Championship game 8

Town 0-2 Forest

Struggling Forest came and deservedly took all three points. The sacking of Hughton during the week meant that the players had something to prove and right from the off they were on the front foot. Town struggled to get hold of the ball for the first 10 minutes then as we were coming back into the game the impressive Brennan Johnson raced down the Forest right and crossed on the run for Grabban to head home whilst on the move. Town picked up again and looked for openings, Toffolo racing through for a one on one which Samba dealt with well.

For the second half Pearson made way for Turton as we looked to change formation and be competitive in the middle. It didn’t have time to work as we lost the ball for Forest to get away a decent strike just after the restart. Nicholls parried it into the path of Lolly who’s shot bounced around Town players before nestling in the back of the net. Forest then dropped deep and allowed Town possession. With no space behind the back line and a real lack of invention we offered very little to get back into the game. Holmes had a long distance strike which went wide and Lees headed just wide form a corner but we never looked likely to get back into the game.

We have performed much worse over the last few seasons but thsi was a huge disappointment after recent form for both sides. Forest were up for the game and played on the front foot. They were the first into any 50/50s and wanted it so much more than us. We had an air about us such as we would win easily and were made to pay. Closing down was poor, as was the passing and once going behind we lacked and belief or invention. We got what we deserved from a game which got away from us before we really got going today.

Ratings

Nicholls

Handling and positioning was again good. Can’t be faulted for the first goal but I do feel that he could have done better with the second. Goal kicks in the first half were wasted and he could have taken more ownership of these to vary the distribution.

Rating 6

Lees

Good in the air but passing out of the back was slow and predictable. He’s a good consistant performer but needs to be given more options when he is on the ball.

Rating 5

Pearson

Was slow and predictable on the ball and did nit have the drive and control that we have seen in some matches.

Rating 5

Colwill

Looked nervy at times when closed down and his delivery from the back was not as good as we have seen in previous games.

Rating 5

Hogg

Looked a little slow at times. Was second to too many challanges and his passing was not of the standard you would expect. He lost posession for us too often.

Rating 5

O’Brien

Was the better of the Town players. He was very busy trying to retain possession but there were too few options for him when on the ball. Showed drive and enthusiasm but thsi was nit mirrored by the others.

Rating 6

Sinani

Passing was poor today and he failed to find space or spot the man who was in space. Too much head down. Needed to close down teh opposition more as well and the game really got away from him.

Rating 4

Toffolo

Struggled a little today. Spence and Johnson were too much for him to handle and he had little support. Going forward he failed to brake the lines of the Forest defence.

Rating 5

Thomas

Found a lot of space in the first half in good positions but his teamates either failed to deliver well or overlooked him. His head didn’t go and in teh second half he delivered plenty of crosses into the box but we did not have anyone up top to win the ball in the air.

Rating 5

Koroma

Operating out on the left hand side he was well shackled by Forest and rarely threatened. At times guilty of taking too many touches when there were better options around.

Rating 5

Ward

Put himself about dropping deep to link up play in the first half but this meant that he was not up top to spearhead the attack. He miss-controlled a ball early on and dived into the tackle which rightly earned him a yellow card.

Rating 5

Turton came on at half time for Pearson but failed to get into the game struggling to find any space and link up the play.

Rating 5

Carlos

Looking back on the game, starting with Ward and bringing on Mipo, it did nothing. Mipo is quick and needs the ball in behind. After going behind there was no space behind their defence as they defended deep. Ward has been struggling for some time to impose himself and therefore we should have started with Mipo. Passing was poor and predictable, at no time did we deliver long balls or play it through the lines all the play was infront of the opposition and therefore easy to defend against. As the second half progressed play was either sideways in midfield or the ball launched into the box where we had little height. We lacked any inventiveness to brake Forest down and were reluctant to take shots from distance that may have created something.

Rating 5

Champioship game 7

Blackpool 0-3 Town

A great result in what could have been a tricky match. Blackpool came into the game fresh from a victory agaonst Fulham and we slipped at Stoke. There wasn’t much to choose between the 2 in the first half. Toffolo had a decent opportunity and Sinani had a deflected shot on the stroke of half time that nearly deflected in. Equally though Blackpool had a couple of decent openings of which Nicholls saved well with a well struck effort. Defensively though we looked solid, but our play going forward was slow and support for Ward was not very quick to appear.

The second half was entirely different. No shots on target in the first half but we corrected that from the off. Koroma and Sinani operated closer to Ward and Koroma found a bit of space 25 yards out and unleashed a shot into the top corner. Blackpool came straight back at us like Stoke did on Saturday but we held firm and 6 minutes later Sinani delivered a corner which Pearson headed home for his third of the season. With Blackpool then there for the taking O’Brien closed down the defence high up the pitch and the ball broke for Koroma. His effort rebounded to Hogg, who from outside the area volleyed expertly home. To be fair to Blackpool they did not give up and Josh Bowler continued to cause us problems but we coped well and could have added more.

Ratings

Nicholls

Again Nicholls was solid. Controlled the area well and when he was required he saved well. Very dependable and you can see that the defence has complete trust in him.

Rating 7

Lees

Solid again and whilst play was slow in the first half he did everything he needed to do.

Rating 7

Pearson

Solid at the back both in the air and on the ground. Got on the end of the corner for our second.

Rating 8

Colwill

Very reliable throughout and offers a good base for Toffolo to be able to attack down the left. Good to have him back in the starting line up.

Rating 7

Hogg

Solid and reliable performance. Was everywhere winning the ball and looking to move the side forward. Took his goal well when there was still plenty to do to convert his chance.

Rating 8

O’Brien

Closed down well and won the ball all over the pitch. A lot better performance than Saturday and earned the opening for our third.

Rating 7

Thomas

Struggled to find space in the first half but did his defensive duties well. In the second half he was afforded space as Blackpool pressed forward and caused them a lot more problems.

Rating 7

Toffolo

Played with a reall freedom. He was everywhere winning the ball and building attacks. A lively performance and you can tell that he is really enjoying his football. For me the MOM.

Rating 8

Koroma

Struggled to get into the game in the first half but showed what he is capable of with his secind half finish. Was a little guilty at times of being greedy and not spotting a player in a better position but a good performance in the end.

Rating 7

Sinani

Struggled to get into the game in the first half as the ball was coming to slowly into the front line but so much better in the second half when there was more space. Likes to come infield which affords Thomas more space on the right. Delivered a good corner for the Pearson goal.

Rating 7

Ward

Put himself about in the first half defending from the front but his team mates were never close to him and his movement was too predictable.

Rating 5

Carlos

As much as I would like to see us dominate for 90 minutes on the front foot you cannot fault that we got a good result based largely on a strong 45 minutes. We have a pattern of play of keep ourselves in the game and then try and play on the front foot in the second period and it appears to suit us. When working as a team it is very affective so long may it continue.

Rating 8

Championship game 6

Stoke 2-1TOWN

The international break appeared to go against us as we were playing with real vim and vigour beforehand but today was a little slow and predictable. We weren’t bad and deserved to get something from the game but play was too slow with little risk taken in the final third to open up the opposition. Stoke were not much better one mistake cost us from some good play by Stokes Vrancic.

In the first half there were no clear openings at either end. Town having the better of the early exchanges before City came back into the game. We had plenty set plays around the area but failed to make them count. In the second half a free kick from Thomas was well saved but then after a scramble the ball fell to Toffolo who made no mistake from close range. Just 3 minutes later and Jacob Brown rose to head home a corner to level things. Town then began to make most of the drive to open up opportunities but often wanted too many touches and not releasing the ball at the right time. We were made to pay when Vrancic crossed and Pearson failed to control the ball turning it into his own net. We still continued to press forward but the final ball was never good enough and nobody really looked likely to score the equaliser. Against the run of play Stoke had a chance to seal it but blazed over and then Thomas drove a free kick inches wide with the keeper well beaten.

All in all not a bad performance, a draw would have been fair but n those situations there is always a chance that one side will come out on top. We looked a little rusty and need to put things right against Blackpool on Tuesday.

Ratings

Nicholls

Looked good again, positioning and handling was good. Beaten twice but not at fault for either goal. Could take more control at goal kicks which were at times predictabke and easy for the opposition to manage.

Rating 6

Lees

Was slow at times but good in the air. Passing was not delivered as quickly as it could have been.

Rating 6

Pearson

Good in the air for the most part, passing needed to be quicker and miss controlled the ball for the own goal which can happen to anyone.

Rating 5

Sarr

Looked nervy at times and wanted too many touches on the ball allowing himself to be closed down too easily.

Rating 4

Hogg

Looked to drive the side forward and tried some longer range passing but not to great affect. Busied himself about and for small spells looked like the Hogg of several seasons ago. Still room for improvement.

Rating 6

O’Brien

Did not see him push to support the front line, look to play any quick balls behind the defensive line and his control was poor at times with the ball bouncing off him. Needs to be at it on Tuesday or start from the bench.

Rating 4

Toffolo

Threatened down the left in both halves and pleased to see him get his goal. Looks better in a advanced role but also offered the side protection. Looked to be back to full fitness.

Rating 7

Thomas

Received a lot of attention from stoke which is now to be expected but we never got the best out of him. Too many balls behind him rather than infront for him to run onto or drive forward with. He needs the ball delivering quicker than it was. Despite this he was a constant threat.

Rating 7

Holmes

Kept disappearing in the game and when Toffolo or Thomas escaped on the flanks was far too behind the play giving the wide men little to aim at. Wanted too many touches on the ball which slowed any rhythm down.

Rating 4

Koroma

For large parts of the game he too disappeared. With the score at 2-1 he did get on the ball more but again wanted too many touches and appeared to lack a little confidence. Last season he showed he can curl teh ball in with his right foot but was hesitant to let fly.

Rating 5

Campbell

Worked hard for the team defending from the front and in creating space but needed support to get near him. Holmes and Koroma were playing too deep and so Campbell was isolated up front which helped Stoke defend.

Rating 5

Carlos

We played well but there were too many individuals below par and we did not move the ball quickly enough. Sinani and Colwill had been on international duty but Colwill in for Sarr and Sinani for Holmes would have given us better shape and asked more questions of Stoke. Mipo should perhaps have been introduced earlier for Campbell who had picked up a silly yellow card so had to reign in some of his play.

Rating 5

Champioship match 5`

Town 4-0 Reading

The last time Town beat Reading in 90 minutes was 2017. A 1-0 at The John Smiths Stadium with a certain Philip Billing scoring. After the 2 recent league wins, the cup match this week and Readings’ current form it was a strange feeling of confidence heading to the game today.

The line up was – Nicholls, Lees, Pearson, Colwill, Hogg, O’Brien, Sinani, Toffolo, Thomas, Koroma, Ward. A little surprised to see Ward in the starting line up rather than Campbell but pleased to see Sinani starting.

Town started strongly dominating play, although it was a little pedestrian at times. We kept things tight and allowed Reading no time on the ball closing down well and winning the 50/50s. The Royals rarely ventured into our box in the first half and our dominance eventually paid off when the impressive Thomas crossed beyond Ward for O’Brien to show his composure and slot beyond the keeper. Previously Sinani on his debut had fired a free kick in that beat everyone and thumped the inside of the post before coming back out.

The second half continued where the first finished off but there was a little more drive in the final third. On 51 minutes we won a free kick which Thomas expertly delivered and Pearson beat the off side trap to slot home. Turton came on for Sinani after 62 minutes which appeared like a strange decision at the time but he moved onto the right with Thomas coming more central. Within 5 minutes Thomas then drove at the heart of the Reading defence and with 3 players around him he danced into the area placing his finish beyond the keeper. With fans still celebrating the ball broke to Koroma on the half way line and he drove down the left taking on the full back and unselfishly squaring for Danny Ward who took his time to ensure that he scored his first of the season. Town continued to dominate and Campbell who came on for Ward should have made it 5 when he was put through but lifted the ball into the keeper rather than over him. A good solid performance where in the end 4-0 was a fair reflection on the game.

Ratings

Nicholls

Was not really tested today but he dominated his area taking pressue off the back line and his delivery on the ball was good.

Rating 7

Lees

Solid at the back. passing was good and dominant in the air.

Rating 7

Pearson

Solid in the air and good passing. Took his goal well.

Rating 7

Colwill

Good passing and tracking of runners. Developing very well.

Rating 7

Hogg

Sat a little deep at times but looked a lot more comfortable than other games this season. In the second half he began to look for forward balls but still too much about retaining possession in defensive areas and misses so many opening to advance down the pitch.

Rating 6

O’Brien

Was busy in midfield. Early on Reading where channelling him down his left and Liam continued to be shepherded too easily with play drifting into touch. He needed to release the ball earlier rather than carrying it for as long as he did. He kept up his work rate though and got himself into a good position for the opener which he took well.

Rating 7

Toffolo

Was busy down the left in a very advanced position. We were slow to find him in the first half at times although he did find space very well.

Rating 7

Thomas

Cannot argue with him being the MOM. Sorba was a constant threat for the appositiona nd they could not cope with his movement off and on the ball. When he switched centrally his running caused even more problems. Delivery of the dead balls was again top quality providing the free kick for Pearsons’ goal.

Rating 9

Sinani

Was lively and a threat centrally before going off. Unlucky not to score in the first half and I expect to see a lot more of him this season.

Rating 7

Koroma

Found more space as the game went on and used his pace and physicality to create te goal for Ward. Anotehr threat the Reading failed to cope with.

Rating 7

Ward

Dropped deep and for the first time this season we provided balls into his feet. Ward held up play well and fed other players into the game as teammates got closer to him than previous games. It is amazing how much better a player is when the players around him play to his strengths.

Rating 7

Campbell, Turton & Holmes all came off the bench and did well.

Carlos.

I was not suer what tactics Carlos was going to use today but hats’ off to him it worked. Keep things tight. No mistakes and grind down the opposition and then hit them with movement and pace. Reading could not live with us, it is a shame that we have the international break now. Going to Stoke in September will be a really good test and measure of where we are at. After the first couple of games this season it was doom and gloom and then 3 wins on the trot give it a completely different complexion.

Rating 8

Elsewhere West Brom produced a 94th minute winner against Peterborough in a game which The Posh worked hard to stay in. Heartbreak for Peterborough but WBA were the better team and deserved the points. Karlan Grant was operating in attack and failed to really influence the game. It was a shame to see him going to ground very easily in the penalty area late on.

League Cup Round 2

Huddersfield 1-2 Everton

Wow! Not what I or any of us fans expected. We played with no fear and had a real go at a strong Everton side. Yes they made 8 changes but all of their selection are not out of place in the Premier League side. We made several changes too and the incoming players made a real statement for a place this weekend.

Town side – Nicholls, Lees, Pearson, Sarr, Toffolo, Vallejo, High, Holmes, Thomas, Sinani, Campbell. Bench – O’Brien, Koroma, Aarons, Turton, Colwill, Schofield, Russell.

Both sides showed attacking intent from the start. The first clear opening was when Thomas made a dreadful back pass straight to the Moise Kean who drove forward before firing wide. On 26 minuted Tom Davied cut through the middle easily and fed Iwobi who made no mistake slotting in Everton for the opener in what had been an even start. A few minutes later Moise Kean fired in for Everton but a tight off-side had been called. In fairness to Everton it could have been given, although the flag was up early enough for some players to react and stop. Everton followed with a spell of keep ball but then the last 10 minutes was all Town. Winning 50/50s driving forward with pace and letting fly without hesitation. It was no surprise when Tom Lees connected to Thomas’ corner to level things for half-time.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first with all Town pressing and after Holmes had seen his shot on the turn tipped over by Begovic Thomas fired in the corner which Pearson headed home. With the Town players then celebrating the linesman then put his very late flag up. Nobody was sure why but Campbell was stood off-side when Pearson headed in. The official deemed that he was interfering with play. He was stood in front of Begovic by a couple of paces and off to one side slightly. I would say he was there intentionally to distract Begovic but there was no contact with the keeper or the ball and Begovic was not unsighted. If that was not a goal then a lot of what we conceded last season should not have stood either. Town though were not downhearted and continued to press. Moise Kean then had a rash moment in reacting to Thomas on the half way line and pushing his head forward into the Town man. It was soft but naive of him and the ref showed a straight red. This appeared to galvanise Everton though and they played with a little more drive. The game now flowed up and down and there was a winner there for someone so no surprise that Everton crafted an opening which Townsend did well to lift over Nicholls to seal things late on. There did remain some nervy moments for Everton but they saw it through running the clock down.

Off teh back of this performance there is a renewed optimism. The points tally this season has been good by our standards and now we have had a performance to match roll on Saturday.

Ratings

Nicholls

Handling again and command of his area was good. He is turning out to be a shrewd signing.

Rating 7

Lees

Tom did well again, I surprised to see him come off for Turton. Was solid at the back and a strong presence in the attacking area scoring our goal.

Rating 7

Pearson

Again strong and solid at the back. Took his goal well wlthough it was ruled out.

Rating 7

Sarr

Had a decent game again. Everton did not pressure him much but he moved the ball a lot quicker than previous games. A few stray passes.

Rating 6

Vallejo

Looked very comfortable in front of the defence and for me should be in for Hogg on Saturday. His distribution whilst not perfect was with a lot more attacking intent and with pace. He was intelligent on the pitch in finding space and working the angles for his team mates. Well worth starting with him.

Rating 7

Toffolo

Not a massive attacking threat but was consistently good at either end. Gives us a good balance opposite Thomas.

Rating 6

High

His best game for Town so far. Was quick into the tackle, passing was snappy and accurate and drove forward into more advanced areas to help the support up front.

Rating 7

Sinani

For me he was MOM. Picked up the ball centrally and drove at Everton, linking up with Holmes and Campbell and really connected the side which we have not seen yet this season. Unlucky nit to score in the first half and was disappointed to see him subbed in teh second half but hopefully that means he starts against Reading.

Rating 8

Holmes

Got the ball and linked up well with Sinani. Still fell that Koroma would be a better option and he does lack the physicallity but had a good game and nearly scored in the second half with a curling right foot shot.

Rating 6

Thomas

Yet again was a constant threat. Everton doubled up on him at times, but we had threats all over the pitch that they struggled. Thomas’ has a dead ball delivery that we have yearned for for some time, delivering both corners that caused Everton problems.

Rating 8

Campbell

Knitted things together well and by droping deeper with runners around him they struggled to know who to pick up. He played with a freedon we have not seen for some time. Cam eclose in the first half.

Rating 7

O’Brien, Koroma and Turton all came off the bench but were unable to really influence the game.

Premier League game 2

Brighton 2-0 Watford

Brighton surprised me with their fluid movement throughout the game. They could have and perhaps should have won by a more comfortable margin but tended to overplay it a little at times. I enjoyed watching their movement both off an on the ball. Against better opposition though they may not have as many chances and so the concern is that they failed to capitalise on a lot of opportunities and that might cause a problem when playing the better sides.

Watford were the complete opposite, I expected Watford to be strong physically and then attacking with pace and drive. They never got into their stride and found that they were chasing shadows with the game passing them by. Watford should have been looking at this game as a chance to pick up some points but they now need to learn quickly from the result or they could be in difficulties this season.

West Ham 4 -1 Leicester

West Ham were impressive, yes in fairness Leicester helped them get a foothold in this game but they did the basics well, held a good shape and broke with purpose. They play to the strengths of Antonio with balls into his body and Soyuncu could not compete. If West Ham can build some consistancy then they can go on and have another good season.

Leicester were not at the races before Perez picked up his red card whcih then compounded the situation. They did pick a goal against the run of play and for a couple of minutes the belief returned but it soon dissipated. I’m not sure if Vardy had a touch of the ball before going off after 81 minutes. In all honesty he is the type of player who can go missing in games, but he is just as likely to be the main man for Leicester. Soyuncu played into Antonios’ hands by trying to be physical against him, perhaps he never fully recovered from the poor backpass that presented United with their second goal. All in all Leicester were second best all over the park but they are too good for that form to continue.

Championship Game 4

Sheffield United 1-2 Town

Well I said after the Preston game that it is a long time since Town had won a game which they had not thoroughly deserved to win and yet twice in a week it has happened. A truly fantastic result on our travels, the season has well and truly begun, with back to back wins home and away.

In the opening minutes we settled quickly trying to build through Thomas on the left but United soon took control of the match dominating possession in midfield and camping out in our half. We rarely got on the ball and again Ward and Koroma were isolated upfront and we were overrun in midfield. Having said that United failed to create much, The only save of note in the first half was from Mcburnies’ overhead kick which Nicholls had to get down sharply to his right to turn away. The start of the second half and United continued where they left off, dominating and creating chances, but all were from distance and nothing penetrating the Town defensive line. After 60 minutes Town made 2 changes bringing Ward and High off for Campbell and Toffolo, this prompted a change of formation. With Toffolo on the left wing/wing back Koroma moved to the left in front of him with Thomas moving to the right and Campbell upfront alone. Having one man upfront meant that United did not know who was picking Campbell up and he had more freedom to find space. Koroma is more natural on the left and likes to come inside which brought him closer to Campbell. Toffolo could then use his pace to get down the outside. We finally posed a threat in attack and had options for the man on the ball to hit. Town started to create and Thomas found Koroma in space and after his first effort was turned away he slotted in the rebound. The ref found 5 minutes of added time and Billy Sharp who had earlier volleyed straight into a well placed Nicholls arms miss hit a lose ball which found the back of net in teh 92 minutes. Pandemonium set in 2 minutes later when United failed to clear properly from a corner and Toffolo got was fedon the left in space and squared for Colwill to have a tap in for his first professional goal.

United struggled mid week against WBA where they were overrun and showed a obvious weakness in defence. West Brom got into them all game and thoroughly deserved their comfortable win, today United needed to turn it around and although they dominated play they failed to create much. Brewster will be a good player but at present he lacks goals he has pace and needs to hit the space behind defenders with through balls. We played deep so there was no space for him. McBurnie got a few knock downs but we generally tidied them up. There are elements of United that are reminiscent of when we came down. Playing good football in patches but ineffective and having a losing feeling.

For 60/70 minutes I was frustrated as we did not show what we were capable of but when we changed things around we showed what we can do. Defensively we were strong but I fear will get taken apart by the better teams with how we set up at present. There does appear to be more togetherness unless I am getting carried away. The formation in the last half hour is how we need to progress if we want to do well this season and certainly this week has put a different complexion on things. By operating with Koroma on the left and Thomas on the right we play narrower and therefore afford less space to the opposition to attack from deep.

Nicholls

Although not voted MOM for me he was. He collected all crosses, took the pressue off the defence, kept organising the men infront of him and pulled off the saves when he was needed. He reminds me of Steve Francis with his positioning which makes his job look easier.

Rating 8

Pearson

Pearson was strong at the back winning plenty in the air and in the tackle when needed. He was unbalanced when Sharp scored but again he was solid at the back

Rating 6

Sarr

Sarr looked settled at the heart of the defence, more so than last season when he was on the left. He won a lot of ball in the air and cleared up loose balls in the area. I was glad to see that there was less playing around with the ball in the area and Sarr therefore was uder less pressure.

Rating 7

Colwill

Had a good game. In the first half he was very busy as he was not afforded much protection and Basham & Baldock caused him problems which he handled well. In the second half he was provided some protection which helped. It was good a to see him showing good anticipation in the area in the 94th minute to slot in his first goal.

Rating 8

Hogg

Hogg had a decent game breaking up play and tidying things up. He did what he appeared to be asked to do and was more vocal. Needs to show more composure but did well.

Rating 6

Turton

Made a mistake early in the first half which cost him a yellow card as he tried to recover. I feel that he is better as a right back than in a more advanced position which he is being asked to cover. Was steady and calmed down afterwards.

Rating 5

Thomas

Showed all his pace again early on causing problems and being positive. He did dissappear a little as the game progressed. Delivered some good balls into the box from set plays and although he offers lots from the left I feel that for the good of the team it is better that he plays on the right.

Rating 6

O’Brien

Was breaking up attacks and in the last half hour got himself up the pitch causing problems and trying to set up opportunities. An improvement from what we saw on Tuesday and good to get 90 minutes under his belt.

Rating 6

High

Drifted wide on teh right in the first half which offered Turton protection but gae United too much space in central areas which caused us problems. High, like the rest of the team struggled to get on the ball much, put in a shift but will have better matches.

Rating 5

Koroma

For 60 minutes he struggled to get into the game finding very little space and the quality of the balls forward were poor. For the last 30 minutes he caused problems with his movement finding pockets of space and picking up the ball. Took his goal well and will hopefully take confidence from this match into the next.

Rating 6

Ward

Again Danny put in a shift for the side but with the ball forward being hopeful punts for most of the time that he was on the pitch he struggled to impact the game. Operating as a 2 man attack does not really suit Ward.

Rating 3

Campbell came on for Ward on 60 minutes and has movement caused United problems as they could not pick him up creating space for Koroma to run into.

Rating 6

Toffolo

Came on for High on 60 minutes. Toffolo probed down the left with an attacking intent and found space late on to supply the assist for the winner.

Rating 7

Vallajo came on for Koroma late on.

Rating N/A

Carlos

You have to be fair and appluad him for masterminding 6 points from 6. Yes it was not pretty but the points and consistency is what is important now. I would prefer for us to open up more and play to our strengths and hope that that is on the agenda when all first team players are back fully fit. For 60 minutes our only threat was through Thomas but when we change dthe formation suddenly we had lots of avenues we could use. I am trusting that Carlos played to keep it tight for 60 minutes and then upped the tempo intentionally. Following games will show whether that is the case or not, roll on Tuesday night and the toffees.

Week 3 Championship

Town 1-0 PNE

A much more solid performance than the Fulham game. Nicholls made his league debut in for Schofield, Lees made his debut in for Pearson who was taken ill just before kick-off, O’Brien in for Holmes and High for Vallejo. Nicholls, Lees, Sarr, Colwill, Turton, High, Hogg, O’Brien, Thomas, Koroma, Ward. There was little in the way of chances in the game for Town and it was evident that 2 teams were on show that had had a difficult start to the season. For us emphasis was on defence and to not make any mistakes. The only one of any note was by Colwill early in the game which against anotehr side may well have cost us. Unlike Fulham the Preston shots at goal were usually off target. Preston did have the majority of possession particularly in the first half, they kept possession in increasing dangerous areas but could not fashion much of an opportunity. The only one of note being in the first half which Sarr cleared up near to the goal line. This was a match which could easily have been 1-0 the other way round, it is a long time since I can say that we have won a match that we did not necessarily deserve to, hopefully this the start of something good.

Player ratings

Nicholls

Finally a keeper who marshalls his defence. You could hear him shouting at the players in front of him and organisng what was happening. He commanded his area, taking pressure off the defence in catching corners. A vast improvement from what we have seen over recent years. He did have a little wobble right at the death when all the nerves were high but came through unscathed. Clearly showed to be an experienced keeper and his defence looked to have confidence in him.

Rating 7

Lees

A steady debut from Lees who came off after 76 minutes to be replaced by Vallejo presumably due to fitness. Lees looked comfortable not hurriedly flapping and looking to find his man with measured passes. His experience at this level should serve us well.

Rating 6

Sarr

Looked a different player than on Saturday. He wasn’t put under the same pressure as Fulham did and he defended well against a big Preston side. I still question his slow distribution and why he has to stand next to the keeper at dead balls but a much better performance.

Rating 6

Colwill

Made a mistake in the first 10 minutes when as the last line tried to go past his man, fortunately cover dropped back but it appeared to unsettle him for a bit. A good performance once he settled down.

Rating 5

Hogg

Was busy across the defensive areas. As Captain I would like to see him working the team more and taking them up the pitch a little. One point in the second half when still at 0-0 he dropped back at a set play to mark one Preston player along with 3 defenders. If we want to win games we have to be more positive and Hoggy should be a driving force.

Rating 4

High

Back in the side after impressing from the bench on Saturday. We saw glimpses of his vision and range of passing. High looks like he could develop into quite a player. He pulled wide on the right a lot in the first half which stretched Preston but should have been used more by the defence to move the ball down the pitch. He drifted inside as teh game went on which gave Turton more space.

Rating 6

O’Brien

O’Briens presence in the side gave everyone a lift. He lloked a little of the oace by his standards and as expected did not see out the 90 minutes. Lewis is more affective when playing further forward in the middle but as Preston pressed he along with everyone else dropped back. It was good to have him back and he did produce some of his usually moves but it was a muted performance.

Rating 5

Turton

Was kept busy defensively in the first half, as the second progressed with High tucking inside Turton did venture down the right more to offer something further down the pitch. I like the fact that he goes down the outside of the full back rather than cutting inside and making the pitch smaller but I feel he is more comfortable as a full back rather than right wing back/winger. Steady performance and settling in well.

Rating 5

Thomas

Again Thomas was our one bright spark in attack. His one thought when he gets the ball is to attack the man infront of him. There are elements of his game which he needs to develop but I like the positive nature of his play and he mixes it well with his physicality. It will be interesting to see how he fits in with Toffolo in due course.

Rating 7

Koroma

Again I’m not sure what instructions Josh is going out with. He drops back and tries to drive forward. Git on the ball more than the Fulham game but seams wasted in the middle where he can’t get the ball out of his feet and needs to play much wider or closer to the front man with balls delivered quicker.

Rating 5

Ward

His return really has not worked. In and out of the side last year but he has started the last 2 and not offered us anything. He is not a player to win the ball in the air or break through the last line of defence so when left on his own upfront he needs players around him and nobody is getting anywhere near. Whilst this continues we will not get anything out of Danny.

Rating 2

Campbell

Came on for Ward at half time who was taken ill. Again he struggled to get much action in key areas due to a lack of support but did get himself involved and coursed more of a nuisance to Preston

Rating 4

Holmes and Vallejo were later substitutions. The one occasion where a midfielder, Holmes, made a run beyond the front man resulted in the goal. Van Den Berg putting through his own net n preventing Holmes with the clear opening.

Carlos

The team were set up to not make a mistake and let Preston in and to that aim we achieved what we wanted. Getting the 3 points being the icing on the cake. Yes we were fortunate and against better opposition we could get taken apart but we have to take confidence from this into the next game. 4 points from 9 is not a bad return.

The O’Brien saga (does he stay, does he go) needs to be settled. If we had gone behind I don’t feel that we had it in us to change the course of the match. We need to move the ball quicker in attack, get support around the front man and have midfield runners. At present there are little options to the man on the ball and so it becomes easy to defend against. I don’t think it helps that we play from the back at each goal kick as we do not have the quality/belief to break through the lines and just end up putting pressure on ourselves.

In this game we git what we wanted to cannot be faulted too severely.

Rating 6

Season 21/22 Week 1 premier league

Spurs 1 – 0 Man City. A good entertaining game for a neutral like me. City were on top for the first 10/15 minutes but then Spurs got into their counter attacking rhythm and deserved the 3 points in the end. Good goal from Son who along with Lucas Moura looked lively throughout. Deli Alli linked play well but Tanganga was also a stand out performer keeping city quiet on their left hand side. Man City lacked a cutting edge in attack but when De Bruyne came on they did look a lot sharper as suddenly the tempo was icreased from pedestrian. Jack Grealish palyed the full 90 minutes on his debut and probed well but failed to really dictate things for City.

Elsewhere 3 points on the opening day for Brentford, Manchester United, Chelsea & Liverpool convincingly. Leicester, Watford, Everton, Brighton and West Ham started their seasons well with full points. No drawns means defeats for Arsenal, Leeds, Wolves, Palace, Villa, Southampton, Burnley, Norwich & Newcastle.

A first start for Trevoh Chalobah with Chelsea in the league saw him score his first goal. I thought the yougster did well whilst at Town although I know that oppinion is somewhat split. Considering his age when he was with us I think he did very well. Yes consistancy was not great but that was why he was out on loan. I hope he goes on to have a good season at Stamford Bridge.

Huddersfield player reviews V Fulham (H)

Schofield

Oh dear. When he first came into the side he played with an air of confidence but that has completely gone. His decision making, strength and aerial ability are very questionable to be polite. Reflexes are good but that does not make a Championship or League One keeper. I personally feel that the best thing for the lad is a loan move out to League 2 and rebuild the confidence playing behind a defence that is solid. Draft in another keeper to provide competition to Nicholls. Todays’ performance was poor. Too many mistakes whilst not under pressure. Yes his defence do not help but he doesn’t talk to them. He needs to be vocal. Needs to let the referee know when he is being bullied in the area, just look at Gazzaniga today talking to the ref all the time. He needs to come for the ball at corners and take the players out of the way in getting there. A ref usually protects the keeper but when he stands on his line (or sometimes behind it) and doesn’t move, a goal from a corner for the opposition becomes a real possibility. Having said that Scholfield did pull off a number fo decent saves today but by then we had already lost the game.

Rating 4

Turton

It is still early days for Turton and I would expect that Pipa will be first choice at right back. I thought he did ok but he is playing in side which offers no protection to the wide defenders so to be the defensive king pin on that side whilst being an attacking threat is almost an impossible ask. Second half he delivered a few crosses which were decent, defensily a little exposed but that was partly down to the squad set up for the match.

Rating 5

Colwill

Really liked the look af this lad. Good on the ball string in the tackle we need to make sure that we use him to the best of his ability. Played on the left side of a back 3 (I think). Thought he was solid particularly in the first half and look forward to seeing more from him, hopefully he will be able to link up well with Toffolo when he is back in the reckoning.

Rating 6

Matty Pearson

Looked like a strong physical centre back. A handful in both boxes scoring Towns goal today and having another one ruled out for off-side. He needs to get ahold of our backline and the keeper and lead them as we still look rudderless on the pitch.

Rating 6

Sarr

At times I forget he was on the pitch. When he did go into the tackle he was well beaten each time and looked like he was not that interested to be honest. I’m sure that he was and my assessment is harsh but he looked well out of his depth today. He hasn’t usually played as the central defender in a 3 before and so this may not have helped at all.

Rating 3

Hogg

Hoggy has been inconsistent for a few seasons now and as club captain we really need him to step up, today he did not. The game seamed to pass him by, but again tactically we got it wrong. Fulham controlled the midfield and we let them, Hoggy and Vallejo/High could not do it on their own but we changed nothing to try and counter that. I know that Hogg can perform way better, but what he was being asked to do today meant that he was never going to have a good game.

Rating 4

Vallejo

Similar to Sarr I forgot that he was on the pitch. This was not a game for Vallejo, he needs the game to be played in front of him and it was not he ended up chasing shadows in the first half and so it was of no surprise that hw was hauled off at half-time. Again the role he was being asked to play did not suit him or this game.

Rating 3

Holmes

Duanne got on the ball early in the game and tried probing but after 20 minutes he began to disappear. He likes a few too many touches for my liking when their are better options around him and then he gets bullied off the ball too easily. Duanne then has a tendency to go missing as the game goes on. He does have talent but playing behind a front 2 who cannot stretch the play or hold the ball up is not his position.

Rating 3

Thomas

Shows real commitment and desire and knows how to cross a ball. Sorba is one of the few highlights to come out of last season and he is looking to be a real asset. Happy to receive the ball anywhere and is always looking to go forward. The team do need to give him options or it becomes easy for the opposition to defend against him and I felt that he should occasionally switch sides to ask questions of our opponents.

Rating 6

Koroma

I really rate Josh but this was not one of his better performances. He is better coming in off the left hand side but today appeared to be operating on the right of a front 2 with nobody on the right wing. A lack of supply to him from a depleted midfield may have added to the below par performance.

Rating 4

Ward

Danny put himself about in the first half but is he a out and out striker? When he was with us previously he played out wide since then he has played up front but he has lost some pace since then. He is not a front man who will look to break the back line nor is he a front man to hold the ball up. Carlos needs to work out how to use him at the moment he uses him to purely close down the opposition which is all well and good if the rest of the team are set up appropriately.

Rating 4

Subs

High

Scott came on and looked bright, dropping deep to pick up the ball and link up with the front men. He delivered the ball quickly and asked different things of the opposition, ultimately to no avail but offered far more than Vallejo.

Rating 5

Campbell

Not a performance for Campbell to really remember as he failed to make any real impression.

Rating 4

Rhodes

Came on too late to affect the game but in the short space of time he showed desire which had sadly been lacking. He was talking to his team mates which again a voice had sadly been lacking in the match.

Rating N/A

Carlos

Tactically he got it wrong. Second game of the season and we are at home playing one of the favourites so you set us up to be difficult to beat whilst offering something going forward. If we get a point it is a good point if we lose by a narrow margin it is what was expected. We set up with Ward, Koroma, Thomas and Holmes all in attacking positions offering nothing defensively other than occasional closing down high up the pitch. In midfield we had Hogg and Vallejo pitched against Fulhams 5 man midfield with 4 players at the back in Turton (it is possible that he should have been a wide attacker but was pulled out of position), Pearson, Sarr and Colwill. We were over-run in midfield meaning that our back line then had Mitrovic and the advancing midfield that had strolled passed Hogg and Vallejo to deal with.

What tactically did we do to combat this? Nothing – we changed nothing around tactically with the 11 on the pitch and when we made the substitutes is was a like for like change. Definition of madness is ‘to keep doing the same thing and expect different results’. No surprise then that the same thing kept happening until the ref thankfully halted play.

What needs to change? Lets’ save this for after the Preston game and see what Carlos serves up for us on Tuesday night.

Carlos rating 2