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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Carlisle Preview

Its at times like this that you turn to philosophy for an answer. Stendhal, (no, that's not him on the left) our french romantic, realised that the pain of a defeat, especially a 0-4 hammering, stays for days and who said "If you need a thousandth proof that we are not fashioned by a benign being, it is that pleasure produces only about half as much impression upon our being as pain does".
OK, he said it a few years ago now and it needs reading a couple of times before the meaning sinks in but it does explain my beliefs exactly, ie that the pleasure of a win is only followed by a desire for another one next week whereas it seems almost impossive to shrug off the memory of our weekends 0-4 demise. I just didn't know until now that they played football in his day. And here's a picture of the glum Arthur Schopenhauer to let you know that its not going to get any better.
Of course, its at this point that we usually stroll out with all the excuses. Like "its been coming", "Reid got injured", "we were never four goals worse than them"; but that would just be a load of cobblers because its really not true and we are down in 14th because we deserve to be and the sooner we get used to this Division Three stuff the better. Because not only are we 14th in points but also 19th in current standings over the last 8 games, 12th in goals scored, 14th in goals against, and 22nd in October results. All of which makes our next game a bit crucial.
Parky's already demanding a response from the players, and what better place to begin than Carlisle this weekend. So another pic for you, this time its good old GA, manager of the Cumbrians. Its Greg Abbott, 46 year old ex Bradford City defender and he's been there since November 2008, and he's no relation to our own Pawel.

The Cumbrians are not a team with any great history behind it but they have done more than Plymouth for example by enjoying - well that's a bit debatable as they finished bottom - a season in top flight football back in 1974/75 and we all know what happens to teams that finish bottom. Since then they've had a topsy-turby 21st century with eventual relegation to the Conference in 2004 but like their stay in Tier One they didn't stay long and they had an immediate return the year after by winning the Play-offs. They then won Tier Four the next season and have now spent 5 years in Tier Three making the Play-off semis in 2007/8 but losing to Leeds. They finished 14th last season.
Unbeaten in their first seven league games, a run which took them up to 2nd a week ago but they slipped up last weekend with a 1-2 defeat at Exeter and now have exactly the same home record as the Addicks with 3 wins, 2 draws and a single defeat against the Posh 0-1. But they have conceded the least home goals in Tier Three (along with Wednesday) with only 2 goals let in in nine hours of football.
Eight places above us in the table but only three points away and have only scored one more goal than we have and have only scored seven times at home in the 5 games with 4 of them coming in one game when they thumped MK Dons 4-1. The other two victories were against Brentford on opening day 2-0 and in their latest home game 1-0 against Notts County.
Only one team has more clean sheets than the Cumbrians six while the Addicks have exactly half that with 3 but, although it may seem a bit obvious, it seems that the only way to get something out of the Saturdays game is to stop them from scoring because they have had two 0-0 home draws with Swindon and Brighton.

The Opposition
One constant about the top two teams is that they have quite a lot of ever-presents. The Cumbrians have a small squad and currently have no less than 8 ever-presents so there should be no excuses this week about unexpected triangles because barring any injuries its hugely possible that we'll see goalkeeper Adam Collin, defenders Simek, McDaid and Chester, midfielders Berrett, Taiwo and Zoko and striker Madine.
And to help out the regulars in midfield Abbott has bought in on loan 19 year old Oliver Norwood from Manure and he's played 5 games now.

We couldn't stop McGleish, Harley or Wright-Philips - all top 20 goalscorers in Tier Three - so how will we do against the enormous 6' 5", 20 year old number 19 Gary Madine. He's currently the Divisions second top scorer with 6 goals behind Craig Mackail-Smith of the Posh.
Whats Their Secret?
Second in the table in clean sheets with 6 and second in the table of goals conceded with just 8 goals let in - the Addicks have now conceded seventeen..
But if you think that defence is their forte, well maybe but they also have had with more shots on target than the Addicks and over 50 less fouls (the Addicks still top of the league here, 8 clear of Notts County), 7 less yellows and half the number of players sent off so they are clearly more efficient and disciplined that the Addicks. Shame then that they don't attract the numbers to appreciate this style of play because while the two big S's battle it out for top spot, the Addicks sit comfortably in 3rd place on average attendances with nearly 15500, while the Cumbrians lie in midtable with less than 6000 a game..

First thing to regret is that it isn't a cup game, 'cause we had four against the Cumbrians and won them all, three at the Valley and one up there. As for the League we lost our first ever game at Brunton Park 1-3 on New Years Day 1966 and almost exactly a year ago lost the last one by the same score. In between we've won just two of the other 13 league games, the first in 1981, 2-1 and then in 1986, 3-2. But that last one won't be forgotten quickly as it was the one that got us promoted to the top flight, still called Division One in those days, after 29 years away.
So overall up there its a meagre 2 wins in 15 league games but we have forced a draw six times over the years and there's only 7 defeats in the 15 games.
What Are They Saying?
Parky appeared in no doubt where the fault lay last weekend, "two goals from set plays and another where we gave the ball away at the edge of our box. We can't concede sloppy goals like that and expect to get anything from the game."

The Team
We should have a strike force up for it this weekend as not only is Pawel on a high after seeing his goal at MK Dons in the last 10 for the Paint competition goal of the round but Joe Anyinsah will also be going back to play against his mentor and ex-manager Greg Abbott. Our 26 year old number 23 had his best ever spell at Brunton Park scoring 13 goals there last season and how he performs, for he's sure to see some action, could be key to our hopes.
After getting a player in the Football League team of the week after the Plymouth game - Paul Benson - it was no surprise that none made it into this weeks team - and as Parky casts an eye over his players this week he must be seriously wondering what or who can be expected to put things right. That's assuming that he thinks there are things to put right because some of his comments aren't clear on that. But if the job of a football manager entails seeing whatever positives there are and getting to work then Parky only has to listen to Gus who tried to help him out by saying that it may have looked easy but it wasn't.
As Parky scratches his head, its possible that our only League ever-present, Gary Doherty, may be "rested" and find his place taken by Matt Fry. Unless, of course, Parky remembers Curbs' answer to a problem by putting-up shop and fielding a defensive formation, perhaps of Fry at left-back and Jackson in midfield or will we see a return of McCormack.

So in taking Gus's line all we can do is do our bit and raise the spirits by pointing out that a couple of weeks ago Hartlepool, after a recent 0-4 home defeat at the hands of Carlisle, had a long trip to Plymouth four days later and won 1-0. And its not unusual to see Brighton win at the Valley, even the spanners with only 2 wins in their last 10 visits can't get anywhere near Brightons record of 5 in their last 10.

Elliot; Francis, Dailly, Doherty, Fry; Martin, Semedo, McCormack, Jackson; Benson, Abbott.


After last weekends pounding, Curbs would have engineered a goalless draw or three. Can Parky do the same? With Reid missing, and facing a settled side, a crowded midfield prepared to do battle seems in order but where are Holland and Kish (not to mention Parker) to do it for us. Will Parky drop Racon and recall McCormack?

A rather surprising eight out of 38 punters on CAFCPicks saw a win back in the summer and they do include the leading man Major Ken with nine forecasts right so far. A 0-0 draw is all we can hope for but I doubt we can achieve it. A 0-2 defeat for the Addicks and more doom and gloom on the northern horizon.


Ken Jennings said...

When I went for the win pre-season, I saw the potential for the sort of 'surprise' outcome our team hands us once in a while. Sorry to say that following last weeks debacle, my 'current' prediction on another board was the same as yours...0-2. Ho hum.

nelson said...

Debacle. Just the word Ken I've been searching for all this week without success. But will the team lift themselves from the ashes and enable me to use the word success next week or will it be another debacle? Only time will tell but I'm not putting any money on your pre-season forecast.
Much as we hated Curbishley's 0-0's, I'd love one now more than ever and then another one against Wednesday please.