Huddersfield 1- 1 Swansea

Town started off brightly and there was no real surprise when we took the lead after 15 minutes. Some bright approach play ended with O’Briens effort being turned away by ex-Town man Hamer into the path of Sinani who could not miss. As the second half progressed Town were the better of the 2 sides and really needed to score a second and put the game to bed but Swansea held on and had a feew half chances themselves.

The second half was like a different match. Town camped in their own half and Swansea controlled the play. The Swans lacked any real cutting edge but had all the posession and if they had of been more decisive in the final third and we had not of had Nicholls in goal then they would have comfortably picked up 3 points. It was no surprise really that eventually the continued possession brought about the equalizer on 78 minutes. Town then upped their game again and Danny Ward had a great opportunity to win the game but rushed his finish, putting it wide.

In the end probably a fair result but we really let Swansea back in in the second half and offered very little in attack in the second period. We needed to be braver rather than retreating. When we won the ball which wasn’t often there were no options for us to retain possession as we were all in defense and static.

Ratings

Nicholls

Easily MOM. He kept us in the game in the second period and commanded his area well.

Rating 9

Lees

Read the play well and defended strongly.

Rating 6

Pearson

Tackled well when needed and marshalled the defence well.

Rating 7

Turton

Defended well, but a little eratic with the ball at times.

Rating 6

Hogg

Defended well and won the ball back in good areas in the first half. Disappeared a little in the second and dropped a little too deep. at times.

Rating 6

O’Brien

Did well in the first half but struggled to get into the game in the second period. Rarely got on the ball and we really needed to challenge more to gain possession.

Rating 6

Toffolo

Struggled to be an attacking presence but did ok in defence. Forced to drop deeper in the second period.

Rating 5

Thomas

Occasionally showed what he could do in attack but another one that was playing in defence too often.

Rating 6

Koroma

Showed more often in the first half but as the game wore on he disappeared. A lack of control kept giving the ball back to the opposition.

Rating 5

Sinani.

Did ok in the first half closing down and linking up the play before going off injured at half time.

Rating 7

Ward

Worked hard but failed to take his chance late on.

Rating 5

High

Came on at half time and really struggled to get with the pace. It is some time since he operated alongside Hogg and appeared to struggle with what was required at times.

Rating 5

Carlos

Today felt like 2 points dropped rather than 1 gained. Having taken the lead we gave Swansea too much time and space. If we had of got into them I feel that we would have upset their rhythm. They were too comfortable on the ball and we failed to force them into any mistakes it became a easy second half for Swansea defensively. It may have needed some bookings but we fell short of being physical in this game. The other aspect missing in the second half was the ability to retain possession in their half. We lacked composure and we lacked the bravery to keep a man or 2 up the pitch as an option for us winning the ball. Tactically we could have been better in this period and we should have made the substitutions earlier as well.

Rating 5

Championship game 25

Forest 0-1 Town

Town came into the game confident after back to back wins and Forest wanting to correct their loss against MIddlesborough despite their recent good form. Colwill and Turton came in for Lees and Sarr for Town.

The game was end to end from the start with Thomas unleashing a strike in the opening seconds which beat the keeper but came back off the cross bar. Forest soon settled though and the game was end to end. Ward had to come off after 15 minutes to be replaced by Rhodes. Despite Forest perhaps having the edge of the early encounters Town took the lead after 30 minutes. Colwill fed Holmes who turned his man well, moved into space and released Toffolo who played a first time pass into the box for holmes to take under his control and slot past the keeper. The move was quick and fluid and Toffolo has been consistantly providing the same ball into the area recently with the same result.

The second half continued as the first had finished with Forest pressing for the equaliser. They constantly probed, there were goalmouth scrambles and Zinckernagel struck the underside of the bar. Despite the constant pressure the best chance of the second half fell to Sinani which he should have finished when Rhodes robbed Worrall of the ball and squared for Sinani with just the keeper to beat he put it over the bar. In fairness though it was not the easiest cross to control.

The result was harsh on Forest but Town defended well once taking the lead and even then should have gone 2-0 up. Spense and Johnson kept tearing us apart as they did in the previous match but a lack of composure, luck and good defending gave is the points. At times we gave the ball away too easily which invited more pressure on but this was a really good result.

Ratings

Nichols

Good performance again from the keeper. Positioning was good and what saves he needed to make he did. He commanded the area and yet another clean sheet.

Rating 8

Colwill

Good to have him back and a very assured performance today. At 18 he marshalled much more experienced opponents very well. Looks a little fresher for the break as well.

Rating 8 MOM

Pearson

His best performance for a while. Very strong at the back and when defending set plays. Looked very assured at the centre of the back 3.

Rating 8

Turton

In a defensive position which suits him best. He did the basics well and stuck to his task when faced by good pacey attackers.

Rating 7

High

On the ball he was a little poor today and gave posession away too often. Needs to improve his physicality and the passing wasn’t at it today.

Rating 5

O’Brien

Very good game from Lewis. particularly in the first half as he drove at the Forest back line. In the second half he did disappear as a attacking force but that was necessary to help out in a defensive midfield function.

Rating 8

Toffolo

Delivered the perfect ball for Holmes to score the only goal of the game. Did his job really well on the left particularly in a defensive function.

Rating 7

Thomas

He was disappointed to be withdrawn in the second half but with the defensive nature and another game this weekend it was the right move. He had not managed to influence teh game in the same manner as teh last match but was a threat.

Rating 6

Holmes

Took his goal really well and in the first half he did cause them problems finding pockets of space. A solid performance.

Rating 7

Sinani

Was fairly quiet. Tried getting into the game but couldn’t find the spaces. Did have the opening in the second half which went over the bar.

Rating 5

Ward

Only saw 15 minutes but was looking sharpe until his knock.

Rhodes

Saw most of the match and put himself about without much service. A good solid 75 minutes for him.

Rating 6

King Carlos

We defended well as a team. A little deep and gave away possession too easily which Carlos was aware of from his post match comments. A good result and good unity from the side. It was good to see Pipa back from the bench, felt we missed the options of Vallejo and Hogg but no issues with the decisions made.

Rating 8

Town 3-2 Blackpool

An entertaining Boxing Day game with Town coming from behind and scoring 3 for the second game in succession. There was a renewed feeling of togetherness from the team and the crowd and hopefully this new believe can spread into the New Year.

The game started on a poor note as Lees played a sloppy pass to Sinani which the impressive Bowler cut out and fed Jerry Yates who outpaced Sarr and Lees to slot beyond Nichols. Fortunately though we only had to wait until the 3rd minute for the equaliser as Toffolo crossed for Ward to score with a thumping header into the top corner. The game continued to be open and there was no surprise when Blackpools’ stand out performer Anderson held off Sarr to cross for Madine to head home with Pearson well beaten. The game continued to go from end to end and then on the half hour mark Madine and Tom Lees challanged for a ball with Madine catching Lees full on in the head with his elbow. Lees collapsed to the floor and with him obviously in distress the referee played on as Blackpool attacked. When the ball went dead the physios were allowed to attend to Lees and Toffolo was booked for making the referee aware of the incident. Replays clearly show the elbow right in front of the referee. If there had VAR it would have been a clear red card regardless of intent. Fortunately Lees appears to be recovering now. The fact that the referee did not see anything or take action on the pitch means that the league should now suspend Madine but as we are not a high profile club I doubt it will happen.

The second half was more one sided aided someone by the 61st minute red card of Gabriel for Blackpool. He picked up his first yellow late in the first half for a very heavy and late challenge on Holmes and again was late with a challenge on O’Brien resulting in the second yellow. Rhodes had already come on for High which changed our formation and we had already started to get on top in the game prior to the sending off. It was then an onslaught of the Blackpool goal led by Thomas. Wave after wave of attack came and then Rhodes managed to turn a cross into the net which was quickly ruled out for off-side. I have not yet seen a replay but the decision was very tight. Blackpool did well at trying to slow the game down by going down for treatment but on the 80th minute Thomas played a one two with Sinani on the edge of the box and then again with Rhodes inside the box, side stepped a defender and then sent the keeper the wrong way. A goal out of the top drawer and you could see the relief for Thomas who has been trying to find his early season form. It was no surprise that just 3 minutes later Blackpool failed to clear a corner that Thomas had won and the Welsh international controlled his volley to rifle home through a crowded penalty area.

A massive improvement in performance in the second period. Blackpool had been the better side in the first half as we struggled to cope with Bowler and Anderson, but they should have clearly received a red card for the foul on Lees. In the second half the change of having 2 upfront and the experience of Rhodes made a big difference. We had more options and the was onbvious with the bodies getting into the area in teh second period in comparison to the first.

I believe that Critchley the Blackpool manager has blamed the defeat on the referee for sending off Gabriel when he says the first offence was not a yellow and the second there was no contact. I feel it is poor form for him to focus on this red card when they should already have had a red card and really if Critchley is going to criticise the ref then talking about the red card that wasn’t given when a man has been concussed would be more appropriate. The 2 yellow cards, having watched them back the first was a nailed on yellow card and I have seen more given for that type of challenge, the second one was not as bad but unlike Critchleys’ comments straight after the game there was clear contact.

Ratings

Nichols

Was beaten twice today but can’t be blamed for either goal. In the second half he got Town on the attack quickly with intelligent balls out from the back. Helped somewhat that he had 2 strikers to target anf Tofollo and Thomas given us width. Nichols did have one flap at a cross in the first half as Sarr also challenged for the same ball

Rating 7

Lees

Only had 30 minutes due to the injury. Inside the first 2 minutes it was his poor pass which Bowler easily intercepted to set up the opening goal. Not his best game, but I wish him a speedy recovery.

Rating 5

Pearson

He grew into the game as things progressed. Marking was poor though on Blackpools’ second goal as he allowed Madine far too much space to finish.

Rating 5

Sarr

Looked off the pace for most of the game. On the first goal Yates got past him far too easily and for the second he did not get close enough to Anderson to prevent the cross. Passing was far too slow from the back but did spray a few good cross field balls. He continues to look uncomfortable on the left side of a back 3 and is much happier as the central person when in this formation.

Rating 4

High

Continues to look good on the ball and gives less ball away then most others but defensively lacks the physicality. Will be good to get Hogg back when fit and get Scott on the weights to build up his physicallity or maybe the holding role is not is best position.

Rating 6

O’Brien

Busied himself about trying to stop Blackpool attacks but rarely threatened at the other end. Perhaps he should play more of a holding role until Hogg is back and bring Rhodes or Koroma on for more of an attacking presence.

Rating 6

Toffolo

Provided a perfect cross for Wards’ opener. Would still prefer to see him stay out on the left more than he does with the formation that we are using but had a solid game.

Rating 7

Sinani

Linked play up well but had to drop too deep to do so in the first half. Mostly because the balls into him were short though and he needs passes infront of him.

Rating 6

Holmes

Struggled to influence the game today and dropped too deep and took too many touches when he did get on the ball which was not too often. I’m not sure that I would start him for the next game.

Rating 5

Thomas (MOM)

Probed on the first half but his crosses faile dto find the right man with one going out for a throw in but his confidence returned in the second period. Thomas was able to find more space due to the Blackpool red card and gave ex Town loanee Husband a torrid afternoon. His first goal was real quality and the second expertly controlled. Thomas has been snatching at chances over the last few months but the last 30 minutes of the game should give him renewed confidence for the remainder of the season.

Rating 8

Ward

Took his early goal very well but struggled to really influence the game afterwards. Always a willing runner and worked hard, hopefully he can link up with Rhodes going forward.

Rating 6

Turton

Came on for Lees in the first half and did his job well. Turton does the basics well but fans often want more from him in an attacking sense. Which is fair enough but consistency and no mistakes is tsill a big positive.

Rating 6

King Carlos

Very positive from Carlos today. He made changes early in the second half and continued tiomake positive attacking changes. It was very refreshing that we had Rhodes, Rowe and Koroma to come off the bench who can offer a lot in the final third. Carlos needs to connect more with the fans and coming around the pitch at the end can only add to that. Sarr and Holmes were poor today and Colwill is likely to be unavailable for the next match due to Covid so it will be interesting to see how we line up for the next match.

Championship game 22

Huddersfield 1- 1Coventry City

This was the first time I had seen Coventry in person, as since 1972 we have been in different Divisions and last year we could not attend due to Covid restrictions. Having seen them on TV though I expect a tough game against a side that moved the ball quickly.

Coventry started brightly moving the ball well without any real cutting edge in the final third. A little over playing of the ball rather than pulling the trigger sooner. For us we looked a little nervy at times and struggled to string a number of passes together in their half until O’Brien cut infield releasing Toffolo who wasted no time in squaring the ball to the edge of the box for an unmarked Ward to run onto and sweep home. It was a really good free flowing move and a good finish but unfortunately we failed to replicate it again. As the first half continued it was Coventry with most of the pressing and good chances as we were often left chasing shadows. They looked after the ball well and we tended to panic in possession. The second half started a little brighter as Koroma managed to feed Holmes on the move and his effort was turned onto the post. Shortly afterwards though it was Coventry on the attack and with teh defense well beaten they unleashed a shot which came back off our post. As the half pressed on we retreated more and more trying to defend the lead that we had. The best chance of all the game fell to Pearson on the edge of the six yard area as he was all alone with just the keeper to beat but diverted his header wide of the target. It was no surprise and less than Coventry deserved when they finally equalised deep into injury time.

A share of the points flattered Town but Coventry are finding it hard at present to score and that was clear with their lack of confidence in front of goal. I’m sure it will come back again and from what I have seen of them this season they are one of the best footballing teams in the league. Equally their fans were the most vocal seen at the stadium this season, somewhat helped by the lack of Town support probably due to the lunch time kisk off, sky TV and Covid.

At present we are struggling to hold onto a lead. We are difficult to beat which is a vast improvement from recent seasons and we do well at scoring first in games, but we then invite pressure onto urselves and lack the strength in depth to change the course of a game.

Ratings

Nicholls

By far the best Town player on the park today. Continues to play with real confidence. Yes over the course of a game with the amount of the ball he sees he will make the occasional mistake but he more than makes up for it with his command of the area. His positioning makes it look like the strikers are weak, very reminscant to ‘Super’ Steve Francis. If it had not have been for Lee then we would have been well beaten.

Rating 9

Lees

Good in the air and continued to show that today. Struggled with the movement of the Coventry players but did well despite this. He is still a little slow in possesion and failes to pick out a decisive pass but there was a lack of movement in front of him.

Rating 5

Pearson

Again good in the air but a little slow in possession and at picking out that pass. He started the season really strong when attacking corners but that threat appears to have subsided and missed the best chance of the game today.

Rating 5

Colwill

A couple of good early runs forward put Coventry under pressure and helped to create openings but once we had taken the lead it was a case of dig into the trenches and defend. Inevitably we did not hold on and I feel that Colwill would be better in a side looking to take the game to the opposition. He didn’t have a bad game but again conceded possesion too many times.

Rating 5

High

One of the better players at looking after the ball today but again there were a lack of forward options for him. Defensively he did struggle though and was looking a little tired as the game progressed. I would like to see High build up his strength if he is going to remain as a holding midfielder.

Rating 5

O’Brien

Failed to really drive forward with the ball much today other than the one occasion when we scored. He put his foot in a few times but failed to real halt many attacks and turn the possession over. Not one of his better games today.

Rating 5

Toffolo

Presented a good ball for Ward to convert early on, but I would much prefer to see him operate as a left full back or in a wide left role. He comes in side a lot and then the option of a ball out to the left is no longer there for the man on the ball. One of our more committed players but not at his best yet this season in the formation e are playing.

Rating 5

Thomas

His form has dipped since his Welsh call up and you can see how much he wants to change things that he is trying almost too hard. Defensively he does a good job for us on the right and he offers himself up as our only clear outlet ball going forward by sticking to the right side of the pitch. His decisions in teh final third is where he is struggling at present and just needs to go back to the bascis. Has a tendency to take one touch too many or over hit the cross/shot. Needs to keep his head up over the ball and not always look to put his laces through it.

Rating 6

Holmes

Was lively at times but usually in our own half trying to maintain possession with 3 men on him. Has the desire but the decision making is not right, he looks to do too much too often and should just release a one time pass rather than taking 12 touches. Défense is not really his game but again I can’t fault his effort.

Rating 4

Koroma.

A number of fans were somewhat frustrated with him and certainly he is not delivering the way he did last season but the formation is different now and what he is being asked to do is different. I thought he made a nuisance of himself until being subbed. Supplied the ball for Holmes at the start of the second half which nearly resulted in a goal and was generally looking bright without any real end result. I was disappointed to see him go off as I thought he was teh better of our outfield players.

Rating 6

Ward

Took his goal really well and did have a couple of other occasions when he got on the ball, but he failed to deliver the pass or shot quickly enough. Ward looks to be enjoying his football now but needs better service on the ground. He will put himself about and challenge in the air but that is not his game.

Rating 5

King Carlos.

The Crown is certainly slipping and many Town fans are frustrated but we are in a better position than the last few years and it is not as if we are one of the Championships rich clubs. Did he gets things wrong today or is he doing the best he can with the resources available? I think he did get some things wrong but overall he is doing as well as we can hope with what we have. We were fortunate to pick up a point today. In fact over the last 6 matches we have been second best in each game but we are difficult to beat and are managing ti pick uo some points along the way. We have to make sure though that we offer more in the games particularly from a winning position.

We missed Hogg today. High is doing well but a bit of experience is needed in there as O’Brien lacks the consistancy but on his day is fantastic. The balance within the side from the left and right flanks is not right and I feel as a attacking force it makes us easy to defend against. Yes, we will get a few chances in a game but with the lack of balance we will rarely create more than 4 or 5 openings. We could change to a wing back with Toffolo on the left and Koroma in front of him as I feel that would get the best out of both of them, but then he operates on the right behind Thomas? It is clear though that as an attacking force it is not working at present.

Koroma coming off for me was the wrong move. We were not offering much upfront at the time but what we were offering was coming through him. Taking him off for the defensive Turton removed our attacking threat. I understood why he looked at Turton, but for a Holmes or High or Thomas would have been better. Again I understood bringing Campbell on but he could have left Ward on and removed Thomas or Holmes as it would have given an outlet in the final third for the guys when they won the ball.

The mentality was too negative after taking the lead and the players are lacking confidence at present. We can carry on as we are and the remaining of the season is going to be long and hard, we will pick up some points but are going to head down the table or we can try and change the formation to accommodate the resources that we have, the football may be better.

Rating 4

Town 1-0 Millwall

Never going to be an easy game against Millwall and it proved that way. The side from London made it difficult for us all game and kept things tight really restricting any space in which to operate. Millwall started fairly brightly but in all honesty never threatened much all game. Their best opening coming in the second half when Bradshaw was put through but Pearson recovered well with a last ditch tackle.

After the opening 15 minutes Town setled down and dictated play although in the first half it was a little slow and predictable. We had a few shots all off target the best opening coming to Ward from a Thomas cross but that blazed over the bar. In the second half we got more ball in the box and saw 2 scrambled efforts forced off the line in a packed penalty area. We got the deserved goal on 82 minutes from MOM Hogg with what must be his first headed goal for Town. A fair result in the end although we left it till late.

Ratings

Nicholls

Anotehr good strong performance. One mistake in the first half with a ball direct to the MIllwall front line but other than that faultless yet again.

Rating 7

Lees

Good and steady at the back again. Play out of defence in the first half was a little slow but dependable as ever.

Rating 7

Pearson

Agaon another good performance. Read the game well and put on a quality challenge to dispossess Bradshaw with Millwalls’ best opening.

Rating 7

Collwill

Good steady performance and distribution was a little bit today.

Rating 7

Hogg

For me was already MOM before his goal. He was everywhere braking up all the Millwall attacks and, particularly in the second half setting Town up on the attack. Was looking back to his best again today and great to see him provide the winner n the end.

Rating 8

O’Brien

Played a little deeper today and failed to really dictate the pace. He had one good run n the second half when he drove at the Millwall back line. Perhaps his instructions were to sit in today in which case he did it well but I felt we did not see teh strengths of O’Brien today.

Rating 5

Sinani

Tried to link up play and was as ever busy buit really struggling to find that goal or assist from open play. Maybe he could do with a break or to be played the full 90 minutes but does do a good job for the side.

Rating 5

Toffolo

Probed down the left in the first half and when Koroma came on late on he moved a little more inside to create space for Koroma. Had a decent game without really being able to affect things in the final third. Did come close with a deflected shot in the second period.

Rating 6

Thomas

Put in a delightful cross for Ward in teh first period but did not see enough of the ball in dangerous areas in the first half. In teh second half he did and had a couple of good openings to test the keeper but poor composure as they were well off target. Was looking a little frustrated with himself but just needed to settle down and start doing the basics well again. Was a constant threat though for the opposition.

Rating 6

Holmes

In his best form for the side at present, found space well despite Millwall having a rigid defensive set up. He caused them problems but just struggled to get that final opening.

Rating 7

Ward

Was very busy closing down from the front and creating space for his side. Looking fot at the moment and just needs to keep on working hard and the goals will come.

Rating 7

Carlos

I think the set up was good today. Play was a little flat at times in teh first half and we really needed to be a bit brighter in this period as 1-0 is never a comfortable result. We did not get the best out of O’Brien today and perhaps the substitutes could have come on earlier. Koroma stretched the play a bit more and Campbell put the defence under pressure when they came on which was positive but maybe that should have happened earlier. Having said that we got the 3 points so we cannot complain.

Rating 7

Championship game 13

Town 0-0 Birmingham

Not the most enthralling match ever. Town started brightly though. We dominated the opening 15 minutes moving the ball quickly and looking to get City facing their own goal with balls in behind. As the passes began to go astray and City were closing down the spaces we struggled to create anything. Players began dropping deep and wide to find space in which to operate which then meant that when they lifted their head up there was nobody in the box to find. City obviously came for the point and did their homework well. They slowed the pace down in the first half, taking an age over set-pieces and feigning injuries all over the pitch. Their only avenue of attack was the long ball up to Jutkiewicz then Deeney late on, despite having the enterprising Chong in their side who must have been frustrated watching the ball go over his head all game. A draw always looked likely as we failed to really create much until late on when Campbell hit the woodwork twice. Disappointing when 3 points were there for the taking.

Ratings

Nicholls

Another confident display from the keeper who had very little to deal with. He is consistent and does not make mistakes which gives the whole defence confidence.

Rating 7

Lees

Settled into the side very well and I always expected him to do well in this one as he is strong in the air and in a physical battle. He did stpe out of the defence on a few occassions as well and did not give the ball away, my MOM.

Rating 7

Pearson

Steady game again which was expected. A little slow at times but read things well and coped with what little he had to.

Rating 6

Colwill

Defensively did well and started the game finding space and stepping forward, but after a couple of poor passes straight to their keeper and a run with the ball straight into a see of City players he went quiet and did not offer himself up for the ball as much.

Rating 5

Hogg

Fairly quiet game again. Defensively was sound but struggled to inspire the side offensively and play was too slow and predictable.

Rating 5

O’Brien

A shadow of the player against Hull. O’Brien strugled to get on the ball and affect the game at all one of his quietest games for a long time. Did have a volley on the turn in the second period which flew just wide though.

Rating 5

Holmes

Had a reasonably bright game but did drift too wide to receive the ball which then meant that there were even less bodies in the box when it mattered. Playing with a bit of confidence which is good to see.

Rating 6

Toffolo

Quiet game from Toffolo who was very predictable when on the ball. He cut in from the left most of the time and being left footed the ball was then always played back to the defence. He did get on teh end of a couple of set plays but needs to be a little less predictable.

Rating 6

Sinani

Struggled to influence the game and drifted all over to try and find space but was then not in the key areas where he needed to be. He did in fairness have a good shot on the turn in the first period which was on target and the keeper did well to turn over.

Rating 5

Thomas

Started well but then disappeared in the game as it all became stop/start. He got frustrated in the second period with the shocking refereeing, but did always remain a threat but far too often had nobody to pick out.

Rating 6

Ward

Worked hard and dropped deep to link up play but with nobody running beyond him it was all to no avail. Did have a strong claim for a penalty turned down in the second period, but had little support all game.

Rating 5

Koroma came on for Sinani but was inaffective and Turton for Holmes at the end of the match. Campbell cam on for Ward on 76 minutes and the fresh legs certainly helped as Campbell hit the woodwork twice in his short stint.

Andy Woolmer

The referee deserves a special mention. Really bad and contributed to the dour display. Failed to play advantage on too many occasions, which made it easier for both defences. If someone was tackled and went to ground play was stopped. Too many times a defender would put the ball into touch to halt play and with the other side ready to take the throw Mr Woolmer and his linesman would look at each other and guess which way to give it. The only think that was consistent was how bad the decisions were for both teams.

Carlos

Set up well for a start and took the game to Birmingham, but should have changed it around as the first half progressed. With the personnel on the pitch it was difficult but we needed to move it from back to front quicker. Stretch the opposition with some balls in behind, but we would have needed the quicker players such as Thomas then to play higher up the pitch. The lads needed to be braver on the ball and deliver the quick long range pass to open them up. It was too predictable with the ball always played infront of the City defence. In the second half we should have brought Campbell on sooner and possibly High, who although perhaps lacking the physical presence would have delivered the searching balls. Good to get a clean sheet again and a point in the right direction but could have and should have been so much better.

Rating 5

Champioship game 12

Town 2-0 Hull City

A good performance by Town today. They started on the front foot and had a couple of early opening before the cross was swung in deep. The City keeper flapped and in teh ensuing scramble Lees forced the ball home. There potential shouts for a couple of penalties in the mayhem but Lees converting was the better result. We continued to dominate with O’Brien running the midfield for the next 20 minutes. Hull then though started to get a bit of a foothold in the game and had a lot of possession, but never really threatened. I’ve not seen as much diving since the Olympics and unfortunately the ref often fell for it as Honeyman (the worst culprit) and his colleagues kept going to ground when tackled and adding a few extra rolls as they tumbled.

The second half continued in much of the same vein as the first with Hull having more of teh possession but creating little with it. When Town had possession we looked a little more threateing although we did not commit many men forward. Hull continued with their theatrics and a couple of late dirty challenges in either half could have brought them a red card with a stronger referee. On 73 minutes we got our deserved reward when Hull failed to clear well from a corner and the impressive Holmes cleverly finished from the edge of the area. Town worked well and saw out the game without too many nerves and were deserving of the result. Hull could play in spells but showed a lack of cohesion, they will pick up points as they worked hard but may struggle to stay up.

Ratings

Nicholls

Good performance again from Nicholls. A couple fo comfortable efforts on target which were well dealt with and distribution was good and varied. Very composed performance and managed not to pick up a yellow card.

Rating 7

Lees

Good performance again from Lees, he was strong at the back, in the air particularly. A few stray passes but put himself in the middle for the early goal which he forced over the line.

Rating 7

Pearson

Read the game really well today. Stopped a lot of potential attacks with his interceptions and led the back three well.

Rating 7

Colwill

Picked up a yellow card in the first minute when the Hull player dived with no contact but did not let that get to him. Wilks often pitted himself againt Colwill but he did well and managed the situations well throughout.

Rating 6

Hogg

Good steady performance from Hoggy. He kept the ball moving and did not slow pace down. Retained posession and won the ball high up the pitch. Looked comfortable today.

Rating 7

O’Brien

For me was MOM. He dictated the play in the opening half hour and Hull could not stop him. As the game progressed he was targetted for abuse, being kicked all over the park but kept on going and kept coursing Hull problems. At times City were concentrating more on Lewis then they were going forward.

Rating 8

Sinani

A bit of a quiet game today. Helped to create space for O’Brien & Holmes and did get a good shot away in the first half which Ingram did well to turn behind. Came off for High in the second period.

Rating 6

Holmes

Good game today from Holmes reminiscent of the Swansea game last season. He found space on the ball today and caused Hull all sorts of problems particularly in the second half as they focused on O’Brien. Took his goal well which was well deserved.

Rating 8

Toffolo

Good game from Toffolo again keeping things going down the left particularly in the first half.

Rating 7

Thomas

Hull struggled to cope with him and Thomas enjoyed the battle. Came off in the second half after his exploits for Wales in the last week. He was a constant threat and did a good job.

Rating 7

Ward

Linked up play well again, dropping deep to move the side up the pitch. Again we tended to play to his strengths and battled well to win the corner which we scored the second from.

Rating 7

High, Turton & Sarr came on in the second half.

Carlos

The line up and tactics were good today. We played to our strengths and contained Hull well. The players appear to have learned that you can win games without having loads of posession, it is what you do with the ball that counts.

Rating 7

Champioship game 10

Town 3-2 Blackburn

Quality game from the off. Blackburn were fresh from a 5-1 win over Cardiff and attacked with confidence but Town played with no fear as well. We had a couple of early half chances before the game settled into a good game of few chances before Thomas crossed for Vallejo outside the area and his measured finish found the bottom corner. That took us into half time 1-0 up in a close match which we had probably just adged at that stage.

Second half started more open than the first as Blackburn had to press this provided more space for Town to break and link up with Ward in attack. Just before the hour the ball broke for Rothwell outside the area and he drove unchallenged beyond O’Brien and past Pearson to square for Brereton-Diaz who slotted home. With the game still played at a frenzied pace Ward dropped deep to help build a Town attack, Thomas drove down the right and crossed for a advancing Ward to get up well and head beyond the Blackburn keeper. Having got back in front wuickly it was important to remain calm and not let Blackburn back in but the dangerous Brereton-Diaz found space and his first touch took him beyond Pearson and as he realesed the ball an outstretched Sarr brought him down. The ref waited initially to see if Blackburn scored and then gave the penalty. Brereton-Diaz stepped up and although Nicholls got his hand to the ball the pace took it into the net. Both team scontinued to look for the winner and Turton who had come on for Thomas crossed deep for Toffolo to rise well and head back across the 6 yard box for Ward to finish. The last 12 minutes including 6 minutes of added time were nervy but Town were deserving of the win.

Ratings

Nicholls

Another confident display. Positioning and handling good. Commanded his area and can’t be blamed for the goals.

Rating 7

Pearson

Looked ok but Brereton did get at Pearson a number of times. He won’t always come up against a stricker in such form though.

Rating 6

Lees

Strong at the back and looked good in the middle of the 3. Better with a quick ball out of defence through Vallejo.

Rating 7

Sarr

Looked ok at the back. Occasionally caught in posession but overall looked better than recent games.

Rating 6

Vallejo

Alex cam ein for Hogg and again he added something in an attacking sense. Alex moves the ball quickly from back to front. He knows what he wants to do before he receives the ball which makes every around him better as well. Very good awareness but, yes occassionally it doesn’t come off. Took his goal well and I hope he shakes off his knock which saw him come off to line up against Luton.

Rating 8

O’Brien

Looked back to himself. He drove forward and did play further forward rather than drifting to the left. Came close to an early goal and put in a captains performance. For me MOM.

Rating 8

Sinani

Looked better than the last couiple of games and linked up play better today. Just nees more end product.

Rating 6

Toffolo

Good performance. Gets everywhere and did well to get the nod down for Wards winner.

Rating 7

Thomas

Two assist and a constant threat on the attack. A much better performance than the recent games.

Rating 7

Koroma

Put himself about and won the ball back well. He is slowly adding more to his game, buy needs consistancy.

Rating 6

Ward

Best performance he has put in since his return. Worked hard in the first half for little return but in the second with Blackburn pushing on he had space to exploit. He has rarely been on the pitch for many minutes with us leading and therefore has not had the luxury of space to play in. This allowed him to drop deep build up play and then get into the box. Two goals a return that will do his confidence a world of good.

Rating 8

High came off teh bench and his passing looked good again. Turton supplied the cross for the winner after coming on. Holmes and Ruffles came on too.

Carlos

He got it right today. We attacked from the off and could have scored more. We are always susceptible to conceding goals playing open attacking football but we do look a better outfit. I felt that bringing Turton on for Thomas was to protect what we had but in fairness it was Turtons cross that created the winner. The real turning point for the season would be turning a defeat into a win as we struggle against a defensive unit.

Rating 8

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