With the visit of Millwall on Tuesday night, I was hoping we would start the same way with a quick tempo and that is exactly what we did, scoring after just a couple of minutes. I felt with Morgan Fox and Adam Reach on the left we had a far better balance to our shape and thought we played higher up the pitch and delivered crosses from much more advanced positions. By doing this it makes it far more difficult to defend against and my biggest criticism would be that we don’t have that same width on the right hand side with Ross Wallace, who I feel tucks inside too often. I would love to see him keep our width when we have possession by staying out wide and that would create more space in the middle of the park as well.
Yet again I thought we looked a little shaky at times and especially after half time Millwall could have easily got something out of the game with two or three very good chances. Overall though it was a most welcome three points and further increased by Jordan Rhodes getting on the scoresheet. I thought he put a decent shift in on Tuesday night and was obviously tiring towards the end of the game.
You cannot reproduce match fitness, no matter how hard you work in training and the issue that you have with the games coming thick and fast is that the whole squad has to prepare for every single game. This means that the squad players won’t get much game time in as they are constantly travelling, preparing and then if you end up not being involved, it is easy for you to lose that match sharpness. I always found that the first game or two you were ok, but after that if you couldn’t recover quickly enough it really caught up with you.
This leads me onto a real bugbear of mine, which is the lack of competitive matches, mainly the loss of reserve team football. I could never really understand why this was done away with. Reserve team football was an eclectic mix of players and as youngster trying to learn I felt it was invaluable. It allowed younger players who were excelling in the age restricted youth team to play
against adults’ not just kids of their own age. Sometimes it was a case of sink or swim and some of these adults were wily old experienced professionals who gave you a proper lesson! - Invaluable in my opinion and another reason why some of our outstanding youngsters fail to kick on and continue through to the senior ranks.
A big game awaits us on Saturday away at Aston Villa, a team undergoing something of an upsurge in results and performances and it is games like this one that now take on a whole new meaning of importance. Again, a clean sheet wouldn’t go amiss and it would give us something to work from. That doesn’t mean you go there and try and defend a 0-0, no not at all, it means that you set your stall out to defend correctly, err on the side of caution and build on the three points that we gained on Tuesday and start climbing that table.
Jon Newsome is the owner of prestige, sports and performance cars specialists, Automarques 21-23 Leigh Street, Sheffield S9 2PR
Visit the website: automarques.com