So a truly terrible first half to watch. You could say with much justification that we were defensively solid and did not look like conceding – so job done. But defending is only half the battle – and there is more than one way you can defend. Our method currently is to get bodies behind the ball, break up play and attempt to negate the opposition by numbers, organisation and destructive defending. All well and good – and today it worked – but I prefer to see teams negate the opposition by keeping possession of the football.

Anyway, on the flip side, if we’d kept the first half formation and team selection we could still be playing now and we wouldn’t have created any opportunities, let alone score them. The continuing defensive imbalance to the side and the persistence with playing Miller upfront by himself means we are completely toothless from a creative perspective and very easy to defend against. Three defensive midfielders at this level is too many (I’m a broken record but it’s glaringly obvious) – and our attacking players become too isolated. The game was crying out for an attacking player to replace one of our defensively minded players – and in fairness to Curle, that’s the substitution he made. Was it a mistake not to start with a slightly more attacking team to give us more opportunity of winning the game from the off? I don’t believe Colchester were a good side and we showed them far too much respect – we could’ve won the game more comfortably if we’d had the on field capacity to attack them more in the first half – and I don’t believe they would’ve caused us any more worry if we had one defensive player less.

Our manager’s mind numbing negativity demonstrated itself again with the substitution of Miller for Miller. We were finally gaining some fluidity to our play with the extra attacker and were looking quite dangerous on the break – however this evaporated with the substitution. We looked a lot more like a football team from minutes 45 to 83 – so why not try this out for the full 90 minutes instead of only 38?

At the end of the day however, you have to say it was a decent win away from home – against a side who had previously only lost one out of six at home and scored more than twice the number they’d conceded. And tactically – we stopped Colchester playing successfully, expanded play successfully with the introduction of Devitt to get our goal, then closed up shop successfully at the end with the Miller substitution. So it’s a win straight out of the Curle book of tactics, we “earned the right”, scored the goal then shut up shop – and got three points. So a good day for the manager – but I would argue the approach that got us the win today is the reason we’re still in the bottom half of tier four – and there’s more than one way to win a game of football.


Bonham – 6 - A clean sheet and a couple of what you would call “regulation” saves. However, some truly terrible distribution and he’s too often in a crazy wacked-out position for crosses. If you come off your line as a goalkeeper – you need to be making contact with the ball. It’s a judgement call that cost us the goal last week and he was struggling with today. On this occasion, our defence saved his blushes – but all it takes is for one of our defenders to miss a header. I still can’t see the point of strating him ahead of Bacon.

Brown – 8* - First class ball to create our goal and ran himself into the ground. Solid defensively, took a “professional” booking for the team covering for the awol Grainger. He’s still improving every week – and the sooner we get him tied down for the season (at least) the better.

Grainger – 3 – Captain embarrassment. The defensive equivalent of trying to drink a cup of coffee out of a sieve. His positioning is possibly the worst I’ve ever seen for a full-back and opposition players can mostly just walk past him. He did actually manage to get his body and hexagonal shaped head in front of the ball a few times and I can’t fault him for effort – but honestly, it looks like we’ve pulled him straight out of the farmyard. He can take a decent penalty and can kick the ball possibly harder than anyone else at the club, but this isn’t enough for a professional footballer.

Hill – 7 – Solid as a rock, however should’ve made more of an effort to get on the ball as he’s a decent passer. Our communication has improved by roughly a million percent since Hill arrived at the club.

Liddle – 7 – Who are you, and what have you done with the real Gary Liddle? Whoever this imposter is, he looks like a real defender. Another couple of performances like this and Parkes will be warming the bench when he returns from suspension…

Jones – 7 – More like the old Jones today, doing a really valuable shift in central midfield in front of the back four. Used the ball intelligently and defended brilliantly. Can still improve – which is great news for us.

Joyce – 6 – Looked happier when Etuhu stayed in the bath and he could move back deeper to his natural position alongside Jones. Asking him to get forward doesn’t work – he’s a defensively minded player, you aren’t going to turn him into David Platt.

Etuhu – 4 – Playing on the right wing isn’t his game, so why do we persist with this tactic? If he plays he needs to play in central midfield alongside Jones (preferably) or Joyce – where I actually think he might be effective. Too often gives the ball away and is too easily brushed aside. With the size of the bloke he should be intimidating the opposition and grabbing hold of the game by the scruff of the neck in midfield and driving us forward, but too often he looks like a toothless old hamster trying to viciously gum someone to death.

Adams – 4 – Supremely out of form. Some of his footwork was very pretty, and he actually managed to pass the ball to a few Carlisle players this week, so an improvement. However, his crossing and final balls into the box were toilet of the highest order. On these kind of performances it’s difficult to see where the player who provided all those assists is hiding? I’m not going to give him a high mark just because he’s Nicky Adams – and he shouldn’t get a shirt just because he’s Nicky Adams either. Needs to be dropped and to prove he’s worthy of a start again.

Lambe – 6 – Decent stuff from Reginald, despite a few fairy moments. Hit his groove quite well with the introduction of Devitt, having another player with a brain on the pitch to pass the ball and dovetail with. There’s clearly some talent in there, and when we’re passing the ball and trying to play football it begins to creep out… Curle will have him on the training pitch trying to snuff this sort of nonsense out on Monday.

Miller – 5 – I still have every sympathy in the world with Miller – as playing as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 is not his game. However, I have to mark on how effective players are – and today when he had the ball, too often his decision making was poor. Benefitted immensely with the introduction of Devitt and got involved in some of our best football – however as a striker his threat level was zero.


Devitt – 7 – Classy finish to win us the game and some actual passing and movement – coupled with some good defensive work. He needs, and deserves, to start football matches.

Hope – 3 – Ran about a bit with very little influence. How long is his contract for?

Miller - 6 – Decent defensive job.