“I’m tired of losing my voice every Saturday from screaming “Shoot!”, only to see the ball get played back, and back, and back, until it finds the feet of David Stockdale”
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” Wayne Gretzky said that. For those that aren’t well read on American sports, Gretzky (nicknamed ‘The Great One’) is widely recognised as the greatest ice hockey player ever. He won countless championships, numerous MVP awards and went on to be a semi successful coach. Most importantly, he knew and appreciated the importance of taking your shots. As far as our game against Milwall goes, we missed a ton of shots that we didn’t take.
The Lions may have won, but they deserved it about as much as we did. It was far from a thrilling match and if we’re honest, both teams were as dull as each other. Even the typically boisterous Milwall fans were bored into silence before the second half had kicked off. A draw would have been a fair result, but Milwall got a lucky break and the result went their way. Regardless of what others may try to convince you of, they didn’t boss the game and it was much more of an even contest than many are claiming. We were just both evenly rubbish.
We sorely missed Davis in the middle. We’ve been trying to cope without Isaac for the majority of the season and more recently Jonathon Grounds (arguably our player of the year) has bowed out for 6 months. This led to some difficult selection choices and altering of tactics which I personally think were wrong and set us up on the back foot.
However, the most concerning thing for me was the lack of shots that we took. It’s not like the opportunities weren’t presented to us either; Gardner had a few strikes and Jezza found himself in the perfect position at least 4 times in the first half alone. For some reason though, we keep trying to walk the ball into the net.
We recorded just one single shot on target on Saturday. One. And that came in the dying minutes of the game. I would love to know why the boys aren’t being told to pepper the goal from all angles; especially at home, especially when we have the possession to do so and especially against the likes of Milwall FC!
In addition to this, we have the shooting boots on the pitch that are capable of long range screamers. Dutch Mike’s had his fair share in the past, Davis cracked one against the Villa, Craigy’s a supposed long range specialist and Jezza bagged a worldy at Wednesday. That’s not even mentioning Gallagher and J-Mags who have been our go-to strike pair over the last few weeks.
I hate to say it, but I think Jezza frustrates me the most. How many times is he going to carry the ball from the halfway line, beat 3 men, then right when he’s in perfect sight of the goal… continue to try and beat the rest of the team. He NEEDS to make decisions sooner or Stevie C needs to replace him in the starting 1. There is no doubt whatsoever that he is the most skilful dribbler of the ball that we have, but if his end product remains non-existent, then it’s all for naught.
I’m tired of losing my voice every Saturday from screaming “Shoot!”, only to see the ball get played back, and back, and back, until it finds the feet of David Stockdale. We are getting ourselves into these prime positions and it’s about time we capitalised on them.
I can take losing. It hurts, and it spoils my weekend, but I’m a big boy and I can take it. But that pill’s a hell of a lot easier to swallow when I look back at the match stats and see that we were firing from all angles. At least then I can just excuse the loss as a game that ‘just didn’t go our way’.
We are the lowest scoring team at home this season and one of the lowest scoring in the league overall. It’s about time we fixed this. The old tactic of hoofing it up to Big Sam whilst he’s surrounded by three 6ft defenders and wishing for a miracle just isn’t working for us, but maybe it would if he had a second man to play the ball off to.
Che Adams has gone AWOL since his injury and Derby transfer rumour. Whether he’s fallen out with Cotterill or whether he’s not showing the commitment on the training pitch, I’ve no idea. But what I do know is that prior to his relegation to bench warmer, he was the hottest prospect we had at the club. We need to be throwing him up with Sam from the off, especially at home.
Milwall’s defence had a pretty easy day. Things could have been so different if we had added an extra body into the mix. Things could have been VERY different if the boys were given free reign to take a shot if they were open and they fancied it.
Cotterill and his team have improved our defensive line, now it’s time to work with the guys up top. I’d understand if he went for another lone striker away at Brentford on Tuesday, but we need a much more attacking approach when Barnsley come to visit next week.
It’s about time we started putting keepers under pressure. We’re working our way into good positions, but always looking for a final, unwarranted pass that never comes and we’re paying a heavy price for it. We’re missing 100% of every shot that we’re not taking. Let’s start making them count!
By Mark Watson