Date: 17th February 2013 at 7:33pm
Written by: CourtJester

In terms of poor performances this season, this was up there with Swindon away. We just weren`t at it from the first whistle to the last, and it was the manner of the defeat, rather than the defeat itself, that hurt the most.

We started off playing 4-4-2, with Painter making his debut at left back alongside Seabourne, Cook and Francis in defence, then it was Pugh wide left and Ritchie wide right with Arter and MacDonald in central midfield, and Grabban and Pitman up front.

Right from the start you sensed the team selection and formation wasn`t quite right. Gone was the zippy passing and movement we`ve got so used to seeing, and Preston outplayed us, pure and simple. We were second to everything. I can only assume that the 4-1-4-1/4-5-1 formation that has served us so well away from home of late was abandoned because Hughes can`t play two games in a week and Eddie wanted Ritchie to play wide right following the acquisition of Painter. Eddie also dropped O`Kane in favour of MacDonald – a strange decision given that O`Kane and Arter had struck up such a good partnership in midfield, and MacDonald had only had a couple of late cameos since his injury. McQuoid was also very unlucky to be dropped as a result of this reshuffling.

So?the game began with AFCB defending the goal behind which we were sitting, and my attention was immediately drawn to the performance of Painter, who was playing right in front of us. To be honest, he looked, um, ordinary. He reminded me of a journeyman player – the type that Pompey has been signing on monthly contracts all season. Hopefully he will improve once he knits together with his new teammates, but unfortunately he doesn`t look like someone keen to overlap/dovetail with the wide midfielder in front of him, and what with Pugh clearly not functioning at 100%, this meant we were rather weak on the left. However, I`m certainly not singling Painter out as the reason for the defeat – the whole team needs to take responsibility for that – just writing a bit about him as he was a debutant.

Anyway, Preston took the lead after about 20 mins when we faffed around a bit on the edge of the box and failed to clear a bobbling ball, allowing Beavon to sweep a shot into the bottom corner. Then 10 mins later it was 2-0, after a simple cross into the box was not dealt with and Wright had a tap in following a bit of pinball in our 5 yard box.

I think it was at this point that Pugh went off – presumably he thought he was fit following his illness, but clearly wasn`t – and O`Kane came on, and I`ve got to admit I couldn`t quite work out what was going on in our midfield after that. I think someone on this site posted that it was reminiscent of Groves` diamond, and I would concur with that damning assessment.

Foggy then came on for Painter at the start of the second half, as we went with three at the back. It didn`t work. Tubbs then came on for Arter and, to be honest, I wasn`t quite sure what formation we were playing after that – I was simply sitting there waiting for the ref to blow up for full time, as it was obvious we were never going to get back into the game. Someone told me afterwards we had two shots on target. I must have missed them.

One mystifying aspect of the afternoon was the performance of Ritchie. For me he`s been brilliant at left back – full of energy, bombing up and down the wing, technically excellent, putting in great crosses, using his pace to track back goal side if an attacker gets beyond him (he did that particularly well at Crewe) – and yet yesterday, in his preferred position, he was anonymous. It was all very strange, a bit like our overall performance.
Final Thoughts
I know this report probably sounds like a bit of an over-reaction, and I know it`s only one game and we can`t win every time and it`s hopefully just a blip and we`re still top of the league, etc., but we were dire. Like I said, it was the manner of the defeat rather than the defeat itself.

I am expecting a MASSIVE reaction in the Sheffield United game on Saturday.

Report by CourtJester

fansince59 added…
I wouldn’t disagree with C’ report, only to add that the pitch was a disgrace and we didn’t /couldn’t adapt our game to suit.

If ever there was a game to change our tactics when we went behind, this was it. We really needed to bypass the midfield and have a big target man. EH and JT were on the pitch at 1.30 so should have worked out it wasn’t a passing surface. It was obvious from the 1st minute that Preston were ‘up for it’, not giving us a second to settle, closing down and chasing everywhere. The only surprise was that they only scored 2. I haven’t seen us outplayed over 45 minutes since Groves departed and I must admit it was painful to watch. For the first time ( IMO ) since he came back, EH got the tactics and team selection wrong yesterday but like others have said, its just a blip I think and only 1 game. Onwards and upwards:)


7 Replies to “Deepdale Debacle”

  • People who said the come back was complete are wrong. The teams behind us have games in hand which come the end of the season might just knock us out of a play off spot all together. Yes, I don’t think we’re were going to have an invincible end to the season but with reletively new Seabourne & the new lad Painter coming it’s looking a bit worrying. Zubar shouldn’t be out on loan plain & simple. He’s already I think, picked up two MOM peformances in his 1st two games for Bury & with a defensive crisis like we have I just can’t put my finger down where Howe is going with this…

  • As soon as I saw the team sheet I was nervous because we put out two raw partnerships, Arter/MacDonald, and Ritchie/Francis and a non existent one. Pugh and Painter can barely have had time to shake hands and learn each others name. Couple that with Preston sacking Westley a week too soon and this was always going to be a tough ask. Good to see the manager try and change it and always easy to be wise after the event. The important thing is to learn the lesson and move on, one game at a time.

  • This very poor performance on Saturday was due to Eddie’s team selection he should have gone with the team that beat Crewe. The inclusion of McDonald in midfield was a major mistake he cannot defend or tackle, he does not work hard enough or make forward runs and does not contribute to the attack. Whatis the matter with Zubar in defence he would have been better in the back four than a loan left back and Seabourne could have played on the left

  • For me 2 major points here.

    1. The formation. Although we beat Crewe with 4-5-1 we could very easily have lost that game, only their poor shooting stopped a Crewe win. In a 4-5-1 with Grabs the one up front Pitman is lost, he is not a winger, no pace, nor a midfilder, not a passer, his strength is his uncanny eye for goal when shooting. We need to be playing 4-4-2 with Grabs spearheading and Pitman playing off him to his left. I feel really sorry for Ritchie. Left back at Crewe, right wing first half. left wing second half and then some kind of midfield to finnish. He must be dizzy! I very much agree with Court Jester’s assessment of Painter, let’s hope there is a dramatic improvement, if not send him back and play Seabourne at left back and get Zubar back off loan. The Arter/MacDonald should have worked, but clearly they both had a bad day at the office. It was MacD who knocked the ball back across the box for them to score the 2nd goal.

    2. The pitch was a disgrace. We cannot use it as an excuse but clearly they were more used to it than us. In cricket you get a points deduction for producing poor pitches, it should be the same with football. I rank this pitch similar in nature to Walsall i.e. heavily rolled to make it look good but causes an odd bounce because there is no grass and it cuts up in minutes causing bobbles.

    I still believe it is realistic for us the win auto promotion. We had a blip at Wlasall then won 5. We need to do the same again.

  • Kenny1 I don’t like your observation of Macdonald at all. I think he does all of that but shouldn’t have started due to only just coming back from injurey & O’kane & Arter’s partnership was already peach. Before Macdoanld got injured, he was argubly our best player!

  • ^ Will-AFCB agree completely, im a little sick of listening to these ‘fans’ slating the team after 1 abject performance, just look at the turn around since EH’s return – yes maybe he got 1 or 2 things wrong that game & the players had an off day, but it was just that – an off day.
    we should all be kissing the ground eddie & the lads’ walk on after the miraculous turn around the past 4 months – everyone up & down the country is starting to sit up & take notice of us, EH is only behind alex ‘whisky nose’ furguson as the top manager in the country………..think on before you have a pop next time and just be thankful (& proud) we are in THIS situation instead of the one our unfortunate neighbours down the road find themselves in.

  • Will-AFCB and richh81 sum it up pretty well. We may or may not get promoted/ make the play-offs but where we started and where we finish the season will be poles apart. Bringing Macdonald back so soon along with having a debutant at left back and a poorly marc pugh have combined with or led to a poor overall performance. We have enough and better players than to need Zubar back. He is only missd because he was the only thing we had to cheer about under the previous manager. Our squad is strong AND young. We will learn from saturday. Fingers crossed for a place in the top six at the end of the season. UTC

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