Ranger, Ranger - High Voltage
31st August 2009
So five games played, four wins, eight scored, one conceded, thirteen points and a partridge in a pear tree! Tonight saw a sodden SJP play host to the last home game before the international break and, more importantly, the close of the summer transfer window. Whilst we look in rude health on the pitch, off it we are still clueless.
To the match. Chris Hughton started with a few surprises with Coloccini, unbeknown to all of us, being unavailable due to Argentina commitments. Whether this is gospel or a ruse ahead of a move remains to be seen. Danny Simpson instead moved inside to accompany Steven Taylor, with Ryan Taylor reverting to right back.
Midfield consisted of Geremi, Barton, Guthrie and Smith whilst Nolan was tasked with providing some element of support to the Lone Ranger up front. God, I've been desperate to use that pun.
The first half was a bit of a write off. Regular hoofed balls gave Nile a straight battle with Brown and Hobbs at the back in the air and this met with middling success. Kevin Nolan had our best chance but hit the keeper with a tame shot.
At the other end however Harps pulled off massive saves from a Howard header at a corner and then a Paul Gallagher free kick to keep the clean sheet intact.
However the second half was a different story. I hope Hughton directed them to play the ball to feet because this changed tactic up to Ranger worked a treat. The starlet had a massive impact, bringing his midfield into play at last and the likes of Nolan, Geremi, Smith and Guthrie with the goal, were able to get shots in.
Guthrie's goal itself was a belter, Nolan chesting the ball down and Guthrie taking a Ranger pass to then crash the ball home. Leicester offered surprisingly little in the last third, with Howard given very little to thrive on and their passing was absolutely gash.
Overall another pleasing win as we went two points clear at the top. However this on-field form is seriously masking the off-field deficiencies. Shearer was again present but the takeover still seems miles away. In terms of transfers we seem to be shedding players akin to a psoriasis sufferer shedding skin.
Whilst youngsters like Nile, Vuckic, Donaldson and Kadar all got involved tonight, we have one fit striker, one specialist left back, no out and out wingers fit, three centre halves and a serious creativity deficiency in midfield.
Smith was again excellent in spoiling, marking Howard very well on the drop down, whilst Guthrie and Nolan showed fleeting touches of class.
The issues with Barton are threatening to boil over, with the midfielder looking disinterested and putting about a dozen easy passes astray.
Geremi was leaden legged but luckily our defence looked great, with Taylor commanding and Simpson much improved from the Huddersfield debacle. Enrique showed good strength and Ryan Taylor was steady.
However the two star men would have to be Harps, for his two great saves and Nile, for a tremendous effort on his own up front. Without wanting to pile too much pressure on, we could have a real find on our hands.