So Near Yet So Far
Argh! I am having to force myself to contemplate the match again in order to write this report. How could we throw away a point with less than two minutes of actual time to go? If we could hold out with 10 men against a better Arsenal team, why not today? I`m absolutely gutted.
After 30 minutes I would have settled for a 1-2 score-line. We hadn`t turned up. Then we started to get back into the match and I thought that we might be able to hold out. Naturally, without Fletcher, I wasn`t optimistic that we would actually put the ball in the net, an opinion that was confirmed by wayward headers from Johnson and Ward.
Within ten minutes of the restart we were behind as Ramirez, reacting more quickly than Ward to a loose ball from a corner kick, drilled it home from close range. The lead-up to the goal, seemed to typify our season as it stemmed from sheer carelessness. Having made numerous passes to no great effect, we lost possession through sloppy play and conceded the corner.
Chelsea continued to look the better side but WW were putting up a fight and the introduction of Fletcher (for Frimpong) in the 60th. minute perked me up. In the event he did not score but he set up Ward with his cut-back in the 84th. minute.
Why didn`t we park the bus at that point and why were we so lax in our marking? Cole was allowed acres of space down the left flank and, as the defence backed off, he crossed to the unmarked Lampard for a tap-in. Where was Stearman or whoever was occupying our right wing at that point?
Our midfield didn`t help either, with players not marking their men tightly enough. Perhaps Forde can be forgiven but the equally young Frimpong did not live up to his hype. In time he might save us, but it is going to take some time for him to settle in. His passing was as poor as anyone else`s in the team, he made few tackles and did not manage any lung-bursting runs through the middle.
Of our wingers, Jarvis, when he came on after the break, looked more likely to round his man than did Hammill. Indeed, he should have delivered the killer cross in the 67th. minute. Unfortunately, he did not look up before hitting the ball and, as a result, it sailed over the heads of Doyle and Hammill at the near post. Hammill looked better at set-piece kicks though.
Overall, Chelsea were the better side but they were treated more leniently by the referee than we were. Why wasn`t Cole carded for a foul on Doyle, who was so incensed that he threw the ball at him ... and was given Cole`s card for his pains. Cole was lucky to be on the pitch in the 88th. minute, as was Lampard. If the latter only received a yellow card for his feet-off- the-ground lunge at Hammill in the 23rd. minute, why was Milijas sent off against Arsenal. We could have done with him today.
We really needed a point this afternoon because it`s not going to get any easier in the near future. And we should have obtained one. Defensive lapses are still letting us down and we are still rather casual when performing the basics. One could blame MM`s bizarre selection for some of the problems we faced. Indeed, one of the commentators suggested that we looked like a team that had not played together. Moreover, had we put out a more recognisable side from the kick-off, we may have had subs in hand to park the bus in the last couple of minutes and the opportunity to waste valuable seconds while bringing them on.
At least, we have two weeks to integrate our new recruits into the side (and we need one or two more) and the chance to see them in action in the FA Cup match against Birmingham. I expect to return to stadium-viewing on 14 January when I hope to travel to White Hart Lane with a friend as minder. For all the shortcomings of our side, we did eventually make a contest of it today and could have gained a point. There is no reason why cannot get a result at WHL but we do have to cut out the mistakes and be more dynamic in our play.