Firstly, credit to Carlton, who are clearly one of the better teams we will face this season. They were hard working, strong and well organised. You can see why they have conceded so few goals, so far this season.
It’s not often we face a side who are better than us on the day, but last night was such a case. In all honesty they probably did enough to take all three points, when looking at the 90 mins as a whole.
Yes, we were carrying injuries, and we weren’t at our strongest, but we were poor first half. The starting XI, weakened though it was, are capable of much more than they showed in the first 45 minutes. We just did not look at it, and we were very fortunate to take the lead with an own goal, and fortunate again, to not go into the half time break 2-1 down, after a defensive error, with Ali needlessly giving the ball away, that led to a one-on-one situation, that the attacker thankfully fluffed.
However, we vastly improved second half, with the introduction of Jack Holmes, who ran the Carlton defence ragged, and it was somewhat against the run of play, that Carlton took the lead, after another defensive error, this time from Flannagan.
It was positive to see the lads regroup, not give in, and fight back into the game, and deservedly equalised, via another scrappy goal. After our equaliser we could/should have gone onto to win the game in the last ten minutes.
This was very much a wake up call. It’s so easy to get carried away, of which I am very much guilty, after 9 consecutive wins, but last night shows that we aren’t going to have things our own way, and we have to work hard and earn wins, and eventually earn promotion.
Whilst I am happy with the squad, I feel as though we could do with a couple of additions; A centre forward. With White and Gregory out, our attacking options looked weak. We lacked a focal point upfront, and unusually for us, we rarely looked a threat, until the second half, with the introduction of Holmes.
I’d also like to see us recruit either a centre back, or a left back. We look vulnerable down our left hand side, and every opponent we’ve faced so far has exploited this, and it is a definite weakness of ours.
I am not convinced by Flanagan, and Lloyd is not a left back. He’s excellent on the ball, and in the attacking third of the pitch, but positionally, and defensively, he struggles.
When we have a fully fit squad I’d prefer to see Lewis Wright at right back, with Rob Evans (easily man of the match last night, by the way. He was outstanding) replacing Flannagan at centre half, and Manning replacing Lloyd at left back.
Let’s not forget Manning kept James Bowen out the side last season, with a number of brilliant performances. I am convinced with those changes we will look more solid defensively.
With the first moan of the season out the way, I’m still left very satisfied with how the first ten games have gone. Unbeaten, top of the league, and we have shown, on multiple occasions, that we have the mentality, team spirit and fight, to scrap and earn valuable points. I know I keep saying this, but I do get the impression and feeling that last season’s team would have lost that game. This team didn’t.
To end on a positive, I am again left impressed at how this group have fought back from a set back, to earn a very good result, and last night was a very good point. That is more impressive, and heartening, than beating teams 5-0.
Josh - Keyboard warrior! #UpTheYeltz