Monthly Archives: January 2017

Darlo – Curzon Analysis, “We Must Defend Better”

In recent weeks that has been the message that has come out of the club especially from Martin Gray, but it once again was our defending that cost us the game on Saturday.

We were playing a mid-table Curzon team, who were high in confidence after victory over leaders AFC Fylde, but we simply gifted them goals. To be fair to them they were clinical on the break and finished off their goals brilliantly, but some of the defending looked like the level we have come from, the Northern League.

The first goal wasn’t great defending, but it was the second and third that finished us off. Both goals came from us pushing on too many players forward, with those who were back being all over the shop as well.

In his post-match interview, Gray said we didn’t perform in both boxes and while it is true we put plenty of balls into Curzon’s box and probably should have scored more than once that is not where the game was lost. If we have to score three goals a game to get something we simply won’t be able to do it each and every week.

So what do we do? Obviously, what we are currently doing isn’t working. Is it the tactics defensively or is it the players. For many fans, some of our backline are fan favourites, myself include, but have we gone beyond the level they can play at? Possibly.

David Ferguson has been brought in as I believe a defender, but he made his home debut yesterday on the left wing.

Before the season started would I have taken where we are now, of course I would, but our form in recent months simply has been terrible. Since we won at Harrogate at the end of October we have only won twice in all competitions and our defensive record has been pretty poor from the word go.

I’ve been calling for Jameson being taken out of the firing line for some time now, but I’m not sure why we changed our complete shape yesterday. Cartman once again made an impact after coming on, but I really don’t know what the lad needs to do to start.

It doesn’t get any easier either, next week we travel to Chorley. When we played them at home despite winning, they looked a very good side and we were lucky that day to come away with all three points.

Hopefully, the defensive training goes better this week than last.

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Stockport – Darlo Preview

Another Saturday, another tough game, possibly the hardest test we have had for a while, Stockport County away.

Last weekend’s win over Gloucester was a huge step in the right direction and a result we simply had to get if we wanted to have hopes of a top five finish.

However, Saturday will be a good test of where we really stand. While we are ahead of Stockport in the league, they are the in-form team in the division.

When we met at Heritage Park we were lucky to win the game 2-1 and at the time I felt they looked a decent side.

Link to the goals from the game – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7jd8clYxtI

Only six points now separate second to eighth and with Fylde seemingly clear at the top it is going to be a fight for everyone else to try and clinch one of the four playoff spots. Do we have enough to take one of those places? Of course we do, but it won’t be easy.

Stockport will be one of those in the mix come may so it is vital we don’t give them three points.

If everyone is available on Saturday I think we will change for formation and I expect us to go 4-5-1. We have done this against some of the better sides in the division in recent months, such as Fylde at home and Kidderminster away, which saw two good displays if they only yielded one point.

If we do go this way, it is crucial to use the ball well when we have it, but also getting the midfield up to support Beck. This would mean no start for Walker or Cartman, but the latter proved how much of an impact he can have from there against Gloucester.

After a solid display and a clean sheet last week, there is no reason to change in goal and hopefully Jameson will go into the game with some confidence.

I can’t make the game due to a stag do in Liverpool, which will be great, but for those who go it should be a great day out.

Halifax away brought back some great memories of away days in the Football League and this will be another one. As much as I have enjoyed some of the smaller grounds over the last four years that we have been to, a big stadium, big crowd and great atmosphere, you can’t beat it.

Prediction Stockport 3-1 Darlington, I just have a bad feeling about Saturday.

 

 

Darlo 2-0 Gloucester Analysis

Cartman and Turnbull save the day to earn us a huge three points.

70 minutes into the match I couldn’t see any way we would score, as the game seemed destined to be heading for a 0-0 draw. Nathan Cartman came on and the rest, as they say is history.

In the context of the season it could prove to be massive. Against an out of form Gloucester, we simply had to win and thankfully we just about got there.

It wasn’t just Cartman’s goal and assist, his all-round link up play when he came on changed the complex of the game.

As for Turnbull’s goal, unbelievable Jeff. A fantastic finish and the perfect way for him to get his first goal for the club.

Also, have to be pleased for Pete Jameson and the defence as a whole. It wasn’t always convincing, but the clean sheet will do them all the world of good. Jameson will have been feeling the pressure with the arrival of our new goalkeeper from Bishop Auckland, who I was surprised to see not to start, but he did everything he had to yesterday and hopefully it will give him a confidence boost.

However, for me the victory papered over a lot of the cracks which have been showing in the past couple of months. For the majority of the game we were the better team, but still we barely created a chance against a team who were there for the taking.  Had we played a team such as Fylde, Kiddy, Salford or Nuneaton, I don’t think the day would have ended so positively.

I was surprised to see Thommo dropped even if he hasn’t been on fire recently, I just feel him and Gillies have that extra trick that can unlock defences where others can’t.  Once he was brought on shortly after Carts, he too added a lot.

The reason I couldn’t see us scoring before, was there were too many hopeful punts forward. I’m not going to get into the long ball debate again, but if we are playing long balls they need to be into the right men and the right areas.

Regardless of the performance, though, great result and let’s look at getting another positive one at Stockport next Saturday to really kick start our top five push.

Off the pitch 1837 is still a good attendance, regardless of the drop so quickly from the 3,000 at Blackwell Meadows against Halifax.  I honestly don’t know what I expect the crowds to settle at, but as long as we keep in touch with the top five it should keep people interested for the remind of the season.

As for the twitter squabbles over the kit’s for next season, I honestly couldn’t really care. The ones I voted for lost, but either way I’m not fussed. We have had some great and truly awful kits over the years, but when I look back at seasons that I remember, the kits don’t come into it.

 

 

Darlo v Gloucester preview

Tomorrow we host Gloucester in a game that we really need to be picking up the points.

Despite our form being awful since our win at Harrogate back in October, Gloucester have been on a similar run to ourselves before sneaking a 1-0 win at bottom of the table Altrincham last time out.

The big news today is our two new signings, goalkeeper Ed Wilczynski from Bishop Auckland and striker Lewis Walker on loan from Derby.

Just for ease, our new GK will be referred to as Ed. Ed I suspect will go straight into the starting line-up tomorrow to at least take Jameson out of the firing line for a while.  If he will be the permanent number one or not we will have to wait and see.

It’s a move that most have wanted for a while either to give PJ a break, for competition or to replace him completely. Either way, I am happy to see him come in.

As for Walker, it seems that Hardy is injured and so as much as other areas need attention, it isn’t a bad move. It is hard to only have two fit strikers in the squad, even if Carts and Beck are both playing well.

Loan players from the top couple of divisions are always very hit and miss. Attitude is always the difference. Hopefully, Walker is up for the fight and can provide something different. Like Ed, I suspect he will come straight into the team, giving Cartman a break and I am sure he will still be involved from the bench,

Crowd wise, will we get 2k again? I’m hopeful, but I’d predict it will be 1,800/1900. On the large part most fans had a much smoother day against Nuneaton than Halifax and this should be the case again tomorrow.

After tomorrow we face Stockport who are the in form team in the division, which makes it even more crucial that we pick up the three points.

Prediction – Darlo 3-1 Gloucester, Attendance – 1924

Injuries, shirts and signings

 

Portas out, new kits and who are we bringing in?

After the disappointment of last weekend’s defeat at home to Nuneaton, everybody at the club needed a lift, the news that midfielder Tom Portas will not play again this season, was certainly not it.

Tom has been out since September after an awful tackle from a Stalybridge Celtic at Heritage Park and following him warming up on the pitch recently it was hoped that he would return early in 2017. However, this week it was confirmed that he would not be back in action during the current season.

It’s a bitter blow for the squad to lose a player who has had a huge impact since he joined the club. Having joined from Whitby along with Graeme Armstrong the pair both had a huge role to play in back-to-back promotions.

While we are struggling on the pitch for form, Portas really is a player we could use, offering something different to our other CM’s. Turnbull is an almost every present and Scott/Falkingham have both had spells this season, but none have that real cutting edge going forward. Syers has the potential to do this, but with limited time on the pitch we are yet to see him at his best. However, Portas has shown on so many occasions over the last few years what he can do in terms of scoring and assisting.

Hopefully, he recovers as quickly as possible and is given another chance when he does return to fitness.

It is always interesting when the options are brought out for new strips to vote on for next season, as a few people have pointed out not sure if it needs to be done every year, but still, it is interaction with fans in a fan-owned club.

Here is the link for anyone who wants to vote.

http://darlingtonfootballclub.co.uk/choose-next-seasons-home-and-away-shirts/.

I’m pretty sure both option 1’s will get voted in, which are most in line with what we have historically worn. However, option 2 for the home strip is different, but still looks good. The less said about the others the better. a few names have

A few names have been flying about with speculation regarding a goalkeeper and also a striker. As of yet, no signings have been confirmed, but I really hope we don’t go after another striker. Yes, we currently only have three in our squad, but we are still scoring. We are crying out for a new CB along with a new GK either to be 1st choice or to provide competition for Jameson.

Hopefully, someone will be brought in before the game on Saturday, which is looking huge for our promotion chances with an in-form Stockport County coming up a week later.

Finally RIP to Darlington fan Ryan Wilson, who the club will hold a minutes silence for on Saturday. Having seen his posts on Facebook and Twitter, Ryan was a very passionate Darlo fan who always was behind the team.

Nuneaton hand us first Blackwell defeat

Disappointing is the main word to describe today.

Disappointing performance, disappointing result, but at least there were many positives off the pitch.

Before the game started I looked at our bench and thought, we were thin on the ground. A bench consisting of a GK, LB, two CM’s, one of which is very defensive minded and an unused teenage striker, we have a small squad.

The two Liam’s, Marrs and Hardy, both normally regulars in the 16 were not present. Hopefully, it was down to availability, not injury or potentially being moved on.

Onto the game anyway and it’s hard to say anything other than it was a poor performance. Considering they were on a great run, Nuneaton didn’t look any better and a draw would have been a fair result.

For the majority of the game it was pretty even with neither keeper massively being tested, but the difference was we were having to make last gasp tackles. Brown, Galbraith and Burgess all made one each in the first half as Nuneaton looked set to strike.

It was one of these lunging tackles from Brown on a Nuneaton players that gave them the penalty to open the scoring.

Apart from our set pieces, the majority of our goals come from our creative wingers, Thommo and Gillies, but Nuneaton did a job on both today and for the most part they were kept quiet.

To be honest for most of the second half except for a great moment from youngster Harvey Saunders, I couldn’t see us scoring.

Fair play to David Syers, I was right in line with it and it was a fantastic header, but I didn’t see it coming. For a whole 60 seconds I could see us scoring the winner, but no poor defending and a great finish from their player to steal all the points at the death.

The result sees us drop to sixth, but it is still awfully tight between a host of teams. Playoffs this season isn’t a must, but we really do have to improve defensively if we want to halt this horrible run which has seen just one victory in the last ten games in all competitions.

Off the pitch, there was a lot less unhappy people than on Boxing Day. When walking past the bar seemed full and there weren’t two/three people deep all the way around the edge of the ground. The food facilities on the far side of the ground seemed to be ticking over and another set of toilets certainly helped.

Great work from everybody involved who has helped improve the experience for those attending. I know many would come regardless, but for those who don’t it matters.

The attendance was around what I was expecting, but it is still impressive for the level we are currently at, hopefully we manage another 2k+ next week.

Darlo v Nuneaton preview and ground update

Tomorrow we have our second game at Blackwell Meadows, as we face in-form Nuneaton Town.

Despite a win on the pitch at Blackwell Meadows, several off the pitch issues were raised in the days after the game and some of these have been looked at since. First though the game on the pitch

Match Preview

The festive four points against Halifax were much needed following a run of seven games without a win. We moved back up to fourth place, but the league table has tightened with only five points separating 3rd-8th in the league.

While the playoffs are far from a necessity this season, if we do have ambitions of a top five finish, the rest of this month with three of our four games being at home could be crucial.

Despite the positive results against Halifax, the defence shipped another two goals in both games and it has to something that Martin Gray is looking at. As for now though no new faces have joined the club so it’s very unlikely that the back five will change by kick off tomorrow.

As for our opposition Nuneaton, they sit 14th in the league, but the position shouldn’t fool anyone, having won four on the trot. Our former striker Tommy Wright is now Nuneaton’s manager and he has had a huge influence in their turn in fortunes. During his time at the club he was always one of my favourite players, but for whatever reason, my lasting memory of him as a player was missing the header at Wembley despite us going on to lift the FA Trophy.

Another man amongst the opposition squad is Exodus Geohaghon. Big Ex as he was known, had a patchy short career with ourselves and following a speech on the team bus is not one of our most popular former players.

It will be interesting to see what formation we start with if Josh Gillies remains sidelined following his shoulder injury he picked up at Halifax. Having let Adam Mitchell go earlier this season, we don’t have any other recognised wingers in the squad except Gillies and Thommo. I suspect we will go with an extra CM such as Dave Syers, but apart from that I can’t see any changes being made.

Prediction – Tough game, but hopefully we keep up recent scoring record to sneak it, 2-1.

Blackwell Meadows

Following Boxing Day it is great to the see the statement made by the club in regards to a couple of the issues which surrounded the ground.

For anyone interested here is a link to the article on the official site.

http://darlingtonfootballclub.co.uk/darlington-v-nuneaton-important-match-day-information-game-now-not-ticket/

For those who haven’t had a read the main points to note are changes to the bar and refreshments.  Following a virtually empty bar on Boxing Day, all fans now have access to the bar facilities, while Quaker club members will have access to the lounge facility in the club house. I’m not sure if QC members will feel a bit ripped off, but this is a move that surely had to be made.

As for food and non-alcoholic drinks, the prices have been revised from the opening match, where prices were slightly high to say the least.

With these changes hopefully it will help the day run smoother, the prices for example haven’t been announced, but at least it is showing that both clubs are willing to work together regarding issues from Boxing Day.

Finally, it is good to see that tickets will now be available on the gate. While this does not necessarily mean that it is been a poor take up on the tickets, the right decision has been made and I’m sure fans can see why initially it would be advertised as an all ticket match.

Hopefully, the day goes smoothly and those who return from the last match enjoy the experience as much or better than last time.

With a non-capacity crowd it should be an easier day for all concerned.

Come on Darlo