Written by kirsikka
The Nutcracker is the more traditional ballet near Christmas but tonight it was Swan Lake with eleven white swans ably backed up by the black swan. His determination not to give any free-kick he could avoid to the Cherries whilst whistling faster than the proverbial New York second anytime a challenge came in near to a Swansea player was almost admirable it was that blatant. I’m not even talking about the penalty incident here, this was a general observation all over the pitch.
Having seen the display tonight, it’s easy to imagine what took place to anger Lee Bowyer after Charlton’s match against Swansea last year where he expressed his frustration at the official choice given the close connection between the ref and the Swans management. A three-match touchline ban swiftly followed, let’s hope JT managed to keep a lid on it.
I may groan about refs here and there, especially in relation to isolated incidents and inconsistencies. However, it isn’t often I will say a ref was genuinely consistently and outrageously one-sided. Tonight we can chalk that one up for the season. There was no excuse, no crowd to getting on his back and no big team bias where he may have feared the pundit aftermath.
I only hope we never have him as the ref again when we play Swansea. It was horrible and disappointing to watch from a man in the middle not that far from the top of his profession.
– We were the dominant force in the game without being consistently threatening. However, I think JT called this game wrong tactically.
Three at the back felt like overkill against a side with little attacking threat. Riquelme or Surridge near to Solanke would have given the Swans more to think about and us more options.
– Lewis Cook was a class above every other player on the pitch. A brilliant display.
– Junior and Brooks had frustrating nights. Lots of industry without a lot coming off for them. See above for the tactical issue though.
– A point away from home to a promotion rival can never be considered bad but it’s disappointing in that the three looked there for the taking. I think JT didn’t want to risk it though.
Man of the match against Swansea
— Player Ratings —
Begovic – 6
Almost nothing to do all night.
Mepham – 7
Tried to get forward and make things happen in the way the formation allows although not always to great effect. Decent try though.
S Cook – 7
On the rare occasion, Swansea did threaten he was usually there to get a challenge in.
Kelly – 6
A bit more subdued than Mepham but simply fine.
A Smith – 7
Tried to get forward and make things happen. A little shooting practise wouldn’t be amiss!
L Cook – 9 and Man of the Match
The complete midfield performance. Helping out at the back, driving forward with the ball and pinging balls around the park. Also, two piledriver shots that flashed past the post. MotM by a country mile.
Billing (off from 86) – 7
Continued his recent good form. Always available for a pass aided by good tracking back when needed.
Rico – 7
Maybe his best performance in this role. Very unlucky one cut back didn’t result in a goal.
Brooks (off from 82) – 6
Same score as the last match but a much more positive showing. Really looked to be trying to make things happen but it never quite came off.
Solanke – 7
Ploughed a lonely furrow at times although I doubt you’d notice it’s impact on that pitch. Never gave up battling despite the ref refusing to give him a free kick no matter the treatment whilst very happy to rule against him.
Stanislas – 6
Shaky at times in the first half but far more influential in the second. A bit like Brooks tried but it never really happened. Perhaps needed another partner in crime across the line.
— Subs —
Surridge (on from 82) and Lerma (on from 86)
No marks since almost nothing happened during their time on the pitch apart from more cheap Swansea free kicks and no AFCB ones.
Overall Grade: B-
It was a display that showed promise in a lot of areas. However, it’s hard to get over-excited since the Swansea game plan seemed to be sit in deep and wait for us to commit men forward to try and break, which they rarely did. So the possession stat can be a little misleading.
I still felt we were too conservative in our approach. One less defender would have left more room for them to break into but would have allowed us to try and replicate the fast passing interchanges that have proved effective before with a three behind Solanke or given Surridge a chance to try and influence the match.
When Surridge finally made it onto the pitch Stanislas was playing centrally which left little chance to get any crosses in. So a B for a good performance and a point away from home but the – for slight timidity in not going for it.
Agree with all you say. Didn’t Rico hit 5 yellows last night and will not be available for Saturday? – Join the conversation, click here.