Kelvin Beattie says...
1. First half performance...
We played very well in the first half. Our midfield was dominant with Leadbitter pulling the strings. The goal was another well worked goal, with decent passing and an excellent stoop of the shoulder and cross from McGeady.
I am going to give Wyke some credit for a very good headed finish as well as holding the ball up reasonably well and not giving away stupid “easy exit” fouls.
Scowen made some good runs beyond our forwards and O’Brien worked hard throughout a dominant first half. McGeady too looked a likely source of assist or goal in that period.
2. Defensively impressive...
Our two central defenders performed well as we dipped after half time. Whilst we lost control of the midfield, we never stopped running and battling for possession. Winchester showed up well, tidy in possession and the tackle.
Having been critical of Maguire as a substitute in previous games, his effort and ability were in evidence yesterday as he won a couple of pressure relieving free kicks and managed a couple of decent shots in his time on the pitch in the second half.
Whilst we would have preferred to see them further up the pitch, both Wyke and O’Brien contributed to the defensive effort. Leadbitter was the stand out performance for me, especially in the first half. Willis too deserves an honourable mention.
1. A game of two halves...
The second half was different. Whatever the reason for this, we had to win ugly, but it presents a bit of a conundrum. We spent most of it camped in our own half, defending a one goal lead.
We all know LJ does not deliberately play that way, so we have to assume that the 10 metres further up the field that Shrewsbury appeared to take was partly to account for this involuntary surrender of the offensive.
We struggled to break loose as they pinned us back with a raw physicality and a deceptive passing game that could have easily got them a point or more. The press they applied meant we resorted to lumping the ball up field which generally resulted in surrendering possession.
Burge chose this game to have a bad day with his distribution, which either went straight to the opposition or straight out of play. Our general weakness defensively on our left flank was also exposed in this period.
2. Switching the wingers...
Another factor that blunted our offensive potency in the second half, was the tactical switch at half time of Diamond and McGeady.
This has happened before in games for shorter periods. I have no issue with kind of flexible approach for brief periods. But it was very clear that the switch was not working , why not switch back?
It is disappointing to see the amount of social media abuse being aimed at Diamond. He did not have his most productive day, he is a young player who is still learning his trade, patience will reap rewards where these young players are concerned.
Malcolm Dugdale says...
1. Three points...
We finally won at home, and did so when we really needed to. With a few draws and a couple of losses in the last handful of home games, we needed to step up at the Stadium of Light. We now need to repeat that in the games ahead, as very few sides with poor home form have enough to go up.
2. Charlie Wyke...
Wyke scored again and that can only keep his confidence growing. He should have had at least a couple but his primary role is to score and he did, after a very low key run out versus Plymouth. Without his 11 league goals prior to the half way point in the season, we would be way worse off than we are. Keep it going Chaz.
1. Second half performance...
The second half was like night and day compared to the first and it worries me that the team can go from one extreme to the other with nothing but half time oranges to blame.
I have to point some of the concern at the head coach, as he should be inspiring the lads to improve and close out the game in his half time talk. Instead we almost gave two points away, again. Also, why on earth did he switch the wide men? It wasn’t broke so why try to fix it? These aspects need to be sorted.
2. Opportunities for the young’uns...
We continue to be dependent on senior players who may well not be with us in five months time. Leadbitter and McGeady were both excellent in the first half, but there is a solid argument that both Johnson’s style and the future of the squad should be the focus.
The question is, when will the likes of Embleton and new man Winchester be trusted to do the job? Johnson is reputed to focus on youth, but even later in the game he brought Maguire in rather than younger options.
We also had Graham on the bench rather than Curry, who has done more than enough in the U23s to warrant a chance. Graham was a bad signing and should be let go to enable youth a chance and also to get shot of wages which can likely cover several younger options, especially given the salary cap. Hopefully that will happen in the last week of January coming up.