Yeah, this one hurts.
David Lynch has had a really tough introduction to Conference football.
Brown and Garner were rocks for the most part, know exactly what they're doing and put up a great fight.
Moyo put in as much effort as anyone on the pitch, but had a fair share of overcooked passes and didn't quite use his flank enough.
Wilde eventually set up the goal, for which thanks, seemed to participate pretty well but a lot went unnoticed from me.
Dixon and Oliver aren't quite up to it yet, and didn't seem to last too long. Took a better approach in a second half where we set up better.
Morgan featured in much more of a positively minded attack and there certainly needed to be someone playing alongside to Denton. But even then he was quiet, waiting for the ball to come to him and gesticulating rather than going for any within his range. Two up front was a crucial change, but I wish he'd get himself dirty for the team as he'll be twice the player.
Kosylo was just about the best man on the pitch, running around like mad to pick up everything he could, so much so that I was worried he's do himself an injury, with a priceless first touch that made him by far the best player of the ball we have. I can even excuse his selfishness given how poor the rest of the squad seemed to be at reading one another. He'll get it if he keeps trying, and I really think his endeavour didn't deserve so many moans directed towards him. How many attacks would we have had without his presence?
Denton contributed a whole lot including in defence, and of course got us the goal. A lot of his work seems unappreciated but he was on form today. He's vindicated his position in the squad tonight, as much as it may limit what we can do.
Charles just couldn't get past his man and was completely ineffectual. Sadly no spark in the man tonight.
Macdonald was a marked improvement on him, as he pegged it every time to be first to the ball, and often outpaced his man to create problems. He does lack that aggression, and a couple of moments when the chance could've been his simply weren't taken once again, and he needs that faith in himself to chip in with a few strikes.
As for the way we've set up, I think this marks the end of the ground-out results that got us promoted, as they're not quite clicking with a team that's simultaneously working out how to beat a better standard of footballers, alongside a few newbies like Oliver and Dixon who don't seem well versed in it. When we're finding it very hard work to get past tougher defences, we need to afford ourselves more time to go for it. At least so we can figure out what works, because we're not reading each other well right now.
During the first half I've hardly seen a team as well marked as we were. It felt like our CBs had complete creative, ball-playing freedom in comparison and we couldn't work it out. A really featureless half that seemed to result in a Billy blowdrier treatment in the dressing room, as they came out early and took the fight to Dover in the second.
It seems to be a trope where once a season, we may get a late winner and be so in awe of ourselves that we immediately let one in at the other end. So with it coming this early, I hope that Heath and the players pulverise themselves over that. Of course Dover were showing their teeth, but it's a time when we really must grit ours too. But who knows, maybe it'll actually get us going? Any road, a decent manager hates that feeling more than any other. There's a great contradiction in football between us spreading out game time pensively and slowly grinding out the ideal result, and the three points being nicked in the final few seconds. Without Denton's equaliser and the subsequent drop of heads it would've been the final few minutes, and the lesson would be no different. We have to deal with that.
Luckily, unlike certain people who still bite at the manager's ankles until he falls in belief that the next one will be perfect, Billy Heath doesn't have the learning capacity of a pigeon, and he'll be hurting more than anyone tonight and be acutely aware of what's just happened.
Pearson scored the opener as Barnsley went on to win tonight. He'd be cracking in this squad.