Saints Well Beaten
• Nugent 15 • Mills 26
Monday, 23rd January 2012
Match Reports :
I have given two of the IBO regulars pride of place in the match report, as I thought their reactions, posted a short time after the match, summed up my own feelings very well. I have just made a couple of editing changes, so that hopefully it makes more sense to the casual observer.
Jeez...where to start?!
As others mentioned on the match thread, Harding erred in letting that nugget Nugent come inside (ooer) on his right and curl it in. Then Saints failed to clear a corner and were punished, although three Saints heads came within a whisker of clearing the cross.
Saints look lost without Rickie up front to give them an outlet, to hold the ball up and bring others into play. Thankfully he's served his ban now and will be back for the next game.
I feel a bit sorry for Falque because he never had a chance to show what he could do. Saints did more in the second half with less possession than they had in the first. They seemed shocked that Leicester were closing them down and not allowing them time on the ball.
Cork, Schneiderlin and Hammond wanted too much time on the ball. Fox did that annoying long ball to no one in particular too much and Connolly and Guly couldn't get anywhere near any of his 'passes.'
Connolly and Guly were truly atrocious in front of goal. Both had presentable goalscoring opportunities and both muffed them. Connolly rushed his and Guly wanted an extra touch. SRL would have stuck at least one of those chances away.
I don't think Saints can put off splashing out on a new striker any longer. I fully expect to see someone come in before the transfer window closes. Falque might be able to fill in for Lallana (if someone can get the ball to him in decent positions) but someone needs to take responsibility for scoring goals off Rickie.
The injury to Hooiveld is another massive blow as he's the only one who looked capable of keeping the score down. Fonte, Chaplow, Lallana and Lambert have all missed games recently and they are all key players. Any side would struggle with that number of top players on the sidelines and it's not going to get any better with Hooiveld, Fonte, Lallana and Chaplow still out.
Lee Holmes should enter the priesthood or something because he's no footballer. Steve de Ridder did very little when he came on.
The tempo was much better after the break and the most disappointing thing for me was that Saints made Leicester look better than they are. When Saints went at them more in the second half they looked vulnerable.
If Saints had passed it better from the start and kept it tight at the back then it would have been a different game. They just didn't look up for it, right from the off.
That was the footballing equivalent of one of those video packages begging people to donate money to relieve African famine. "Please Nicola - buy some players".
Totally inept in almost every way with square pegs in round holes. The tactics- such as they were - were utterly mystifying, matching them up 4-4-2 then proceeding to hit a series of long balls towards two strikers who hadn't a hope in hell of winning a header. Is Nigel allergic to 4-3-3 or something? Leicester, by comparison, gave a lesson in how to play 4-4-2; power, pace, press, press, press. They pinned us back and we had no answer.
Falque looked like a rabbit in the headlights, Harding was clearly so uncomfortable at right back that I almost felt sorry for him (Jack Stephens could surely not have done any worse), Hammond was pathetic and
Hooiveld kept lumping it long then promptly got injured. Perfect. The Northam end brains trust encouraging Martin to clobber Nugent when he is the only remaining fit central defender at the club was almost as bone-headed as our tactics.
I would advocate playing the U18s on Saturday as we simply can't afford any more injuries.
We also need to spend most of the Chamberlain money because our squad is woefully thin. I know Leicester have spent silly money but they brought on two Premier League loanees while we had to use Richardson and De Ridder who were both clearly not fully fit and had no business being on the pitch. We desperately need some reinforcements- a centre back at least one forward and a proper left winger I'd say.
We're still in an automatic promotion spot but we can't bottle it in the transfer market now. We may never have a better chance of getting promoted and I'll never get over it if we blow it because we were too tight.
AND WHY THE FECK DID IT TAKE HIM UNTIL HALF TIME TO CHANGE IT?
I think last night was more complex than it seemed.
Firstly, all our back four were left footed. I think Pearson realised that and specifically target our right. As I have argued for at least a year, Harding cannot defend. Add to this the fact that he was constantly on the wrong foot didn't help at all.
Having thought about it, even playing Butterfield (assuming Richardson could not have played the whole match. Even when he came on late in the game, he looked a class above the rest of the team.) would have been better than Harding. I just don't think Adkins was expecting Leicester to press Saints quite as much and Harding was in the team for his attacking skills.
Add to this the fact that Guly and particularly Connolly were completely ineffective against the Leicester defence. Connolly just looked like a small schoolboy, constantly being pushed off the ball by bigger, faster Leicester players. Guly at least tried to play the Lambert holding role.
Because the Leicester defence had little to do they were constantly able to go forward, overrunning the Saints midfield. So, although it looked as though the Saints midfield was the problem, it was more the complete lack of threat up front, coupled with a glaring left side bias in defence that did for us on the night.
Adkins got the formation right in the second half, unfortunately the players were just not up to it. Holmes in particular looked completely out of his depth. Anyway, by then the game was lost. All Leicester had to do was soak up what little pressure there was and then hit us on the break.
Mind you, if Connolly had not made such a hash of that gifted backpass, then it might have been a different game, but I doubt it...
I thought Falque looked like a 'Lallana Lite', only without the positional sense, physical presence, or skill. I don't know if anyone else saw the little cameo before kick off where Cork was trying to explain to him where he was supposed to be playing, followed by Cork standing with his head in his hands. You couldn't make it up.
Without Lambert, Fonte, Chaplow, Lallana and a fit Richardson, it was always going to be an uphill battle.
We need one of Hooper, Sharp, or Rodrigues in by next Tuesday, as there seems to be no plan B. Heaven forbid that Hooiveld's injury keeps him out of the crucial game with Cardiff.
Leicester on the night were bigger, faster, more committed and more skillfull.
26 Hooiveld (Richardson 65)
14 Hammond (De Ridder 56)
27 Falque (Holmes 56)
33 De Ridder
03 Konchesky (yellow card)
12 St. Ledger
07 Gallagher (Drinkwater 42)
20 Beckford (Delfouneso 75)
35 Nugent (yellow card) (Howard 87)