I don't think any others have said it yet, but today was entertaining.
More for the neutral or the Wire fan than the Town fan, mind. A lot of us were standing aghast a lot of the time today. It was a game that made you wonder how far exactly we had sunk over the course of the season. Which goal was set to be the last one?
We went ahead very early with our first attack, which felt reassuringly easy. But what followed was bombardment and a whole lot of fortune to not collapse. Sellars went for a diving header following one of their 10+ corners in the first half, but the one downside was that it went the wrong way from his head and forced Johnson into a great reflex save. We parried out the attacks rather than playing the ball or even smashing it upfield. Lenighan was often part of that defence on the edge of the box, but felt like one chef too many in an overcrowded kitchen. Brown was out of the squad and stood with Wootton, Tomlinson and others behind the net when he could've been ten yards ahead on the pitch, doing his typical yelling at the defence for making the job so difficult for themselves. He didn't appear injured. Will we find out why he's still on the terraces?
You even had the odd defensive contribution from Southwell and Kosylo in getting back, again not doing what they were capable of in the first half but hardly able. Good free kick from the former though. Odelusi's role as striker almost felt like a way of deflecting the blame from our midfield, which was typically absent for the first 50 minutes at least. He looked for the ball but it ended there. He couldn't so much as kick it at his opposite man's shins. He'd be played like a puppet. I wish he'd do well, but he was so at sea today it was untrue. That move about 80 minutes in when he got through but didn't make an (easy) attempt at it as the defender slid in was terrible. The instant reaction from behind the net said it all, but he did turn around and glare at the crowd afterwards. I'm sorry it's getting to him but anyone would be fooled into thinking he didn't even want to play a single good ball today. With some tight competition, I think his performance today was the poorest we've seen all season, albeit he broke a lot more sweat than Lenighan.
Fullarton did take initiative in the second half, and the game plan may have been slightly changed alongside that, as for most of the second half we started playing a game resembling football. Warrington have a low-scoring, low-conceding record at their level, a reputation that accompanies their flowing game that ought to be the envy of Fullarton now he's stopped getting it out of his own side. They'd press and put it up field with good pace, and at no point today did the mask slip and reveal a glue league side. Instead they went from their tight game management in the league and really went for it, switching it to the wings if they needed to and often passing too quickly for us. Their first may have come from our own mistakes, but it was a fine finish. They deserved to qualify, but full-time teams may be prone to making more of less time in attack.
That would have papered over the cracks for very few Shaymen at the game today however. The same exhibits are there from performances like that at Aldershot, these being a hollowed out engine room, a mismatched striking partnership, a few players without much bottle, a defence often relying on Johnson's presence, and a general inability to move it around and carve sides up with movement and execution. There are several players today whose names we can largely agree on who'll be frustrated and embarrassed at the performance they put their name to today, but there are also a few who'll be rolling their eyes, tensing up and starting to think about who they'll sign for next time.
I mentioned Fullarton took initiative, and would say his substitutions were very useful. King, though not perfect, gave us possession and direction in midfield. Derisive words were said of Edwards and it was strange for Southwell to be the one going off, but he made some good moves in behind the striker. Maybe we're closing in on what could be the winning partnership for us: Edwards playing just behind Southwell, using his pace and ability to move it around as he grows into this side. Maybe we'll even play McLeod at some point. It's counterproductive to call for another manager's head here, but we were very close to humiliation today and are more than likely to return on Tuesday, £20 in, to a muted, depleted East Stand, Whatever FC set to play the winners, with another line-up that moves around the wrong people and retains the wrong people, with the same lack of inspiration that could all but guarantee a win against a glue league side. In all the responses to the drought that we've seen so far, from stick to twist, we still haven't seen that change and we still see some strange choices.