire night"

There's a smoky cold in the air. I'm nostalgic for when you could smoke tabs in the ground. Not cos I want one but because I want to smell the fag smoke, rising up from a terrace, the clouds giving the shafts of floodlight white presence as they slowly away across the pitch.

We can't touch the past in anything but memory though and sad as that is, we've not got much to be damp eyed about. Critch was so happy we won at Sheffield United, he apparently shed a tear but that's different to sadness. Why is it the same physical reaction though? Bodies are mental. Anyway... We're going well. Tonight is an interesting one. I keep expecting us to throw in a howler of a performance just to keep us grounded. I'm really not sure how I feel. Stoke are kind of 'meh' in my head. So we can win. But Huddersfield were the distilled essence of 'meh' in my pre match perception of that match and they dismantled us like a psychopathic surgeon, scoring three and seeming really quite disinterested as they did it. 

So yeah, it could go either way. Hows that for insight?


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Gary is out, Carey is in. Obviously, no Madine makes me want to turn round and go home but there's an enticing prospect of 90 minutes of Carey in the offing. I love Madine's blend of old school tradition and clever play but I also have been so impressed with Carey's potential. It is potential, and potential is only an idea of promise, not a guarantee of impact, but I can't wait to see how the fluid attack we saw against Reading tries to unpick their backline. 


Pool put on early pressure. A lovely cushioned touch from Carey matches a couple of simply brilliant touches from Keogh. His interplay with fellow defenders is so ridiculously precise. Maybe he could play no 10? No. Really. Ok. Maybe not. But could he though? Imagine it. He'd be so happy. Carey fizzes on right, wriggling between a couple but doesn't make it through a third. 

Jerry muscles in on the right. He pulls it back. Carey hits it, it's blocked. Was that handball? It drops back to Sonny who smacks it into the side netting. Aaargh! That was really good chance, it came quickly and he snatched at it. Heads up. C'mon! 

Pool look good. Stoke are mostly notable for a) having a player who looks like an 80s heavy metal star. b) the fact Steve Fletcher look less like a tramp than last time I saw him and c) fouls. 

There's a long pause. I don't really question why, I'm just enjoying soaking up the occasion until I see everyone's second favourite tangerine no26 slowly walking off. Stoke have a spell, a couple of attacks and one lashed just wide as we regroup with Jimmy 'if he plays left back we generally win' Husband now clearly not playing left back and Garbutt on their instead.  

Keshi plays an outrageous ball over the top, Jerry takes it well, sets and puts it just past the post. It just seemed to be the wrong side for him. Again, close, again a good chance. We're doing ok.  

More fouls, more cards. Demi gets chopped down at least three times. Keshi gets mangled as he looks to break through. Iron Maiden (their left back) passes it out of play. Then he gets a yellow too. He has fantastic hair though. It's Robin Van der Laan-esque. (one for the kids that) 

A cross after a lovely move is just a fraction behind Jerry. It's a moment when you wish Jezza was Gaz as he heads it straight up in the air because he's not quite big enough Keshi tries to pick up the pieces. It comes back in. Keshi darts. Keshi gets clattered in the box. No foul.

More bookings. More passing it about and probing. Some booing and aggro from Stoke. Half time. 

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We've been better side. It's a catch 22 that sans Madine we have mobility but less presence up front. We've moved well to make chances - with a bit more presence we might have taken them but without the mobility we wouldn't have made them. 

We've lost our second favourite no 26 but our first favourite no 26 comes out and tells us how great everything is. It really is good too. Charlie speaks well as he often does. Imagine being good at football AND good at talking. 

Then halftime gets weird as someone asks someone else to marry them. Bit risky that. They say yes. Thank fuck. There's some muted applause. Some people really are miserable aren't they? Charlie AND a wedding and they've barely looked up. I wonder if Critch has tear in his eye. 

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Iron Maiden has gone off. That's a shame. Demi cuts inside and shoots it's deflected into the keepers hands. They have a free kick to the far post nodded back and then smuggled wide by some desperate intervention. They play a little football on the edge of the box, Fletcher knocks it through, there's a ball right across the 6 yard line and we escape. That's more than they did in the first half. They've improved. 

They make three chances down the middle. Marv tidies up two, Gabriel the other. There's a brilliant bit where they sing Delilah and it competes with us expressing that We're the only team in football, in tangerine and white. It's really good. It goes on for ages. I love football crowds. I really do. Carey lifts a superb ball. Yates is in. We've sung them through! It's offside. Of course it is. Allez, Allez, Allez. 

We're really struggling to play out. They cottoned on to us at some point and are pressing much higher. We're really looking a bit lost for ideas. So Critch chucks Big Gaz on so we can go over the top. I might have left Jerry on to be honest. Madine can win it but he's best with Jerry about. Where is Owen Dale though? What's he done to be glued to the bench. Is he glued to the bench? Do they have to take a seat to away grounds with him stuck to it. If so, why select him? Pick Bez instead, just because it would warm our hearts. 

Grimshaw kicks it out of play to derision from Stoke fans. They take the throw and chest it straight out of play. It's such a high quality league.... Derision from us. We go forward, then back. Gaz wins a header. Madine has made a bit of a difference and we're not under as much pressure now. We're up the middle, Keshi is involved, he goes down as he slips it through, Now Gary's going round the keeper but then a flag goes up. 

Stoke hit ball over the top from a free kick, we're hurtling back cos it looks like we've not picked what they're up to quick enough. Madine is the further back which says something might not have gone to plan. It's turned against the post. It bounces out. Fletcher can't miss. It hits him and goes in. Fucking hell.  

Bowler comes on. He has a run and lashes a shot. A corner. Garbutt's ball is horrible. 

Madine has a penalty shout. It's the other end of the ground, so I've no idea but Gary is very cross. Very cross indeed. At full time he's still very cross about it. So, therefore it's a penalty for me. Obviously. (I haven't a clue)

It just feels like we're not getting back into this. We turn into a long ball side who also pass it back and forth for a bit for no obvious reason before hitting it long at Gary who is marshalled by a literal giant. He's good is Madine but not that good that we can just knock it to him and leave it at that. 

The atmosphere is a little turbulent. 

Marvin makes a terrifying attempt to turn away from his man and loses it on the edge of the box. Gabriel saves the day. Garbutt goes down. Bowler carries on. He goes a mile. He really needs a pass. No one is there. He gets a corner. Carey drifts it. Husband darts in but it's read and cleared. 

Madine wins it. Carey skates across, finds an angle. He shoots! Blocked. Fucking hell. But it falls to Wintle, there's a space, he has to hit it. He hits it! He hits the corner flag. 

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Stoke were actually a bit like Huddersfield. The stopped us getting any rhythm and worked out how to play us and did us in the second half. The fella behind me kept shouting 'these are shit' and I know what he meant, even if I didn't quite think they were that bad. What they were good at was limiting us and whilst I thought we'd got a real chance at half time with 5 of their players on yellows, O'Neil really did a good job in switching it about and getting them in our faces higher up the pitch. 

Losing Keogh was a blow, not just cos Crazy Uncle Richard went off but because the topknot magic left back was at centre half where he's not as good and frankly, Garbutt was off the pace. Husband isn't an amazing crosser, but what he does is drive forward aggressively and play nice football with the players around him. Garbutt seemed sluggish and that imbalanced us. He highlighted what Jimmy gives us and I really don't want to see us wasting our best full back at centre half when we've got other centre halves who are decent at the club as twin aggression on the flanks is one of our best assets and keeps us high up the pitch when it's working. It didn't work today. 

Sonny is still potential. There were flashes of real class and the fact he missed a chance would be forgotten in another game where more came along but there were also glimmers of how young he is in football terms at this level. He'll be fine though, another day he'll sizzle instead of flicker and his delivery at set pieces was better than Garbutt or Wintle. I just want to know what Owen Dale has done or not done... It's a mystery. We lacked spark in the second half and from the limited sample we've, he's an absolute tinderbox of a player. 

It is what it is. It was flat and we struggled at times. We never really got the front 4 moving in the second half. However, other teams tonight conceded 7 (seven) and we've had chances to win and lost by one. Stoke are very gnarly. They know what they're doing. Their manager is canny. We've had an amazing little run of games and incredible experiences and tonight we fell short. It's going to happen sometimes. If we won all the games like this, then the last few weeks wouldn't have felt like it did because we'd be Man City and we'd be ringing the radio moaning about not winning 3-0 well enough and do we want that? 

Onwards. 

utmp

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